The Humble Christmas Wish

Submitted into Contest #229 in response to: Write a story in which a cynical character gets amnesia on Christmas Eve.... view prompt


Christmas Inspirational

The letter, handwritten in red, green, and brown Crayolas, lay on the little girl's Barbie Mermaid & Friends' table on Christmas Eve, waiting for someone to mail it to the North Pole. It didn't begin with the usual “Dear Santa." Instead, scrawled in large print was a simple request, one that would never reach Santa in time.

Jenny Harris had drawn stick figures of her mom, her aunt Marjorie, a very fat Santa, and herself…gathered around a snowman that sported a carrot nose, two charcoal eyes, and a cherry mouth. There also was a snowball in her hand that she was about to throw at an unsuspecting someone, her older brother, Jake, who was bending over to pet their dog, Addie, though the pup looked more like a waxy smear than a dog. 

Jenny had just finished her drawing when her mom called out to her saying a Charlie Brown Christmas was playing on Channel 9. Jenny promptly left her crayons scattered on the table. One of the chairs toppled over as she jumped up quickly, knocking it over in her haste..By the time Jenny got to the other room, though, her mind was already on something else instead of watching the Peanuts Christmas.

"Momma, can we go see Santa at the mall today?"

Jenny's cinnamon eyes sparkled with hope. Her mom was in the kitchen making some hot cocoa for her and a cup of coffee for herself. 

“I don’t feel so great, today, sweetie," Sarah Harris winces a bit as she rubs her forehead. "Maybe tomorrow?" 

The pitch of Jenny's voice goes up a notch and her bottom lip turns up in a slight pout.

“But today’s the last day."

“Santa will be gone tomorrow.”

“Oh, really?” Sarah grabs a spoon to give Jenny's hot cocoa a final stir. The brown liquid has melted a few of the small marshmallows, but the ones that remain are swirling as she hands the mug of tasty sweetness to her daughter.

Jenny puts on her best pleading face. 


“I don’t know. Have you been good? What does your room look like?”

Jenny’s jaw turns downward before she answers, but she quickly recovers.

“I think it’s ok.” 

“Did you make your bed?” 

“Well…. not yet.”

"Go do that, and I’ll look at your room when you’re done.”

Jenny sits the steaming cocoa on the kitchen counter and rushes to her room to do as she’s told.

Sarah sits down in the living room with her cup of hot pumpkin spice coffee, rolling her eyes at the notion of one man in a red suit buying millions of children around the world anything they want no matter the cost.

She wonders if the man in a red suit has even checked out the prices of kids toys this year?

She chuckles a bit and says aloud, "If his so-called magic ever plays out, he'll probably forego Christmas totally and run and hide."

A chuckle escapes her lips before she realizes Jenny is back in the room, her face beaming with pride.

“It’s all done, momma.”

“Good girl!” Sarah replies. 

“Now, go get your coat on, and we’ll go.”

While her daughter gets her coat out of the hall closet, Sarah ponders how, as a kid, she'd been a doubter and a questioner. Even now, she was skeptical of anything too good to be true. She wondered if that was why she wanted to shelter Jenny a little too much, almost to the point of telling her none of it was real. But since her daughter wanted to go see Santa, they would do just that, regardless of how she felt about it. 

“Well, ok, let's go, but don’t ask for anything too expensive. I heard Santa’s on a budget this time.” 

“I won’t.”

Jenny smiles sweetly, and her eyes twinkle, as if she were holding onto a beautiful secret. 


The mall is brimming with jolly souls and frantic ones, as well, most dressed in their fancy Christmas attire. A married couple stands near the carousel. Their matching red sweaters showcase festive green lettering that says Feliz Navidad. The two of them are watching their son go round-and-round on the carousel. The boy giggles with delight. Sarah pays five bucks for Jenny to ride it before they move on to where Santa is. 

By then, it’s no small feat to get to Santa’s lap. The line is full of what must be at least 40 kids and their parents waiting their turn.

Jenny finally gets her turn, and she rushes gets in Santa's lap though she isn't smiling. Her face is empty of emotion.

"Little girl, what's your name," Santa asks.

"Jenny Harris," she says meekly. 

The jolly man smiles as he takes her tiny hand into his.

"Well, Jenny Harris, have you been a good girl this year?

The crowd goes quiet waiting to hear her answer. Before, it was a whirlwind of noise from the carousel, shouting children and parents, and shoppers making their way to the Belk or the Ruby Tuesday on the other side of the mall.

Jenny's eyelids are blinking repeatedly.

"I think so."

It feels a little strange to her answering that question in front of the big crowd currently staring at her and Santa.

"OK, so Jenny, what do you want for Christmas this year?"

Jenny's forehead wrinkles a bit. Instead of speaking where all can hear, she cups her mouth to Santa's ear and whispers what she wants.

Santa's eyes brighten and his lips widen into a pleased grin.

"My little one, what a beautiful request. For your mom and her sister to mend their differences and get along for Christmas. I'm very impressed. But while that's a wonderful thing to ask for, I can't exactly make two people get along, can I? But Jenny, what I can do is bring toys to good little children like you. So, how about a doll or a easy bake oven? Or something else entirely?"

