Mr. Snow

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It was black velvet, the old top hat, worn and tattered over time, yet loved by it’s wearer. The gift seemed small and light to the postman, but he delivered it like all the rest. It went to a little flower shop on the East side, Matilda Mae’s.

Gingerly the old woman opened it, and smiled at the contents. She only worked part time, retired, her daughter now ran the store. It wasn’t even Matilda’s regular day, but a feeling had brought her in this morning.

“Mae, who on our list just requested flowers without specifics?” Her daughter looked at the list, there was two people. One was a young man, and the other was Mr. Murphy, the president of the bank.

“Murphy, yes that’s the one. We’re going to do an old time bouquet, something very special. Poinsettias and roses, yes I think a few pink daisies for an offset color.” “You’re using that hat as the base? It doesn’t look like much Mom.” “Trust me dear, as an old friend would say, it’s a proper topper.”

Off it went, in half the time, to the most worried man in town, Calvin Murphy. Both of the flower shop’s patrons had sent flowers to girls, but love had arrived late in the banker’s life. The problem was the woman that he had fell in love with.

Our story goes back a week before the flowers, but not before the owner of the hat’s intervention. He had decided to play matchmaker in not two, but four lives. After all, it was the Christmas season where he felt that all living should be doing just that, they should be all living.

Celeste Ivans was the owner of the Meridian Grand Hotel, a wonderful old establishment built by her Grandfather. It had seen better days, Celeste had inherited it from her Aunt. She was determined to make it a success. As a result, she worked day and night, a perfectionist, people had mistaken her for a cold woman. They nicknamed her the Abominable Snow woman, Abominable for short.

She had walked into the bank in her finest clothes, with her most precise manners to bluff for a loan. It had almost worked. Her act intimidated the loan officer, but when he brought the request for final approval, Calvin denied it. It was at the same time a decision he was both thankful for and regretted, as soon as he saw her.

Calvin was 41, Celeste was 39, neither had ever found time for love, but it was trying to catch up to them. In Calvin’s case, it didn’t have to run very fast. He was smitten at the first sight of her auburn hair, green eyes, and smile.

She didn’t seem as impressed, he still had his hair, but it was a dull brown compared to hers. There was beginning to be more white than brown, but he tried to ignore it. He knew that his blue eyes would never match the sparkle in her eyes.

What he did not know was that she left the bank very taken with the man who refused to loan her money. At the same time furious, with him for saying no, and herself for liking him at all. Celeste was determined that she would show Mr. Calvin Murphy no mercy, pay him no mind, and eliminate his smile from her thoughts.

Two days later, it was still fighting it’s way to the forefront of her mind, as was Calvin. He knew that he could not loan the bank’s money on a bad investment, so he thought a visit to the location may prove him wrong. “Good morning, my name is Calvin Murphy. I would like to see the owner of the Meridian Grand.” “We just call it the Grand to save time. I’ll let her know you’re here.”

Scott Withers, the desk clerk and bell boy went to find her. His youthful step was preoccupied, thinking of how to ask his girl Lauren a question. In a few days he would get his answer, and they would leave the city, and its broken promises behind them. “Miss Ivans, a Mr. Calvin Murphy to see you.”

She washed the black off of her hands from trying to fix a vacuum cleaner from housekeeping. Absentmindedly she fixed her hair, and checked the mirror. Caring a little more for her appearance than she would admit to herself. “Good afternoon Mr. Murphy, what do I owe this visit to?”

“I was hoping to get a tour of the Grand, perhaps it would enable me to change my mind in regards to the loan.” This garnered him his first genuine smile from the lady. Off they went touring the Grand, Celeste moving at a rapid pace, with Calvin struggling to keep up.

“This is the Grand’s kitchen, Grandfather and Uncle Alonso would prepare the special dinners. At one time, the Grand hosted the city banquet’s that Mayor Flowers would give every Christmas for the less fortunate.” He watched her as she described those days with all the joy and excitement of a five year old.

When the tour ended, he hadn’t the heart to tell her that his banker’s mind hadn’t changed concerning the loan. Yet, the man in love was not ready to give up either. So he latched on to the one string of hope that she had provided him.

“Did you say this was once used by Mayor Flowers?” “Every year of his three terms, he fed not only the homeless, but those that were too proud for a handout. He was smart, never calling it a charity dinner. Instead, the Mayor, I’m told at Uncle Alonso’s suggestion, called it a Celebration Banquet.”

