A Wish for Christmas

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.

Out of Reach

This was based on the Six-Sentence Story prompt “reserve” by girlontheedge. I am going to apologize now, because this is incredibly depressing, and unfortunately real world even though it is fiction. It is focused on Christmas and the growing realization that people are having that this isn’t going to be the joyous, pandemic free holiday that people have been expecting.

I held my own opinions in reserve as I listened the boisterous holiday talk around me, not wanting to be the one who soured the mood with a dose of reality. I did not have to wait long, as with each day and each new case announced the feeling of unease grew, and the murmurs changed from joy to discontent at what kind of Christmas we would be having.

The holiday masks of the prior year, once thought to be a decadence due to their short term use, were being pulled back out with an air of sadness. Friends and family asking the question if they should forgo this Christmas to try and avoid being in the same boat next year, while others who didn’t have many seasons ahead of them worried this might be the last chance they got to see their families.

For the second year in a row, lines were drawn, and people were split in their decisions, though some had changed sides since the year prior, with whether or not they were willing to take the risk, to potentially get sick, or end up trapped far from their own homes.

I looked out at the scene that was set with snow, decorations, presents galore, and all that was missing was the holiday spirit of those who were being reminded that Dr. Seuss’s was right, that it wasn’t the same if we didn’t have we.

Christmas Spirit

Going to be honest here, I have no idea where this one came from. It’s the story of a single Mother trying to talk her six-year-old out of volunteering at every single event in the volunteering guide, while not completely destroying his enthusiasm with reality. Not sure if I really hit the note I was going for here, but I think it turned out well enough..

“But it’s Christmas” Eddie argued for the 36th time, and Justine wanted to kill whatever well meaning teacher that had explained the “Christmas spirit” concept to her six-year-old.

While the theory was nice and all, be kind to everyone, there were limits. “Sweetie, I know it’s Christmas, and I would love to go out and help at all those events, and do all that volunteering. I really would, but sweetie.” God this part was hard. “Mommy has to work.” She started.

“But you aren’t working now.” He whinged.

“I know, but adults have different kinds of work baby. I mean ya, I gotta go to work. I also have to buy groceries, and pay bills, and drive you and Nana around, and sweetie. Sometimes when I am done, I am tired. And I want to do all those things, and I promise that we can do some of the things, but we have to pick, okay?” Pheww this wasn’t the fun part of being a Mom.

He was looking at her like she had told him Santa Claus wasn’t real, and she hoped that wasn’t what was coming next. It was reality though, and while she didn’t want him to have to learn it this young, it would do neither of them any good if she worked herself into a nervous breakdown trying to make this happen for him.

Maybe, just maybe this would help teach him the lesson that she had learned the hard way. That you can do what you want, whatever you wanted, be whatever you wanted, but you couldn’t be all the things.

She hated that look on his face though, so she did the Mom fall-back, and she lied. Okay, not lied, but bent the truth in a way that it would make an adult call her a liar, and yet make complete sense to a kid.

“Besides, I don’t think it would be fair to keep all the Christmas spirit for for us, now would it?” She heaved a sigh, trying to sell it.

He furrowed his whole face into a frown trying to work through it. “Whaddya mean?” He asked finally.

“Well, if everyone tried to do ALLLL the Christmas spirit things, all the volunteering, and help with all the events, then there would be too many people, and some people might not get a chance to do any at ALL. I just thought, maybe we might be a little more fair, and do a few of the things…” She trailed off, and hoped he would go for it.

“And then everybody can do a few of the things and then there will be enough people for everything, and NOBODY MISSES OUT!” He finished at a yell, and she was so relieved that she could cry.

“Exactly. So why don’t we go through this list, and we pick one thing for each Saturday, and then leave the rest for all the other people?” He nodded wildly at her suggestion, and she pulled him into her lap as they leafed through the “Christmas giving guide” her town council had put out.

In the end they had chosen to go carolling at a seniors facility, help out at a snowman building competition, and of course also compete in it, and then kick it all off next weekend at the local grocery store, collecting food for the food bank. She was lucky he was little enough that he didn’t notice her steering him away from things that would take a week of preparation to help out with, and towards the single day events.

In the end, it was a pretty good slate, and once he was bored to death with the food bank collection, as he would be about an hour into their three hour shift, she could always suggest coming back again next week.

Ah, the joys of single motherhood.