“So, what was this big secret your grandfather shared with you?”
“Moooom, I can’t tell you. It’s a secret.” Joe looked at his mother as she started the car. “I promised.”
“That grandfather of yours is up to something, isn’t he?”
“I do not understand what you are suggesting, Mother. Grandpa and I have no nefarious plans, no secret missions, nothing to cause any alarm.”
Joe’s mother gave him a sideways glance, shaking her head.
“However, I shall require a brief stop at Kringle’s Hardware store where I will need to borrow your credit card.”
“My credit card? I don’t think so. Not without more of an explanation.” She put her hand up before Joe could argue. “And stop with the pre-arranged speech your grandfather gave you. I see the note hidden in your hand. Where is this Kringle’s place, anyway? I never heard of it.”
Joe stuck his hand under his leg. “Whoa, grandpa is right. You can see without looking.”
His mom let out a short laugh. “He has himself to blame for that. He’s the one who taught me.” She steered the car onto Rt 146 and headed north. “This doesn’t involve anything that will explode, does it?”
“I hope not,” Joe mumbled.
“What did you say?”
“Ah, I said no mother. Of course not.” He smiled at her, sensing he needed to tread lightly here. “Kringle’s is on the Woonsocket-Lincoln line. Right near the plaza.”
“Never heard of it, but I suppose we have time to go there. Although why I would consider helping that grandfather in his latest harebrained scheme is beyond me. ”
“There is one other thing, because this is a Christmas surprise, you have to do something.”
“Hmm, and what’s that?”
“Promise to close your eyes when I come back.”
“Joe, they will not let an eight-year-old use a credit card by themselves. I have to go with you.”
Joe grinned, enjoying the moment when he had a secret to tell that no one else knew, and couldn’t wait to blurt it out. “No, you don’t. Grandpa already called and placed the order. He explained everything and I just have to ask for Mr. Kringle.”
“Ah, of course, another one of your grandfather’s mysterious friends.” Joe’s mother sighed and focused on the road. As they passed Interstate 295, she spotted a sign. Kringle’s Emporium and Hardware Store If We Don’t Have It, You Don’t Need It. She turned off into the parking lot of Kringle’s. “Never saw this place before.” She pulled into a spot and parked.
Joe threw open the door, stepped out, then leaned back in, hand out. “The card, Madam, if you please.”
Reaching for her purse, she pulled out the card, and handed it to him, pulling back at the last moment. “How much are you going to spend?”
Joe smiled, “No worries, Grandpa already transferred the money to your account. We got it covered.” He snatched the card from her hand, shut the door, and ran inside. Mr. Kringle was waiting for him.
“So, you’re this year’s co-conspirator, eh?”
Joe scrunched up his face. “A what?”
“You’re helping Nicholas, your grandfather, this year with his annual Christmas, ah, project?” Kringle’s face, red with fat cheeks, twinkled with amusement. He winked, then steered Joe toward the back room. In the storage area sat a huge box. It towered over Joe and was twice as wide. Joe’s eyes bulged, trying to take it all in.
“How my gonna fit that in my mom’s car? How my even gonna carry it out?”
Kringle chuckled. “I assume Nick gave you a note for me?”
Joe nodded and reached into his pocket, still staring at the package. He handed the note to Mr. Kringle.
Kringle read it, chuckled, then handed it back. “Read it.”
“What? Read what?”
“The note, Joe, the note. I gotta give it to the man, your grandfather. He always finds a way.”
Joe looked at the note and read it to himself. Kringle tapped him on the shoulder.
“Out loud, Joe. Out loud. It works better that way.”
Joe looked up. The box was still there, still huge, but it seemed somewhat smaller. Joe glanced at Kringle, then read the note.
“Big things fit in big packages
Small things fit in small
Believe in things you cannot see
And you can see them all.”
Joe looked up from the note and Mr. Kringle handed him a tiny box. Joe looked around. The big box had vanished.
Looking over the small package, Joe said, “What’s this?”
Kringle smiled. “The beginning of a Christmas adventure. All you have to do is believe.” He put his hand on Joe’s shoulders. “You’re a lucky little boy, Joe. You are about to create a magical memory of a lifetime. Now get out there before your mother comes looking for us.”
Joe took out the credit card and handed it to Kringle. He handed it back. “No need. It was just so I could be sure of who you are.” He glanced around. “Can’t be too careful about you know who.”
“Who?” Joe asked.
“Ah, Nick hasn’t told you yet. Probably better that way. You’ll learn soon enough.”
Joe shrugged, stuffed the box in his jacket pocket, and ran to the car.
“Did you get it?”
“I think so.” He handed her the card back.
“You think so?”
Joe smiled. “Well, I believe I did. I believe it.” He turned to look out the window. Kringle waved from the front of the store as snow fell.
“Who are you waving at?”
Joe’s mother looked out the window. “Who? I don’t see anyone.”
As the car left the lot, Joe turned back one more time. Kringle and the entire building faded away as the snow swirled in the wind.
Part III (Some Assembly Required)
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.