The Christmas Wish
“The Christmas Wish”
A short story written by Lisa A. Fallon
“Be Careful what you wish for, it may just come true”, were the last words he had said to her as he left. She had no idea when she would see him again.
As the clock struck midnight, and the church bells rang down the street, LeAnne was standing at the foot of her twin daughter’s bed just fascinated about what she saw.
Her two daughters who were still the best of friends, and each other’s shadows after all these years, were snuggling together fast asleep in one bed. They were each holding their identical stuffed owls perched under their adjoining arms their grandmother had given to each of them for Christmas a few years earlier.
It was Christmas Eve, and they were sure to be dreaming about the day ahead and thinking about what they had asked Santa for this year. There was no doubt they were praying that their wishes would come true this year. While reading both their letters they had written separately this year, so neither one would have any idea of what the other one wrote brought tears to my eyes as I read them and placed them both in separate envelopes addressed to the North Pole.
Visions of their dad sitting by the fireplace Christmas morning with his cup of coffee in hand, waiting for them to come running down the stairs with the biggest grin plastered all over his face came to my mind at that very moment.
The twins turned ten years old in September, and they were growing up so fast. Too fast I thought to myself. I was praying this year would be different. It had been five years since their dad was home for Christmas. I just knew this year their dad was gonna march right in that front door and surprise us all in the morning, I just knew it!
With thoughts of past Christmas memories still dancing around in my head, I quietly closed their bedroom door, and went back downstairs to check once again to make sure everything was just perfect for the twins for Christmas morning.
With the fireplace still going strong, I couldn’t quite bring myself to head to bed just yet. So, sitting alone in their fathers favorite old worn comfy chair (the girls had fondly nick-named the chair “Santa’s chair”) in front of the fire, wrapped up in my favorite old blue blanket, I dreamed of a day that I thought would never come.
As I dozed off in that old chair, the warmth of the fire comforting me in such a way I dreamed of memories from Christmas day when the girls were five years old. A crash outside of the girl’s room startled us all awake after midnight that year. The cuckoo clock in the living room just struck past the twelfth hour and the girls came running into our bedroom with a look of astonishment on their faces. They couldn’t believe what they just saw outside of their bedroom window.
“Mom, Dad come look, come look!” They both shouted in unison. There laying on its side was a big, red sleigh that had crashed into the old oak tree on the side of the porch right underneath the girl’s window. Christmas Presents brightly wrapped in red and green paper were spilled out onto the lawn, but there was no sign of the big guy anywhere.
The girls in their matching Christmas nightgowns with a single candy cane on the front, were jumping on top of us, begging us to get up right away.
I climbed out of bed nearly tripping over their stuffed owls they dragged in with them and caught myself on the edge of the bed. Dad was being ever so clever as he snuck out of bed to make sure the girls didn’t notice that he was wearing a red jumpsuit as he quickly disappeared into the bathroom. He told the girls once he closed the door to go ahead with their mom, and he would be right behind them. He would grab his jacket to meet them downstairs to investigate what all the ruckus was about.
After grabbing the girls’ coats, boots, hats, and mittens, and me grabbing the same, I was being ever so clever to take just an extra few minutes to get the anxious and excited girls all bundled up, as we all yelled up to Dad to hurry up as we wanted to get outside to find out what was going on. He yelled downstairs to go ahead, he would meet us outside the back porch door with a bat just to be safe.
Scrambling down the back stairs quietly so the girls wouldn’t hear him, he rushed outside to hide behind the big old oak tree. His friend Jim of 15 years who had parked down the road with his horse trailer off to the side, so the girls wouldn’t see it, was there waiting behind the fence with eight reindeer from his farm. He had raised the deer since they were orphaned by their mommas a few years back.
Every Christmas, he would open up his Farm all decorated with holiday décor to celebrate the season with the town. The kids would squeal with delight upon visiting the farm and seeing the reindeer and all the Christmas trees. We had been getting freshly cut trees from his farm for years. It was a huge annual event in our family to continue on with the tradition of getting our tree there every year. Followed by carol singing and hot chocolate with the townspeople and the church choir.
Patrick had planned this whole event two weeks earlier, to surprise the girls. He himself had helped make the red sleigh at his friend Jim’s barn after work and on the weekends after the girls had gone to bed. He was just as excited as he knew the girls would be to see such a sight.
