A Christmas Wish
Robert C. Waggoner
Copyright by Robert C. Waggoner
“A Christmas Wish”
Robert C. Waggoner
“Santa wake up the mail is here. Donner just flew in a few minutes ago with the first batch of Christmas letters from kids.” Mrs. Claus had to reach down and shake Santa from his afternoon nap. He sat in his recliner with his stocking feet facing the warm fire. She noticed he was not getting any younger. Age lines were running north and south on his still chubby face. His snow white beard hid most of the southern lines, but she was sure they reached the South Pole.
His eyes slowly opened. He tried to smile, but instead, he closed his eyes and continued his nap. She shook him harder this time and said, "It's time to get to work you lazy man. Kids all over the world are waiting for your gifts. Come into the kitchen and I'll make a fresh cup of coffee for you. I just baked some chocolate cookies -- so let's go!"
He did as he was told and followed his wife of more years than he could possibly remember. Time was not something to think about most of the year. However, when the elves woke up and started making toys, Santa knew it was time for Christmas again.
Santa sat at the kitchen table in his usual polished wooden chair. The chair arms were shiny from his arms moving back and forth over the arms during his life. A large bag sat on the floor still dripping some melted snow from riding on Donner’s back through the day and night. While Mrs. Claus poured a mug of coffee, Santa dug out a fist full of letters. He had an eagle eye for seeing the one’s that seemed special; not that all letters to him were not special. Indeed all the letters were important, but some were just more important than the others. Usually most all were envelopes white in color, but after a couple of hundred, he saw one brown in color.
Santa adjusted his glasses on his nose. For closer work he had to use a hand magnifying glass these days. He picked the glass up and looked at the address on the front of the paper. The first thing he saw was: “santa claws”. Santa smiled and the address was: “nrthpol”. The return address had the correct spelling of: “bill and jane”. Where the stamp should be was: “no stanpe”.
Santa turned it over and saw the envelope had been cut out of a paper sack. He saw glue and some tape keeping the letter inside from falling out. At the beginning of this investigation Santa was smiling and chuckling, but now that smile disappeared realizing something was all too real inside this envelope.
Mrs. Claus said, “What are you looking at so seriously?”
“Come here and bring a pair of scissors please. I’m afraid to read what is inside this envelope.”
Mrs. Claus heard what he said. She began to shake just a little from the words he spoke. From the drawer she took out her kitchen scissors and walked to the table. Sitting down their eyes never left each other’s. She sat the scissors on the table. He handed her the envelope. With knurly fingers she took the envelope and examined it front and back. “I’m with you Santa; I feel that what lies inside will somehow affect our lives forever.”
“Honey cookie baker, you do the honors. You have deft hands with a pair of scissors. Don’t cut off more than you have to. I want to save it for the future.”
“I’ll do my best. Now be quiet and let me work.” Santa watched her cut the very top and both sides to open it like a folded in half letter. Inside were few words:
“deer santa daddy is hrt momma sic we wisa for shews”
“Well, it appears we have our work cut out for us honey Claus. I’ll have an elf find the address. You know how clever an elf is – nothing much gets by an elf.”
“This has to be one of the most special letters we’ve ever received. I’m going to have it framed. You continue to read while I’m gone. I’m needed in the work shop anyway. Enjoy your coffee and cookies.”
In the workshop Mrs. Claus went to the chief elf. She told him the story and then said, “I want you to send someone to find this family. I want to know all there is to know about them. If my knowledge of geography is right, Idaho in North America is cold and snowy during the winter months. No shoes mean no school and no outdoors. Let’s see now – we’ve a few days before packing up the gifts. Thanks Alfie.”
Alfie went to the accounting room. There, an array of the latest technology lay at his fingertips. In no time at all he had Adna, Idaho located. It was a small town, but had a local paper that came out once a week. Alfie breezed through the paper looking for an accident that might be recorded. He discovered what he was looking for. It seemed a William Bennett was a victim of a farming accident. He lost a leg. Subsequent articles mentioned his progress was normal, but a fund had been arranged to help pay his hospital bills.
