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Authors: Darryl Nyznyk

Mary’s Son (9 page)

BOOK: Mary’s Son
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“Lord, help me,” Nicholas whispered as he resumed his seat and the final words of “Jingle Bells” were sung. He stared at the children for several seconds before suddenly smiling and reaching inside the bag. He pulled out a large frozen turkey.

“Mr. Johnson first wanted me to tell you that you’re all going to have the biggest turkey feast you’ve ever had. Here’s one turkey.” Although the children cheered, the adults looked quizzically at each other, and Mr. Johnson grew suddenly angry. Why, he wondered, would this man make such a statement when he knew there wasn’t enough?

Nicholas, meanwhile, reached into the sack and pulled out another turkey, and more cheers erupted from the children. Mr. Johnson was shocked.

“And two more.”

Nicholas then enlisted Stevens’ aid to hand turkey after turkey to orderlies who stood, nearby, stunned. Even while Stevens was helping, he stared into the sack and saw nothing—yet every time Nicholas reached in, he pulled out another turkey. Finally, Nicholas sat back, exhausted from all the bending, and happily shouted, “And many more in the kitchen just waiting to be cooked.”

The cheers were deafening, and the shock that had at first been only on Mr. Johnson’s face spread to Sarah. She stared in amazement at the empty sack, which held so much wonder.

“Now, do we have anything else in this sack?” Nicholas asked as he picked it up, scrunched it in his hands to show there was nothing, and then set it down with a bright smile on his face. The children grew silent, and Nicholas again pulled open the top to look inside.

“Looks like there’s something in there,” he finally said. Stevens stepped forward to hold the sack’s top open. Nicholas bent, reached deep inside, and pulled out a box, wrapped brightly with colored paper and ribbon. “Let’s see here.” Nicholas smiled and repositioned his glasses firmly at the bridge of his nose. He read the nametag: “Kimberly. Where is Kimberly?”

A little six-year-old girl with straight blond hair raised her hand high and stood up quickly. A wide grin spread
across her freckled face and exposed two missing front teeth. Nicholas waved her forward with a broad smile of his own. The little girl limped as quickly as her condition would permit to his waiting hug and the box of joy. Sarah moved farther into the room for a better look.

From the moment she’d first seen this jolly little man through the rivulets of water running down her bedroom window, she knew there was something different about him. She believed, of course, that the rain had caused her eyesight to play tricks on her and that the umbrella could not have simply materialized above his head. Even when the squeaky tennis shoes he’d worn onto the marble floor seemed suddenly to change before her eyes, she didn’t really understand the significance of the event. All she knew then was the man was different.

As Nicholas now reached into the seemingly empty sack and again and again pulled out beautifully wrapped gifts to distribute to the scores of smiling children, Sarah slowly made her way around the room, all the while staring in wonder at the miracle she now clearly recognized.

After their initial meeting, Sarah had been interested in learning more about Nicholas. But, once he’d asserted he was Santa Claus, her hope that he might be something special in her life was dashed. She realized he was probably nothing more than a harmless little man, and she reverted back to
the personality she always used at times of disappointment. She tried to show she was strong and that the disappointment didn’t matter. She would simply go about making her demands and controlling every situation, and if others didn’t like it, that was their problem.

But Nicholas wasn’t like anyone else. When he’d come to her the previous evening, things changed. Instead of walking away in a huff, he’d come to say goodbye and let her know he actually cared. And then he’d given her the beautiful globe, which she now clutched tightly in her coat pocket. He’d given her a gift, not to quiet her or to get back in her good graces. He hadn’t done it to get her to like him or to get his job back. She realized he’d done it because he liked her. He seemed to really care for her and not about what anyone else thought. And now he was doing the same for the children of the Penford Children’s Home.

Sarah smiled. Her wonder at the magic…no…miracles unfolding before her gave way to admiration for the special man who transformed a room of orphaned, sick, and crippled children, without any hope of any future beyond the miseries of the decaying town outside these walls, into one of pure joy and happiness. And he was doing it for the joy that comes only from giving…a joy she had never felt.

