I thought I might take a little time to rewrite a Christmas poem this year. Unfortunately, I didn't get very far....
Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house
No one was cleaning, not even my spouse!
Maybe I'll finish it next year. Until then enjoy Colton's Short Story.
A GIFT YOU CAN'T RECEIVE
The first time I heard "Santa Baby" on the radio this year, I knew the Christmas season had officially begun. I readied myself for the worst: the Black Friday shopping stampedes, the late night caroling drive-bys, the countless charities dressing up as Santa Claus and ringing their bells in my face as I walk into Target...it was all too much. It only seemed to fuel my hate for the holidays. I planned on ignoring everything as best I could and then taking my bounty on Christmas morning into my room and forgetting it all had ever happened.
That is, until my mom decided to volunteer our family as the ones who would act as Santa to an impoverished family from church, giving gifts every night to them anonymously until Christmas morning. They had six little kids. This "Secret Santa" seemed more like a liability to me than an act of service. But, every night, we went out in my dad's pickup, my siblings and I clutching the six gifts in our hands, and waited to drop the loot at their door and run for the hills. After a week or so, I'd gotten quite good at this covert ops stuff.
On Christmas Eve, we were getting ready for the massive family party we have every year. Cooking, cleaning, decorating, and putting on fake smiles was part of the daily routine. We'd almost forgotten the family to whom we had clandestinely given gifts.
"Hey, can you drive down to their house and deliver the last presents?" my mom asked. I sighed, finishing my last bite of chocolate pecan pie (family recipe, mind you), and then begrudgingly nodded. "Great! The presents are in the garage, just grab the last six and deliver them before it gets too late tonight." She left to host the party, and I meandered toward the garage. My cousins were throwing candy canes at each other, and as I looked back, I saw one of them crunching on a blueberry-flavored candy cane, wrapper and all, that he'd plucked off the heavily ornamented tree.
The six gifts in the garage were an assortment of action figures: Batman, Spider-man, an out of place Godzilla toy, and a few more. It seemed blasphemous to pair Marvel, DC, and the kaiju genre together, but I wasn't going to complain. I hopped into the pickup and drove off to the family's house. Sadly, I'd forgotten their last name. It was probably Smith. Nah, that didn't sound right.
I pulled up to their apartment building, got out of the truck extra quietly, and grabbed the six toys. There was a single light on in their apartment that faintly flickered like a candle or something. I tip-toed up to the doorstep and laid the toys down on the mat, then promptly pressed the doorbell's button and dived (well, more like a graceful fall) into a nearby bush. Immediately, the door swung open and a small child looked fervently around to see if he could spot the gift giver. I pressed down onto the ground, held my breath, and hoped he would just grab the toys and run back into his home.
"Hey, Max, what did Santa bring this time?" a voice inside asked the kid.
"Toys, Dad! Come look!" the kid was excited, and the rest of his siblings gathered around the door to see the gifts. I didn't want to blow my cover, so I just laid still.
"Well, go ahead and take 'em inside guys," said the dad. "Merry Christmas." He and I watched the kids run inside with their presents, giggling and already planning which of the superheroes was going to fight Godzilla. The dad waited at the doorstep for a moment and let a few tears fall down his cheeks, and then whispered, "Thank you," to no one in particular. I then realized that he must've been praying. I started to scoot away, not wanting to have to talk to him after just hiding in his bushes and creeping up on his family, but then something pretty special happened - he looked in my direction and smiled. Then, just like that, he walked inside.
After that night, I had a new perspective on things. As corny as it sounded, I'd found the true meaning of Christmas. And it wasn't all about what new tech upgrade we were getting as a family. It was simple. To give, and to expect nothing in return.