The Christmas We Would Never Forget
The Letter Begins
I have a story to tell you that you will never believe. In fact, I still wonder if it really happened and I was there! I wanted to get the details written down as quickly as possible so I wouldn’t forget anything, though I doubt I ever will. It happened only yesterday, was it really only yesterday? Wow, I need to take a moment to gather my thoughts because they just keep wandering off. O. K. I think I’m ready. The sheriff let me use his computer so please don’t mind that it’s typed. Ps-it’s an ancient one, computer I mean.
Anyway, you know about my parent’s cabin up in the woods sitting on the shore of a huge pond 'cause you've been with us when we go swimming and fishing and all, remember? Anyway, Mom and Pucker-Face (sorry, if mom saw that she’d kill me) my Stepdad, Ray, made me and the six year old brats go to spend Christmas up there. During the winter we generally stay home because the snows around the area of the cabin are absolutely horrendous. Last year the little grocery guy told us they were snowed in from November to April! Whew. I’d have gone crazy with nothing to do all that time. I mean no TV, no internet, not even a decent radio. But they wouldn’t let me stay with you for the Christmas Holiday and now, well, I don’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. But I was horrified about having to spend all that time without one piece of electronic entertainment. Ray even made me turn off my phone and then he buried it in his suitcase. Can you believe that?
The Twins Played and Mom Did the Tree
Of course the twins, Ted and Toby, couldn’t wait. Being only six, they love to go sledding on the big hill and build snowmen all day long or build snow forts and have snowball fights. Not me; it was way too cold even with winter underwear (oops didn’t meant to actually write the word, please ignore that one) I meant winter under things. Anyway, with that stuff on a girl could still freeze out there. I mean how do you look nice and still stay warm? Impossible! Anyway, I was trying to tell you what happened yesterday.
It had already snowed when we got here and we had to dig the steps out just to get inside. It snowed again that night and most of the day Christmas Eve. Mom spent the day humming Christmas Carols and decorating the cabin for Christmas. Ray and the boys went out into the woods to gather firewood and then they went ice fishing to have something fresh to eat. Mom made me bake all day and I was soo tired when I finally got into bed that I didn’t even remember that it was Christmas Eve.
Anyway, I woke up around midnight to horrific screams from my mother and shouts from Ray. I got up and put on my robe and went out to find out what was happening. I mean, I thought someone had broken in and were, well, you know. But it wasn’t that. It was just my dumb brother, Ted. He couldn’t go to sleep and had decided to go outside and play in the snow for awhile. Toby just went back to sleep and forgot about it so no one knew. When Mom went to check on the boys before going to bed herself, Ted wasn’t there and Mom panicked. She was acting like the world had collapsed and she wouldn’t stop screaming until Ray gave her a glass of wine. She downed it and then seemed to calm down. I wonder what wine has that made her do that? Whatever. Anyway, I took Toby aside and asked him where Ted was and he said he’d gone out to play because he couldn’t sleep. When Ray asked, I told him I would get dressed and go out to find him, even though I didn’t want to, but Ray wanted to stay with mom and keep her calm and stuff.
It Was Cold, Foggy, and Snowy
So, I got dressed in the warmest stuff I had and grabbed Toby, who was already in his snowsuit. We went out in the cold to see if we could find Ted. I hit the switch that turned on the flood lights and tried to see through the fog and snow that had filled the woods. I couldn’t see a thing and with fog that thick, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to go out and try looking. I went back inside to tell Ray.
Ray told Toby to stay with mom, even though he wanted to come and play outside like Ted. Then Ray made me go with him into those cold foggy dark woods. I was scared, let me tell you and he just kept telling me everything would be alright and we didn’t have nothing to worry about. Well, I don’t mind telling you that I was scared (I know I already said that, but I was scared), but don’t ever let on to Ray or the boys cause they'll never let me forget it. Anyway, I was so scared that I grabbed a hold of Ray’s hand and held on for dear life.
Well, it wasn’t long before we came upon a small path in the woods and Ted’s foot prints led right to it. We stepped out of the snow-filled woods and walked on the path which had very little snow in it. We had walked maybe miles, I don’t really know, when we came upon a small cottage sitting in a clearing. It had smoke coming out the chimney and the windows were all lit up with Christmas lights. We reached the door and could hear Ted talking inside. He didn’t seem to be in any trouble or anything, but when we knocked he just kept on talking like he didn’t hear us knocking.
Ray knocked several times with no answer and then he tried the door handle but the door was locked. He tried to kick the door in, but it wouldn’t budge. I called Ted’s name as loud as I could, but he still just kept on talking like he didn’t hear us. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but I did hear a few words like book, snowman, and ice fort. I wondered who he was talking to so I stepped up to the side window so I could look inside. I saw a room filled with lots of steaming foods and desserts and presents stacked everywhere. I saw a huge fire burning right in the middle of the room and a few chairs scattered around the room. But no one was there. I could hear Ted talking away, but, Margaret, I swear to you the room was empty!
