Ok, so I want to say this is happy, but I think that would be giving false expectations. Maybe sappy would be better, a little cliche Christmas story. It does have a happy ending, and it is not incredibly dark or imply anyone died, so I I liked it. That said, I made myself cry. The story of a Christmas wish tree, giving gifts to children who live in a cities group homes. Written for the prompt below!
The Christmas tree was not traditional. It was not covered in ornaments, or as the old custom warranted, gifts. This tree was covered in something else, it was a tree of wishes.
Each wish was written by a child, at one of the cities group homes, and on it was written one thing that the child truly wanted. The wishes varied from the sad warm mittens, to the more expensive laptop, but each one was written in earnest. There were 2500 in total, too high really to assume that they would all be filled, and so the children were warned not to expect anything.
Clarice, who organized this whole venture, smiled as she pulled another wish from the tree. They were removed when claimed, and then taped to the gift and sorted into bins by group home when fulfilled. It took a little more time than the mayor would have liked her to spend, but it kept her fulfilled through the new year, and Clarice who spent most her days toiling away organizing from behind the scenes was rewarded with this time off from her regular duties each year. It didn’t hurt that this was PR gold.
On the 22nd, she looked at the tree, far emptier that it had been and furrowed her brow a little. The campaign had been wildly successful, more so that any other year, but there were still over 500 tags left on the tree and that was going to leave many an unhappy child. When the doors closed that night, she went through the cash donations, and if she picked only the lowest cost tags, she could get about 150 more filled, but that still left a lot. There was nothing she could do about that now.
She spent her night making a ridiculous number of runs out to local stores, and when they found out what she was doing, the donations started to pour in. With the agreement that their name would go up on the wall, with the number of tags sponsored, she was given more than she paid for.
Overall, she finished her night near midnight with only 65 of the tags remaining. The wrapping volunteers were going to hate her. The next morning the mayor walked in and was stunned at the number of presents. He was however a shrewd man, and called the local radio station, reading out a letter of thanks, including every store, and person who donated, and how much this would mean. On Clarice’s behalf, he also read, that of the 2500 tags they started with, there were only 65 remaining. Each hour, on the hour, the station read a few tags, and what the children wanted, and by the end of the day they were at 15.
Clarice wanted to cry, they were so close. Thats when the Mayor himself pulled out a cheque and covered the cost of the last 15 toys himself. The donations didn’t stop there though. Apparently the community was bolstered by its great win, and there were donations of candy canes, and decorations, and trees and Clarice herself worked until 10 pm on Christmas eve trying to make sure it all got where it needed to be.
It was worth it though, on Christmas morning, standing at a group home as the children stepped out, and their eyes widened with surprise. The image of them staring at the trees in awe, joy spreading across their tiny faces would see her through the worst of the campaign muckraking the following spring.
Sister Agatha stepped forward, a smile on her usually serene face. “I am so proud of you Clarice.” She said, and Clarice flushed.
“Oh, no,” She said humbly, “It was the donors.” But the sister stopped her.
“There is a time for modesty my dear, and this isn’t it. I know how hard you must have worked to arrange this, to make them a better Christmas than you did, when you were a girl.” Sister Agatha continued.
Clarice remembered a quieter Christmas, many years ago, with bags of used clothing being the highlight of her year, and her biggest wish to have a doll of her own, but knowing it wouldn’t be happening. She compared it to the scene before her, and the exhaustion of all the late nights melted away. This was worth every second.