Last Christmas Present
By John Evanoff
The last Christmas present was about to be bought
for the year. All my sweat and toil through days of contests to
see who would arrive first to stand in line, who would reach the
racks with the headline toys to make the kids squeal and all the
voracious stalkers aiming their eyes at those same trophies; all
this was about to come to an end.
The shopping wars had worn me down as I reached
for the final item, a small box adorned with advertising and a clear
plastic covering over a wonderful baby doll with soft skin and realistic
eyes. It was the last one of its kind and alas, the quarry was mine.
Suddenly, a short pile of rumpled clothing moved
into my sight. Under ordinary circumstances, I wouldn’t have
even glanced down except to move out of the way, but I couldn’t
take my eyes off this little person. She was a slender dark haired
little girl with pale skin and wide blue eyes. There were wisps
of threads coming off her wrinkled patched light-blue jacket and
a woolen scarf made up of a rainbow of colors. She pushed her way
through the unconcerned crowd and moved toward me pointing to the
box in my hand.
'Mommy…That’s the one I saw,”
Immediately, I looked up to see a thin, red-haired
young lady with a face that reflected pride and sensitivity.
“Sorry honey. Maybe Santa will bring you
one next year,” the young lady said. It was easy to establish
from her tattered but clean clothes and the few items in her arms
that she was going through some hard times. She didn’t show
her fears though.
I walked to the check stand thinking of all the
wonderful Christmas pasts and the screams of laughter and joy soon
to come this Christmas. When, I took out my credit card and started
to pay for the doll, the checker looked up at me and asked if I
needed anything else.
“Yeah, you know…could you put that
box in a brown paper shopping bag for me? And add that roll of wrapping
paper and that silver silk bow there too.”
“Sure, no problem,” the checker said.
As I left the store, I saw the little girl and
her mother hand in hand crossing the street. The young mother sat
down on the bench at the bus stop and picked up her daughter to
cuddle next to her.
The timing was perfect. I approached the two and
handed the bag to the young mother.
“Santa thought this year would be better,”
As she looked down into the paper bag, she immediately
looked up with a thoughtful stare of disbelief, a tear beginning
to grow in the corner of each of her eyes and a face that would
be hard to forget in a lifetime of Christmases.
Just as the bus drove up, I turned and crossed
the street to my car.
I sat in the parking lot a minute and reflected
as the young lady waved appreciatively from her window in the departing
“Finally finished Christmas shopping,” then, I sighed
in glorious relief and contentment.