Life Finds a Way

While suffering through our Arizona cold spell—we barely hit 70° the day after Christmas—we walked along one of the many paths and trails near our house.

Along the way, the still unfamiliar (to me) flora and fauna offer an interesting view of life here in the desert. One cannot help but wonder at the diversity and tenacity of life under seemingly harsh and impossible conditions.

But life finds a way.

One such plant is the Desert Arrow-weed (also known as the Marsh Fleabane, even though marshes are scarce around here.)

Desert Arrow-weed

What caught my eye was the volume of seed spores—those tiny airborne wisps that float on the air currents—drifting by and the sheer number of seeds still clinging to the branches and stems. Just the number alone, one would think the area would be covered with these weeds.

Still, the reality is the chance of even one of these seeds, blown without any specific navigational intent, settling onto a fertile spot and surviving to someday produce its own voluminous output of seeds is infinitesimally small.

But life finds a way.

It is in the very nature of nature to succeed in the face of overwhelming odds against it. If even just one seed takes root, it may produce seeds that thrive at a higher rate, and the species survive.

Throughout the history of the world, most species that have existed since life first evolved have faded into oblivion. The natural changes in the earth’s environment—global warming is both a natural occurrence and one sped up by anthropomorphic actions—benefit some species and doom others to extinction.

Changes will continue in the coming new year. Some will thrive, while others will fade away. Yet we humans have a unique opportunity to make a difference. This evolutionary experiment of consciousness and self-awareness, the ability to seek an understanding of our place, and our responsibility to preserve life on earth, provides us with the ability to enhance our survival while minimizing our impact on other species.

There are signs of our progress everywhere. But, sadly, there are tragic reminders of the lingering violent primitive nature of our evolution still rampaging throughout the world.

Perhaps we can take a lesson from the Desert Arrowweed. Despite all the examples of the evil humans are capable of, the possibility of one seed taking root to sustain rather than suppress life exists.

I wish you the happiest of New Year’s and encourage you all to look to the future with hope and determination to make a difference. Remember, it only takes one tiny seed…

Christmas 2022: The Circle of Life

Declan and his grandfather walked along the street, his grandfather waving at people out hanging Christmas decorations or loading presents into their cars.

“People are always so busy this time of year,” his grandfather said. “They should learn to slow down and enjoy life, not rush to and fro.”

“But I thought you liked all the Christmas stuff. The lights, the presents, the whole Christmas ho ho ho and jingle bells?”

“Oh, I like it well enough, but do you think that is what it’s all about?”

Declan paused a moment, thinking back on all the little adventures they’d been on looking for the lost spirit of Christmas. “No, while that is part of it, it’s not the most important part is it?”

His grandfather stopped and looked at him. “No, it’s not. Why don’t you tell me what is.”

Hold on to the memories of family and friends and they will always be with you.”

“Well, there was Sam who dresses like an elf and makes people smile despite all the challenges he faces, that’s the Christmas spirit. Then there were all those old people telling me stories about all the Christmases they remembered and how it made them laugh and smile.”

“Go on,” his grandfather said.

“And that story of how you were a grinch but grandma turned you into a good guy. I like that one, it made me really appreciate how important grandma was to us all.

“There was the night Ashley came over and we watched those shows. Even though I’ve seen them a whole bunch of times it seemed different, better. And she’s still not my girlfriend, I want nothing to do with girls.”

His grandfather laughed. “You say that now. Talk to me in a few years.”

Declan smiled as his face reddened.

“And then all those pregnant ladies buying gifts for their babies. But best of all was that first Christmas card I got from Ashley, that was really nice. Although I think the nicest part was giving her my card. Then those two elves, Socrates and Aristotle, they had so many stories about Christmas all over the world it seemed like Christmas has existed forever.”

“In some way, shape, or form it has, my boy. At least in spirit,” said his grandfather.

“I guess the Christmas spirit isn’t really something you can lose, you just don’t see it unless you remember to look for it.” He watched as his grandfather took it all in. “Is that right?”

“That’s all there is to it, my boy. The spirit lives in us all if we just look for it.” His grandfather bent down to look in Declan’s face. “You remember that and years from now, when I’m long gone and you have kids and grandkids of your own, you can make sure they always find the Christmas spirit in their lives.”

“Thanks, grandpa, I’ll never forget to look for the Christmas Spirit my whole life,” Declan said, hugging the old man…

________________________________________________________________

The sound of Christmas carols wafted in the air and Declan began to stir.

“Declan,” a woman’s voice said. “Declan, come on. We have to get to dinner at the kid’s house. They need to get the grandkids to bed. They’ll be all wound up since it is Christmas Eve.”

Declan shook his head, clearing the fog. “Sorry, Ash, I must have dozed off. I was having the most amazing dream about the time my grandfather helped me find the spirit of Christmas. Some of it seemed almost magic.”