Wrapping paper flew as dolls, trucks, balls, electronics, and assorted other gifts perfectly suited to each child were
exposed and Sarah finally began to understand. How selfish she’d been to throw the tantrum in the car, to try to run away, to almost miss the wondrous sight before her. How silly she was not to recognize from the very beginning that this special little man had come to spend time with her…not because he was paid to do it, but because he liked her…he loved her, just as he loved all these children. And when she looked around the room and saw the joy in the faces of Mr. Johnson and every adult, even Mr. Stevens, she realized it was because he loved everyone.

When Sarah stopped walking near the back of the room opposite Stevens and Nicholas, she again surveyed the chaos and smiled. Nicholas stood slowly, stretched his back, and shouted above the din.

“Well, my dear friends, is that everyone?”

All heads nodded vigorously with smiles as bright as stars. Sarah continued to scan the crowd until her eyes fell upon a portable bed just a few feet from her. The orderlies who had wheeled the bed into the room and stood beside it for much of the gift giving had joined the other children in front of the bed and left the twisted body of a young boy lying unattended. Sarah stepped toward the bed in search of the child’s gift.

The boy was about six or seven years old, although Sarah couldn’t be sure of his age. His body was so small and tightly
wrapped with arms and legs entangled at his chest and stomach that she could not really tell. The boy lay on his side, unable to move. From the corner of his lips a thin stream of spittle leaked onto the bed, and nowhere near the child or his bed could she see a gift.

Sarah’s heart quickened at the thought that she might help this forlorn child if only she could raise her voice loud enough for Nicholas to hear her. She flushed a bit and then braced to shout.

“No, that’s not everyone. This boy didn’t get anything.”

As loud as the room had been just seconds before, such a silence now prevailed. Everyone turned to stare at Sarah and the little boy on the bed before her. Sarah’s first reaction was shock that her words had such an effect. Her stomach jumped for a second as all eyes bored into her, but she stood firm and stared at Nicholas.

A young boy some ten feet from Sarah stood and glanced at the bed. He turned sharply to Santa and said, “Yeah…Greggy didn’t get nothin’!”

Nicholas craned his neck and asked, “Gregory didn’t receive a gift?” He then looked around himself and then at the flat cloth sack lying at his feet. He lifted the sack and held it up as he walked slowly through the children and their gifts to stand at Gregory’s bedside across from Sarah.

“I can’t seem to find anything in here for Gregory. It’s empty.”

Sarah glanced at the young child on the bed and noticed that he was trying to lift the corner of his mouth in a smile at Nicholas who had crouched next to the bed to be at eye level. For several seconds no one spoke. Nicholas smiled sadly and stroked the young boy’s head. Sarah’s stomach churned at the thought of the one child who needed the most getting nothing. Then suddenly she knew what to do. It was as if she’d been struck with an understanding that had been there all along but only now came forth as the shackles of her self-pity were lifted.

“Wait,” she said. “Don’t you remember Santa? Your sack was too full.”

Nicholas looked up at Sarah, who withdrew the Nativity globe from her pocket and extended it toward Gregory. “You asked me to hold this one for you. It was special because it was for a special boy named Gregory.”

Because the boy couldn’t turn, Sarah reached over him, laid the globe before him, and flipped the switch that produced the beautiful sounds of “Away in a Manger.”

Children erupted in cheers, and the adults tried to staunch the tears that wouldn’t seem to stop. Gregory smiled as broadly as his condition would permit, and his eyes gleamed in wonder at the beautiful gift.

Nicholas stood slowly and smiled at Sarah. She returned a smile that revealed the joy she felt from giving and her own realization that Nicholas really was Santa Claus. Nicholas took Sarah’s hand and squeezed it in thanks. He then laid his other hand on Gregory’s head.

“Lord, help this little one with his infirmity,” he prayed silently.

