Christmas 2022: But It Seemed So Real

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Snuggling down into the covers, Declan could hear his grandfather and mother talking. He couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, but he could hear a bit of sadness in his mother’s voice, that is until his grandfather made her laugh out loud.

I wonder what that is all about. Pulling the covers tighter over him, he closed his eyes.

“Tired from your late night walk,” a familiar voice said.

Opening his eyes, Declan saw his father sitting in the desk chair, spinning round and round.

“Dad? But you’re…”

“Dead? Yup, but I told you there are things in the world one just has to accept.”

Declan jumped from his bed and tried to hug his father. His arms went right through him.

“Sorry, pal. You can hear me and see me, but I look like this just so you’d know it was me. No matter though. I just wanted to say hello and send you on a little trip.”

“A trip, I’m not dying am I?” Declan shrunk back a bit.

“No, no. Not for a very long time. But there is something I want you to see.” With that the room filled with a warm, glowing mist and Declan disappeared into the fog.

A moment later, he found himself in a small apartment. In the living room, a giant-sized Christmas tree took up almost all the space. A man lay beneath the tree, gazing up into the lights. A small train set, setup just below the tree, ran round and round with a soft whistle coming out of the engine.

Declan could smell the aroma of apple pie just like his grandma used to make wafting throughout the house. The memories of those Christmas dinners came flooding back.

“Tom,” came a woman’s voice from another room. “The train set is not for you, you know. Turn it off so Tommy can play with it.”

The man smiled, rolled to his side, and turned off the train. “Just making sure it all works, Peggy.”

The woman came into the room. She was dressed in a plain but colorful red dress and her belly was the size of a basketball. “You’ve been testing it for an hour. It works. Now put out the rest of the presents, eat the cookies, drink the milk, and let’s go to bed, I’m exhausted and we have to be up early to start Christmas dinner,”

The man stood, walked over to his wife, and put his head against her stomach. “Hello in there. Are you gonna come up anytime soon?”

The woman laughed. “She’ll come out in her own time, Tom,” pushing him away. “Now get back to work.”

“She? It’s a girl?”

“I hope so. I can’t take one more boy around here between you and Tommy. Both of you are impossible.”

The man kissed his wife then went back to laying out presents. “You know, Peggy. By this time next year they’ll be four of us for Christmas. I really love this time of year.”

“I know you do, dear. But next year, can we get a tree that isn’t quite so big? We can hardly fit in here now.”

The man laughed. “Nope, the tree has to be a big one. It’s part of the fun.”

With that, the woman left the room and the man arranged more gifts under the tree.

The mists came flooding back and Declan found himself back in his room, alone. Well, that was quite the dream, he thought. He closed his eyes and started to fall asleep, but he could swear he still smelled the apple pie…

“Grandpa, can I tell you something?”

“Of course,” his grandfather said, glancing over as he drove Declan to school.

“I had a dream last night. My father was in it and he sent me to a place where there was a couple decorating and cooking around Christmas. The pies smelled just like Grandma used to make and the train set under the tree looked just like the one you and my father gave me a couple of years ago.”

Reaching into his pocket, Declan’s grandfather handed him an old black and white photo. Along the while border was the date Dec. ’61.

“That’s it,” Declan shouted. “But how?”

“That’s where I was born and grew up with my sister, your great aunt. And those are my parents standing next to the tree. My mother was pregnant with my sister then.”

“So it was real. I went back in time?”

“Well, let’s say you got to experience a memory with others. Sharing memories is one of the best parts of Christmas and the whole holiday season.”

Declan sat back and stared out the window. “But it seemed so real.”

“It was real, Declan. And perhaps there is more yet to come.”

Tomorrow: The Greatest Gift

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