Holiday short stories, p.3
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       Holiday Short Stories, p.3

           Jayne Amanda Maynes
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for the girls in the middle of the mall where it seemed the most likely place they would find me, and bowed my head.

  Why of all days was I hating this one so much? Was it the heat that said there wouldn't be any snow this year, or just the crowds that seemed to press in taking away any private time for thinking and meditating? I didn't know what it was, but I didn't want to forget the reason I learned to love Christmas, but for some unknown reason I just couldn't focus on anything to do with joy and peace. The world was at war! The different peoples didn't want peace they wanted to say they were right and everyone else was wrong. They wanted to force everyone into seeing things their way.

  “Things seem out of control, but I'm here still.” I heard through the noise of the crowd.

  Where did that come from? I knew those words and the voice that said them, but who was it? I hadn't heard the voice in so long, and now to hear it here in this place where chaos seemed to reign.

  Shopping was the last place I wanted to be, but the girls loved it, and always seemed to think I did too. There were times I didn't mind, but shopping wasn't what I wanted to be doing at this time of year. I prayed this shopping trip would end soon, so I could get home and maybe watch the last quarter of the game. There seemed to be a big line at the appliance store so I wondered over to see if I could figure out why. It seemed I wasn't the only man there wishing I were home instead, most all the people standing there were men all watching the game on a big screen that had been placed in the window. I tried to watch but wasn't really tall enough to see over the guys in the front so headed back to the seat I found in the center of the mall to wait for the girls again.

  “Mr can you help me find my mom?” some boy with a dirty face stood there looking up at me.

  Help him find his mother in this crowd? I looked around hoping to find a security guard or cop, seeing nothing but the kid who had somehow lost his mom. I took his hand and asked his name, only to have him tell me he wasn't allowed to give it to strangers. I didn't have a name, no idea what mom looked like and no idea where to even begin looking. I remembered the security office being near one of the entrances so started for one of them taking the kid by the hand and almost dragging him. I wanted to go home, but that was starting to look like a dream that would never happen. I found a directory and started looking for the security office sure that was the best place to take the kid, there and found I had gone the wrong direction and needed to go back across the mall to the other end. I wanted to scream, instead taking the kid again by the hand and this time walking more at his pace for the other end of the mall. The security office was packed with people either looking for a lost kid or bringing one in, in hopes they could be reunited with their families. I finally made it up to talk to the security people and let them know I had a lost boy who needed to find his mom.

  “Sir we have over fifty lost kids here, if you can wait just five minutes I'll see if your kid has been brought in yet.”

  “I'm not looking for anyone, I have a boy I'm hoping to help find his mom.”

  “Yes sir I understand, but it will take time to see if your son is here.”

  I looked down at the boy standing beside me and froze he was still there, but not the small boy I had brought across the mall, this was a teenager who didn't seem to care one way or another what was going on around him. He looked at me and smiled.

  “It always snows for Christmas doesn't it, dad?”

  I turned and started back to my seat in the center of the mall. “Peace I give, not as the world gives.” Again the voice I knew, but didn't know. Where was he that I could hear him so clearly and yet still not see him?

  “Daddy couldn't we get mommy those shoes? I know she would really like them and she hasn't had new shoes in a long time.

  “I'm sorry son, but mom is going to have to go without again this year. Santa just doesn't have the money this year.”

  I looked at the woman he was looking at and saw she really did need the shoes. I guessed at her size to be about an eight and went in and told them to see that the whole family got new shoes and two pair for the mom. The clerk looked at the family I was talking about and nodded. I gave her two one hundred dollar bills and said anything left she was to give to the family so they could have a nice Christmas. I didn't know why I did that, but I knew the people really needed the help and I did have the money to spare.

  As I walked away from the store I smiled and felt a little better about being there shopping. I spotted the boy who had been handing out fliers earlier and saw he was again handing them out so headed his way just as he gave someone the last flier he had and again disappeared. I tried to see just what the fliers were he had been handing out and every time I got close to someone who had one they disappeared taking the flier with them.

  “Sir, can you help me?”

  I looked down and there stood a little girl. I stooped down so I could look her in the eye and she asked if I could help her get a box down from a shelf she was too short to reach without making the box either fall on the floor or move back out of her reach on the shelf. I got the box down for her and said I would take it to the counter for her, since it was kind of heavy. She smiled and said she was sure she could manage. I shook my head and there stood a teenage girl taking the box smiling and thanking me for helping her.

  I turned again to find my seat and again heard the voice. “If you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.” I stopped and bowed my head asking if this was meant for me. Was I so caught up in the commercial side of Christmas I had forgotten what it was supposed to be about? I felt a tear run down my cheek and started again toward the seat I had found.

  “You ok Mr?” There stood a girl that I was sure wasn't much older than my little Becky.

  I assured them I was fine and thanked them for their concern. I turned and the child said it always snows for Christmas, doesn't it?” I turned back and she was gone. I bowed my head and said quietly enough I was sure no one would hear yes it does, it always snows for Christmas.

  I saw the boy again handing out fliers and headed his way again this time making sure to keep an eye on him. He turned and looked at me and smiled. It was the same dirty faced kid who was looking for his mom. I blinked and he was the teenager. Again and the little girl stood there asking for help, then the young lady thanking me for the help. “I am always with you. I will never forsake you. My grace is sufficient.” I thanked him for helping me to again see the reason for the season, the reason I had lost somewhere over the past year. I bowed my head and offered the first real prayer I had offered in a very long time, a prayer of thanks for all he had given me. I knew who he was, and he loved me. “If you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.”

  Christmas morning the kids were up almost before I made it to bed. Shortly after we heard them running around the house they both came in and jumped on the bed making any chance of getting anymore sleep a fond dream that just wasn't going to happen. We shooed them out of the room and got dressed wondering why it felt chilly in the house. As we came out of the bedroom we listened for the sound of the kids and didn't hear anything. I had no idea where they could have gone when the door opened and the youngest one said Santa did bring her what she really wanted.

  I looked out the door and wondered at how light it seemed with what the hour was. I stepped out the door and there on the ground lay a blanket of white, as white as any snow we ever had before moving to Phoenix. I looked around and everywhere there was snow, and it was still falling. I looked to heaven and thanked God for his mercy on someone who had lost what Christmas was supposed to be all about. I looked to the kids and smiled as they ran out and made a snowman knowing that if it made it to the middle of the day they would be lucky, but not sure it wouldn't after all this snow was special it was Christmas snow.

  Back to Top

  The Christmas Goose!

  So cold and blustery. What am I do out here?

  “Yes honey we have turkey for Thanksgiving, but go
ose for Christmas.”

  How did this tradition get started anyway? Yeah I brought a goose home just before Christmas every year, that is until this year, this year the only thing it looks like I'll be bringing home is this cold from falling so many times getting to the blind. What did I have to show for getting all wet? Nothing, not a bird all day except those gulls and... No, I won't say it here.

  “Daddy please don't go hunting today!” little Elizabeth cried as I started out.

  “You want goose for dinner tomorrow don't you? I asked her and she sniffled and nodded she loved having goose, but this year she just wanted the family together.

  Yes, that would be nice, but we hadn't all been together since the day he left. The day he said if I couldn't accept him, he would find a family who could. I accepted him, I just didn't understand him. Here I was handing him everything and asking nothing in return. Well I thought I was asking nothing in return. How was I supposed to know the pain I was causing him. All those years without a word and then boom. Does he understand the pain he caused his mother and I? I don't know, all I know is I miss having him home. It seems such a small thing looking back now. Were did the time go? Four years and never a word. No, hi, I'm still alive and doing ok. No, I wish things could have been...
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