In keeping with an old tradition, I bring you Part 1 of the serialized story of The Last Christmas.
Millions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the Pawtucket Times would publish a story over the two weeks leading up to Christmas.
I, along with many others, anxiously awaited the arrival of each new chapter culminating in the ending on Christmas Eve. So, over the past few years, I have started my own version beginning with today’s opening segment. We will read this story together as I have no idea where it will go or how it will end. My only advantage is I will read it as it is born, while you my dear friends will see it just moments after its arrival.
I will just tell the story, like Charlie Brown and Linus, of something worth holding onto. Let it take us where it will…Merry Christmas!
The Last Christmas (Part 1)
Joe followed his mother down the hallway, lagging, slowing his steps as he tried to avoid reaching the room.
The incessant beeping of the machines, the determined movements of the doctors and nurses, the sounds of laughter, and crying, all crowded his mind.
He hated this place.
“C’mon, Joe.” His mother, waiting for him, motioned with her hands. “We have to get in to see grandpa before visiting hours are over.”
Joe sped up a bit as his mother continued down the hall, then slowed once again. The dread of seeing his grandpa in the hospital bed frightened him.
“Joe!” his mother called, standing at the doorway to the room, “let’s go, c’mon.”
Joe stopped at the door and peered inside. Sitting up in his bed, wearing a Santa hat with flashing lights and jingling bells, his grandfather smiled at him. “Get in here, Joe. The batteries in this thing might die before I do.” He let out a laugh.
“What? They are old batteries. I’ve had this thing since before you were born. Got it for that first Christmas, just before you interrupted our Christmas Eve dinner by being born.”
Joe’s mom shook her head and plopped down on the edge of the bed. “So, how are you feeling?”
“Dying, I’m dying. But other than that, just fine.” He let out a laugh. “The poison they call food here doesn’t help.” He turned to Joe. “Did you bring it?”
Joe glanced at his mother, then reached into his pocket.
“Never you mind, Peggy. This is between Joe and me. Why don’t you go see if the nurses have an updated betting pool on when I will check out? I’ve got ten bucks on Saturday.”
Joe’s mom rolled her eyes and watched the two of them. Joe turned his back to his mom, then handed the candy bar to his grandfather.
“Yes! That’s my boy. Nothing like a Mounds bar or an Almond Joy.” With a twinkle in his eye, Joe’s Grandfather ripped off the wrapping and admired the two chocolate bars.
“Dad, you know you’re not supposed to eat junk. Give me that.” Joe’s mom tried to grab the candy.
“I,ffdo’t fink so,” the old man said, shoving a piece in his mouth, handing the other to Joe.
“He doesn’t need it either. He’s got a dentist appointment tomorrow.”
Joe’s grandfather winked. “No worries, we’ll wash it down with the hot chocolate you’re going to get us, and it will remove the evidence. Hot chocolate is magic.”
“Fine, I’ll go get the hot chocolate.” She stood up from the bed. “Please do nothing crazy while I’m gone.”
“Have I ever?”
“A better question is when have you ever been normal?”
Joe’s Grandfather stuck his tongue out at his mother. She rolled her eyes once more and headed out. As she got to the door, the old man stuck his tongue out and waggled his hands, thumbs in his ears.
“I saw that,” Joe’s mom said, without turning around.
Joe laughed. “She couldn’t see, Grandpa, she wasn’t looking.”
“Oh, she could see, Joe, she could see. There’s more to seeing than just looking. Sometimes you just have to believe.”
“Believe in what, Grandpa? Seeing is not believing it’s, well, it’s seeing.”
“Come here, Joe. I want to tell you a story for my last Christmas.”
Joe felt the tears in his eyes. He stood still, unable to move.
“Joe, there is nothing to be sad about. The last Christmas is just as important as the first Christmas. More so in fact. Come here, now, no tears. They ruin the taste of the candy.”
“But I don’t want this to be your last Christmas, Grandpa. I want to have a hundred more with you.” He hugged the old man, resting his head on his chest.
Joe’s Grandfather laughed, the lighted hat jingling on his head. “And so you will, Joe, so you will. All you have to do is believe…”
P.S. If you’re interested in the previous one from Christmas Past here’s a link. Please share this and this new story with all your family and friends.