His wife, Ashley, smiled. “Your grandfather did have a bit of magic about him. I remember that year. In fact,” she tapped her lips.” Wait here a moment,” and she dashed upstairs. Walking back down the stairs a few moments later, she held something behind her back. “Close your eyes.”

“Oh no, I’m not falling for that again.” Declan said, backing away. “I hate snakes.”

“Please, Dec. I promise this will make you smile. No snakes…you big baby.”

Declan shook his head, then closed his eyes.

“Put out your hand.”

“Okay, but if this is a trick I will…” He felt something like paper in his hand.

“Open your eyes, Dec,” his wife said, putting her arms around him.

Opening his eyes, he held an envelope. A bit worn on the edges, but still mostly intact. On the front, in a child’s scrawl, was written, Ashley Brown. Gently opening the flap, he pulled out the Christmas card he had given Ashley all those years ago. Yellowed a bit, and faded, but still like he remembered it.

“You kept it? All this time?”

She smiled, “Of course I did. Your grandfather told me I should hold onto it. He said I would know when the right moment to show you arrived. It would remind us of being young and finding the Christmas spirit. I wonder how he knew we’d end up together?”

“He was one unique guy, wasn’t he? I still miss him.” as a small tear came to his eyes.

“Dec, remember what he said, ‘Hold on to the memories of family and friends and they will always be with you.’”

Click the music link before continuing, we need to set the proper mood. (You can pick your favorite song from the list at the bottom of the image.)

And so ends the Christmas story for 2022. I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Here’s to a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all.

I hope you always find the Christmas spirit all the days of your lives. Remember to hold onto your memories and take pleasure in making new ones.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Goodnight!

Christmas 2022: What was Lost

Here’s the link to the beginning of the story, please share it with everyone and spread the Christmas Spirit far and wide (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2022/12/10/a-christmas-tale/)

Dec sat in front of the fireplace, basking in the glorious warmth. The weather had turned nasty outside and everyone had been sent home early from school. It looked like it was going to be one terrible storm.

“Hey, Dec,” his grandfather said, sitting next to him on the floor. “Bit of a turn in the weather out there, eh?”

“Yeah, and now we won’t be able to go over to anyone’s house tonight. I’ll miss out on all the fun.”

“Sorry, pal. I know you look forward to hanging around with your cousins just before Christmas, but it doesn’t do any good to focus on what can’t be. Think about what we can do for fun.”

“I know, grandpa. But it’s just we’ve been planning this all year and now this storm ruined our plans.”

“Let me ask you something, Dec.”

“Okay,” Dec said, shifting around to face his grandfather.

“Do you still have your cousins?”

Dec’s eyes scrunched up. “Of course.”

“And can you change the plans to another day? There’s still a few days before Christmas for us to get together.”

“Yeah, I suppose so.”

“Are you safe and warm in your own home with your mom and I?”

“Yes.”

“And will this storm, no matter how bad it gets, end eventually?”

“You know it will, grandpa.”

“And when the storm ends, will we go outside, shovel the driveway, then make snow forts and snowmen and have a big snowball fight and ambush your mother?”

Dec laughed. “We did that last year and she was mad at first but then…who knew she could make snowballs so fast and throw them so well.”

“You see what I am getting at, Dec?”

Dec thought for a moment, staring into the fire. “I guess you mean there are always two ways to look at things. You can focus on what you’ve lost or your can focus on what you have. And sometimes, things aren’t ever really lost at all, they’re just delayed.”

“You are wise beyond your years, my boy. Are we making any progress on finding that Christmas spirit of yours?”

Dec watched the flames dancing in the fireplace, the effect was hypnotic.

“Earth to Dec, Earth to Dec, come in Dec,” his grandfather said, poking him in the side.

“Sorry, grandpa, the fire…”

His grandfather nodded. “You know, Dec, humans have gathered around fires since they first discovered the secret of making them. Besides what you would think they used it for—keeping warm, cooking, and chasing away animals—they would gather around and tell stories.

“In fact, for the first several thousand years, it was the only way stories were told and passed on to the next generation.” He gestured to the flame. “When you stare into a fire, especially when you’re with family or friends, you are reliving much of the history of humans on this planet.

“In a way, you’re sharing the experience of all humans. So you see, it’s a way to remember everyone who came before you and to share a moment with those who will follow. Especially at Christmas.”

Dec looked at his grandfather, then hugged the old man. “I’m not sure I’ve found it yet. But I know I am getting there, thanks to you.”

Dec’s grandfather smiled. “All I can ask is that you try, my boy, just keep looking.”

Tomorrow, the last chapter: The Circle of Life

Christmas 2022: There Must Have Been Some Magic…

Here’s the link to the beginning of the story, please share it with everyone and spread the Christmas Spirit far and wide (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2022/12/10/a-christmas-tale/)

Long after dark, Dec heard voices wafting up from the living room. He sat up in his bed trying to make out the words.

