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   Christmas Present


   
      
            December has rolled around again and with it all the lovely traditions of Christmas.  We all have our special rituals.  For some it's special foods, for others it's a vacation in the son, another may treasure family time with laughter and talk and board games.  For many of us, it's a Christmas Eve service at church, with carols and candles reminding us once again of the miracle of that first Christmas in Bethlehem, when the Light of the World shone in the darkness of a lowly stable.
          Whatever your tradition, I hope you get plenty of it this December and that it brings you  joy and peace and hope.
            A modern tradition I've instituted on this webpage, is a Christmas short story for my readers.  Last year I brought out a collection called "The Man Who Loved Christmas."  You can download it here, for free.  This year's story is called "The Man Who Hated Christmas."  Here's an excerpt.

                                          The Man Who Hated Christmas


            "
Go away!"  Arthur Groves shouted through his front window.  A whole slew of chattering neighbours had gathered on his front porch.  He knew what they wanted, they'd been hounding him for days, but he was having none of it.  Christmas lights!  Humbug!
            "Please, mister," a young voice cried out.  "We'll do all the work."
            "No.  Get off my property or I'll call the police."  He hid behind the heavy curtains, listening.
            "Of all the miserable old . . ." a man's voice grumbled before a woman interrupted.  annie, his next door neighbour.  He recognized her soft tones.  He could always distinguish her voice from the others.  She never ranted or shouted, but something about her quiet ways commanded his attention.
            "Hush, Joe," Annie said now.  "Mr. Groves is very lonely.  Let's not make Christmas worse for him than it is.  I feel so sorry for him, shut away in that dark house.
            Arthur winced.  He didn't need anyone feeling sorry for him, least of all Annie McLennan.  The dratted woman kept inviting him for coffee.  When he refused, as he always did, she left plates of cookies or a cake on his doorstep.  He'd worn a path through the snow carrying them back, uneaten, to her doorstep.
            "But what about the lights contest?" complained another of his interfering neighbours.  "How can we win 'best lighted block' if old grouch there won't even let us put up one puny string of lights on his front door?"
            "Right!"  Another voice took up the grievance.  "Just because he'd rather hide in the dark than join the neighbourhood, why should the rest of us suffer?"
            "It's not fair!"
            Fair, thought Arthur, what do you know of fair?  I'll tell you what's not fair.  It's not fair that my son, -- my fine, generous, beautiful Jack, is dead.  He grabbed at his hair, pushing away the pain of loss with a small physical hurt.  He huddled beneath his window, where no one could see the anguish that consumed him.
            "Let's leave it for now."  He heard Annie McLennan invite the whole group to her house for hot chocolate and cookies.  The woman seemed to think cookies could cure anything.
            His lip curled.  Let them eat their cookies.  So long as they left alone, he didn't care.  He snuck another peek through the curtains, just to be sure.  When the last of them vanished through Annie's front door, he let the curtain drop into place and went back to his worn easy chair.  The chair where he'd sat with baby Jack on his knee.  The chair where he'd checked over the boy Jack's homework and where he'd listened to his teen aged son dream of a better world.  Where Arthur had sat with his back turned when Jack, in his uniform, marched off to war.
                                                           ***

            To read the rest of the story, sign up for my newsletter, here, and I'll send it to you.


               
                                                                                                                                                
                       




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