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Short Christmas Stories: The Yuletide Wish
The Christmas Wish
More than anything Carey wished things were different. She wished she lived in another dimension; another time. She found herself day dreaming of things and places which only existed in her imagination. No matter how much she tried she could not stop hoping that someday her dreams and wishes would come true.
It was close to Christmas and the Christmas spirit was lacking. People were going through the motions but Carey could tell they wanted something special to happen. This was a place where the usual hustle and bustle to get food and new clothing for Christmas had become a tradition and people usually forget the real meaning of the season.
So Carey decided to bring back the Christmas spirit by asking her neighbors what their Christmas wish was. This was in hopes of reminding them of its true meaning and to get them to remember how special the holidays were. So she took one evening and walked the neighborhood.
“Good evening Mrs. Henry, what is your Christmas wish?”
The woman looked at her as she smiled brightly. Everyone knew that Carey was a cheerful young lady who was always polite and well mannered. Her beautiful smile brought a ray sunshine wherever she went. But on this occasion Mrs. Henry was not in a good mood. Her husband had taken ill and all the money she had saved for Christmas had to be used for hospital expenses. Mrs. Henry could not think of a wish because she was unhappy that she would not get the Christmas she wanted.
Carey was sad that Mrs. Henry was sad so she wished her well and went on her way. Next she met a school friend who worked at the local bank. “Hi Delores, how are you?”
“Hi Carey, I’m fine,” her friend replied. Carey noticed that Delores did not ask her how she was but that didn’t faze her.
“Delores, I was wondering if there was a special wish you had for Christmas this year?”
Delores hesitated as if thinking, “Nope.” She finally replied but soon added. “Well, maybe to have money for expenses. You know expensive Christmas can get.
Carey left Delores a little bit sad because the other woman did not really want for anything. She didn’t have children nor anyone to spend the money with yet all she could think of how expensive Christmas was.
As she left Delores’ home she met Mr. Williams on the way. He was riding his horse home from the fields. The horse was of a chestnut color and its mane was long and shiny as well as its tail.
“Hello Carey!” Mr. Williams called.
“Hello Sir, how are you today?”
“Well...well, and you young lady?” she was pleased that Mr. Williams returned the question.
“I am well thank you sir. What is your Christmas wish?”
“Christmas? I totally forgot what time of year it was. I don’t think I’ll be celebrating it this year.”
In all of Carey’s twenty five years she had never heard anyone not celebrate Christmas. The shock she felt made her feel numb for a moment. The man rode off on his horse with Carey looking after them in dismay.
Something is wrong with my neighbors, she thought. How can they forget Christmas? How can this be happening? Carey spent the next few hours walking the neighborhood asking the same question. Some people turned her away without answering. One woman threw water in her face while a few slammed their doors shut.
This was not the neighborhood she grew up in. As she remembered it there was always a great Christmas spirit in the air starting from November. Adults and children alike would be looking forward to going to church, exchanging gifts, feeding the poor and having a merry time.
“What happened?” she asked herself as she took off her shoes and rested her weary feet.
Carey had walked a few miles that evening and her notebook was filled with negative responses to her question. Many people wanted more money or other material things while others wanted not to be reminded that it’s Christmas.
As she sat by her window and looked across the clear night sky she wished that her neighbors could experience the real Christmas. Though it was a wish she knew could not come true her wish was sincere nonetheless.
“Oh I wished I lived in a different era….haaa,” she sighed. “There would be snow, wise men and that star which led them to Jesus.”
The birth of Christ was the beginning of Christmas and Carey so wanted to experience that, even for just one night. There were many difficulties in that wish such as her location and the era she lived in but she long for it to happen..
She believed that modern times contributed a lot to the downfall of the season as it became more commercialized. Living in a land in the west was far from the culture of the east where Christ was born. There would be no snow in Jamaica and there were no wise men anymore. The one thing which remained is that there seemed to be a very bright star on the Eve of Christmas each year which many believed to be the same which led the men to Jesus.
The unhappy girl spent all the week before Christmas praying for her neighbors and wishing they would get back the holiday spirit. As she looked at the faces of all the people around her she felt compassion. They were so busy with life that the true meaning was lost to them. Some were angry about the loss of loved ones while others were busy preparing feasts.
On Christmas Eve Carey could smell the food preparing from her neighbors' kitchens. Her stomach growled as she smelled the cookies being made, the ham being roasted and the Christmas pudding.
She touched her lame arm and thanked God that it still had some feeling. She touched her face where she had received multiple burns as a child, and thank God that she still had a face.
Carey was in a fire as a child which took her parents. She grew up in an orphanage and was often teased by other children for her disfigured features. She often walked with a limp and her right arm had lost some functions. Her skin had keloids where the skin graft was done by plastic surgeons trying to fix her third degree burns.
As she grew up she realized there was more to life than the physical. She moved back to her old neighborhood, fixed the house which she lived in as a child and worked as a journalist for the local paper. People often forgot what she was really like because of her sunny personality. She always wore a smile and she was the most courteous person many of them had ever met.
It was Christmas Eve and night was falling fast. Mrs. Henry got so sleepy that she had to turn the oven off and go lie down for a bit. One by one all the neighbors stopped their activities and turned in for the night. Carey was the last one to go to bed and she watched in confusion as all the lights went out in her neck of the woods.
“How strange,” she said to herself. “Am I the only one left not sleeping?”
Feeling a bit lonely she got up from the window and closed it. Then she turned out the lights and snuggled under the covers. Though Jamaica was a tropical island Christmas could be a bit chilly as was that night.
There she lay in the dark not able to fall asleep. For about an hour Carey laid like that under the covers, trying to will herself to sleep. It was a sound as if there was a branch brushing the window which made her get up to go check.
As she pulled aside the curtains a gasp escaped her lips. She’d wished it but she had never seen it for real. It was snowing outside. Somehow she didn’t believe and thought that maybe she had been dreaming. Before she could catch her breath, the neighbors’ lights came on one by one as they must have sensed something and got out of bed.
Carey could hear shouting and excitement throughout the community. But it didn’t end there. There were three horsemen riding through the night looking for the savior. As they passed by her house she could hear them contemplate their direction. Then the one on the right pointed to the sky. Her breath caught again as she looked in the direction and saw the brightest star she’d ever seen.
Not sure what was happening, Carey pulled a blanket around her and pulled opened the front door. There were other neighbors outside as well, talking excitedly about the night. One neighbor started singing and others followed suit. Soon the people in the community all gathered in one spot, close to Carey’s house and sang carols.
There were cheers and happy faces and people frolicked in the snow. Some were in awe of the rare phenomenon in their lifetime and thanked God for the experience.
It wasn’t the snow which fell that brought the people together but the night itself. The night reminded them of the story they read in the bible about Jesus’ birth. For a community which lacked the Christmas spirit this was one beautiful miracle only made possible by the wish of someone who never forgot the real meaning of Christmas.
© 2013 Carolee Samuda