“He’s a little young, don’t you think?” one voice said, sounding like a cross between a child and Muppet.

“We all have to learn sometimes,” said another, older yet with the same cartoonish character. “He’s ready and what better time than now?”

“Okay, but if he gets scared, it is on you,” came the reply.

A moment later, a light flickered under Dec’s door, the shadows dancing around the room. Then his door began to open. A tiny hand, holding a greenish tinted candle, appeared, followed by a small elf barely as tall as the door knob,

The elf, dressed all in green except for his red hat, peered around the room. A second elf, taller but not by much, pushed past the first and came right over to the bed.

Dec pulled the covers up tight around him.

“Hi, Dec. How are you?” said the elf.

“Dreaming?” Dec answered, “I hope.”

The elf laughed.

“Shhh” said the one holding the candle. “You’ll wake up the whole house.”

“I’m already awake,” said Dec’s grandfather, walking over and sitting on the edge of the bed. “You guys are the noisiest elves in the world.”

“You know these, ah, elves?” asked Dec.

“Oh yeah, I’ve known them for years, I didn’t know they were going to pick this year to introduce themselves to you, but here we are,” he turned to face the elves. “Shall I do the introductions?”

The elves nodded, crowding around the bed and smiling at Dec.

“Okay,” Dec’s grandfather laughed. “Dec, this is Aristotle” pointing to the elf with the candle, “and Socrates. Two of the elves you’ve heard tell about in legend.”

He leaned down to whisper in Dec’s ear, “Although not the sharpest tools in the shed if you get my drift.”

“Hey,” said Aristotle, “I resemble that remark.”

Dec’s grandfather shook his head. “See what I mean.”

Dec sat up and studied the two. “Elves named Socrates and Aristotle? Doesn’t sound very elfish.”

“Neither does Hermie, but everybody loves him in Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer,” said Aristotle. “I happen to think they are elephant.”

“You mean elegant?” Dec said.

“Yeah, that too.”

“So get on with it,” said Dec’s grandfather. “He has school tomorrow and does need to sleep a bit.”

The two elves climbed up onto the bed, one on each side of Dec, and a globe appeared out of thin air. The elves told stories about the many trips Santa made and some of the more unusual Christmases they had seen.

During the stories, Dec kept looking at his grandfather who just smiled and listened.

The elves finished their tale with an explanation about how their job, the most important job of all the elves in the world, was to find people who had lost their Christmas spirit and help them believe again.

“So, how’d we do?” Socrates asked. “You might get an email asking you to rate our work. We appreciate all fives if that’s okay with you. Remember, we have a lot of influence with the big guy.”

“Socrates!” said Aristotle, “what do I say about threatening the people we visit. He can make his own choice on how he rates us.” Aristotle turned to Dec, smiling a huge smile. “But fives are always appreciated.”

“Okay, boys,” said Dec’s grandfather. “You’ve told the stories and made your point. Time to go.”

The two elves hopped down from the bed, waved at Dec, then vanished into thin air.

Dec’s eyes grew heavy as he tried to stay awake. “Grandpa, was this all real?”

“Shh, my boy. Go to sleep for now and we can talk in the morning…”

That morning, as Dec dressed for school, he kept looking around his room for any signs that what happened was real. Finding none, he decided it had to be a dream.

Walking down the stairs, he could smell an unusual aroma. There was something familiar about it, but he couldn’t quite figure it out.

His grandfather sat at the table drinking coffee and talking to Dec’s mother.

“Good morning, sweetheart.” Dec’s mom said. “I’ve made some French toast with cinnamon for you.”

“Ah, that’s what I smelled, I couldn’t tell what it was.”

Putting the dish in front of Dec, his mom bent down and kissed him. “It might have been the cinnamon. Or it might have been your grandfather here experimenting with scented candles. He thinks he’s the new Yankee Candle company.”

Dec looked at his grandfather, who smiled and shrugged.

Finishing his breakfast, Dec started for the door. He glanced to see if his mom was watching, then whispered to his grandfather. “Did something happen last night, or was I dreaming?”

Dec’s grandfather smiled. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about but this time of year anything is possible.”

Dec eyed the man, a bit suspiciously, but let it go, As he made his way to the door, he turned back. His grandfather was laying out some paper on the table. He had several bottles of oils and some tools next to him.

Just as Dec opened the door, his grandfather said, “Have a great day.”

Dec turned back to see his grandfather smiling as he held up a partially burned green-tinted candle.

Dec shook his head then went out. As he walked down the walkway, he could hear his grandfather singing “There must have been some magic…

Tomorrow: What Was Lost

Christmas 2022: A Christmas Wish

Here’s the link to the beginning of the story, please share it with everyone and spread the Christmas Spirit far and wide (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2022/12/10/a-christmas-tale/)

Declan walked down the basement stairs to see what his grandfather was up to. When he had moved in after Declan’s father died, he’d set up a workshop where he spent quite a bit of time building all manner of things. It seemed to Declan there was nothing his grandfather couldn’t build just by looking at a picture.