“It was, he said, every citizen’s duty to attend this event. If they did not join in fellowship at the table of community on this special season, they were negligent in their patriotic duty.” She laughed. “Instead of allowing their pride to keep them hungry, he used it to feed their self-worth and their stomachs.”

Celeste knew a thing or two about skipping meals to make the ends meet herself. “Miss Ivans, while I can’t authorize the bank to generate a loan under the normal parameters, I have an idea. I’ll warn you now, it is a long shot, and we very well may not win. If you’re willing to try though, I will see to it that we do everything within my power to bring it about.”

“Of course, how do we proceed?” “First, we meet for dinner …” Celeste held up a hand, her anger returning. “Mr. Murphy, I am not stupid. If this is some sort of attempt to string me along for a date.” Calvin was in love, but he was also a man of honor. It was his turn to be angry, the owner of the hat began to wander if getting these two together was even possible.

“My good lady, I’ll thank you to know that I have never manipulated a client in my entire career. If you had let me finish, I was going to say that we will have dinner with Mr. Prescott. He is the President of the Historic Society, as well a personal friend. If we can secure a historic status for the hotel, the bank would give a restoration loan on his recommendation alone.”

Celeste was embarrassed at her assumption, and ashamed of her behavior. “I’m sorry Mr. Murphy, it’s just that I’ve met so many people with ulterior motives, I tend to suspect that everyone has them.” “It’s quite all right, where shall we eat?”

She thought a moment, “Why not here, in the grand ballroom. Give the man a preview of what this both was, and could be again.” “I like it. If I could take the liberty, here is my personal check for two hundred dollars, this will cover all the expenses. I look forward to a successful event ma’am.”

As he left he thought, ‘Why did I talk like something out of the 1800’s? She’s going to think I am an old banker.’ He looked at himself in the mirror, he looked like an old banker. That afternoon he bought a new suit, new shirt, tie, and shoes.

“Well, you look like you actually remember how to smile, it suits you by the way. He likes it too.” Her cousin and contractor Grace Tackleford quipped as Celeste twirled her hair. Grace was more a silent partner than a paid employee, she was also the only one who could see passed Celeste’s cold facade.

“I’m too old for that now. Maybe five years ago, but not now.” Grace laughed. “Tell that to Great Aunt Lucille. She married Great Uncle George at fifty, and they’re celebrating their thirtieth next month. The only thing old is your thinking, he’s cute.”

Celeste spent the next few minutes listening to herself argue why her cousin was wrong. The only thing she hadn’t argued about was how cute the man was. No matter how much she tried, she couldn’t bring up a valid point concerning that one.

“Norman, just keep an open mind would you please? The Grand Hotel is a ….” “A relic of the past is what it is Calvin. It’s dark, it’s old, and it’s taking up space. Do you realize what a new hotel in the heart of the city near the park could do for the economy?” “That would make a great opening at your next historical society meeting Mr. President.”

The two men argued all the way to the hotel. “All I’m saying is the historical society has to care for meaningful history. This place hasn’t been anything meaningful in years. The Flowers dinners were wonderful, they fed my Grandparents, but there are buildings in the city with tons of more historic value than this one.”

“Will you at least listen?” They stopped a block away. Norman asked Calvin the question that he wasn’t ready to answer. “Why this building really? Why this cause, why this…? It’s Maggie Pratt all over again, only instead of a near sighted sister, this one has a hotel in tow.”

It was Calvin’s turn. “The last time I looked you have been married to that near sighted girl long enough to pay off a fifteen year mortgage, and you bought the house on your second anniversary! Your wife was the only good part of that deal, in case you forgot.”

“I remember Maggie hurting you, but …” Calvin stopped and looked at his best friend. “I don’t know what this is, but at the very least I’m helping a nice person. If my hopes aren’t too high, then it could be something more.” “Then, let’s go see a hotel.”

Celeste didn’t have a lot of money, but she did have Uncle Alonzo’s flair, and his old vintage Christmas lights. Grace had spent a few days repairing the wiring in them. When the two men arrived, they were met with 800 lights, strategically placed on the outside of the building.

Celeste doorman, Ed Lahr stood out front in his old green and gold uniform. “Welcome to the Grand!” The discarded style, plus the lights, made it seem like a trip back in time. They were ushered into the Grand Ballroom where a single dinner table had been placed in the corner of the room.

