Merry Christmas to all!
Every year I write a Christmas short story. This year's short story, The Christmas Letter, was fortunate to have won first place in the St. Augustine Florida newspaper's Holiday Story Contest:
The Christmas Letter
2012 Holiday Short Story by RL Williams
"Good afternoon, Miss Bumpers," I greeted with a wave as the elderly lady made her way to the curb with an air of happy anticipation.
"Hello," she replied, opening the creaking rusty door of an empty mailbox.
"Oh my," Miss Bumpers said with sudden disappointment.
"Expecting something?" I asked.
"I was hoping a letter would come today. Oh well, it looks like it won't be here for Christmas," she sighed as she walked dejectedly back to her front door and disappeared into her small well-kept house.
"Wonder what that's all about?" I thought, noticing another neighbor approaching on the sidewalk.
"Hi, Sandy, Merry Christmas," I acknowledged.
"Merry Christmas to you too," she replied.
"Hey, what's up with Miss Bumpers?" I asked. "She seemed really down when she checked her mailbox and nothing was there."
"Oh, you probably don't know about her, since you just moved here a few weeks ago," Sandy answered.
"Miss Bumpers' husband passed away several years ago and she went into an emotional tailspin," Sandy explained. "The person you bought your house from would send her a Christmas letter every year after that, saying some encouraging things to lift her spirits. It became a tradition she looked forward to since she has no family around here."
"So, she's still waiting for this year's letter," I surmised.
"Yes," Sandy answered. "A few months after he moved into a nursing home, he passed away. He always typed the letter and signed it 'A Friend' so she never knew who it was from. I didn't have the heart to tell her what had happened to him."
"And there is no one to send that letter now," I confirmed.
"Kind of sad," Sandy frowned. "Well, I've got to go. It's starting to get dark. We are having a Christmas Eve dinner and I have to get everything ready."
"OK, Merry Christmas," I said, turning back toward my house.
As I walked up the front steps to my Christmas adorned porch I looked over at Miss Bumpers' house and noticed one lonely light on inside. Looking around at our outdoor Christmas decorations I was reminded of the joy and happiness of the season and how exciting Christmas was growing up as a child.
After pausing a moment I opened the front door and went inside.
"It's getting cold out there," I advised as I entered the family room, noticing my young son and daughter next to our lighted six-foot Christmas tree.
"Hey guys," I smiled. "I've got a fun project for us. You want to help?"
"Sure," Rebecca affirmed.
"Me too," Charlie agreed.
"Let's see, how am I going to do this?" I thought to myself.
"We need some paper, scissors, an envelope and that old typewriter out in the garage," I said, as we went to gather the necessary items.
"Here's what we are going to do," I explained. "Since Christmas is about giving, we are going to write a Christmas letter to give to Miss Bumpers next door."
"What do we want to say?" I asked Charlie and Sandy as I put a sheet of paper in the typewriter, hoping a flash or brilliance would show itself.
We all looked at each other.
"How about Merry Christmas?" Charlie broke the silence.
"And let's tell her we hope her Christmas wishes come true," Rebecca adds.
"OK," I agreed as I pecked away at the old typewriter keys, thankful that the aging machine still worked and relieved that the old ribbon yielded letters that were halfway readable.
For the next half hour, the three of us composed a masterpiece, or at least the best we could do given the self-imposed deadline and our abilities to convey encouraging thoughts and ideas.
"Now we will sign it 'A Friend'," I commented as I finished my typing.
We sealed the letter in an envelope that I had typed her address on. We pasted an old used stamp in the corner.
"Done. What do you think?" I asked Charlie and Sandy as I held up the finished project.
"I like our letter," Charlie offered.
"Me too, I think it is a good letter," Sandy agreed.
"Let's take the letter next door," I said before the three of us headed out the front door.
We arrived at Miss Bumpers' front door and Charlie reached up to ring the doorbell.
A few moments later the porch light turned on and she answered the door.
"Good evening, Miss Bumpers," I said with a smile.
"Hello," she said in a tired voice.
"It looks like we have a letter that was supposed to be for you," I offered as I handed her the envelope.
"Oh my goodness," she said with an immediate excitement and smile.
"Thank you. I was wondering what had happened to this letter," a grateful Miss Bumpers commented.
"Knowing that someone cares means the world to me," she said as she wiped away a tear.
"Well, Miss Bumpers," I added, "I'm sure more people care than you know. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas to you and your family too," she replied as a new found happy spirit emerged.
We turned and headed home, all three of us with energized smiles.
"Wow, she really seemed to like our Christmas letter," Charlie observed.
"Funny how something like a simple little letter can make her so happy," Rebecca added.
"Yes," I agreed as I thought for a moment. "Sometimes it's the small things that can make all of us happy."