When you’re a diner in the city, unusual things happen, especially on Christmas Eve. My place is a little neighborhood eatery called Argoyne’s, in the theater district. It’s a haven for actors, policemen on night shifts, hotel workers, and anyone else who couldn’t sleep.
As a result, long ago, we became an all night place, except on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On those days, we serve the lonely and the hungry. Every night, we always have a cozy booth, and a hot cup of coffee for the less fortunate.
This was earlier in December, on a Thursday night. The place was full. My wife Eula was trimming the tree. The boys, Harold and John were waiting tables, and Miles came in.
He was well dressed, but the clothes were showing age. He wore the same old black overcoat, ivory scarf, and faded blue fedora, with a touch of red in the feather. Even his tuxedo had a touch of wear to it.
Miles was a character actor. He had been in every role the theater had to offer, but now played mostly small parts. “Hello Silas, how are things in the culinary world?”
I smiled, knowing the ritual we went through every night. “Going good, busy as usual. Coffee? The chicken parmesan is extremely good tonight.”
“Perfect, and yes, java is needed. It’s a cold night my boy, and I must needs ignite the furnace.” “Coming up.”
Usually he held court in his booth, entertaining with his stories. Tonight, he did not wait for a group to form. He went to watch my wife trim the tree.
“Eula my dear, beautiful as ever. The lights make the ornaments pop.” “Thank you Miles. You don’t think it looks too old fashioned?”
“Not as old fashioned as these tired eyes. A bit of nostalgia makes the memories loud enough to enjoy again. It makes it easier to remember youth and excitement.”
She smiled, and continued to talk as I drifted out of ear shot. I sat down a pot of coffee, and two cups in front of Office Harry Walsh and Officer Bob Orbach. They were brushing the snow off their shoulders and hats.
“I thought you both could use this. What else can I get you?” “Anything hot, it’s thirty below out there.” Harry had a touch of blarney to him. It was cold, but it wasn’t that cold.
“He’s getting too old to take it Silas. I think we both are.” I smiled. They talked like this when they were stumped on a case. I knew it wouldn’t before they figured it out.
There was a melancholy mood in the place tonight, and I didn’t like it. It was Christmas time, and it should feel like it. It was my job to change things.
Before I did, I filled up the cups of the couple in the back booth. They were young, in love, and probably broke. Two cups of coffee, one sandwich, and two orders of fries. The poor couple’s combo.
Alvin came in, his red doorman’s uniform brightened up the place, with it’s gold buttons. It looked a bit old school, but that was the retro style that was popular right now.
He and his wife Lydia, who worked as a concierge, usually came by this time of night after every shift. It was their first chance to get dinner.
John brought their Thursday night order, pot roast to the table. We tried to time it right for their arrival. Usually, we got it right.
I went to Miles, and asked him to entertain the diner with one of his tales. He cleared his throat. Then discarded his hat, keeping the scarf tight around his neck, and smoothed his hair.
Before he spoke, I introduced him. “Folks, it’s Christmas time, and we have some wonderful story tellers here tonight. I’ve asked a close friend to lead off, the talented actor, Miles Lake.
We didn’t have exactly a stage, but a little section for announcements. It doubled as a focal point on nights like this. We tried to do it every year, so most of my friends new to have a story ready anytime in December.
“It was a performance of a completely unforgettable play, on another early December I shall not forget. I was young, vibrant, filled with confidence, and totally ignorant. I had the lead, and I was horrid.”
“The director was a kind old theater bird, much like I am now. He knew I was bad, the world knew it, but he didn’t tell me. Instead, he gave me a Christmas gift.”
“What do you think it was? Wrapped in gold paper, and green ribbon. I opened it gingerly, with as much anticipation as a child.”
“It was a book, not a copy of Shakespeare, or Dickens. Instead, it was a small story called The Finch and the Farmer. With your permission, I relate it to you now.”
The Finch and The Farmer
The little golden finch sat on a tree just outside of the barn. It was a heavy winter, and everything was decorated for Christmas. A huge green wreath was on the large red door.
An old barn stove warmed the structure, even through the cracks at it’s seams. The small bird had positioned his nest in the little tree closest to the heat. He was safe and happy.
The sounds of a farm were all around. The old milk cows moo’d back and forth. The hens picked and clucked as they ate their food. The horses neighed occasionally, and the farm hand was clanging away repairing the tractor.
