Christmas On Air
“You are listening to WVCS Radio on December 24, I’m Mike O you’re host to take you into Christmas. We’re here all night and into the next day folks. So let’s settle in with a little holiday tune about a snowman.” Mike flipped the switch, the music was on, and he was off.
His own words echoed through his head as the tears fell. It was the first time he would not be home for Christmas, but his parents understood. Mike was a college student eager to become the next Will Lindsay, and part of that meant paying your dues. This year he drew the short straw to man the station until they went off for Christmas.
That meant that a coast separated him from his family, and trying to fly home on Christmas Day was just too expensive. His Dad did his best to reassure him. “It’s okay Mikey, we can always fly you all home next week and celebrate then. You enjoy Christmas Day with Ann and her parents, everything will be okay son trust me.”
It didn’t help that he and Ann had a huge fight after the phone call that same night. The newly weds loved each other very much, but like most new couples, they were learning each other. Each said some harsh things for an argument that started about how to wrap a gift. Each knew it wasn’t about the gift, it was about a man who still wanted to be home for Christmas.
Mike was still so upset that he almost missed the light that indicated the song set was over, but caught it just in time. “Now dear listeners let’s have some call talk. Who’s up late wrapping those last minute gifts that might want to talk to a man trapped in a radio station without a Christmas tree?”
Ned was the first caller, and he had plenty to say for someone with nothing really to talk about. The last fifteen minutes of the thirty minute call we’re about his problems with tinsel. Finally Ned took a breath and Mike asked him if he had a final comment. It was Ned’s response that sent Mike even more on the path of a Blue Christmas.
“Just this, for all those who may be a little lonely this Christmas, I’ve been there, more than once. From a little war torn country far from home to a nice house with unexpected cancellations, I’ve been there, and I learned something. On the most unexpected types of Christmas, the most unexpected things happen.”
Mike couldn’t say anything, but this made him almost angry. Instead he thanked Ned and asked him to call back if anything unexpected happened this year. The next caller a nurse on a break at the hospital, Sally. She asked for him to play Go Tell It On The Mountain, and mentioned she was doing the overnight shift.
Mike felt bad for her. “I know it’s got to be hard to be away from family on Christmas. Is there anything else we can do to help pass the time?”
Sally laughed. “Thank you but it’s okay. We’ll have Christmas as soon as I get home with the sun coming up and I’ll catch up on sleep later. Christmas is too important to miss.”
With every call Mike got more sad, at least Henry broke the monotony. “I’m Henry, I’m eight and Mom says I can stay up on the count of my surgery in an hour. Some big fancy word for taking out something, could you read The Night Before Christmas?”
For a few minutes Mike forgot his troubles and gave Clement C Moore’s famous poem the best rendition he could. It made the little boy’s night and Mike found himself a little happier. On the next break he tried to call Ann but she didn’t answer. “She’s probably asleep.”
His sadness wasn’t completely back, but he wished he could have talked to her. The next caller got his attention pretty quick. “What’s up sport? I couldn’t sleep. I thought I’d check in, how’s it going?” It was his Dad Fred.
“Hey Dad! Folks this is my Dad Fred. We were supposed to go home this year but I had to work. How are you Dad?” Mike wanted to say so much but tried to sound professional, instead of a little boy missing his Dad.
“I’m okay, ate too much. Your Mom and I are trying some new foods this year. Maybe we’ll cook a few for you all when you’re in next. How you holding up, interesting calls?”
Mike was sure he said some form of yes, but not sure exactly how he said it. He was too thrilled to hear his Dad’s voice. His insomnia was legendary but tonight Mike was a little glad it had flared up again. They spent an hour talking about all kinds of things until his Dad started yawning.
“Dad, you better get some sleep. Mom would not like it if you fell asleep during one of her Christmas breakfasts. I’ll call tomorrow, I Love You Dad.” He didn’t care if anyone was awake to hear, he was up all night away from home, and he loved his Dad.
