|The Snowman's Gift
With the dead branch of a tree, Billy whacked the snowman over and over again. He swung the stick like a baseball bat and with each swing Billy’s heart began to break apart piece-by-piece, until warm tears found their way down his cold red cheeks.
The vicious onslaught continued as Billy jumped upon the fallen snowman, hitting and kicking it until the burning feeling in his chest had completely gone. Then he lay there, half-buried in the snow—spent and hiding from the world.
Mr. Brume, the neighbor, stepped outside at that moment wearing his housecoat and slippers. He saw Billy in the front yard and walked over to where the crying boy lay in the snow.
“We worked real hard on that snowman, you know,” he said, gently. “We wanted it to be here for Christmas morning.”
Startled, Billy looked up, feeling embarrassed. “Gee, I’m sorry, Mister Brume,” he said, apologetically and wiping his tears away. “I didn’t mean to kill it.”
Mr. Brume smiled. “I guess it’s all right, Billy. We can always build another one. What’s the matter,” he asked kindly, “trouble at home?”
Billy hung his head, afraid to show that he had been crying, and kicked the snow with his boot. “I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas,” he said, which sounded really stupid now that he heard the words come out of his mouth.
“Oh—well, there’s always next year,” said Mr. Brume, sympathetically. “I’m sure your mom does the best she can. You know it’s gotta be hard raising a family all by herself. Why don’t you give her a break? You’d be surprised how much grown-ups like Christmas too.”
Billy looked at him sadly, his curly-brown hair poking out of his cap. Started to turn and run and then stopped and said, “I’m really sorry about your snowman, Mr. Brume,” then he quickly turned and ran-off as fast as he could.
Mr. Brume watched the five-year-old waddle off across the road. He shook his head and let out a heavy sigh. “What a way for a kid to spend Christmas morning.”
Billy ran hard, the cold air burning in his chest, until he had reached the neighborhood park just across the street. His footsteps left the only visible tracks in the new snow.
When he reached the swings, he plopped himself down into his favorite one. Slowly rocking back and forth, he dangled his feet in the snow and thought about Christmas, Santa Clause, and presents.
“Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-la...la-la-la-la.”
Someone close by was singing Christmas songs, and curiously, Billy followed the sound up the small hill to the beautiful patch of snow-laden trees that surrounded the park. There, behind a large tree, sat a very odd-looking fellow singing in the snow.
The man wore a bright blue jacket, red pants, and a funny old crinkled top hat. His skin was as white as snow, and his eyes sparkled shiny and black, like polished stone.
As Billy approached, the man stopped his song, and looked up at the boy. “Oh, there you are, Billy,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
“Who—who are you?” Billy asked a little puzzled, but unafraid.
“Why, I’m a Snow Angel,” the man said, matter-of-factly, then stood up and brushed the snow from the seat of his red pants. “The name is Harold—Harold, the Snow Angel!” He offered his hand for Billy to shake.
“Harold?” said Billy, limply shaking hands. “What kind of a name is that for an Angel?”
“A very good name if you ask me,” Harold said, smiling. “Haven’t you ever heard that Christmas song, “Hark, the Harold Angel Sings”, well—that’s me!”
“Where did you come from, anyway?” Billy asked. “And how do you know my name?”
“To tell you the truth, I’m not too sure about that myself. I remember being absolutely frozen. Just standing there minding my own business, when all of a sudden, I was severely pummeled,” he said in a hurt voice. “I couldn't move at all, not even to defend myself, until I felt someone's hot tears fall upon my heart, and then I just—woke up! But I remember . . ."
"That a very special someone told me to come and give you your Christmas present—that's what! Unless, of course, you plan to beat me up again. You’re not, are you?”
Billy had to smile at that. He had to admit that he liked Harold. He just seemed like the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. But Billy found it hard to believe he was actually a snowman or even a snow angel for that fact. He played along. “I promise I won't smash you again, Harold. How was I to know you were in there, anyway?”
“You know, Billy, you can’t go around destroying things every time you don’t get what you want. What kinda shape would the world be in today if everybody behaved like that?”
“I know,” said Billy, sadly. “I just got mad cause my mom broke her promise, that's all. She told me that if I was really, really, good, I’d get to see Santa Claus! That’s all I ever really wanted for Christmas. That would’ve been the best present in the whole wide world, don't you think? But my mom said that Santa knows what's in the hearts of little children everywhere, and that she felt pretty sure he knew what I wanted.” Billy looked down slumping his shoulders and letting out a long sigh. “But he didn’t come, and now it’s too late!”
“Too late?” said Harold, getting very excited. “It’s still Christmas, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but Christmas Eve is over! Santa has probably gone back to the North Pole by now.”
“Well, Santa is very busy, you're right about that,” said Harold, laughing. “But I would think that he’d find time to visit someone that loves him as much as you do! As a matter of fact, I believe he’s on his way here right now!”
“What? How do you know that?” Billy asked excitedly. Then he looked quizzically at the man. ‘Oh, you're just fun-ing me—he's not really coming.”
“He's coming all right. In fact, he’s already here. And he's standing right in front of you.”
Harold laughed hard, then started to spin around and around like a crazy person. Faster and faster he spun—like a Christmas top out of control. Pieces of snow began flying off him hitting Billy in the face as the remarkable whirlwind of spinning red and white kept increasing in speed. Finally, it stopped—and standing right there was the present Billy had longed for—Santa Claus.
Billy's mouth fell open. "Santa!" he yelled. Immediately, he ran up and hugged the man in the red suit with all his might. Santa's eyes sparkled as he let out a laugh so deep and hard that the sound filled the entire park.
Billy felt his eyes well up with tears until he thought he would just burst. "Santa! Oh, Santa!" he said over and over as he held on tight to Santa's waist and buried his face deep into the soft red and white fur of Santa's coat.
It was later that morning that Billy decided to rebuild the snowman in Mr. Brume’s yard. He sang Christmas songs as he worked the snow. Finally, when he was done, he looked knowingly at the snowman.
"There you go, Harold, you're all fixed up again," he said, smiling. “And thanks . . . thanks for everything.”
Then he could hardly wait to run home and tell his mom all that had happened, and to wish her a very, very Merry Christmas.