The only two not making any noise, were the leads of the story. The farmer was no where in sight, and the little finch was content to sit and listen. He watched as the farmer’s wife sat two pies on the window sill of the house a few yards away.
In a few minutes, one of the pies started moving. He saw it bounce across the fence line. Of course, it was being carried by the farmer’s little blonde haired son, who was playing a joke on his Mother.
“Calvin James, put that back.” When she saw his little grinning face, she knew it wasn’t theft he had in his heart. The boy giggled, and the Mother smiled.
Finally, one of the title characters broke their silence. “With all that movement, I believe that pie is cool enough to eat.” “Ronnie, you’re home.”
She hugged her husband with the arm not holding the groceries. “I got everything you wanted for Christmas dinner. The rest is in the car. Are Mat and Laura here yet?”
“No, they called from town. The train was a little late, they should be here soon. It’s going to be a beautiful Christmas.”
He smiled at her. “Nell, it has to be, you’re here.” He kissed her gently. “No mistletoe, you owe Santa a dime for that one.” “I’ve got two dollars more.”
She grinned. “Just enough, but now there’s a tree to trim.” He faked a sigh. “Work, work, work, always work. Come on Calvin, there’s lights to string, and a train to set up.”
As the three went into the house, and the animals started to quiet down. The little finch felt his first touch of sadness. Soon, the stove would stop, the farm hand would head to the house, and he would be all alone for the night.
He was preparing himself for a cold night when he saw the Farmer slip back outside. The finch thought it was for the rest of the Groceries, but that wasn’t it. He pulled a gold wire cage out of the trunk.
It looked very much like a bird cage. The little finch, who’s feathers had started to chill, heart fell. A bird would be warm tonight in a nice cage, but it wouldn’t be him.
He was so sad that he lost sight of the Farmer for a minute. Suddenly the finch was scooped out of the nest. Scared, and not knowing what to do, he began to panic.
Until, he was suddenly free again.. The hands were the farmers, and there was a bird in the little cage, only it was him. Ronnie had his son’s present, and the little finch had a warm place to stay.
It was a wonderful Christmas. The Farmer and the finch enjoyed a hearty meal. For one it was ham, and bird seed for the other. The night finished off with the happy song of a little bird.
“The next day, the director took me out to lunch. ‘Miles, did you read the little story I gave you?’ I laughed. ‘Yes sir I did, and unless I miss my guess. You’re trying to tell me something.’”
“He smiled. ‘There was a lot of noise in the story wasn’t there?’ I nodded, knowing what was coming. ‘Yet, one lead had a few lines, and the other had only one, but it was the most important line in the story.”
“He was telling me that I didn’t have to ham it up. That’s why Tiny Tim is famous for one line, and most can’t quote more than a word of Shakespeare’s plays. My director said, ‘Don’t be loud, be memorable, just like Christmas.’”
“Your holiday may be a small one, without a lot of pomp and circumstance. However, if it has love in it, then your Christmas is complete.”
Miles told the simple story with just the right touch. Everyone smiled. It was an opening act, and, the seasoned performer knew just how to deliver it.
Officer Orbach slipped out of his booth, wiped his mouth with a napkin, and took Miles spot. “My story goes back to when I was a young rookie, in this neighborhood.
The diner wasn’t here then, a barber shop was on this lot. It was outside of here that I saw him, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the Police Commissioner, and you might say he was out of uniform.
Police Commissioners don’t normally wear uniforms, usually it’s detective clothes, a suit and tie. What I meant, was that he was dressed very casually.
No, he wasn’t dressed like Santa Claus. He had on old work jeans, a brown bomber jacket, a plaid shirt, and work gloves. I didn’t want to bother him, but I stepped a little closer to get a better look.
He must have seen me, because he waved me over. “Yes, it’s me, I’m Commissioner Jagger. I realize you’re not used to seeing me like this. What’s your name son?”
“Officer Harry Walsh sir, and it’s none of my business sir. I just assumed it’s your day off. I wear comfortable clothes on those days too.”
He smiled. “So do I, but it’s not my day off. Officer, of all the things I do, today is probably the most important. How would you like to help me?”
I was shocked, and excited at the prospect, but I knew my duty. I thought this may have been a test. “I’d love to sir, but I’m on patrol, I can’t leave my post.”
