A Christmas Story
The rays of the morning sun are shining through the window of the little room; outside the ground is covered with snow. It looks quiet and clean as the little boy looks out his bedroom window. Peaceful, is this what peaceful looks like? The nine-year-old thinks.
He turns his head at the sound of his brother groaning in his sleep, he watches him intently, hoping that he does not wake up. Moments later, his brother settles down and once again, he turns his attention to the streets of Brooklyn.
From the apartment across the street, he can see two kids jumping up and down at the gifts that their mother has handed them. Loving family? Is that what a loving family looks like?
It is Christmas all over the world, would it be Christmas here, in his little apartment. He shrugs his shoulders, "It doesn't matter. I don't care." He says aloud trying to convince himself of that and sitting erect as he holds back the tears he feels wanting to come through. A part of him wishes he still believed in Santa Claus, then maybe there would be something to look forward to this Christmas.
He leaves the window and shuffles through his bedroom, first stop the bathroom, must wash his face before any one can see his eyes. After all, he's not a baby anymore.
He leaves the bathroom and stands in the hallway, should I go back to bed or….kitchen, I'm hungry. He pops two slices of white bread into the toaster then climbs up onto the counter. He removes a bowl from one cabinet and a box of cereal from the other.
He sits alone at the kitchen table, his legs dangling on the large chair. His bare-feet move in time to the music coming from the radio. He finishes his breakfast and remembers to clean up the mess that he made. He returns to his bedroom, slipping on a pair of socks to warm his cold feet.
He once again leaves his room, closing the door softly, as not to wake his twelve-year-old brother. He can be such a grouch when he wakes up. He walks down the hall and into the living room, which does have a small-decorated tree. There are a few little wrapped gifts underneath, items his mother bought, usually necessary things; he can wait until they wake to open them. He begged for hours the other night for his mother to buy a tree, she finally gave in. Usually her answer is that they can't afford it and then she, as she always does, goes into a tyrant about how his father never gives her any money. He doesn't listen to her rant anymore, he can perform her act, practically word for word. He manages a small chuckle as he remembers that the last time he started to perform with her, he thought it was funny, she on the other hand, didn't. He cringes as he rubs his butt, remembering the whack to his ass. He passes the tree, "At least it's bigger than Charlie Browns'." He clicks on the TV.
He finds a sit-com Christmas episode that he has seen many times before. Half-way through the program he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and a balmy breeze from the hallway warms him. "Merry Christmas," the familiar female voice says happily. He pouts as he opens the door wider, "Ah yeah Merry Christmas," what the heck is she so happy about?
"Well don't just stand there, help me with these bags."
He looks down, "What? I mean where did you get all this stuff?"
"Santa left them at my house." She immediately notices his frown, "Too old for Santa this year?" He nods his head as he takes a firm hold of one of the bags.
She unbuttons her coat as she walks further into the room, "Mom still sleeping?" He nods, as he places the bags on the floor next to the tree. "Well," she says imploringly.
"Open the bags and put the gifts under the tree." He nods his head, "Sure." Minutes later, there are three little piles of gifts. One of the boxes has his name on it; it is not only large but makes a rattling sound when he shakes it. He only hopes it is, a 'Hot Wheels' racetrack, the big one that includes two cars. That is the one thing he has been annoying his Mom about and it would be the best gift he ever got. But the nine-year-old is use to being disappointed and pushes the thought out of his mind.
"Enjoy your Christmas, sweetie. I have some other stops to make."
"Bye Sandi, did my Mom ask you to do this?"
"Always the skeptic, aren't we?"
"No, it's just that…." She kisses his cheek, "Stop analyzing everything and enjoy your Christmas."
He closes the door behind her then dashes through the living room down the hall and without knocking; he opens his mother's bedroom door. "Mom, time to get up," he pats her shoulder. "It's Christmas." She stirs and grumbles something, then sits up. She frowns at first then notices the ecstasy on her youngest sons face. Pulling down her blanket, she moves her legs off the bed and finds her slippers. "Come on Mom."
