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The Christmas Story
The lady frantically moved to and fro, biting her fingernails like she always had when she was a child. Where were her bags? This is why she never liked to fly to her sister’s house for Christmas in Chicago. The airport was crowded, but was gradually getting more comfortable. The woman had just flown a five hour flight from Houston to spend yet another Christmas with her younger sister and her new fiancé. She was still looking for her purple suitcase and tote bags. She was getting worried. Had something bad happened to them? She began pacing the tiled white floor of the airport, almost on the brink of tears. In her totes, all wrapped up, were her presents for her family. She had especially made sure to zip up the bags and write her name on the bag’s tags. Yet she somehow still couldn’t find them. The lady gave up and sat in a quite uncomfortable black chair next to an older man reading a newspaper. She took one glance at him, and then stared out of the frosty glass window, watching the snow gently sticking to everything outside.
The man appeared to be in his sixties, with salt and pepper colored hair, and blue eyes that had long lost their brightness. His skin was weathered and old, like he had worked hard when he was younger. He wore a forest green sweater with faded navy pants and loafers. A scarf kept him warm around his neck as he read his paper. He looked like a hard man, one who was always impatient and mean. The lady started twiddling her thumbs back and forth. The man glanced up from his paper.
“Worried, aren’t you?” the man asked. The lady glanced at him, surprised he talked to her. Her brown, wavy hair covered her eyes. She fixed it behind her ear and nodded at the man. He sighed deeply. “Christmas always does that to some people. I remember what Christmas was like when I was a boy. It was so much more than just discounts on presents and flying to relative’s houses.” The lady just slouched in her chair. She wasn’t in the mood for a long lecture about an old man’s Christmas memories. She had enough problems as it was. The man put down his paper and turned towards the woman.
“You seem under a great deal of stress.” He observed.
“You could say that.” The woman mumbled quietly to the man.
“How ‘bout I tell you about a Christmas I had, once long ago?” the man asked, but didn’t wait for an answer, “It was the year 1958. Christmas wasn’t very commercial at that time. I was ten years old then, and Christmas was still magical for me at the time. We helped our mother put our stockings up and decorate the tree. Our father had to shovel the snow out of the drive and we made a bunch of snowmen and had many snowball fights.”
The lady straightened up and began to actually listen to the man’s story. Her Christmases were never like that. It was never a real authentic Christmas.
“However, one year, our uncle died from cancer, right at the beginning of December. He always loved Christmas the most out of all of us. It was sad, and Christmas didn’t seem like it would ever feel the same.”
The lady felt bad for the man, but before she could say anything, the man continued his story.
“However, that year, when we went to pick out a Christmas tree, while I wandered off looking at trees, I soon found myself lost in the Christmas tree farm. I panicked, and ran, only getting even more lost.”
“What did you do?” The lady felt like a small girl listening to her grandfather tell her about his many memories over the years. She listened intently and her hazel eyes stared at the man as he told her the rest of the story.
“I did what any ten years old would do. I plopped myself down and cried my eyes out. I thought I would never, ever find my family. Just as I thought everything was ruined, I heard a faint voice, telling me that everything was going to be all right. I recognized the voice as my uncle, as an angel. He said everything was going to be fine and that Jesus would take care of me, just as he had taken care of my uncle. I smiled and believed him and at that very moment, my older sister emerged from behind various rows of trees. I hugged her and she said she was so worried about me. We went home and celebrated Christmas like we always had, and it was okay, because my uncle was with us, and always would.” The man ended his story with a gentle smile. He glanced at the conveyor belt where luggage was deposited. The lady glanced as well and, to her surprise, found her luggage! She ran over and grabbed it and glanced back at the man, a smile on her own face. The man grinned back at her.
“Christmas magic can happen anywhere.” The man told her. He picked up his paper, put on a pea coat and hat, and walked gracefully out of the airport. The lady watched him, then grabbed her bags and practically ran out the doors to get a taxi. Along the ride to her sister’s house, she thought long and hard about the man’s story. Was it coincidence that his sister had found her or was it really Jesus looking out for him? When she arrived, her sister greeted her warmly into her home. Her house was full of warmth and the Christmas joy the woman had received from the man’s story. She remembered what Christmas was truly about. Her sister walked her around and introduced her to her fiancé’s family. There were sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas. However, just as she was introduced to the grandmother, her eyes caught sight of a familiar pea coat. Under an old cap, salt and pepper colored hair greeted her. It was the old man! The lady’s eyes widened as her sister introduced the man.
“Sister, this is my future father-in-law.” The man smiled his familiar smile to her. The woman smiled back and told her sister one sentence.
“You should listen to his Christmas Story.”