The Last Christmas

In keeping with an old tradition, I bring you Part 1 of the serialized story of The Last Christmas.

Millions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the Pawtucket Times would publish a story over the two weeks leading up to Christmas.

I, along with many others, anxiously awaited the arrival of each new chapter culminating in the ending on Christmas Eve. So, over the past few years, I have started my own version beginning with today’s opening segment. We will read this story together as I have no idea where it will go or how it will end. My only advantage is I will read it as it is born, while you my dear friends will see it just moments after its arrival.

I will just tell the story, like Charlie Brown and Linus, of something worth holding onto. Let it take us where it will…Merry Christmas!

The Last Christmas (Part 1)

Joe followed his mother down the hallway, lagging, slowing his steps as he tried to avoid reaching the room.

The incessant beeping of the machines, the determined movements of the doctors and nurses, the sounds of laughter, and crying, all crowded his mind.

He hated this place.

“C’mon, Joe.” His mother, waiting for him, motioned with her hands. “We have to get in to see grandpa before visiting hours are over.”

Joe sped up a bit as his mother continued down the hall, then slowed once again. The dread of seeing his grandpa in the hospital bed frightened him.

“Joe!” his mother called, standing at the doorway to the room, “let’s go, c’mon.”

Joe stopped at the door and peered inside. Sitting up in his bed, wearing a Santa hat with flashing lights and jingling bells, his grandfather smiled at him. “Get in here, Joe. The batteries in this thing might die before I do.” He let out a laugh.

“Dad! Please…”

“What? They are old batteries. I’ve had this thing since before you were born. Got it for that first Christmas, just before you interrupted our Christmas Eve dinner by being born.”

Joe’s mom shook her head and plopped down on the edge of the bed. “So, how are you feeling?”

“Dying, I’m dying. But other than that, just fine.” He let out a laugh. “The poison they call food here doesn’t help.” He turned to Joe. “Did you bring it?”

Joe glanced at his mother, then reached into his pocket.

“Bring what?”

“Never you mind, Peggy. This is between Joe and me.  Why don’t you go see if the nurses have an updated betting pool on when I will check out? I’ve got ten bucks on Saturday.”

Joe’s mom rolled her eyes and watched the two of them. Joe turned his back to his mom, then handed the candy bar to his grandfather.

“Yes! That’s my boy. Nothing like a Mounds bar or an Almond Joy.” With a twinkle in his eye, Joe’s Grandfather ripped off the wrapping and admired the two chocolate bars.

“Dad, you know you’re not supposed to eat junk. Give me that.” Joe’s mom tried to grab the candy.

“I,ffdo’t fink so,” the old man said, shoving a piece in his mouth, handing the other to Joe.

“He doesn’t need it either. He’s got a dentist appointment tomorrow.”

Joe’s grandfather winked. “No worries, we’ll wash it down with the hot chocolate you’re going to get us, and it will remove the evidence. Hot chocolate is magic.”

“Fine, I’ll go get the hot chocolate.” She stood up from the bed. “Please do nothing crazy while I’m gone.”

“Have I ever?”

“A better question is when have you ever been normal?”

Joe’s Grandfather stuck his tongue out at his mother. She rolled her eyes once more and headed out. As she got to the door, the old man stuck his tongue out and waggled his hands, thumbs in his ears.

“I saw that,” Joe’s mom said, without turning around.

“Oops.”

Joe laughed. “She couldn’t see, Grandpa, she wasn’t looking.”

“Oh, she could see, Joe, she could see. There’s more to seeing than just looking. Sometimes you just have to believe.”

“Believe in what, Grandpa? Seeing is not believing it’s, well, it’s seeing.”

“Come here, Joe. I want to tell you a story for my last Christmas.”

Joe felt the tears in his eyes. He stood still, unable to move.

“Joe, there is nothing to be sad about. The last Christmas is just as important as the first Christmas. More so in fact. Come here, now, no tears. They ruin the taste of the candy.”

“But I don’t want this to be your last Christmas, Grandpa. I want to have a hundred more with you.” He hugged the old man, resting his head on his chest.

Joe’s Grandfather laughed, the lighted hat jingling on his head. “And so you will, Joe, so you will. All you have to do is believe…”

Part II A Christmas Secret

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.

https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2018/12/14/the-christmas-dragon-the-complete-untold-unchanged-and-absolutely-true-story-from-beginning-to-end/


Life Lessons from Yukon Cornelius

I am one of the fortunate ones. I grew up during the last Age of Innocence.

Technology did not rule our lives. We did not spend our time bent over a device named for a fruit. We picked fruit from trees. I realize I could not be reaching those of you reading this without technology, but I still lament the invasiveness of it.

We had toys, games, and books. None of them robbed us of the joys of scraped knees, torn pants, bee stings, catching frogs, and exploring the woods. Sharing real experiences with real friends, not virtual ones.

In other words, living life.

We did not need an app to play ball or fish, we had bats and gloves and fishing poles (even if it was just a stick.)

We did watch television. All three channels, until the snowy screen of those UHF channels arrived. Harbingers of what loomed in the future.

TV time began at 6 pm with the news, followed by two or three of our favorite sitcoms. Breaking news meant something important or tragic happened, not a reading error at a beauty pagent.

As we grew older we earned the privilege of staying up for “Late Night” TV, the late show ending at midnight. Playing of the National Anthem, a few shots of Navy Blue Angels or Air Force Thunderbirds, then nothing until morning.

Technology has robbed us of the joy of anticipation. Be it a letter in the mail, an annual showing of a movie, or TV specials. It would seem nothing is special anymore.

We looked forward to the annual broadcast of our favorite shows. Not watching it over and over on demand.

For me, I remember three the best.

The Wizard of Oz

Charlie Brown’s Christmas

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Each of them made an impact on our lives.

The first time I saw the Wizard of Oz on a color TV. Magic. If there is anyone under the age of fifty reading this, they are probably trying to figure out why TV’s came in different colors.

Linus’s speech about the meaning of Christmas. Memorable. Too bad most have forgotten it. Every time I hear Vince Guaraldi’s Linus and Lucy theme, I see Linus walking across the stage, the single spotlight on him, and he explains with just a few words the true spirit of Christmas.

For me, the one that made the most lasting impact, even without me realizing it, was Yukon Cornelius from Rudolph.

He lived a simple life. All he needed, he carried with him. When he went shopping it was for “cornmeal and gun powder and ham hocks and guitar strings.”

He knew what mattered. Living for today, be loyal to friends, and forgive your enemies. He chased his dream daily.

Of the many nice songs to come out of this show, my favorite was when Clarice sings to Rudolph, “There’s always tomorrow for dreams to come true.”

Life has a way of demonstrating that such sentiment, while touching, is false.

As many of us know, and some of my family are reminded of every December 22nd, tomorrow is promised to no one.

So, adopt the philosophy of Yukon Cornelius. If it does not fit on a sled, you do not really need it. If you have a dream, pursue it today.

Call a friend, see your family, get out and meet someone new. Do it today, spend your time wisely.

For while dreams may come true tomorrow, perhaps a call, or a letter, or (I hate to admit) even an email or a text could bring a smile to someone today.

Do not wait for a dream to come true while you have the gift of time right now.

Merry Christmas, HO HO HO, Happy Holidays, and all that stuff.