The girls were running over to the old oak tree, with me following them and trying to catch up, they suddenly stopped in their tracks to see Santa sitting against the tree. He was holding two black straps with jingle bells on them with his big, gloved hands. Attached to the black straps and making the jingle bells jingle were eight reindeer who were looking totally confused as to what just happened. “Oh my gosh”, I said “it’s Santa and his reindeer!”
The girls at the same time, sang out “look it’s Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen! And Santa Clause!” “Santa, Santa what happened to you?” Asked the girls.
“Ho, Ho, Hum family, I was looking in the back of my sleigh to make sure I still had all my Christmas presents for you all and before I knew it, I was crashing into this big, old oak tree of yours!” “Your father should have taken it down a couple of years back!” “I always nearly miss it every year when I am trying to land on your roof!” Santa commented.
“And crash! Down I went.” “Would you all mind picking me up off the ground please?!” Santa said.
I immediately rushed over with the girls and helped him up! “Ho, Ho Ho Angelina, and Bethany, I am so sorry girls that your presents spilled all over the ground” “I didn’t get them under your tree before you woke up.” He spoke. “Would you mind helping good ole Santa Claus and bring them into your house?” He spoke. “Yes, yes” they said in unison so excited and happy to be able to meet Santa in person.
“But remember girls it is still Christmas Eve”, he told them. “And I am going to have your dad and his good friend Jim here get my sleigh upright and back to the sky so I can finish delivering packages to all the rest of the good little boys and girls before sunrise.” He told them. “So, after we get these packages inside and I have a couple of those delicious cookies you girls always put out for me every year and a glass of that milk, I need to be on my way.” “You need to go back to bed and keep dreaming of tomorrow morning.” This little mishap will be our little secret, ok?” He replied once again to the girls. Excited that they actually got to meet the big guy in person this year, they happily agreed and helped Santa inside with all their gifts.
“Dad, dad, did you see him?” “Did you see him?” They both said at the same time. “Santa was here! Did you miss him?” they asked.” No girls, I actually helped him get settled back into his sleigh and hooked up his reindeer again to help him on his way.” He said. “He was quite the jolly old elf, and I was glad to help him be on his way again! What a mishap he had indeed! I will definitely get that old oak tree taken down this year, I promised to him!” “I know he told you to keep it a secret, but what a secret to keep! You actually got to meet Santa and his reindeer! What a surprise! What a mishap! What a treat!” He told them.
“Now back to bed like good little girls that Santa himself said you are, until morning if you want all of your presents that he delivered here to you both. Oh look, he left a couple cookies for me!” He replied.
I am not sure if the girls were able to sleep soundly through the rest of the night or not, but I didn’t hear another peep until 5 am the next morning, when once again the pitter patter of twin girls’ feet bounced into our room yet again. “It’s Christmas Day! Get up Mom! Get up Dad!” They both said yelling to us at the same time.
Startled by the sound of the coffee maker starting to brew, I woke up from sleeping in the chair all night. The fire had died down and I was getting chilly and wanting coffee. After I added more logs to the fire, I grabbed my cup of coffee and headed upstairs to quickly grab a shower before the girls woke up. It was Christmas Morning, and I was feeling very nostalgic with the memories I had from my dreams the night before. I was also feeling sad at the thought of facing the day with the girls on another Christmas Day missing their dad so very much.
Placing our Christmas breakfast tradition of French toast Casserole into the oven to bake, (I had prepared the night before with the girls), I grabbed a second cup of coffee and waited for the girls to come downstairs. The smell of the oven was too tempting and smelled so good, that I knew any minute they would be bouncing down.
I still carried on with Christmas Day traditions even though I knew their dad couldn’t be with us this year to celebrate. I wanted to normalize the holidays with the girls as much as I could. It was also a relief for me to continue celebrating each year with the same traditions so that I didn’t have to think about what we were all missing out on this day. Their Dad with us to help celebrate.
It’s been five years since he was deployed. Joining the army was one of his life-long dreams and up until five years ago, he was part of our Christmas Day celebrations. He had missed the birth of the twins by two weeks while going thru boot camp. What turned out to be one of the best days of our lives was also one of the saddest days of our life, because he was not there to help me bring into the world the birth of our twin daughters. For the next five years after their birth, we had been very fortunate and lucky to have the holidays together.
Then chaos struck the world and Patrick was deployed to Iran. One of the worst days of our lives was coming true. Although we always thought that the possibility of him being sent overseas could come to fruition someday, it still hit us hard the day he finally left.