Grace had given Celeste a surprise of her own that afternoon, when the Connecticut men delivered the twelve foot tree. It was placed in the center of the ballroom, the lights were new LEDs, but the ornaments were old. As the soft light played on them, Scott Withers sat, in a rented tuxedo, at an old piano singing the melodies of Christmas.

He had a beautiful voice. It was a mixture of Nat King Cole and Mel Torme, he performed in a jazz style. The smile on his face was fake, he was a very bitter young man. His black hair, blue eyes, and acting skills hid the hurt that was in his heart. Two years earlier, the young man had a passion for performing, but no longer. Scott was a busboy in a rundown hotel, going nowhere.

His plan was to marry his girl, go back to his hometown, and start over. Lauren had to practically threaten him to go through with performing tonight. She worked for the accounting firm Celeste had hired to help her manage the books. It was Lauren who had got Scott his job.

As the music played, Celeste met them from the center of the room. “Hello Mr. Murphy, Mr. Prescott, I am Celeste Ivans, and this is The Grand.” The glare from the fireplace added an echo of light that bounced off the corners of the room. “Norman please, and my banker friend here is Calvin. If we are to save this building, we’ve got to be on a first name basis.”

While the night was wonderful, filled with laughter, food, and music, something kept bothering Calvin. He realized his friend was being nicer than he let on during the trip over. When they had finished the meal, before dessert, Norman’s cell rang.

“Yes honey. He did what? How much hair did he? Is she crying? He is? Oh . . . she hit him with the dinosaur? Ok, I’ll be home in a few minutes to help weather the storm. I Love You.”

Norman excused himself as he got up to leave. Calvin whispered in his ear. “You con artist, you could have said I have to go.” “I was going to, but the twins really did just have a fight. It’s Christmas vacation, schools out, and they’re going crazy.”

He turned to Celeste. “I think we can save this hotel, though not the way you both intended. It’s not historic enough I’m afraid, but I have a friend who has a history with this hotel. He might be willing to loan half the money you need, provided the bank will put up the rest.”

Calvin smiled. “I think my board will approve that, but we’ll have to meet.” Norman nodded. “I’ll set up one, if you don’t mind it being on Christmas Eve. He doesn’t get in town until the twenty fourth.” “That’s no problem for me.” Celeste added. “Wonderful, we’ll have our family Christmas here, that way he can see how lively the Grand can still be.”

Norman left, and the two sipped coffee while they ate their Blackberry Cobbler. Suddenly Calvin laughed. “That’s what I haven’t been able to place all evening. It’s as if it we were in the song.” Celeste looked at him with a questioning expression, and he explained.

“On the way over, I saw a Christmas tree in the park. ‘There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel, and one in the park as well.’ The lyrics from It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.” Scott overheard and transitioned to the song. “My Grandfather loved that song. He said it was referring to a hotel in Canada, but he adopted the song as his own.”

Calvin commented on the singer’s voice. “He’s very good.” “Yes, but I’m afraid we’re going to lose him. He has tried for two years to make it on Broadway, and hasn’t. He’s going to move home after the first of the year. He’s hoping his girl will move with him. I’m torn over it, she’s my accountant.”

“If she loves him, she’ll either follow, or he’ll stay. They tell me that, at the end of the day, love will win out.” “You sound like you wouldn’t know yourself.” “Not from personal experience I’m afraid, I tried once, when I was young, but she had other ideas. What about you?”

“No one ever seemed interested enough to try. I know it’s a little old fashioned, but I’m afraid I’m a little past that stage in my life.” “I wouldn’t say that, at least not in your case, you are a very attractive lady.”

Having said this made Calvin uncomfortable, so he changed the subject. “It’s Christmas, let’s see if we can go about keeping your crooner and your number cruncher.” He walked over to Scott as Celeste tried to hide a smile. “My name is Calvin Murphy, I’m the president of Third Fidelity Bank. I have a friend who knows a producer. I can’t promise anything, but if you’re interested I can give him a call.”

Scott wasn’t about to turn one last chance down, even though he wasn’t expecting anything. “Yes sir, I’d like that, thank you. What can I do for you?” Calvin smiled as he returned to his seat. “Play that song again.”

“You made him, and his young lady happy.” Celeste said as he was sitting down. “I just hope it pans out. I know what a huge disappointment deferred dreams can be.” Celeste looked at the sad, but handsome banker’s face. “You know forty one isn’t ninety, and if I could return your earlier comment. You have a handsome face.”