He gave me another smile. I’ve never seen another superior officer with quite the same smile. “That’s the benefit of being the Police Commissioner.”
He made one phone call, and orders came over my radio. I was on special assignment for the day. It was a day I’ll never forget. Also, it may have been my best day on the force.
You probably expect me to say we went to the toy stores and loaded the car with gifts. Or maybe that we stopped at the homeless shelter and fed people. The truth is, we didn’t do any of that.
Instead, we went to the bank. The Commissioner pulled out two thousand dollars. He didn’t say, but I caught a glimpse of the deposit slip. It was his own personal account that he took it from.
We made four stops. The first was at a small barber shop that’s now this diner. Then, it was named Lafferty’s. Nelson Lafferty was a good man. He had been in business ever since I was a kid.
Now in his sixties, but you couldn’t tell it. His black hair only had a few streaks of gray, and his green eyes were vibrant. His mother had been a first generation American from South Africa. His father’s family went back to World War II.
A history buff, you could see bits and pieces of his heritage in his shop. He never appeared to have that much, but what he had was in pristine condition. Before we went inside, the Commissioner looked at me.
“I’m going to call you Harry for today. Harry, you won’t understand what I’m doing at first. So follow my lead, and trust me.” Then we went in.
“Have a seat gentlemen, I’ll ….” When he saw who it was, he smiled. “Commissioner, I haven’t seen you in a while. Here for a trim?”
“Not exactly Nelson. How are you doing?” “I’m good, business is fair, but I’m good.”
“Got time for a quick game of checkers? Or are you afraid you may lose again? After all, I am still the champ of the 54th precinct.”
“As I recall, you lost the last two games. Pull up a chair, there’s coffee on the counter. Grab a cup to sip while you lose.”
I will admit, the longer the game went, the more disappointed I was. I had expected we were either going to do some community goodwill, or this huge, grand, Christmas gesture.
Instead, I was watching two older gentlemen play checkers. I didn’t understand. Even whenever it happened, I didn’t quite get it.
“Nelson, how is that granddaughter of yours? Is she still still wanting to be an astronaut? What about Ed, is he still playing football?”
The man beamed at the thought of his grandchildren. “Yeah, she wants to pilot rocket ships, and I figure she will. Ed’s doing well in football, but even better in school.”
“What have they got their hearts set on for Christmas?” The man’s eyes, which were full of life a moment before, now lost their spark. He suddenly looked older too.
“They may not quite get their wish list this year, but I’m sure there’s something under the tree for them.” “Nelson, let me ask you something. Would five hundred dollars help complete that list?”
Immediately Nelson started to say he couldn’t accept any charity. In two minutes time, he listed all the same reasons why I would have said no. When he stopped to catch a breath, the Commissioner went into action.
“You’re right of course, but Nelson, I can’t help but wonder about something. If situations were reversed, and they have been. You remember when a certain barber gave several poor college kids free haircuts?
“I was one of those kids, and my pride said no too. Do you remember what you said to me? You said, ‘Can you afford something as expensive as your pride?’ You said that it would be a high price to pay, if shaggy hair was worth not turning a pretty girl’s head.”
“I thought for about a second, and I got in the chair. Are you going to let your pride cost you the look of your grandkids on Christmas Day? Is it worth that much?”
I slipped out of the door, and acted like I was getting a breath of fresh air. The Commissioner joined me a few minutes later. “He took it. Those kids will have a great Christmas this year.”
I still didn’t understand. I had to ask. “Sir, why didn’t you just go and get something for the kids? Why make it so awkward for Mr. Lafferty?”
Most men would have taken offense, but he didn’t. Instead, he finished his coffee, and threw the paper cup in the trash can outside. “Harry, how proud of being a policeman are you?”
“Very sir. It’s one of the most important things in my life. I couldn’t imagine being anything else.”
“Nelson feels the same way about being a Grandfather. Had I showed up with all the gifts, I would have also gotten all of the thank you’s.”
“This way, Grandpa gets to be the hero on Christmas day. Every parent, grandparent, or family member, should be a hero on Christmas. That’s why we do it this way.”
“The kids get the gifts, but it doesn’t cost him his pride. Accepting that gift was hard for him, but robbing him of the chance to be Santa Claus to his family. That’s a price I would never make him pay.”
