Contest Entry for Christmas is Cancelled 1,166 words
“What am I going to tell them?” He spoke the words out loud. There was no one there to hear him. He walked on and his eyes began to tear up. He tried to tell himself it was because of the cold, but he knew some portion of those tears belonged to the news that he was carrying home to his family.
He stood before the front door, afraid to open it. The green of summer was gone. The plants were all dormant, the grass turned dry and dead. The door itself seemed colder, deader. It carried not the air of joy of being home, but the weight of the world pressing down on a single moment in time. Geoff summoned up his courage and reached for the door knob. The sound of the locked door broke the silence.
“Fool,” he muttered to himself and pulled out his keys.
The jingling keys alerted the children and they jumped up from the living room floor. The warm air of the house wafted out as Geoff entered the hallway. He was immediately surrounded by the children shouting.
“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy’s home! Hurray! Come look at our drawings! Come look! Come look!”
Geoff let the children lead him to the living room like a returning hero. He put on his best smile saying, “Hello, children. Merry Christmas. Yes, those are beautiful.” He looked at the drawings of elves, and trees, and presents, and reindeer. There were crayons strewn across the floor. The television was off. It had been off for sometime now.
The children returned to their drawings and Geoff looked up at Denise. She always looked so beautiful, it brought a tear to his eye.
“What is it?” She said it with a knowing look.
“Cold air,” Geoff replied as he wiped the tear away. He walked to her and they spoke behind the closed door of the bedroom. The children didn’t hear her brief cry. They continued to focus on Christmas.
When Mom and Dad returned to the living room, they made an announcement. “Kids, we’ve got some bad news. Santa is not feeling well this year, so he might not be able to get to all the houses for all the nice children. Sorry. Christmas is cancelled due to… illness.”
At first, the children were disheartened, but Cindy, the oldest, quickly returned with, “That’s okay Mommy. Some of the nice kids will still get their presents.”
Mom and Dad smiled, held hands and turned to the kitchen to make dinner.
Cindy turned to Jody and said, “These pictures are good, but I think we need a real tree, don’t you?”
Jody replied, “Yes, and a real tree is going to need real presents too!”
Simon, the youngest, then spoke up, “Yes, and I know just where to find some bows.”
The children all looked at each other with that devious smirk that said, Don’t tell Mom and Dad. They began their planning.
After dinner, the children went straight to bed. They tucked themselves in while Mom and Dad played their favorite song on the piano. That song was played every night before bed, but somehow it felt different this night. The song was like a kiss goodnight, but tonight it was different.
Simon, listened carefully, for he had the sharpest ears. Once he was sure that Mom and Dad had gone to sleep, he gave the signal and the children arose as quietly as a mouse. More quiet, even than that. They snuck downstairs to the basement where they found all that they needed, gloves, coats, hats, boxes, ribbons, bows, and even a small handsaw. Silently they made their way out the basement window. The latch was broken. They crept into the garden and walked to the edge where they found the sapling that had been planted in the spring. Cindy reached for the base of the tree with the saw but lost her balance and fell on the sapling.
Jody whispered, “Are you okay?”
“Yes,” Cindy replied, “But I don’t think we need the saw any more.”
They looked at the tree and found it was still in its pot, loosened from the soil. Together, they were able to lift the pot out of the ground and carry the tree into the house through the window. In the basement, they found the Christmas decorations. They trimmed the tree with only one each of their favorite ornaments and ever so quietly, they brought the tree upstairs to the living room.
“Okay, now for the presents,” said Jody.
The children each scattered on their quest. Cindy snuck into the kitchen. Jody and Simon returned to the garden. After some time, they gathered again in the basement. Cindy returned with some cookies. Simon had some small, flat, round rocks. Jody had some dried flower petals. They each prepared their gifts ever so carefully. Each small box was given a ribbon and bow. They returned to the tree and placed the presents under it. They held hands, smiled at each other, proud of what they had done, and then returned to bed.
The next morning, Christmas morning, Geoff awoke to the sound of the crows in the tall trees outside the bedroom window. The morning light told him it was time to make breakfast. At least breakfast could be nice today, he thought. Denise rolled over and kissed him good morning. They got up, put on their robes and went into the hall.
They looked in on the children who were still sleeping, or so they thought, and decided to start making breakfast before waking them. On their way to the kitchen, they noticed the tree in the living room. The golden light of morning shining in through the windows lit up the sparkling ornaments. They walked into the room with mouths wide open and sat in shock on the couch.
“Merry Christmas!” The children came running into the room dancing and shouting.
“Look! Look! There are presents! Santa came after all!” The children reached for the presents and started handing them out.
“This one says, ‘For Mommy, From Santa,’” said Jody.
“This one says, ‘For Daddy, From Santa,’” said Simon.
The presents were all for Mommy and Daddy from Santa. Cindy came from the kitchen with breakfast, that is, more cookies for Mommy and Daddy.
They all sat together on the couch gazing at the tree and admiring the gifts. The cookies, the rocks, the flower petals, they were all special now. The children sat on the floor, drawing pictures of the gifts.
Tears moistened the cheeks of Geoff and Denise as they watched their children. Denise turned to Geoff and said, “Best Christmas, ever.”
Contest Entry for Christmas is Cancelled, 1,166 words