A Christmas Day story, by Rich Paschall
When Rick opened the curtains to look out on Christmas morning, the scene before him was exactly as he imagined a perfect Christmas morning to be. It had started snowing late in the night. It was some time after Rick had watched the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol again. That was the usual Christmas Eve ritual. He was in bed by midnight and soon thereafter it started to snow.
It was a light fluffy snow that covered the ground. It is the kind that falls in very cold weather. It perfectly coated everything in view. Rick always wanted to have such a Christmas. The weatherman usually disappointed him.
While he was waiting for the light flurries to stop, Rick made coffee and toast. While the coffee maker was doing its morning duty, Rick brought out some Christmas CDs. He considered some of his favorite artists before choosing a CD with instrumental versions of traditional songs. It would have been a perfect day, except for one thing. He was enjoying the beautiful Christmas view but had no one to share it with. “It’s a shame,” he thought, “that no one is here with me for this moment.” That can be one of those things about growing old. Others are already gone.
When the coffee and toast were consumed and the music had stopped playing, Rick decided to take another gander out the window. A few snowflakes were wandering aimlessly through the air on a light breeze. “I guess it is as good a time as any to sweep the snow off the stairs and shovel the walkway,” he said out loud.
In order to prepare for the biting cold, Rick put on a flannel shirt and flannel-lined trousers. The shoes were a heavy-duty pair he only wore in the wintertime along with heavy socks. Scarf, gloves, and winter coat with hood finished off the process of getting ready. He grabbed a broom by the front door and headed out into the frigid air.
The snow was easy to push off the porch and stairs. Even though the snow was light, he went back onto the porch for a snow shovel to push the rest off the walkway and down to the car. As he got to the back of the house, he saw his neighbor Steve also shoveling away the snow.
“Merry Christmas,” Steve shouted.
“Merry Christmas to you too,” Rick called back.
“I have to get everything cleaned off but the kids might be out later to make a mess of it,” Steve laughed as he thought about the day ahead. “I have to clean off the patio in case the kids want to use the firepit to make smores.”
“It’s way too cold for that,” Rick said.
“I agree. I’ll make the fire if they want to come out, but I am not staying out with them. The littlest ones will have to stay inside.” Steve was having a couple of other families for Christmas dinner and there would be a lot of children.
“Are you going by your sister today?” Steve asked.
Rick had never mentioned to his neighbor that she had passed away that summer. The siblings were gone, his partner was gone and most of the cousins were gone or had moved away.
‘No,” Rick replied. “I am not going anywhere.”
Steve finished his duty and went back to the house, but reappeared moments later. “Would you like to come for dinner? We have plenty and the space for another.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” was the response issued with more than a little surprise at being asked. In over 40 years in his house, Rick had never actually been in the home of any of his neighbors. He chatted with Steve often but never thought of a visit. “I bought food to make for Christmas.”
“What about dessert? Steve added.
“Yes,” Rick replied after a moment’s thought. “I can bring dessert. My insurance advisor gave me a large pumpkin pie and it is way too big for me. What time?”
So Rick prepared a Christmas dinner, listened to holiday music, and answered a few email greetings. After that, he picked out the clothes to wear to a holiday party. At exactly the time Steve suggested, Rick grabbed the pumpkin pie and headed for his neighbors.
He rang the doorbell and was met by a child he did not know. She called for an adult who Rick did not know, so he explained he was a neighbor bringing dessert. He was led in to find a scene of little children playing on the living room floor and older ones playing a video game.
“My name is Joe and these children are too busy for any of us. Give your coat to Matthew and come to the back where the adults are hiding out.” Rick handed his coat and hat off to the neighbor boy and followed Joe to the back.
In the kitchen, some women were chatting. Rick’s neighbor, Ann, introduced him around. In an adjoining room, Steve was seated at a dining table and explaining his job to a young man he introduced as a nephew. Rick took a seat there.
Joe sat down opposite Rick and made small talk until Ann and some others started to bring in desserts. Rick had some pie and appreciated Joe’s attempts to keep him in the conversations. After pie and some coffee, Joe and his wife said it was time to gather their children and head home. Rick took that as his cue to ask for his coat. Someone called out for Matthew to get it. The house had been filled with holiday joy. Rick was glad he accepted the invitation and had a large pie to bring.
After saying goodbye to all, Rick went out into the cold night air with a warm Christmas memory.