The other three stops, one at a small grocer’s, another at a dress shop, and the last at my patrol car. I didn’t know it, but he had seen me before I ever saw him.
“Harry, I’ve got five hundred left, and it’s for you. I could give you the same speech I gave Nelson and the rest, but you’ve heard it three times. I know about your wife, and her surgery, you could use the money. Make an old man’s Christmas, by taking it and being her hero all over again?”
I said thank you through the tears. He smiled, and headed to his car. We had a good Christmas, but it was the lesson that I never forgot. Gifts are wonderful, but making it possible for others to give, is even better.
The mood was changing, people were smiling. Each story had been very well received, and everyone expected the next speaker to follow.
I motioned to the last one. He smiled, added his hat for effect, and slowly walked over. He was letting the anticipation build. “My name is Alvin Miller, I’m a doorman at the Howell Compton. I’ve seen a lot over my time there.”
“Each guest has a story, and I’ve been blessed to be a part of a number of them. Some were about famous people, others about folks you’ve never heard of. One in particular, is my favorite to this day.
The Wreath Maker
Sharon worked in the flower shop in the hotel for a long time, she’s retired now. Every Christmas I would visit her daily before my shift. It began as the fresh pine smell in the shop, but it turned out to mean a lot more than that.
Her beautiful white hair, and brown eyes reflected the kind attitude she always shared. Her mood was forever cheerful. Stress happens to all of us, but she never let it rob her of her joy.
Sharon was the wreath maker. She made all kinds of arrangements, but wreaths were her specialty. The biggest one I ever saw hung on the top of the hotel.
It took a crane to place it, and it was gorgeous. The lights were controlled on the inside, from a small electrical room on the top floor. Sharon had worked on it for days, a mixture of lights, gold, red, and green. People would gaze at it for hours, but that wasn’t my favorite wreath either.
Early in December, Lydia and I brought her coffee, and a strawberry doughnut. She loves strawberry doughnuts. All of November, I had been used to seeing her work on bits of this huge wreath.
When I saw several little ones lined on a table, it surprised me, but not Lydia. Women have an instant appreciation for beauty, and she commented on how beautiful they were.
Sharon was adding another one to the row while we talked. I, on the other hand, first asked what they were for, and then noticed how intricate and unique each was. “Are they for the guests?”
“No, I’ve already made arrangements for each of the guest’s rooms. These are for everyone who works in the hotel. It’s my way of giving Christmas to those who help make this place special.”
She pinned a wreath to Lydia’s coat, and my uniform, and we went on our way. I didn’t think much more about it that morning. We just did our work, but throughout the shift, I noticed more and more.
Or rather, I noticed the effect of them on the faces of each one. All of us made smiling a part of our routine. Today, it was different.
It was as if, they didn’t have to be reminded to be happy. I’m not claiming there was any bit of magic in them, or anything like that. It was something more, the fact that these individual, special items were made for them.
Out of curiosity, I confirmed this wasn’t management’s idea. They didn’t mind it. In fact they were as appreciative as everyone else, but it wasn’t planned.
Her act of kindness, had made a difference for everyone in the hotel, except for one man. He wore it, I don’t think even he would have said no to Sharon. Although if anyone could have, Mr. Thurl Pratt might.
He was the desk manager. A tall, silver haired, reserved, blue eyed Englishman. He wasn’t rude, nor mean, or anything so understandable.
The odd thing about him was that he always seemed distant. He was close to being cold, without quite getting there. It was as if he was a stranger to everyone, ignoring the fact he had worked with some of the people there since he had brown hair.
For some reason, his attitude made me sad. I still don’t know why, but I made it my mission, to get some real emotion out of him. At lunch time, I brought him a coffee.
“Here you are Mr. Pratt, that wind hitting the lobby with every visitor coming through the door, has to be cold.” “Thank you Alvin, it is noticeable. Although, at least I have the benefit of being inside.”
“Oh, I don’t mind it too bad. I learned a long time ago to dress in enough layers to insulate against it. At least as much as you can.”
He said something, almost in passing. “Yes, as much as you can. There’s only so much you can do.” It was the awkward way he said it, as if for the first time, he was making a real statement.
I had went to him, hoping for a real smile. Instead, I saw a touch of real sorrow. It bothered me, even more than the lack of emotion did.