“What ’cha doing, grandpa?”

“Hey, Dec. Ah, I’m working on a special project for a friend of mine.” He turned and held up the body of an acoustic guitar.

“You built a guitar? A real guitar?”  Declan’s eyes were wide with amazement.

“Is there any other kind? An imaginary guitar wouldn’t be very much fun to play.”

“But how did you know how to do it?”

“Oh, that part was easy. My friend has a grandson about your age. He could buy him a guitar but I thought a handmade one would be better. He knew the boy would love it for Christmas, I knew I had to figure it out. So,” he said, turning the unfinished work over and placing it on the bench, “here we are. I am just getting ready to put the last coat of stain on it and then I can mount the hardware, add the strings, and tune it up.”

“But how will you tune it? You don’t play guitar.”

His grandfather winked. “You know, Dec, there are some things about me you may not know.” With that, he walked over to a tall wooden cabinet and pulled out a guitar case. Inside was beautiful blond wood guitar. Gently taking the instrument out of the case, he began to play a song Declan had never heard before.

“Wow, you can really play. What’s that song?”

His grandfather finished a few more moments of the song, then placed the guitar back in its case. “That, my boy, is the song Classical Gas. It took me almost a year to learn it and it is one of my favorites.”

“So, when did you learn to play guitar?”

“Oh, when I was fifty or so. One Christmas your grandmother asked if I had any Christmas wishes and I mentioned I always wanted to learn guitar. She bought me this guitar and a year’s worth of lessons.” His grandfather chuckled. “When I was first learning and my fingers were a bit sore, I kind of regreted my telling her that, but once I gained some experience by practicing it gave me years of pleasure.”

“Whenever someone asks me about Christmas wishes, I always say things like being healthy or everybody being happy,” Dec said.

“Those are all noble thoughts, but sometimes a wish for a more practical thing can be just as important. I used to play my guitar for you when you were a baby then, for some reason, I stopped. I decided this year I was going to start playing again and build a guitar for my friend’s grandson. I hope he will enjoy it as much as I do,”

“Isn’t wishing for things for yourself kinda selfish?” Dec asked.

“Well, I suppose that depends on what you do if the wish comes true. In my case, your grandmother always loved to listen to me play—once I learned to play songs, of course—and we would sit around many times singing songs together. Well, she sang, I played. My singing sounds like a wounded hyena with asthma.”

“So your Christmas wish, even though it was something you wanted, could make other people happy as well?”

Declan’s grandfather put down the staining brush, wiped his hands, knelt down, and put his arms on Declan’s shoulders.

“Dec, wishes that come from the heart always benefit more than just the person making them. If you get a new toy or a new game for Christmas, you share it with your friends don’t you?”

Declan nodded.

“So even though you got your wish, it is something you share with others. That is not selfish that is living the Christmas spirit.”

Declan nodded. “Thanks, grandpa. I bet your friend’s grandson is gonna love that guitar.” With that he ran back upstairs.

Hs grandfather watched him go, then finished staining the back of the guitar. Placing it gently in the holder to let it dry, he reached for his wood burner tool. Pulling a small wooden plaque from a drawer, he placed it on the table and began to burn letters into the wood.

For Declan, I hope this gives you as much pleasure over the years as it gave me. Love Grandpa

Tomorrow” There Must Have Been Some Magic

Christmas 2022: Some of my Favorite Things

Here’s the link to the beginning of the story, please share it with everyone and spread the Christmas Spirit far and wide (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2022/12/10/a-christmas-tale/)

“What are we listening to, grandpa? This isn’t Christmas music.” Declan said, staring out the window at the freshly fallen snow. All the trees were glistening in the morning sun and icicles hung from the edges of many roofs.

“Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things.”

“Of course it’s a Christmas song, Dec,” his grandfather answered. “This is one of my favorite times of the year. Isn’t it one of yours?”

Declan sighed, “It used to be.”

“Still looking for the Christmas spirit I see. Okay then, what are your favorites things?”

“What do you mean, like pizza or playing baseball?

“Those are all fine, but I want you to really consider it. If you could only do one thing what would it be?”

Declan looked at his grandfather. “I don’t know. I’d have to think about it.”

“Well then, we’ve got a few minutes before we get to school. Why don’t you roil it around in that brain of yours and when I pick you up later you can tell me?”

“Jeez, grandpa. You’re sending me to school with homework,” Declan said, turning back to look out the window.

His grandfather laughed. “Well, if you really think, figuring out your truly favorite things shouldn’t be any work at all.”

A few minutes later, they arrived at the school. In front of them another car pulled up and the back door opened. Ashley Brown got out, saw Declan, and waited on the sidewalk for him.

“How’s that for timing? Your girlfr…I mean your friend is waiting for you.” His grandfather winked at him.