Calvin smiled. “Thank you, but I think I’ve got too much white in my hair for the display in the store windows. They like the younger models these days.” “So you’re encouraging me to enter the cold world of dating while you stay safely hid away. That’s not very fair.”

“It isn’t is it? Of course I’m a banker, we advise people how to invest their money, not ours.” Calvin would have asked her out, but he felt it would have verified her first, mistaken opinion of him. Celeste would have said yes if he tried, but she wasn’t about to take the first step.

Grace, a good cousin, had eavesdropped through the entire dinner. At least as much as you could from the adjoining kitchen. She knew two stubborn, frightened people when she saw them. Looking at her fellow busybody she said “Lauren, these two are going to need help.”

The next morning, while Scott was working the front counter, the two women met in the kitchen once again. “How are we going to get those two together?” Lauren asked, her mind preoccupied with her boyfriend’s future.

“In a story, usually there is either another person interested, or one has to rescue the other one.” Grace said, trying to remember an old movie ploy that would apply. “They’re already trying to rescue the hotel which isn’t helping, and we can’t just manufacture another guy or girl. It has to be something different for these two.

Grace almost spilled her coffee. “There is, when we were kids, the one way to force her to try something, was…” Lauren laughed. “Let me guess, to tell her she couldn’t do it?” “Exactly, instead of trying to push them together, we strongly agree with them that they are too far apart.”

The two were almost giddy plotting, unfortunately someone was beating them to it already. Jonathan Sparrow sat in Calvin’s office. He was the Chairman of the board for the bank. “Of course the board will agree to this deal with Norman’s investor.”

“As for the other, you’re smart not to let Norman trick you into asking her out. Dating someone you’re in business with, even as an adviser, is messy. Plus, you’re like me, you’re set in your ways. Adjusting to dating now wouldn’t be easy. You might not have the patience to change.”

It was that last prickly sentence that did it. Mr. Sparrow had challenged Calvin’s manhood by saying he couldn’t change. He was dialing the florist before Jonathan left the building. Just as Jonathan was texting Norman. “We may trick him into being happy yet.”

A visitor was arriving at the Grand, a very special one. “Hello young man, my name is Walter J. Snow. I’m the producer that Calvin had mentioned.” “Mr. Snow, I thought you weren’t to arrive until Christmas Eve.” “Normally I don’t, but I had some business that had to be finished early. I understand you’re thinking of leaving the city?”

“Well, yes sir. I’ve tried for two years to make it, and so far nothing.” “I see. Can you and your Fiancé meet me for dinner tonight?” “My girlfriend and I can, I haven’t asked her to marry me. I was thinking about it, how did you know?”

The bald headed, chubby man laughed. “Any young man who has a pretty girl is thinking about marriage. Plus, I’m married to a wonderful woman, but I use to be a bachelor. Last, you didn’t have a wedding ring, and yet you’re too sharply groomed to be unattached.” Scott smiled.

“Tell me Scott, is Miss Ivans available?” He lead Mr. Snow to Celeste’s office. “Hello Mr. Snow, Scott told me the good news. How can I help you?” “Well, actually he only told you part of the good news.”

Her heart skipped a beat. “Really, what’s the rest?” “Miss Ivans, your Grandmother was a friend of my family. When she and your Grandfather bought this hotel, my family were frequent guests. I would hate to see it close. I will supply the money you need, I have only one requirement.”

“What’s that?” “I would like to try out my new show here. The cast would have rehearsals in January and debut in February. I would like to turn it into an anomaly, an off Broadway resort if you please.” Celeste was amazed. “Do you think it would work? I mean if it did it would give us exactly what we need.”

“Yes, a continuous revenue stream, and a reason for people to flock to your hotel. Although, I’m afraid it may cost you your clerk and bell boy. If he’s as good as I’ve heard, he won’t want to star in the show and work the front desk.”

“Mr. Snow, that would be perfect, but why would you take such a risk? Surely you have access to theaters with hotels across the street?” The likable old man smiled with his eyes. “A friend of mine has a saying, you can’t be happy by yourself. You have to bring people with you to be truly happy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment.”

As Mr. Snow left, his statement went through her mind, ‘you can’t be happy by yourself.” She was thinking about that sadly, when the flowers arrived. The card read, “Celeste, I would very much like to ask you out, but I don’t know how. I would have last night, but I chickened out. If there’s any chance this feeble attempt will work, could you call when you get these?”