Jenny shakes her head.

"Maybe a new bike or a drawing set or even a remote control car?

Jenny goes silent.

Santa doesnt wait for her to answer. Instead, he chuckles and says,

"I understand not every girl wants dolls or girl toys these days."

Jenny sighs.

" I guess you can't help me, but thank you, Santa. Just let your elves pick something for me. I'm not picky."

When Jenny and her mom arrive home, her mom gets a call on her cell phone. It's her sister, Marjorie.

As she overhears snippets of their conversation, Jenny realizes it's the fourth time she's heard them arguing about where they want the family Christmas gathering to be held. Neither wants it at their own home. 

"NO, Marg. Absolutely not!!"

"I SAID, No Way."

And last but not least,

"Leave me alone and lose my number."

Jenny can't believe her ears..her mom has lost it completely.

"I guess that means we won't have Christmas?" 

Sarah looks away.

"No baby, we'll have Christmas just us three. It'll be fine."

That night Jenny says a prayer beside her bed.

"God, I know you're pretty busy but could you please help mom and Marg get along better? Thank you. " 

She gets into her bed and goes to sleep without thinking any more about it. 


The next day, Jenny wakes up and goes into the living room to watch cartoons. She notices right away her mom has decorated the house for Christmas, just like she would if everyone was coming over. 

"Wow, this is pretty!"

"Ya think so? Her mom says while continuing to straighten a few of the tree branches so that they fill out the tree perfectly.

"But you said you weren't gonna decorate this time, momma." 

"I changed my mind. In fact, I woke up feeling somehow different," her mom replies.

"How?" Jenny asks.

"It's hard to explain. You probably wouldn't understand." 

Jenny grunts.

Why do grown ups always say that to her, she wonders.

"But, mom..."

A knock at the door interrupts them. When her mom answers the door, Jenny can't believe her eyes.

"Oh my gosh, Marjory is it you? It's so good to see you!" Her mom says, throwing her arms around her sister as if nothing happened over the past few weeks between them. 

"Uh, Sarah, I thought you would still be pretty mad at me." 

"Of course not. Why would I be? I haven't seen you in years, Marg! Come in and I'll make you some hot cocoa!"

"But we just talked on the phone last night and you said---"

"Get over here! I've got something to show you," Sarah interrupts.

Marg follows Sarah to the kitchen and when the door is shut behind them she asks,

"Are you all right? Just last night we had a huge argument, remember?? 

"About what? " Sarah looks puzzled. 

"You know...about where we'll have the family Christmas gathering? You hung up on me. Anyway, I came over to apologize and say I'll be fine with it being at my house. You win. " 

Again, Sarah looks as if she has no idea what Marg is talking about. 

"No, it's ok, lets just work together on a christmas potluck, and you can bring whatever you want here. I finally decorated!"

Marg smiles. 

"And you did an awesome job. I especially love the nutcrackers, the candles spread around, the tree. I'm shocked though. The Sarah I've known for the past 20 years wasn't a big Christmas decorator, and you said you weren't doing anything this year, yet you've decorated the whole place so well, and it looks amazing."

Sarah looks at her sister blankly. 

"I know right? Strangely, the person I was seems like a blur to me lately. I feel totally in the present, and like I don't have a past somehow."

"Sounds like some kind of amnesia. Have you been taking new medication? Or maybe you hit your head recently?"

Sarah giggles.

"If i didn't know better I'd take it you were calling me crae-crae or an addict... but no, I just woke up this way. In fact, I feel "cleansed." 

"But you and I have never really get along. That's why it seems strange." 

Marg wrinkles her nose, noting a delicious smell coming from the kitchen.

"By the way what's delicious smell, ginger snaps?" 

"Yes, it is. I hope you like them." 

"Oh I do, remember they always were my favorite when we were growing up? It's still one of my weaknesses."

"I have no clue. It just felt right to make them. Glad you do like them. "

An entire evening of pleasant exchange continues between the two sisters, one like they've never had before, and as Marg gets ready to leave she remarks...

"I'm so glad we had this visit tonight. It feels as if we have healed something between us that I never knew how to fix. We had a hard time growing up. Do you remember how that was?"

Sarah scratches her head.

"Not really. I just know that you're my sister, and I love you very much. I'm glad you came by, too."

After Marg heads home, Sarah decides to go peek in her daughter’s room, but by now, Jenny is asleep. 

She creeps over to her little girl's bedside to plant a goodnight kiss on her forehead. As she leaves the room, she notices the humble letter on the small table written in red crayon---Jenny's simple Christmas request, one that never actually made it to the North Pole. 

"I want us all to be happy."

Sarah smiles, realizing that

Christmas wishes can be answered in the funniest ways. 

December 22, 2023 21:39

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Kyla Tavares
15:25 Dec 28, 2023

This story was fun to read! Sarah's personality change was well written and interesting.


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14:41 Dec 23, 2023

Wholesome stuff! Happy Christmas!


15:14 Dec 23, 2023

Thanks. Merry Christmas 🎅 to you, too!!


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