"Alright, I'm coming." She follows the young boy out of the room; he starts toward the living room then stops suddenly turning back toward his bedroom. He hastily opens the door and it hits the wall. His brother sits up immediately, "What, is the house on fire? It better be."
"No, it's Christmas, come on get up."
He too can see the excitement on his little brother's face. "Yeah ok whatever."
He runs down the hall passing his mother on the way and when they come into view of the living room and the tree, they stand in wonder. They take quick glances at each other and then at the tree with the presents under it. "Where?" His mother clears her throat. "Where did these gifts come from?"
He stands, "Come on Mom you know, Sandi brought them."
He sees her frown and his brothers' frown, "Sandi, Sandi Clark?" she asks.
His older brother interjects, "That's impos.." She jabs her eldest son in his side, then shakes her head.
Always perceptive, he can tell when something is afoot, "Why is it impossible, Sandi brought them, she gave us stuff last year, remember?" Each smile and nod their head.
The little family spends the next twenty minutes opening their presents, one by one. The neighbors on each side probably heard the scream, not of pain but joy from the little boy who got what he wanted. The box was open and the plastic bags that held all the parts where shrew all over the floor. The little boy spent the morning putting together different shape racetracks. Toward the twelve o'clock hour, his stomach starts to growl. His mother prepares a sandwich for him and once again sits at the kitchen table. Yesterday's Daily News is folded on the table and as he eats, he reads the paper. Page after page of sadness he reads, then stands when a familiar name appears in an article. The glass that held his milk finds the floor. "That's impossible, she….she was here."
Social Worker Sandra Clark found dead in her office. "We don't anticipate foul play." Detective John Eames said. Mrs. Clark spent the last thirty-five years of her life serving the youngsters of the borough of Brooklyn. The kids, she insisted, called her Sandi.
"I'm glad he had a merry Christmas," a little girl says.
"So was Sandi Clark really Santa Claus?" a little boy asks.
"If you want her to be, it's a story with a little Christmas magic."
He looks down to some very unconvinced faces. "He was about to give up, right?" Nods are seen from all. "But he didn't, he asked for the tree, knowing that she would say no but his persistence paid off. Don't give up, because if there is one person in this world that you can always depend on, it's you. I know it's hard but you just have to believe in yourself. When the people around you treat you bad, the one thing that you all have to remember is that no matter what they say or do. You are not to blame; it is not your fault." Reassurance from an adult is always helpful and needed. Their frowns turn to smiles; he winks at them and smiles in return.
"Tell another story Bobby?" a freckled faced girl asks.
Yeses and pleases are heard from the group of youngsters who come to this haven for children who have been removed from the homes of their neglectful and sometimes abusive parents. At the moment the shelter is home to eleven children, ranging in ages from nine to twelve. He stands, "No, that's enough for one night. Come on, I have some surprises for you." He holds out his hand and two of the three little girls take hold. The remaining three grab a tight hold of his arm. The boys stand then follow close behind. "Are you ready for them, Alex?"
She turns and motions with her hand toward a pile of wrapped gifts, under a six-foot artificial tree. The younger ones, jump up and down and cheer, the older ones, three boys, wish they could. In a hurry the kids scramble over. Alex quickly moves out of the way and chuckles at the sight. "How many years have you been coming here and doing this Bobby?"
He links his arm in hers, "Let's just say that one of the kids that lived here, just graduated from college."
"And one of them is now a cop."
He smiles, "Yeah when I was nine, Randi started this home with her husband." He pats her hand, "Thanks for helping me out."
"I enjoyed it. You sort of forget how many kids are left out at Christmas. I feel some what ashamed that…" she rubs her eyes.
"Don't apologize because you had a loving family and a happy childhood."
"Do me a favor?" she asks.
"Make sure you call me next year I want to help again."
He removes his arm and places it securely around her shoulder. "I will."
Todd Selby shuffles toward them, "That was a cool story," the twelve year old holds out his right hand for Bobby to shake and with his left hand, he holds up the gift, "Thanks."
"You're welcome Todd and Merry Christmas."
Bobby shakes the youngsters' hand, "Merry Christmas to you," Todd says smiling.
That is all