Christmas 2022: In the Strangest Places

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Later that night, Declan was in his room playing a video game. His grandfather came in and sat on the bed.

“So, have you zapped all the aliens in the universe?”

“It’s not that kind of a game, Grandpa. It’s chess. I’m playing against the computer.”

“And who is winning?”

“Not sure, yet. But I have won in the past.”

“I see,” his grandfather nodded. “Can I ask you something? You don’t have to answer, but I’d like to know.”

Declan saved the game, turned off the computer, then spun around a few times in his chair. “Okay, ask away.”

“Doesn’t that make you dizzy?”

“Is that the question?”

“No, no. Just I’d hate to have you give back dinner because you spun too many times in that chair.” He laughed then turned a bit serious.

“No, what I wanted to ask was this. Is your lack of Christmas spirit because you miss your dad? He’s only been gone a year and it was close to Christmas when he died.”

Declan looked down at the floor, fighting the tears. Then he took a deep breath and looked at his grandfather. “No, that’s not it. Dad and I had a long talk before he went to the hospital and I think I understand what he was trying to say.”

“And what was that?”

“Well, that there are some things in life that we cannot change and we have to learn to just keep living the best you can.”

His grandfather cleared his throat, pulled off his glasses like he was inspecting them, then put them back on. He stood up and walked over to Declan. “You know, my boy, your father would want you to love Christmas as much as he did. He’d want you to remember the tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago and still to come.” Turning to walk out of the room, he motioned for Declan to follow.

“Now? But it’s almost time for bed.” Declan said.

“We won’t be long.” His grandfather winked. “Your mother had a meeting tonight. We’ll be out and back and she’ll be none the wiser.”

“Or she will kill both of us if she finds out,” Declan said, putting on his jacket.

“All good things come with a risk. Let’s take our chances, shall we?” With that, the two walked out the front door and down the street.

After walking for a bit, Declan stopped. “Should I ask where we are going?”

“There,” his grandfather pointed. “Right there.”

“A cemetery? You want me to find the Christmas spirit in a cemetery? Are you nuts, Grandpa?”

“What better place to find spirits?”

They walked along the pathways, pausing to read the names and dates on the stones. Many had Christmas ornaments or wreaths lying next to them.

“So why do you think people put this stuff here? These people are dead, they can’t see the decorations.”

“Because people want to remember them. They want to let them know they aren’t forgotten and are still part of their Christmas celebration.” Declan stopped, glancing from his grandfather to the gravestones. “They’re still part of them. The memories last forever.”

“They do, indeed, my boy. They do indeed if we keep them alive.”

“So all I have to do is think of the memories of my dad, and he is with me.”

“And grandma, and Ralph the dog, and everyone else who has passed on. Hold those memories and they will always be part of the celebration.”

Walking back to the house, they hurried in when they saw Declan’s mom driving down the street. Running to his room, Declan threw off his coat, tumbled into his pajamas, then dove into his bed.

“Thanks, Grandpa, Who knew you could see something nice about Christmas in a cemetery?”

“In the strangest places, Declan. In the strangest places.” His grandfather winked, turned out the light, and closed the door.

Tomorrow: But It Seemed So Real

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