“Stop it, grandpa,” Declan said, gathering his backpack and opening the door.

His grandfather put up his hands. “My apologies, no yucky girlfriends for you. Not now, not ever.”

“Arrrrgh,” Declan growled and jumped out…

bicycle on snow covered street
Photo by Dave Haas on Pexels.com

Declan’s grandfather watched as the two spoke for a moment, then headed toward the door. He smiled when Dec ran ahead and held the door for Ashley. “There’s my boy,” he thought, “there’s my boy.”

That afternoon Declan’s grandfather sat on the hood of his car, eating ice cream.

“A bit chilly for that, grandpa,” Declan said, as he and Ashley walked towards him.”

I’ve got my love to keep me warm…” Declan’s grandfather sang, winking at the two kids. “Would you like some?”

“No thanks,” Declan said. “See ya, Ashley. I’ll send you my part of the project later tonight.”

Ashley smiled, “Bye, Dec. Bye Mr. Campbell,” then walked off to find her mother.

“You two working on a project together?”

“Yup. The teacher assigned Ashley and I to work together.” He stopped and looked at his grandfather, eyes narrowing. “And don’t say anything about it. It wasn’t my choice.”

“My lips are sealed,” his grandfather said. “But what about your other project?”

Declan stared at him.

“Your favorite things? You were gonna think about it.”

“I already told you, pizza.”

“Pizza is just a momentary thing, What really makes you happy?” his grandfather said, finishing the last of the ice cream cone and licking his fingers.

“Well, I like when I go fishing with you and I like playing baseball with my friends.”

“And what’s the best part of playing baseball?”

“Getting a home run?”

His grandfather smiled. “Well, that is a nice experience. But it doesn’t always happen. A lot of times you strikeout or get thrown out running to base. When you think about it, the best ball players in the world only get a hit once every three times at bat. So why do you play a game where you fail most of the time?”

“I never thought of it that way,” Declan said. “I guess it’s because I like being outside with my friends.”

“And what about fishing, we don’t always catch a fish. Sometimes we sit there all day without a bite. Why do that?”

“Because it’s being at a nice lake or stream, enjoying the…the…the experience?”

“That’s sort of it. Think about this, what does playing baseball with friends and fishing with me have in common?”

Declan shrugged.

“Think. What is always present at a baseball game or when we are fishing?”

“Well, I am with people I like.”

“Eureka, my boy. You’ve hit on the secret of life. As James Taylor sang, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time…’ What he left out was enjoying the passing of time with others.”

Declan’s eyes brightened. “So if I have friends and family to enjoy my life with I must be doing okay? And maybe that’s where I find the missing Christmas spirit?”

“Like my favorite Christmas song says,

When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Tomorrow: A Christmas Wish

Christmas 2022: How The Grinch Changed

Here’s the link to the beginning of the story, please share it with everyone and spread the Christmas Spirit far and wide (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2022/12/10/a-christmas-tale/)

“There was a time when I didn’t believe in the Christmas spirit.”

“You, grandpa? The guy who starts planning for next Christmas as soon as all the gifts are unwrapped?” Declan said.

His grandfather chuckled. “Very clever, Dec. But the truth is everybody has their doubts at some point.” He stood and put on his jacket. “Come on, let’s go for another walk.”

“Oh, not the cemetery again is it?”

“Well, as a matter of fact, it is. I want to introduce you to someone.

Heading out the front door, the snow swirled around them. Whipped by the wind, the cold enveloped them.

“You pick all the best times to go hiking, grandpa.”

“Well, that way the hot chocolate will taste all the better.” Increasing his pace, they hurried by the gates into the graveyard. Walking through the rows, his grandfather would stop and dust the snow from the markers. Finally, he found what he was looking for.

The stone was plain and faded with age. An American flag stood flapping in the wind, almost buried in the snow. On the stone was a saying in quotes.

John 15:13

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Sgt. Dennis O ’Riordan, USMC
1949-1969

In the corner of the stone was the emblem of the Medal of Honor.

Declan stood at the edge of the grave. “Did you know him, grandpa?” He thought he could see a tear in his grandfather’s eye, and he seemed lost in his thoughts. “Grandpa?” Declan reached over and took his hand.

“Oh, sorry Dec. I was just remembering Denny. Yes I knew him. We served together in Vietnam. I wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t been for Denny. He saved my life and the life of almost everyone in our squad. He died so that all of us could live.”

“He was a hero wasn’t he, grandpa?”

“He is a hero, Even now he gives me the strength to carry on. I want to tell you a story about Denny, let’s go get that hot chocolate and I’ll tell you my grinch story.”

Sitting at the table at the coffee shop, Declan and his grandfather sipped the drinks. His grandfather was once again silent and sad, something Declan had never seen. “Grandpa, will you tell me the story?”

His grandfather forced a smile. “Okay, you’re old enough to hear some things about me you might never believe, but everything I will tell you is the truth.”

