Christmas Eve Story
It was a beautiful house, but a lonely home.
No one should be alone on Christmas Eve....
It was not an easy year for me, and that's the truth.
For some time that year Donna had been declining with Alzheimer's, and after 63 years of love and laughter, my wife no longer recognized me. She even rejected me and said that her real husband was much younger. Showing her a photo of the two of us, when we were younger, didn't stir her trapped memories, and visits to her facility grew painful for both of us---though she would not remember and I would.
Before that thief of a disease ran its course, my recently retired son Randy had returned from a Hawaii vacation with his wife and announced that he was going to undergo experimental treatments at an outstanding university hospital. He had just been diagnosed with a rapid form of melanoma.
His disease was much faster than Donna's and it robbed me of Randy in short order, along with all the frequent visits and outings which had made my life so meaningful and comforted while we lost his mother and my companion to the darkening fog of her forgetfulness.
I had consoled myself with the knowledge that Donna did not have to suffer Randy's decline and loss, for she was oblivious to it while I had known full well how painful it would have been for her. God's gift to her seemed a double blow to me.
The house which once rang with the laughter of children, and a precious wholeness that only happy families know, became cavernous with constant reminders of what had been lost in such a short space of time.
My own health was suffering the ravages of the stresses which even a normal old age can bring on. Heart worries, joint replacements, merely accompanied the depression which set in following Randy's funeral. Life had caved in on me.
And then it was to be a treeless Christmas.
It was painful to shop for my groceries. The world had swallowed up the two people most dear to me without even a hint of indigestion. The outside world was its usual festive self. The songs and decorations seemed to mock my mood. I felt abandoned and ignored, a faceless face, uninvited to the feast and merriment I had grown to resent.
On that Christmas Eve I drove home with my milk and eggs, cans of soup, and the cookies I hoped might help me to survive until the stores reopened.
The neighbors' homes were brightly lit, with extra cars and vans parked nearby the homes of those neighbors who were staying home for Christmas, and I parked in the driveway as the snow for what was to be another white Christmas fell softly and silently covering the walk to the stairs up to my front door.
I was concentrating on getting out my keys so I could get in out of the cold, so it was a total surprise when I looked down toward the snow-covered "Welcome" mat and saw a small dog wagging his tail which was sweeping the mat excitedly at my arrival.
He was attached to the door knob with a ribbon-secured leash and a brief note which stated simply "I was lonely this Christmas, too. Let's go in."
That was five Christmases ago, Donna and Randy's smiling pictures grace the mantel over the fireplace. My other children and theirs are due any minute for Christmas Eve, bringing with them the dishes we will all enjoy around the candle lit table, while a "just right" Christmas tree sparkles in the living room.
Galahad rests at my feet, watching my every move. I'm sure he knows the children will soon arrive, and he will be patted and pampered by many more hands than the usual two.
We speak an unspoken language of love, we two. And when I think back to that bleak Christmas Eve five years ago, I sometimes notice that his tail starts to duplicate that same sweeping motion that swept away more than just the falling snow from the "Welcome" mat that evening.
Copyright 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.
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