Maybe I Shouldn't Have Looked
What do you think you would do if you had looked into that window?
Ray Calls 911
I called to Ray and he came up to the window and looked. He swore and said we needed to call the sheriff. He then pulled his cell phone out of his coat pocket and dialed 911. Can you imagine, he had his phone the whole time and he took mine away from me? How rotten is that? Anyway, he called and the sheriff asked us to wait right there and he would be along soon. Right about then it started to snow real hard and the wind kept blowing the frozen stuff right into my face so I couldn’t see much. I kept wiping my eyes clear but the wind was terrible and just as I got my eyes cleared of the frozen stuff another glop would land in my eyes.
After an eternity, I finally was able to see again and, Margaret, you won't believe this but the little cottage was gone! There wasn’t even a path to it anymore, just mine and Ray’s boot prints in the snow. Ray was standing beside me cussing something awful and racing around in circles screaming that the cottage was just there. The sheriff arrived right about then and said there had never been a cottage there and we must have been seeing things in the fog. But, Margaret, I know I heard Ted talking. I know I did.
The Sheriffs Search
The sheriff and his men led us back to our cabin and then they formed a detail and went in search of Ted. They found that one of our boats was missing and they started looking down stream because they figured Ted must have taken one of the boats and gone off in it. I don’t think he did cause there was very little stream for the boat to travel in, but the sheriff and his men were certain and they wouldn’t listen to me. So, anyway, they found the boat some ways down, but Ted wasn’t in it and they didn’t see any foot prints to say he’d gotten out or anything. Well, now we were getting pretty worried and mom was simply hysterical, even with the three glasses of wine she’d drank. Ray told us to go to bed and try to sleep, like that would happen, and he said the sheriff would let us know if they found anything in the morning. Well, Margaret, what do you think are the chances that Ted would survive out there in that cold? I figured he was a goner for sure, and I didn’t sleep another wink all night wondering about him.
Unhappy Christmas Morning
In the morning, we all kinda dragged our way out into the living room and Ray asked us if we wanted to open our gifts. I just stared at him and then went to pour myself a glass of orange juice. Toby headed to the tree, but the first gift he picked up was for Ted and he put it down and sat down and cried. That’s when the sheriff knocked on the door. Ray opened it and the sheriff said it was bad news. We all got up and ran to the door to find out what had happened, but all the sheriff said was that they had been unable to find Ted anywhere. In fact they hadn’t been able to find any of his footprints either. I wanted to cry like Toby, but I’m supposed to be the big sister, so I did my best to hold it in. Toby screeched and then wrapped himself up in mom’s rob.
Anyway, to make a long story short, the sheriff left and Ray suggested we pack up and head back home. Mom was furious with him because she wanted to be here when Ted finally found his way home. Ray tried to tell her that a night in that cold without proper protection meant…….., he was trying to be nice but we all knew he was saying Ted was already dead. I ran to my room and I tried not to cry, Margaret, but it was sooo hard! I mean he is a pain, just like Toby, but he is still my brother, you know?
If your little brother disappeared like that, would you be happy, or sad?
We Heard Something
Around ten am, I heard bells jingling outside the cabin and I ran into the living room to see what it was. Mom and Ray were already at the open door and mom was crying again. I figured it was something bad but I had to know so I pushed my way to the front. There, Margaret believe me when I say this cause I had trouble believing it myself, but there right in front of us was the biggest reddest sleigh I had ever seen with eight reindeer pulling it. Sitting on the seat was a big round man with a long white beard and a fluffy red suit. I was, well, I couldn’t believe it! And sitting on the seat beside that big man in red was Ted all wrapped up in a blanket and smiling at us like nothing was wrong!!!!
Mom nearly killed herself trying to get to Ted. The big man handed Ted down and chuckled. 'Found him wandering around where he didn’t need to be,' the man said with a deep voice, 'so me and the reindeer swooped down and picked him up before he could get into any more mischief. Sorry I was so late getting him back to you, but last night was a busy night for me as I’m sure you know. Good bye Ted. Try to stay out of trouble now. HO HO HO.'
And then, Margaret, he just slapped those reins and the reindeer raced off into the distance. And Margaret, please don’t think I’m crazy or delirious or anything, but I swear that just before he disappeared from sight the sleigh lifted off the ground!!!! I know it sounds crazy, but I saw it with my own eyes!
Now I have to tell them what I saw...
Uh oh, Margaret, gotta go, the sheriff wants me to tell him what I saw now. We’ll be home tomorrow and you probably won’t get this letter before we get there, but I wanted to write this to you because I really didn’t want to forget anything. I will give it to you when we get home (can't mail it up here anyway)., but please don’t throw this letter out as a joke, Margaret, because it’s not. You will even be able to read about it in the paper in a few days cause there’s a reporter up here taking pictures and asking question.
Gotta go, now Margaret, I hope you believe me,
Your best friend,
© 2011 Cheryl Simonds