The first year with him being away was the worst. It was worse for the girls not having their dad around, if not every day at least a few months at a time. But we always looked forward to the holidays because we knew we would be together. Then by the fourth year it was tolerable, as we had the holidays to once again look forward too. We made our own traditions with the girls and found new ones every year. Our fifth Christmas together was the one I remember the most. We had no idea at the time that it would be our last holiday together for a long time.
Thunder roared, as two ten-year-old bouncy girls came running down the stairs taking two at a time. Giggling and pushing into each other to see who would get to the front door first to see who or what was on the other side.
It was another tradition made up by their dad after they had turned five. He wanted to surprise the girls this year with one of Santa’s elves coming to the front door on Christmas morning. We didn’t think the girls fifth Christmas surprise of Santa crashing into the lawn could be topped. But Patrick hit the nail on the head with this idea. And every year after a new surprise waited for them at the door on Christmas morning. Patrick made sure of it every year from wherever he was in the world, to make sure the surprise happened with or without him.
His best friend Jim had planned it all every year to make sure the girls had the best Christmas ever because he knew how hard it was for us all without Patrick there to celebrate with us. Jim’s wife had passed away the year the girls turned five, and the only thing that got him through that Christmas that year, was the look of surprise and glee and happiness he had helped bring to the twins faces that year. And every year since, he vowed to make the next years Christmas surprise even better than the last.
Even I was kept in the dark for most of it. The only planning I had to do, was to make sure I had breakfast in the oven, coffee brewing and the girls up early enough to hear the knocking on the door. Last years’ surprise was a hit with the girls and a true Godsend. There wrapped in a bright red, shiny box with a bright red and green bow on top was a brand-new puppy. Listening to their squeals of delight and laughter brought tears to my eyes of overjoy and relief. The new puppy whom the girls affectionately named “Patty”, did wonders for the girls’ attitudes and moods they constantly seemed to be in last year. A puppy gave us all something else to care for and think about other than just how lonely we all were at the holidays without Patrick.
Even though when they opened the door lately, not just on Christmas morning, but every time a knock came, they so desperately wanted to see their dad standing there. The disappointment on their faces from not seeing him standing there eventually subsided with a small smile creeping up on the corners of their mouths when they saw what was waiting for them behind the front door that year.
For the past couple of years, they both wrote the same letter asking Santa for the same thing, to send their Daddy home for Christmas. But finally last year, the twins stopped believing in Santa Clause when he didn’t grant their Christmas wishes.
When they saw that puppy waiting for them in the big box last year, I quietly said a prayer and a thank you for Patrick and Jim arranging such a needed gift for the girls and me. The puppy meant everything to them and me. I couldn’t possibly see how anything could top that surprise this year.
Bam, bam, bam came the knock on the door. The girls were tripping over each other with anticipation and excitement. “It’s my turn this year to open the door first!” said Angelina. “No, it’s my turn this year!” said Bethany. “Girls, girls why don’t we all open the door at the same time this year? Are you ready?” I told them.
It was a total surprise Jim had told Patrick about finding the puppy inside of his barn all alone, cold, wet, and hungry. Well, where did you come from little fella? He had no idea how this little puppy came into his barn that day a week before Christmas. But there he was just as cute as anything all huddled up in the hay in the corner of his barn. The reindeer were acting funny, and his horses were making noises, as he wondered how the heck this little puppy had wandered into his barn.
It’s a Christmas Miracle Patrick had told Jim in one of his many letters he had sent to him over the past five years. You now know what to do for the twins Christmas surprise this year don’t you? Perfect! Jim had responded, and he knew exactly what he had to do.
With the smell from the oven in the air and the coffee cup set on the table next to the 10-foot Christmas tree all decorated with hand-made ornaments the girls and I had made over the years; the knocking became louder and more persistent.
“Ho, ho, ho” came the boisterous, loud words from the other side of the door. “Could it be?” I said to the girls. “Could it really be the big guy?” I said to them. “Santa Claus?” they both said in unison. All at once we all yanked open the door to see a very tall man with a red suit and white beard standing there with a huge black bag stuffed with presents at his feet. Looking down at his black, dirt encrusted boots so as not show us his eyes, he gently lifted his head looked into our eyes and said, “Merry Christmas my girls!”
… The End …