Taking a deep breath, he began.

“After Denny was killed saving us, I was very angry. I was mad at the Viet Cong we were fighting against for killing Denny. I wanted to go after all of them. I did some things after I am not proud of, but it was a war.

“When I got back to the US, I went to meet Denny’s wife. She was just a young nineteen-year-old girl with six-month-old twin boys to raise on her own. I was mad at the world for what happened to my friend in that unnecessary war. I started drinking a lot. I got into fights with people. I wanted to lash out at the world.”

Declan’s eyes grew wide as the tale went on. He couldn’t imagine this gentle, loving, funny man being anything but what he was today. He didn’t know what to say.

“One night, I got into a big fight. I took on three guys and didn’t make out so well. I ended up being taken by the police to the hospital. They were going to lock me up after the doctor treated me, but something happened.”

“What Grandpa? What happened?”

“Actually,” a smile grew on his face and his eyes sparkled. “It was more a who happened. Like the Whos in Whoville from the grinch story. The nurse, whose name was Peggy, convinced the cops to leave me with her. She said she had been a nurse in Vietnam and understood what I was going through.

“Several weeks later, I went to the hospital with flowers and asked her out. And guess what, she said yes. On the date we talked about Denny and all the things that happened. She asked me to take her to Denny’s grave.”

“She did?”

“Yup, and when I got there she told me to thank Denny, tell him you’ll take back control of your life, and move on. And at that moment, when I thanked Denny for giving his life for mine, it was like a burden being lifted from my shoulders. From that moment on, I enjoyed the life I was given.”

“Wow, did you ever tell grandma about this date?”

His grandfather laughed out loud. “Didn’t have to. The nurse was your grandmother. She’s the one who changed me from a grinch to what I am today.”

“Wow, that’s a great story. I’m glad you not a grinch anymore, grandpa.”

“So am I Declan, so am I.”

Tomorrow: Some of my Favorite Things

Christmas 2022: Peanut Butter and Guitar Strings

Here’s the link to the beginning of the story, please share it with everyone and spread the Christmas Spirit far and wide (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2022/12/10/a-christmas-tale/)

“Are you ready for our annual Christmas TV marathon?” Declan’s grandfather asked. “I’ve got pizza on the way, with extra anchovies of course, and there is ice cream for dessert.”

“Oh grandpa, it’s the same shows all the time. Can we just play a video game or something?” Declan answered, slumping on the couch.

“Dec buddy, watching these same classics is the whole point. You know how much I look forward to this all year. I mean come on. How can any video game in the world compete against The Muppet Christmas Carol, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the master of them all, A Charlie Brown Christmas?”

Declan sighed.

“Declan,” his mother said. “You love watching these shows and your grandfather has been planning this all year.”

“I know, I know. And I like watching them. It’s just, well. Aren’t they for little kids?”

“Kids or the young at heart,” his grandfather said. Just then the doorbell rang. “Must be the pizza. Can you get it, Dec? I already paid for it.”

“Okay,” Dec slid off the couch and shuffled to the door. Opening it, he was caught by surprise. Instead of the pizza delivery guy, Ashley Brown stood there with her mother.

“Ah, hi Ashley. Why are you here?”

Declan’s grandfather slipped up behind him. “I invited her. Your mother and Mrs. Brown are going shopping and Ashley told me she loves watching the Christmas shows. Come on in, pizza should be here next. Dec, you and Ashley go get comfortable and the show will start soon.”

“You sure this is no trouble?” Ashley’s mom said.

“Not at all,” Declan’s grandfather said. “Just what the boy needs to revitalize the Christmas spirit.”

Declan’s mom and Mrs. Brown started out the door. “Dad, I know how much you love reciting every word of these shows but maybe you should just let them enjoy them.”

Declan’s grandfather winked. “That is exactly what I plan to do. Now go, I didn’t get enough pizza for five people.”

Soon the pizza arrived and they finished watching a Muppet Christmas Carol. Dec and Ashley paid attention, but Declan kept glancing over at her. Soon, the opening scenes with Burl Ives as the Snowman appeared on the screen.

“This is my favorite show,” Ashley said.

“Mine too,” said Declan.

That caught his grandfather by surprise since Declan used to say it was Charlie Brown.

“What is your favorite part?” Declan asked.

Ashley giggled. “Well, believe it or not, it’s when Hermie and Rudolph first meet Yukon Cornelius. He tells them he’s going to get life sustaining supplies “corn meal and gun powder, ham hocks and guitar strings.”

Dec laughed. “Yeah, I like that, too. And when Yukon says the fog is a thick as peanut butter and Hermie says you mean pea soup. Then Yukon says, you eat what you like, and I’ll eat what I like.”

They both laughed and went back to watching the shows.  Just as Charlie Brown and the gang stood around the tree he had picked out; Declan’s mom and Mrs. Brown came home.