Further news articles revealed the wife of William Bennett had caught a deathly cold that left her bedridden. Beth Bennett worked at post office and even though the USPS had done the best they could, she no longer had any benefits left. Friends helped where they could and it was suggested the kids would have to be removed if something didn’t change soon. The parents begged to let the kids stay through Christmas. The local authorities agreed.
Alfie made copies of the news articles and included a satellite picture of the old farm house. He hurried to the kitchen to give Santa and Mrs. Claus the information. Mrs. Claus was sorting through the letters when Alvin came in. He handed the documents and left without a word being spoken. Santa, out the corner of his eyes, saw the transfer of documents. He waited patiently for her to read and when she was ready, pass them to him.
He saw her shake her head and give off a ‘tut-tut’. After that she passed the papers to him. Santa, with a grim face, read each news article at least two times and spent more than a few minutes over the aerial photograph.
Finally he looked and said, “This will take some special magic my dear. I must have Alfie prepare for some extra time over Idaho. Meanwhile, will you see to it the hospital is taken care through our foundation. Also, the local heating oil place needs direct payments estimated yearly. We don’t want to spoil them my dear, but we need to help all we can. Gift certificates for clothing, a good second hand farm truck, his leg should be replaced with a prosthetic device.”
“I made some notes dear. I think the mother is just plum worn out from working at home and the post office. Another thing is those kids need to go to school. Their spelling and so on is atrocious. I think maybe next year a computer would be appropriate – what do you think?”
“You know me, I’m a dummy with those things, but I do see the benefits of having one. Let’s make a note of that for next year. Now I must do some thinking my dear. I’m going to return to my rocker for some peaceful meditation that will prepare me for the upcoming yearly adventure.”
It was nearing the time for Santa Claus to take the reins of his sleigh. It was Christmas Eve and all the kids were waiting for him to bring their Christmas wishes. Alfie came to Santa’s dressing room and said, “All is ready Santa. You schedule is programmed and as you instructed, a flashing red light will tell you that you’ve arrived at Adna, Idaho. Also I’ve placed a flashing green light upon the roof of the special house.”
Santa was placing his hat on when he said, “Thanks Alfie. Did you perhaps whisper into Rudolph’s ear this same message you gave me?”
“Indeed I did sir. All of the reindeer are alerted to what has to happen when you arrive at the house.”
“Okay then, let’s rock and roll as the kids say nowadays. I’m looking forward to all the glasses of milk and homemade cookies along the way to enjoy.”
“Santa,” said Mrs. Claus, “you be careful now. With so many planes in the air these days, flying is dangerous.”
“Ah, my dear wife, don’t you worry your pretty little head off. Alvin has installed some new fangled high tech device to automatically change course if we are in danger of another flying object.”
“That’s a relief off my mind. Here’s a special package from me to those two kids. I’ve knitted two pair of wool socks to hang on their fireplace. I put their names on it. You must fill them up with trinkets. Okay, have a nice trip and see you in the morning after.”
Santa took the special gift and tucked it into his inside pocket. Outside he checked the weather: calm and a slight hazy fog drifted over the land. He smiled thinking with Rudolph’s red nose; it would be a cake walk for him. In his tall black boots Santa crunched his way around the team of reindeer talking to each one in his special language. At the head of his team stood a proud Rudolph with his bright red nose glowing every more brightly, it seemed to Santa on this special night. He gazed feeling enormous pride in his job as the gift giver on Christmas. He saw from his reindeer heads up, tails wagging and anxious to be on their way. Santa walked back to his sleigh told Alfie and his elves thank you for a job well done. The he waved to his wife standing in the doorway, amidst in the soft yellow light emulating from inside the home. She gave him a passionate wave back.
He climbed in, fastened his seat belt and said, “Lead the way Rudolph. On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, on Vixen, on Comet and Cupid, on Donder and Blixen.” The reindeer leaned forward into their smooth leather harnesses and took off into the night sky so full of stars you could not count them in a life time.
Santa’s red light started flashing which alerted him to be on the lookout for a green light on a house. Santa went lower and saw in the distance the green light. He told his reindeer to circle the house at an altitude of one hundred feet three times. Santa prepared his chant of magic to transform the house while the occupants slept.