She startled herself by laughing, ‘Her brave man had forgotten to sign the card.’ ‘Her brave man’ she mentally repeated. “Apparently I’m as pathetic at this as he is.” She murmured, grabbing her coat.

He was attempting to read a contract when she walked in his office. Calvin had been attempting to read the same contract for two hours. “Calvin, the next flowers you send me, sign your name.” “Does that mean you’re not ashamed to date a man south of his prime with more white than brown in his hair?

“You said that before, but do you remember the next line in the song? It’s something about I don’t mind the snow.” With that, a first kiss happened in the office of the President of Third Fidelity Bank. It was, I believe, the inaugural first kiss to ever occur in that particular financial office.

Celeste had left the door open, so a crowd of congratulatory bank clerks had soon gathered. “We thought he’d never get a girlfriend.” “I tried to set him up with my Aunt, but he said no.” Finally, the oldest clerk there, semi-retired Mrs. Gray, took pity on Calvin’s ego. “It’s so wonderful to see a young couple so very much in love.”

That night Mr. Snow and Norman met with Scott and Lauren. “Hello, you know my colleague Mr. Prescott.” “Hello sir.” “Hello, but I’m afraid I must be blunt Mr. Withers. It’s my understanding that the only thing keeping you here is the possibility of this show. How do we know you’ll commit to it once you have it?”

Scott, shocked replied. “I honor my commitments Mr. Prescott.” “If that’s true, then what about your commitment to your young lady?” “Lauren and I are going to be married. I was never going to leave her.”

“Did you tell her that? Did you consider how taking her away from everyone and everything she knew would affect her happiness?” Lauren spoke up. “Mr. Prescott, I’m happiest wherever Scott is. I would have went with him, as soon as he asked.”

Mr. Snow, who had been silent, leaned in. “I think what my colleague, and your young lady, need to know is why you hadn’t asked?” The young man, angry, embarrassed, and confused, pulled out a ring. “I bought this months ago, before I ever gave up on this city.”

“I would have left two weeks after I bought it, if not for Lauren. I hadn’t asked because I couldn’t make myself. If we stayed, I was asking an accountant to marry a hotel clerk. If I ask with the idea of leaving the city, I would have been asking her to give up all her dreams, and I couldn’t do that. She’s why I hadn’t ask yet, I wanted to find a reason to give her to say yes.”

“You stupid, shallow man! I will say yes because I Love You, not for a job, or a place. I love you, although I’m a little mad at you right now.” Norman looked at Mr. Snow smiling.

“Perhaps we can alleviate that anger some what. I must explain that I am in the business of making people happy. It was at my request that Norman spoke the way he did.”

“I wanted to be sure that there was no doubt, in either of your minds, who and what priorities were important. I need caring people who think long term. Now that I know I have them, how would you like the lead in my show?” “I would love that, what is it?” “It’s a musical about the life of Irving Berlin.”

Many questions were asked that night, but not the one Lauren had been waiting on. That would have to wait until Christmas Eve, when Scott proposed at Lauren’s family Christmas gathering. He sang her the song from the final act, “Reaching For The Moon”, albeit with some creative lyrics. Scott had to substitute December for June.

She said yes, as did another woman that night, in the ballroom of the Grand Hotel. Calvin proposed by the fire, as “Its Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” played on his iPhone. Grace, her family, and all the cousins laughed in glee. Calvin and Celeste would go on to marry, and run a very successful resort.

Scott and Lauren would spend many wonderful years at the Grand, only leaving for business reasons. Broadway called. Celeste didn’t mind, it was their show that took him there. Thanks to Mr. Snow, they were full partners. Norman stayed behind to manage their friend’s interest.

As for Mr. Snow and his hat, they mysteriously disappeared on Christmas Eve. Hitching a ride with an old friend, the matchmaker changed hats sitting in the sleigh. As he did, something else changed. The kind, chubby, bald headed man turned soft, white, and snowy.

Traditions are important, he believed in them, so this one was no different. As they flew towards the moon, and the black velvet hat returned to his head, he repeated his first words. “Happy Birthday!” That’s snowman for “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

Do It Yourself Christmas Kit

  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.’

Thanksgiving and Pizza

  My first job was in a pizza place, and the night before Thanksgiving was one of the busiest of the year.  Up until then, I never associated pizza with November in any way.  It seemed everyone was so busy cooking tomorrow’s dinner, that no one wanted to make that night’s meal.