- 8 -
 

Dreary daylight drifted toward dusk before Nicholas and Stevens shook hands with Mr. Johnson and his staff to bid them Merry Christmas.

 

“You’re a miracle man, Mister…Santa,” Mr. Johnson corrected himself.

“It wasn’t me at all, Mr. Johnson. I am only His tool,” Nicholas answered with a quick glance heavenward. “The real miracles here are being performed by you and your staff.”

Just outside the great room where the children were starting to put gifts away in preparation for dinner, Stevens turned to Sarah, “Where is your coat, Miss Sarah?”

A five-year-old girl named Julia walked up behind Sarah with Sarah’s beautiful coat hanging over her small frame and dragging on the floor.

“Julia liked it so much, I gave it to her,” Sarah answered.

“Julia, now give it back. Sarah will be cold without her coat,” said Mr. Johnson.

“It’s okay, Mr. Johnson. Mr. Stevens will turn the heat on in the car,” said Sarah.

“We must be off,” Nicholas chimed in. He smiled with a deep satisfaction and some wonder that Sarah had seen so clearly the miracle of the day. He silently prayed his thanks and tried his best not to make a fuss over Sarah’s newfound generosity.
Best to let it keep coming to Sarah slowly so she could become accustomed to the joy of giving
, he thought. The fact of the matter, however, was that it was getting late and they had a party to attend. “We mustn’t be late for your father’s Christmas party,” he finally said.

 

STEVENS maneuvered the big vehicle backward down the long driveway, and Nicholas turned to Sarah. “I didn’t think you’d join us,” he said.

 

Sarah’s smile disappeared slowly as she turned to Nicholas, embarrassed, and said, “I was going to run away. I…ran into some boys.… I was scared. That’s why I came back.”

“Well, we’re glad you did.”

They smiled at each other for several seconds before Sarah’s face took on a quizzical look.

“You really are Santa Claus, aren’t you?”

Nicholas’s smile broadened, and he nodded slowly, “Yes…I am.”

Sarah turned to the window contentedly. She wasn’t sure why she felt such peace because nothing had changed with her father. Yet something had happened to her. She could feel it. She wasn’t immersed in herself. Her thoughts were of the kids and the joy they experienced through the love of this man…this Santa…and her own unselfish act.

It was early evening and almost dark as Stevens drove on the outskirts of the Sink on his way to Penford Heights.

“Jonathan, turn left at the next corner, will you? I have one other thing I must do,” instructed Nicholas.

“The party starts in less than two hours, Sir.”

“I’ll be brief. Please.”

Seconds later, Nicholas instructed Stevens to stop in front of an old house. Nicholas stepped out of the car and walked toward a group of boys in the garage. Jared and his friends stared first at Nicholas and then at the vehicle where Sarah’s face appeared open-mouthed and wide-eyed at the window.

“Jared, may I speak to you?” asked Nicholas.

Jared was stunned. He’d never met this man, and there was no way either he or the girl could possibly know his name. Yet they were here. The girl had ratted them out somehow. He looked at his friends, who stared back dumbfounded. He motioned them to stay put and walked to Nicholas.

“What do you want? We didn’t do nothing to her.” He motioned to the car.

“Please, don’t do this thing you’re planning,” Nicholas said.

Jared stared at him for a moment, until it was clear he hadn’t come to do anything about the confrontation with the girl outside the children’s home.

“What’re you talking about?” Jared finally asked.

“You know, Jared. It’ll get you nothing.”

“Hey, who are you, old man? Get outta here.”

“There’s another way,” Nicholas continued.

“I told you to leave,” Jared commanded and took a threatening step toward Nicholas.

Not intimidated, Nicholas nevertheless raised his hand and said, “I’ve come only to talk.”

“Well, I don’t want to talk. Now get outta here.”

Nicholas shook his head sadly and then slowly turned away.

Inside the house, Amanda, who stared out the window, shouted to her mother, “It’s Jared, Momma. He’s talking to a man.… Hey, it’s Santa.”

BOOK: Mary’s Son
11.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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