With each circle of the house, Santa spread his magic all over it. First it was a light shade of blue that hardly showed up in the black of the night. Next was light green with white sparkles like fire flies in the night. After the third circle, a white light all but obscured the house. The last thing Santa did was reach inside his coat for the special present from Mrs. Claus. He dropped that present, along with others down upon the new roof. They all passed through to land under a newly erected Christmas tree complete with light and ornaments. Afterwards Santa instructed his reindeer to carry on.
As Santa flew west chasing the darkness, the early morning sun broke over the horizon to shine over a newly remodeled farm house. Inside the house the inhabitants were waking up. Bill and Jane were wishing a present might be under the old weathered potted plant their mother had tried to decorate for the Christmas season. Bill said, “Let’s go down and have a look.”
“I don’t want to get out of this warm bed,” said Jane snuggling closer to her warm brother.
“I don’t feel cold for some reason,” said Bill. “I’m getting up and see if Santa came. Come on lazy girl.”
Bill swung his legs out and braced for the cold floor with his bare feet. What his feet contacted was not bare floor. He couldn’t believe his eyes or what his feet were telling him. “My God Jane, the floor has a rug on it.”
“You’re dreaming and you’d best pinch yourself to wake up,” said Jane as she peeked over her side of the bed looking at the floor. Her eyes went wide and her mouth dropped open. “You’re right. I see a rug over here too! Let’s go downstairs and you’re right, I don’t feel cold like I usually do.”
The two kids in bare feet went down the carpeted stairs to a living room that smelled of fresh paint and the sweet smell of a fresh evergreen Christmas tree. A wood stove sat in the fireplace casting welcome warmth to the once forlorn and cold house. Over the mantel two long wool socks hung with their names on them. Jane took Bill’s hand and said, “Is this really our house Bill?”
Bill looked around wondering himself if this was the same house he was familiar with. Suddenly from their parents bedroom door a loud voice said, “What the hell is going on here?
Both kids swung around to see their father on crutches staring at the living room. Jane felt sorry for her father losing his leg. She saw one of his pajama legs sewn up above the knee and an old sweat shirt on to keep warm during the cold nights. She saw him take a few steps towards the fireplace and then their mother followed behind him. She never said a word, but held her hand to her mouth as if to hold back a scream of fright or pleasure. Nobody knew for sure what she felt at that moment.
Beth Bennett saw her husband flop down into an overstuffed chair with a large foot stool positioned just perfect from the warm wood stove. Her eyes darted here and there not missing the new carpet, freshly painted walls and ceiling. An old sofa that also looked new sat not far from the stove. As if the thought struck her, she hurried to the kitchen and gasped with what she saw: a completely new kitchen with all the appliances one needed for a family.
Meanwhile, the kids went to the Christmas tree with their eyes glued to the presents sitting neatly underneath the tree. Bill slowly reached out to touch one present that he saw with his name on it. Jane followed her brother gesture. Bill turned around and looked at his father who was still staring at the fireplace as if in a daze. He heard his mother in the kitchen and decided it was ok to open his present. Jane watched as her brother looked at the wrapping with a ribbon and bow wondering how to open it. She wondered too as neither one had ever had a present that was wrapped in pretty paper.
Bill decided that there was only one way to open the gift and that was to tear the paper off and see what was inside. In five seconds he had his present open and inside the box was a new pair of brand name sneakers. Jane did the same and she too had a pair of sneakers: his were blue and hers were pink. Both slipped them on without socks just to see what it felt like to have a new pair of shoes.
Mother came back into the living room and said, “What is that box on the mantel?” She picked up a wooden box about the size of an average jewelry box. It was polished and shiny. The two kids, curious now, went to look at it as their mother sat on the sofa. Both kids sat next to her and with shaky hands she opened the box. What they heard next would be said each Christmas after that: “Ho – ho – ho. Merry Christmas to you and a to all a good night.” Then a sound of sleigh bells were heard and Santa saying: “On Dancer, on Prancer, on ……………………………”