It was snowing in the North-West Territory, but then it was always snowing here. Or at least it seemed that way to Clara. She had lived here half of her life, after marrying Henry, her Canadian Policeman. Now they were retired, and contemplating moving back home to her beloved New York. Actually, she was doing more than contemplating, she was packing.
Not clothes, but household items, things they wouldn’t need to take with them. Truth be told, Clara was depressed. She needed something to jar her out of it, and wasn’t sure what it was. Henry watched his Wife, he knew exactly what was going on. He just didn’t know how to help her, so he thought he would help her pack.
It was on his first trip to the Garage that he hit on it. It was a box of Christmas lights, tangled and quickly wrapped up. He grabbed a sharpie from his tool belt. “No, that won’t work, it has to be a red one. Oh, wait here it is.” Henry collected an item here and there, and carefully carried his box to Clara.
“What’s this?” “It’s a guaranteed anti depression remedy. Now don’t deny it, you’re missing family. You need something to jar you out of it. We’ll be in New York soon enough, but until then.” He handed her the box.
It had the old line from the Christmas song written on it. “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute.” She opened it, and instantly began to laugh. It was a box of tangled Christmas tree lights, a battery, a small plastic tree, and a Christmas ornament. Inside was a paper tag that read, Do It Yourself Christmas Kit.
She kissed her husband, and they had a cup of coffee. It would have been the last time she thought of it, until her plane ride. Clara shared the sweet memory with the passenger across the aisle. You would have thought it was genius, the lady was so enthused. Just the idea of it seemed to make her happier.
Clara filed that fact away in the back of her head before they got off the plane. The next few weeks were constantly busy, and they loved being near family. Still, Henry knew that something was bothering Clara. “What is it honey? Aren’t you happy that we moved?”
“Oh yes, very, but that’s just it. You and I are happy, but people around here don’t seem as happy as they used to. It seems like everyone is sad, depressed, or in a hurry.” “I guess it’s the way of the world. Everyone could use a little spark to brighten their day.” “A little spark, yes, yes, I think they could.”
With that, she preceded to share with Henry his idea, version 2.0. They would buy some small plastic trees, a battery powered set of miniature lights, and a few tiny ornaments. When they met someone who seemed to need a smile, they would get their address, and send them a little Christmas.
“Aren’t you afraid that someone will think we’re trivializing Christmas? Or that we’re ignoring the real meaning of it?” “No, because we’re going to send them a tag, like yours. On one side, it will say Do It Yourself Christmas Kit. On the other it will say, He traveled far so you wouldn’t be sad, this is a reminder to be happy.”
It was the middle of August, but they started their personal goodwill campaign. They didn’t just stop with family and friends. The store clerk at Macy’s got a kit, the man in the elevator that never smiled got one too.
They had arrived in an election year, so the Mayor and his top rival each received one after the debate. Only theirs had a customized card about letting Brotherly love continue, and the other’s name written on the card. It didn’t stop the campaigning, but it made the next two debates much nicer.
This little enterprise continued sporadically for the next year, until a reporter showed up at their door. Wil Zolman was a good reporter, and a very pessimistic young man. “I traced three boxes back to your address. I know this was you, tell me, what’s your intention? Are you starting a business? Is it a religious message? What do you hope to gain out of this?”
Henry had seen his Wife mad, what husband hadn’t, but he hadn’t seen her this mad in a long time. “Young man, you might want to rephrase that.” She didn’t give him the time to however. Clara was too angry to wait.
“What do I want out of this? Perhaps a world filled with less cynics like you. A place where everyone doesn’t have an angle, where you do something nice period. Let me ask you the same question. What do you get out of being suspicious of everybody you meet? Do you enjoy being miserable?”
The reporter was shocked, he just sat there a minute. After the rush of emotion had fainted, Clara felt bad. She didn’t want to hurt the young man. “I’m sorry, it’s just that this world is so full of misery. When you try to do something good, people think you have a gimmick. Honestly, we just wanted to see people a little happier. I suppose if they know it came from an old couple in Brooklyn, it’ll lose it’s magic.”
Wil still hadn’t moved. Her words had stung him, and he knew why. He was miserable, he had been that way for so long, he missed it when he had a fleeting moment of happiness. It wasn’t that he enjoyed it, just that he was accustomed to it. “Tell you what, if I can have one of those kits to go, no one will ever know.”
Clara smiled, went to the closet, and handed him one. He smiled, thanked them, and went on his way. He stopped in the coffee shop, typed up a very different story, and emailed it. Next, he headed for his next stop.
She hadn’t expected him, they hadn’t dated in over a year. Alda Cox was also a reporter, they had met through the paper, and at first she thought things were going well. The trouble was, a few months into the relationship, Wil seemed to find reasons to push her away.
Eventually she became so frustrated, that she ended the relationship. She’d read his byline from time to time, miss him, and go about her day. For some reason, every one she dated after him, ended near the same way. Either her or they lost interest, and she would think of him in passing.
That didn’t mean that she was happy to see him. Truth be told, she had made it clear every time they ran into each other she was still angry. He didn’t expect this to be easy, he thought he was crazy for trying, but he was tired of being miserable.
Wil knocked on her door. When she answered he placed the brown craft covered box in her hand. “Look, don’t say a word yet. Just listen, but first, can I come in?” Alda stepped back, but just far enough to let him inside the door.
“Christine Parmenter, my girlfriend in college. Actually my fiancé, until she returned the ring with a wedding invitation for her and my replacement. I hadn’t known we were in trouble, there were no signs of it. It’s easier to be suspicious that someone is going to leave you, than to not expect it at all. I know it’s probably too late, but would you like some coffee? At least open the box ok?”
Alda kept a blank stare on her face, he had no idea what she was thinking. She sat the box down, unwrapped it, and pulled out the tiny tree, the battery, the lights, and the ornament. She read the card, and the extra piece of paper that Alda hadn’t told Wil about. It read …
I could be wrong, but I suspect this young man is miserable because of a girl. Whether you are the one that caused the misery, or the victim of her, you’re the one he gave the box too. If he gave you this, he’s asking for another chance. That’s what Christmas is about, God came to Earth to give man a second chance. It couldn’t hurt to follow His example could it?
“You better be glad you’re cute. An I want good coffee, not some cheap place. In fact, I might order steak, just because I feel like it.” Then she smiled at him. The next Wedding invitation wouldn’t be sent out for several months, but both of their names would be on it, and she did order steak, for all five hundred guests.
In case you’re wondering, the article read something like this. ‘While their identity will remain a mystery, two very special people felt that New York needed a little Christmas, right this very minute. She was in too much danger to wait for December winds to blow in smiles and laughter, so they used the mail.’