All that afternoon, and through that night. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I talked to Lydia about it as we walked in the door of our apartment.
“Maybe you misread him. He doesn’t seem the type to be sad. Mr. Pratt’s always pleasant to me. I haven’t heard anybody ever say a bad word about him.”
“Haven’t you ever felt, when you talked to him, that you were talking to a stranger? We’ve known him for a few years now, and he talks to us like he would someone he just met.”
“For all intents and purposes, we are like them. Alvin honey, you look at anyone you’ve known for more than five seconds as a friend. It’s what I love about you, but not everyone feels that same way.”
“So, you’re saying he likes being distant? Babe, he may be used to it, but I can’t believe anyone enjoys that. Maybe no one’s ever made the effort to reach him?”
She just looked at me. Lydia knew that once I connected with a goal, I wouldn’t stop until I’ve checked it off my list. I thought about it as I drifted off.
The next morning, I had my plan worked out. After seeing Sharon, I was going to bring Mr. Pratt another coffee. It was going to be the start of a new daily ritual, until I broke through.
I hadn’t intended to mention it to Sharon, and I didn’t. Lydia brought it up. It was the first, and only time, she ever gave us that reaction.
The same glassy look came over her face while Lydia was telling her the story. I don’t think Lydia noticed it until about half way through, but I did right away. I was stunned.
When she was finished, Sharon dropped her head, and picked up her coffee. “Maybe he likes his walls. He seems to find them easier to deal with.”
She took a drink of her coffee, and as quickly as it had happened, it was gone. She smiled her warm, and inviting smile, and asked us if we wanted a spare arrangement she had made for us.
The hotel allowed her to make gifts of the leftover flowers, otherwise with the volume of them all, they would go bad. “You can pick it up after your shift. I’ll be working late today.”
After coffee with Sharon, we usually go to our separate stations, but not after that. Lydia grabbed my arm when we were out of earshot. “Did you see that? Alvin, we have to do something about this.”
“About what?” I knew what she meant, but after the long conversation the night before, I was going to enjoy this. Only, she wouldn’t let me.
“No time for gloating, we have a real problem here. You and I have to do something to remedy it. Those two people are miserable.”
“Whoa!” I said, using my hands for emphasis. “What do you mean they are miserable. She was odd, but Sharon’s one of the happiest people I know. She’s the wreath maker.”
It was then that my wife gave me that look every wife gives her husband at some point of their marriage. As if I were some naive deer in the forest. “Alvin honey, go to work. We’ll talk about this later.”
I did, and knowing that she was working on it, freed my mind. I didn’t think about it once the whole shift. What had seemed so important before, suddenly wasn’t, until that night.
Lydia explained what she had pieced together. “Two blind people. That’s what we are. You and I are supposed to be observers of humanity, and we completely missed it.”
She saw the puzzled look on my face, and didn’t wait for me to ask. “Sharon and Mr. Pratt have both worked there for as long as I could remember. Everyone that I asked said the same thing. Suddenly it was more than a coincidence.”
“A young soldier and his girl got jobs at the hotel. They were supposed to be married here. Only something happened, and the wedding never did. He isn’t cold because he wants to be distant, he’s heartbroken.”
“You think she is too? I was just wanting to make the guy smile, not play cupid.” She kissed me, knowing I couldn’t argue with her next statement after that. “What better time for love than at Christmas?”
I confess to you folks, I barely got my wife to marry me. I had no idea how to put two people together, especially that had problems with each other. Lydia didn’t have any such reservations, if you’ll excuse the industry pun.
Her plan was simple. A little sneaky, but simple. To trap to love shy people, you can’t be blatant. Lydia began by sabotaging the wreath’s.
Every other day, someone broke the pin on the back of their wreath, or pulled something off of it, or Lydia ‘lost it’ for them. It was not quite as larcenous as it sounded, she got their buy in first.
Never let my wife convince you that she’s not a romantic. She’ll say she’s a realist, but that’s denial. It was on December twelve, that she made her move.
More like she made me do it. When I took Mr. Pratt his coffee, a slight trip ruined his pin, and his coat. He took the coffee on his suit well, but when he saw the wreath was ruined, the sadness was back.
I sent a message up to Lydia that it was her turn. She told me later how it went. “Sharon, I wonder if you could make just one more miniature wreath? I’ve heard how clumsy others have been, but I’m afraid this wasn’t his fault.”