“Well, by the mess here I can see it was quite a party.” Declan’s mom said.

“We had a lot of fun, thanks for inviting me.” Ashley said. “See you in school on Monday, Dec.” Ashley and her mom headed out.

“Dec?” Declan’s mom mouthed at his grandfather who winked back.

“So, did you enjoy yourself, Dec?” his mom asked.

“Yup, you know how much I always look forward to this night. And tonight was even better.” Dec ran off to get ready for bed.

Declan’s mom smiled. “I see he’s at least rekindled that part of the Christmas tradition. I hope you didn’t make a pest of yourself.”

“Me? A pest? Never. To be honest, they never even knew I was here unless I was delivering ice cream or pizza. And even then I’m not sure they noticed.”

A few moment later, Dec’s grandfather went up to Declan’s room. “All set for bed, pal?”

“Yup, just laying here thinking.”

“Thinking about what?”

“Well, you know how I didn’t want to watch the shows at first. Then Ashley showed up and it seemed like I was seeing the shows for the first time, even though I know every word like you.”

“Dec, you’ll learn that whatever we experience in life—good or bad—it is always better when we share it with others.”

“You know, grandpa. I think I will look forward to watching these shows every year for my whole life. Just like you.”

Declan’s grandfather gave him a kiss on the forehead. “Let’s hope you do, Dec. Let’s hope you do.”

Tomorrow: How The Grinch Changed

Christmas 2022: A Little Old Driver, So Lively and Quick

Here’s the link to the beginning of the story, please share it with everyone and spread the Christmas Spirit far and wide (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2022/12/10/a-christmas-tale/)

Declan stood waiting outside the school, pacing back and forth. He’d look toward the front door, then look around to see if anyone was watching him. After what seemed like forever, the door opened and there she was, Ashley Brown, the nicest girl in his class.

Declan took a deep breath, then started toward her. As he got a few yards away, one of the big kids from the sixth grade ran out the door, bumped into Ashley knocking her to the ground, then kept going.

“Hey,” Declan yelled, helping Ashley to her feet. ”be careful.” The sixth grader just laughed and kept going. “Are you okay, Ashley?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, Thanks.”

Declan stood in awkward silence for a moment, then started to walk away. “Oh, I almost forgot,” he said, reaching into his backpack. He fumbled around for a bit then pulled out the Christmas card. “This is for you.”

“Thanks, Declan. I have one for you too. Here you go.”

“Thanks, Ashley. See ya,” Declan ran off searching for his grandfather’s car.

“Well that was painful to watch,” his grandfather said as Declan climbed in. “Why didn’t you stay and talk for a bit. She seems like a nice girl. Is she your girlfriend? He laughed.

“No! I don’t have a girlfriend. I don’t want a girlfriend. Mom made me make out cards for everyone.” He turned away, glancing back to look toward where Ashley was standing. She waved and he waved back.

“Ah, I see. Okay, but if you change your mind she’d be a good one.”

After a few minutes, Declan leaned forward. “Where are we going now, grandpa?”

“Oh, I need to stop and see a friend for a minute. I always like to check in on him this time of year.”

Declan shrugged and pulled Ashley’s card from his bag. Opening the envelope, glancing to make sure his grandfather wasn’t watching him, he read the card. “Merry Christmas, Declan. Love, your friend Ashley.” A warm feeling came over him and he hoped she liked his card as much as he liked hers.

“There he is,” his grandfather said, pulling up behind a small truck with lettering on the side that said, Senior Center Meals on Wheels.

“Come on, Dec. I want you to meet Sam.”

Declan got out of the car and followed his grandfather to the sidewalk. The truck was running, but no one was inside. After a minute, a rather small man dressed like an elf came out of an apartment house door.

“Tom? What are you doing here? Trying to scoff a free meal?”

“Hi, Sam. No, no just wanted to see how you’re doing and introduce you to my grandson. This is Declan.”

Sam reached out his hand, taking Declan’s in a firm grip. Sam stood barely an inch or two over Declan and Declan couldn’t help but stare.

“Are you a real elf?” he asked.

“Ha,” Sam laughed, “No, I just play one on TV.”

“What?” Declan said.

“Never mind, good humor is wasted on the young. I just dress like this around Christmas. Some of the people I deliver to are all alone in the world and they enjoy it.”

“What do you deliver?”

Sam pointed at the truck. “I volunteer at the senior center and deliver meals to people who can’t get out to shop or are unable to make their own.” Sam winked at Declan’s grandfather. “You want to help?”

“Sure,” Declan said, then looked at his grandfather. “Is that okay?”

“Of course, I’ll follow along behind.”

Declan ran to the truck and climbed in, buckling his seatbelt. Sam got behind the wheel. There were handles and controls Declan had never seen and he couldn’t understand how Sam could drive since he feet didn’t reach the pedals, but the truck started to move and they soon pulled up in front of an old house on Main Street.

