Getting to Know a Dragon
“I’ve never heard of a Christmas Dragon, Pa. Where did you get it?”
“Joe, one doesn’t get a Christmas Dragon. One cares for the dragon.”
“So that’s what you do instead of working, Pa, care for the dragon?”
Pa laughed. “Sort of. But now it’s time for me to pass this on to you.” He took my hand and held it to his. The dragon bowed to my grandfather, then stepped onto my hand.
He felt warm and wiggly. I held him up to look closer. The dragon closed his eyes, then reared back and opened his mouth. A small flame shot out.
“Holy cow, Pa, what do I do?” I held my hand away.
“You’ll learn, Joe. You’ll learn together how to care for each other.”
“Learn what? Can’t you teach me?”
“There is only one thing I must tell you,” Pa smiled again, gently stroking the dragon who nuzzled against his touch. “This is our secret. It is between you, me, and the dragon. Promise me you’ll tell no one.”
I blinked at my grandfather, then looked at the dragon. I raised my hand to pet the dragon. He reared back as if to reshoot fire. “Look, he doesn’t like me, Pa. How can I learn if he doesn’t like me?”
Pa patted my head. “He doesn’t know you yet, Joe. You’ll learn, he’ll learn. You need to be ready when the time comes.”
“Time, what time, Pa?”
“The Christmas Dragon is the keeper of the spirit. He is a guardian. Do you know what that means, Joe?”
“Sort of, like how you and Nana take care of me when Mom and Dad aren’t around.”
“Yes, Joe, like that. Only the Christmas Dragon guards the spirit of Christmas. He protects the North Pole and all who live there.”
I glanced at the tiny dragon in my hand. “Him? How does such a small dragon do that?”
Pa put his fingers to his lips. I heard my grandmother walking in.
“What are you two up to?” she said, arms folded across her chest.
I held my hand behind my back and said: “Nothing, we’re just talking.”
Nana nodded. “It’s never nothing with that grandfather of yours. One of his tricks again I suspect. Your grandfather has too much time on his hands. I have some dishes that need drying, how about you read while I put your grandfather to work and keep him out of trouble.” She reached over and grabbed Pa by the collar of his shirt. “Come on, troublemaker.”
Pa winked at me then whispered, “remember, tell no one.” He let Nana drag him to the kitchen. I looked in my hand and around the room, but the dragon was gone. Nana was right, it must have been a trick.
I reached for a book. As I started to read, I felt something on my shoulder. I looked, and the dragon looked back.
“Start from the beginning. Joe. I love a good story.”
“Dragon’s talk?” I said, too surprised to think of anything else.
“How else will you know what I’m thinking? Now please read.” I felt a slight nudge as the dragon sat on my shoulder, leaning in to see the book.
I shrugged and started to read.
Nana and Pa stood back in the hall watching me. “What did you do?” Nana asked.
“Nothing, dear, just a gift of imagination.”
Nana shook her head and walked away. Pa winked at me and the dragon, then went off to dry dishes…
TO BE CONTINUED