“I’ll be glad to make another one for Alvin. Tell him he can pick it up this afternoon.” “Oh, it’s not for Alvin, it’s for Mr. Pratt. Someone spilled coffee on his and ruined it.”
Lydia said she paused for just a minute, and then agreed. “I’m leaving early today, so I’m afraid Alvin will have to give it to him. Tell him I’ll leave it in on the counter for him.”
“All right. Thank you so much. I’ll tell him.” Lydia said they made small talk for some time after that, and she excused herself.
I was clueless on how she was going to make all this work, but I had confidence in her. It turns out, Lydia had no more idea on what to do next than I had.
Great things happen at Christmas, and this was one of them. We didn’t have to act, we were acted upon. Mr. Pratt stopped us both before we left for the day.
My first goal was complete, he wasn’t distant. He was angry, but not distant. “I know what you two are trying to do. I’ve been at this hotel a number of years, and I cannot believe the audacity of you both.”
I waited for a word in edgewise, but he wasn’t about to give me an opening. “That lady has been hurt very badly, and I do not intend to see it revisited. I have no idea what you two thought you could actually accomplish, but I’ll thank you not to waste Sharon’s time.”
He turned on his heels, and headed for the desk. It was my chance to be brilliant. I whispered my idea to Lydia, and we went with it. First, a detour to the archives, and then we caught Mr Pratt before he left.
Before he could say anything, I placed the box in his hands. “Open this before you say anything sir, please.” Included in the little box I found for Mr. Pratt’s wreath, I placed a picture from the archives a friend in records found.
It was old, and faded, but it was Sharon and Mrs. Pratt. He opened it, picked up the wreath, and saw the photo. Before he could react, I asked him. “Those two people were happy, what happened?
“I’m afraid I had an addiction to winning arguments, even if it cost me the war. I won our disagreement, but I lost her in the process. I know my actions don’t make sense to you, but please, leave us alone.”
I turned to leave, then stopped. “I can’t do that. You see Mr. Pratt, my job is opening doors. I don’t make it a habit of prying them open, unless of course when someone’s shut their hand in it. Then, it’s my duty to step in.”
He looked at me, and let out a heavy sigh. “It won’t work, but if you won’t stop, what’s your plan?” I didn’t have one, but I couldn’t tell him that.
So, I did what I had in my college debate class, I just started talking. By the time I was done, we had a plan. It was crazy, and could cost all three of us our jobs, but it was worth it, if it worked.
The next morning, Sharon got out of her taxi, to a huge disappointment. The giant wreath, on the front of the building, had no lights. She didn’t stop, but went straight to the elevator.
When she walked into the room to see why the wreath’s lights were out, she paused. Inside were wreaths of every shape and size, and in the center of the biggest one, was a blown up version of the picture of the two of them.
Beside it, was Mr. Pratt. “The lights went out on the wreath outside, we know something about that don’t we?” “Apparently not, it hasn’t seemed to affect you all these years.”
I think she was trying to make him angry, to make this quick, and as painless as possible. Time had taught him not to react. “Four years ago, on a Monday, you wore a olive green dress, with red lace around the arms, and skirt hem.”
“I may have handled things all wrong, but, it affects me every day. Sharon, I’m sorry. Can you forgive an old man for accepting misery, instead of fighting for happiness?”
The lights came back on the wreath a few minutes later. It also came back for the two of them. Three months after, they posed in the exact same positions as the last picture, this time in wedding clothes.
They made us the matron of honor, and the best man. Technically, the wedding was in March, but you wouldn’t have known it. Every guest had a small wreath, and countless lights filled the room. Of all of them though, none were sweeter than the glow on the face of Mr. Pratt, and Mrs. Sharon Pratt, The Wreath Maker.
A wreath is a mixture of life and light. Green leaves, and soft light reflects what Christmas is all about. It is the ultimate pursuit of love, unconditional love, from Heaven to Earth.
This season we remember the second chance He gave us. My friends second chance at love reminded me, that it’s never too late for a new start.
Alvin returned to his seat, as I surveyed the mood. What had started out as a melancholy night, was now filled with warmth, generosity, and love. My eyes focused on the lights of the tree, and I smiled at my thought. ‘The name on the door may say Argoyne’s, but tonight, it’s the Christmas Diner.