Emma put her arm around Emily.From The Day After Christmas: Part V
“It’s quite simple, my dear. Something Santa and I and the elves have known for centuries. The joy of gifts is in the giving.”
“It’s that simple, isn’t it?” said Emily.
“It’s that simple. Now let’s leave them to their fun and move on.”
If you want to start at the beginning here’s the link to Part I of the story Click here
Part VI: A True Friend
Weaving their way through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Emma guided the sleigh to their next location; a small town nestled in an isolated valley. Landing in the outskirts of the village, Emma and Emily made their way to an old house in the center of town.
In the house, a small lamp lit the inside of an enclosed porch where an elderly man sat reading a book.
“Maybe I got the location wrong,” Emily said.
“Let’s wait and see,” Emma said
A few moments later, another old man came walking down the road, dragging a small sled loaded with groceries. He walked up to the house and carried the groceries inside.
Neither man spoke, but it was clear this was not anything unusual. A moment later, he emerged from the house, sat on a chair next to the man reading the book and said, “All set, Jim. Everything you need is here.”
“I’m not sure what I would do without you, Tom.”
“I think we both get something out of this. You get your groceries; I get to leave the house so my wife doesn’t give me chores to do.”
Both men laughed, then fell into silence, lost in their thoughts.
Emma took Emily’s hand and said, “Follow me.”
She led Emily into the house and then into a small den off the hallway. Pictures of the two men covered the walls. Some showed them as young boys, but they easily recognized the faces. Others showed them at a college graduation, in military uniforms, standing next to a jet fighter, a lifetime of shared memories.
One wall was covered with images from a wedding. Tom stood smiling next to a beautiful young woman, with Jim standing next to him. There were pictures of kids, pictures of vacations, pictures of a lifetime.
Emily stopped at the last picture. It was Tom’s wife, now much older, and there was a memorial card along the edge of the frame, Mariam Louise Johnson, 1948-2014.
The sight of the picture brought a tear to Emily’s eye. “Sad that his wife passed away. He must be lonely living here by himself.”
Suddenly, laughter burst from the porch. Emily and Emma hurried out to see what was going on. The two men were both laughing their heads off.
“And I still can see the look on Mariam’s face when you put that snake in the tent,” Jim said, wiping his eyes. “I thought she was gonna kill you.”
“I did too,” Tom said. “I didn’t sleep at all that night because I was afraid she would get me back.” He paused a minute, took a deep breath, and sighed. “We’ve had some fun, haven’t we, my friend?”
“Indeed we have, Tom, indeed we have.” Standing up, he patted his friend on the shoulder. “Okay, same time tomorrow? See you then.” Making his way back outside, he pulled the small sled back up the street and disappeared.
Tom went back to reading his book, but the smile remained on his face.
“I think I have this one figured out,” Emily said.
“And what have you learned here?” Emma asked.
“That having a good friend, a genuine friend who is with you through everything that happens in life, is a key to a good life. And friends are a big part of the Christmas Spirit. In other words, It’s better to have one true friend than hundreds of pretend ones.”
Emma smiled. “Once again, simple as that.” Pointing toward the sleigh, she added, “Next.”
Part VII: Challenges