“Declan, this house is almost two hundred years old and the woman who lives here is ninety-three. Her family built this house and were one of the first to live in this town.”

“Wow, ninety-three that’s pretty old.”

Sam laughed. “Okay, let’s go.” Climbing out of the truck, Sam opened the back and pulled out several trays. “Can you carry this one?”

“Yup,” Declan said, though he struggled with the weight. Sam carried two trays and a small bag and seemed to bound up the stairs. As they reached the top of the stairs, the door opened and a woman in wheelchair smiled at them.

“What’s this, Sam. You have an assistant elf this time?” she said.

“I do, Sally. Meet Declan, my assistant for the day.”

“Hello Declan, thank you for bringing my meals.”

“Your welcome, ma’am.”

Sally smiled “And a polite elf at that.”

With that, Sam went straight to his work. He put some of the food in the refrigerator. Put one of the trays in the oven, then did a little dance around room, spinning Sally in her chair. “And a Merry Christmas to you my friend,” he said.

“And a Merry Christmas to you, Sam and Declan,” Sally said, waving as they left.

“How long have you been doing this?” Declan asked, after they made several more deliveries.

“Oh, I don’t know, twenty years or so, I’d say. I started right after my seventieth birthday.”

Declan did the math in his head.  “Wait, you’re like ninety years old?’

“Ninety-two to be precise. Why?”

“Isn’t that too old to be doing stuff?”

“You’re never too old to do things until you die. Up until them, you gotta keep going.” Sam smiled, then watched Declan climb out of the truck.

Declan’s grandfather came up to the driver’s window. “So how’d he do?”

Sam winked. “He’s a fine assistant. He can help me anytime.”

One the way home, Declan sat in silence in the back seat.

“Nothing to say, Declan?” his grandfather asked.

“I just can’t believe Sam is ninety-two. He’s so lively and quick when he makes his deliveries. And he’s so, ah, short.”

“Sam is a dwarf. He’s been that way since birth, but he’s never let it stop him. Ever since I’ve known him he’s always helped others. One might say he lives the Christmas Spirit all the days of his life.”

“I never knew someone like him could be so, so…”

“Happy?” Declan’s grandfather said. “Remember what your father said about accepting some things in life you cannot change?”

“Yeah, I guess Sam does that. Doesn’t he?”

“He does my boy, he truly does.”

“Maybe there is something to this Christmas spirit stuff I’m missing.” Declan said.

“Well then, Dec, we will keep looking…”

Tomorrow: Peanut Butter and Guitar Strings

Christmas 2022: And Christmases Yet to Come

Here’s the link to the beginning of the story (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2022/12/10/a-christmas-tale/)

“So what do you think you’d like to get your mom for Christmas, Declan?” his grandfather asked.

“I have no idea, maybe a necklace or a new car,” Declan answered.

His grandfather laughed, spilling his coffee. “Ah, let’s keep the budget under control a bit. A new car is a bit out of my range.”

As they walked through the mall, Declan looked around. “I still don’t understand why we couldn’t just order it online and have it delivered. Like the rest of the world.”

“Where’s the fun in that? Actually shopping is part of the joy of Christmas. It’s more personal. Let’s look in here.”

“Here?” Declan said, looking at the displays and the crowds. “This is all stuff for little babies.”

“I know, but I like to look at it and there are other things you may want on the other side of the store, This is a faster way there.”

Wandering through the aisles, it seemed that every woman there was pregnant. Declan and his grandfather helped one woman wrestle a giant stuffed panda in her cart then helped another bring a huge box over to the counter.

It seemed they spent more time helping others than they did shopping. Finally, they made their way to the jewelry department, picked out a nice necklace, then went to the food court and ordered a pizza..

“So what do you think?” his grandfather asked.

“Think about what?”

“About all those pregnant women shopping for Christmas.”

“I don’t know. What’s there to think about?”

‘Why are they buying toys for Christmas if the babies aren’t even here yet?”

“Well the babies will be here sooner or later and they can give them the presents then.”

“So they’re planning for the future?”

“Duh, of course they are. Everyone buying gifts is planning for Christmas. How else would there be gifts on Christmas day?”

“They’re anticipating Christmas?”

Declan started to answer then stopped. He looked at his grandfather, then looked at all the people carrying boxes and bags through the mall. “I guess they all want Christmas to be fun and they are buying stuff for the people they care about.”

“And what do you think that says about all these people?” his grandfather asked.

Declan thought long and hard before he answered. “That none of them would be here if they didn’t have some kind of Christmas spirit. They believe in Christmases yet to come.”

His grandfather smiled. “I knew you figure it out. Now let’s go, we have to get home before the UPS driver drops off all the stuff I ordered online.”

“Grandpa!”

His grandfather shrugged. “Ah well, even I like to do things the easy way sometimes.”

Tomorrow: A Little Old Driver, So Lively and Quick