Most people were nice, some were not, but we couldn’t allow it to affect our reactions.  When their pizza was boxed up, and they turned to leave, we were smiling at the next person in line. It was more than good business, it’s a wonderful prescription for enjoying this season.

Someone you meet in the next twenty four hours will be either angry, or grouchy. You may not realize it, but rude people lurk around the spice aisle where you buy nutmeg once a year.  You can’t isolate yourself from them, but we can insulate ourselves.

First, find the joy in this time of year for yourself. What about it makes you happy? Once you know, lock that down in your heart. Don’t allow others to steal your happiness these next few days and weeks.

Second, view others, especially the irritable ones, through eyes of compassion.  Their anger, attitude, and actions, could stem from depression, heartache, or loneliness.  Remembering this, will alter your entire view of the man who just snatched the last stalk of celery you needed.  

Lastly, if you find their moods affecting you, watch for it. You’re human, people are going to get on your nerves, don’t let them stay there.  Refuse to allow a momentary interaction to dictate your actions the rest of the day.

Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the other special events of your life, are too important to allow others to ruin them. Mentally box up the few minutes you spent with them, and push it out of your mind.  Then smile at who or what is ahead of you, knowing that you’re happiness is safe behind the counter of your heart.

Cranberry Sauce 

  I bought some this week, cranberry sauce, not the fresh kind, but that jellied, can shaped substance people make fun of.  I always did, until I married my Wife Ashley, she loves it. Now it’s part of our Thanksgiving traditions.  

Before we were married Ashley enjoyed the Macy’s parade, but she had no idea how important it was, until she met me.  Now, it’s something that must not be missed. Such is the case with family traditions, they are pieces of a relationship.

They’re not the relationship, merely things that bring us closer.  Traditions change, as families add members, new ones are created.  Sometimes we try too hard, and make holidays more difficult than they have to be. 

It’s not just about the parade, the food, or even the football game.  Thanksgiving is about being thankful for who God has placed around your table.  They are more important than if the turkey is perfect, or if the mashed potatoes have enough salt.

Making a new tradition means creating a new memory.  It doesn’t have to be big, or elaborate.  The only requirement is that we focus on those we love.  It may be as simple as a can of red goo, but if it’s important to the love of your life, you’ll give it a proper place on your table.

An Airport Thanksgiving 

airport2Carlos was worried.  He looked at his wife Nita and could see that she was unhappy.  Holly and Joquin were miserable.  Why shouldn’t they be, the family was supposed to be in New York for Thanksgiving.  They had an amazing view of the Thanksgiving parade thanks to Carlos’ Mom’s apartment.  Instead, they were stuck in a small airport outside of Toronto, snowed in.

It could have been a recipe for disaster, had it not been for a single sound, Holly heard a sneeze.  She looked over to see a young boy crying.  Holly, thirteen and afraid of nothing, went over to see what was wrong.  Neil’s Aunt Paula explained.  “His Dad is coming back from a tour overseas.  This is going to be their first holiday together in four years.  Now it looks like we may miss Thanksgiving.”

That was when everything changed.  Holly looked at her Mom, Nita looked at Joquin, and they all looked at Carlos.  He wasn’t sure what they were asking, but he instinctively agreed.  Holly whispered something to Paula, who wrote something down and handed it to her.  Holly promised she would be back, and made her way to the small restaurant in the airport.

Nita went with her, and in a few minutes, they gave Carlos and Joquin their instructions.  For an hour, they made their way to every store and person in the airport.  Everyone agreed to help and soon, Neil could hear music coming from the far end of the airport.  Before he knew it, he was watching a make shift Thanksgiving Parade filled with security guards, home made costumes, and one man who was handing toys out from the gift shop.

The music came from assorted smart phones, portable speakers, and a few singing travelers.  Everyone knows that the last float in a Thanksgiving parade is Santa Claus, so naturally Neil looked for a make shift sleigh.  What he saw was more than he could have expected.  It wasn’t a sleigh, there were no reindeer.  It was a small cart with a tablet computer, and on the screen wasn’t Santa Claus.

“Hi sport, I told you we’d be together on Thanksgiving.”  Neil and John wiped the tears away as they talked.  “I just wish it was in the same room.”  “It will be, but don’t worry.  Grandma is keeping the dinner warm, we’ve taped the parade, we’ll still celebrate Thanksgiving together.”  “But I won’t get there until tomorrow.”