“I Love You too Sport. Listen hug Ann for us, and drink plenty of coffee to get through the next few hours. Merry Christmas son.”
Mike managed to keep his voice upbeat, but he was a mess. He did a round of songs to give him a little time to compose himself, and to try and call Ann again. There was still no answer.
Dr Hildy was the next caller on the line. “Hello my name is Aaron Hildy, I just finished with an emergency scheduled surgery. Could you play the Little Drummer Boy? Sort of a celebration, the boy made it through okay. It was a lot more serious than we knew going in.”
“Sure Doc, wait his name wasn’t Henry by chance was it? He called in a few hours ago. You sure he’s okay?”
“Yes, that’s Henry, and thankfully he’s okay. I just checked on him with his nurse. Sally says he’s resting, and so are his Mom and Dad. I think it’s the first sleep they’ve gotten in days.”
“Listen, about six am my girl’s shift is over, can you arrange for another song? It’s the one about Her being all I want for Christmas? She’s not listening right now, she’s the nurse I mentioned. It needs to be right at six because that’s when she’ll be in the lobby of the hospital. I’ve got something I want to give her, her and my parents will be there too.”
Mike smiled. “Sure Doc, as long as you promise to tape the proposal. Congratulations Doc, I’m married myself, it’s the best thing in the world. I love my Ann, some days are crazy, but we love being crazy together.” Mike hung up just as Carl McPherson the station manager walked in.
“Mike O’ Leary you’ve led a fairly interesting night. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like it. Listen, it’s five am, if you can get a crew over to the hospital to cover that proposal, you can forget the next five hours. Can you do that?”
Mike didn’t even answer, he just started grabbing stuff. He made it in time to see the proposal. Sally said yes, her parents were so happy. So were Dr. Hildy’s parents, Ned and Sophia. It turned out to be the same Ned he had talked too earlier.
“Hello Mike, good meeting you in person. Good talking to you earlier too. Like I said unexpected things happen, on unexpected Christmases. I met Aaron’s Mom on one of those unexpected Christmas times.”
“As a matter of fact, he met Sally on one of his own unexpected Christmas seasons too. A Christmas he didn’t make it home for, extra shift at the hospital.”
“He told me on the phone the next day, about a girl he met who had started working there that same night. Just because they’re not perfect holidays doesn’t mean they’re not the perfect time for something wonderful. You look like you needed to be reminded of that yourself.”
Mike nodded, thanked Mr Hildy, and headed home. He had a large apology worked out to wake Ann with, but he didn’t expect this unexpected thing. She wasn’t there, he looked for a note, but didn’t see one. Mike sat down on the couch, the tears were back. “I didn’t expect this, not on Christmas Day.”
He whirled around as the door opened. Ann instantly saw him and hugged him. “Mike, honey I didn’t think you’d be home for hours. I had to meet some folks for breakfast while we waited on you. They’ll be in in a minute so there’s no time, but I’m sorry.”
Mike hugged and kissed her, whispered it was his fault and he was sorry too. They both laughed happily. He was just about to ask which girlfriends she went to breakfast with when he heard a voice from behind.
“You’ll break her ribs Sport holding her that tight. You better hug your Mother first, but I’m next. Merry Christmas Mike!!! You didn’t think I hung up because I was tired did you?”
“I had to wake your Momma up to help get me un-lost. I missed a turn on a turnpike about twenty minutes before we were off the cell phone. She was mad, she said Fred O’ Leary if you cause me to miss my son on Christmas, I’ll never let you forget it!”
Kelly playfully slapped her husband’s arm. “I was joking. We’d never miss your Christmas honey, even if it means driving halfway across the country with your Dad. He speeds you know. Now give me that hug!”
Mike readily complied, and this time, the tears were happy tears. All was right with his world, on this most unexpected of Christmases. They had breakfast, opened presents, and started a Christmas movie. Mike didn’t make it past the first twenty minutes. Ann kissed his forehead. “Get some sleep Mr Deejay, ladies and gentlemen that was Mike O signing off, Merry Christmas!!!”