John smiled.  “Son, it doesn’t matter what time you get here.  I’m so thankful to be with you, and I intend to give you all the love in the world.  Do you know what that means?”  “What?”  “That Thanksgiving isn’t about a day, a parade, or a dinner, it’s about being thankful for the people that God has placed into our lives.”

The two talked for almost an hour, and then all the stranded passengers were guests of a make shift Thanksgiving dinner.  The little restaurant was a hamburger place, so the closest thing to Thanksgiving was an apple pie milkshake.  It didn’t matter, one little girl had rescued everyone’s Thanksgiving.

The next day the snow let up, and soon everyone was on their way.  No one felt cheated, or sad, it wasn’t the Thanksgiving anyone planned, but it was what they needed.  For years to come everyone that spent Thanksgiving in that airport would cherish both it, and every Thanksgiving that followed.

They were reminded, Thanksgiving isn’t a commercial holiday, it isn’t about the turkey.  It’s the people, not the side dishes that matter.  The day isn’t measured by how big the floats are, or how well dressed Santa is.  Instead, our Thanksgiving is a success when we review the parade of blessings that God has placed in our lives.

Human Events

  

 “When in the course of human events…”, it’s the way our Declaration Of Independence starts. I woke with those first seven words on my mind. It seemed ironic that, in this day and time, our founding fathers would pick that phrase. We truly have arrived where we are because of human events.

The next words are “it becomes necessary…”. Every Christian I know, believes that we are in the last days. With signs in Heaven and on Earth, from Israel to Washington, Europe to Asia, clues abound. Two thousand years ago, Christ became what was necessary to secure mankind’s salvation against this age.

He knew man was on a collision course with eternity, that time would run out. Jesus wanted us all to have something to hold to when this day came. He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” God was giving us a new pathway, truth to sustain us, and His life to redeem us.

As we go towards our country’s celebration of freedom, I would like to encourage you. If you know Jesus, then you are truly free, no matter what we face. What He is doing in you, is greater than the chaos that’s happening around you.

If you don’t know Him yet, I would tell you that there is still time. I know you’ve heard it before, but suppose for just a moment that I’m right. If there is any chance that I am, you owe it to yourself to consider the possibility.

If I’m right, then man is infected and afflicted by sin. If that is so, then all of us need a Savior. If I’m right, there is only one religion with an empty tomb. If I’m right, then the question of eternity must be dealt with. 

Are you prepared to answer the question of forever and ever? Do you have a truth to hold to when that day comes? Our founding fathers believed enough to evoke God as they fought for and sought their freedom. “We are endowed by Our Creator with certain unalienable rights…”

Because of human events, Christ star shone in the east. Because of human events, He arrived to bleed, die, and rise again so that we would have a truth to hold on to. Finally, because of human events, eternity is calling. 

We don’t have to face it unprepared, we have a Declaration of Independence from sin. Our country was blessed with this self evident truth, and as Christians, we are blessed with the evidence of His love. If you know Jesus, you have something to celebrate! If you don’t, He’s penned the path to your Liberty!

Dads

  Andy and Opie Taylor, some of my favorite Mayberry moments were between Father and son. I’ve often thought my Dad reminded me of Andy Griffith. He was funny most of the time, noble always, and serious when he had to be.

Isn’t that the perfect description of a Father? Someone that rides asteroids with you, protects you from the monsters under your bed, and from the very real things you face as you grow older. Isn’t that what our Heavenly Father does for us?

He gives us dreams, and the ability to achieve them. He walks with us on the journey, ready to catch us when we fall. He went ahead and dealt with the things that could destroy us before we ever faced them.

Some of the things I watched my Father do as a child, held an importance I couldn’t appreciate until I became a man. Budgets, bills, and balancing work and family didn’t seem like anything at eight. At thirty eight, I sometimes wonder how he did it.  

He proved it could be done, before I knew I would need it modeled. He was training me for my future, just by living, and loving us daily. Fathers in that way, really are Superman, Jedi, and (insert favorite childhood character here).

Today we honor those special men who get up each morning and do whatever is ask of them. They simply, and quietly, go about the business of being a Dad. It isn’t glamorous, but is one of the greatest gifts a child could have. Thank you Dad for caring, modeling, and walking ahead of me to show me the way. Happy Father’s Day to Fathers everywhere!