My good friend, Ron Berry tagged me for the holiday tag game. The rule was, I had to write a Christmas story..so here goes:
A Christmas Wish
Logan pulled the covers up tight beneath Josh’s chin. At just six years old, Josh had a firm grip on Logan’s heart. His bright blue eyes sparkled like the Northern star. Josh was no doubt proof that God was big on second chances.
“Just three more nights, huh Dad?” Josh pointed to the calendar with the big green circle around the twenty-five.
“Yeah, just three. Now get some sleep. We’re going to see Santa tomorrow and ride the train.” Josh piped in, “And wear our pajamas… and drink hot chocolate?” His smile stretched from ear to ear at the mere thought of it. Logan nodded and kissed the tip of Josh’s nose. “Good night, son.”
He took one last look before turning out the light.
The smell of the fresh cut tree lingered from room to room. It was a far cry better than the first Charlie Brown tree he brought home twelve years ago. Their first year together. Just him and her. Just the thought of it brought about a silent yet forgotten chuckle. One he’d tucked away several years ago. Logan allowed himself a moment to drift back to those days long ago. Long before Josh came to be. Long before he was ever a discussion. As much joy as Josh brought into their lives, Logan’s heart ached for those quiet nights alone with Sarah under the white light and candy cane covered tree. He tucked away his hidden loneliness and headed for bed.
I wish I could tell her how much I miss those days… how much I miss the way it was when we were young and free. God, it’s been so long since we… Logan scolded himself for even thinking it after all they’d been through as he unplugged the tree. He crawled in on his side of the bed and like clock-work he rolled over to face the wall and pretended to fall asleep long before he actually did.
The morning came and Josh couldn’t wait to give Santa his list. He’d kept it a big secret, even from his dad..his best friend in the whole wide world. It was the first secret he’d ever had and today he was going to tell Santa just what he wanted for Christmas. He could hardly sit still the whole ride to the train. They chit-chatted about the upcoming church play, about the snow they hadn’t seen in forever, and how they still had a gingerbread house to bake. Nothing of the list. Not a word.
It was their tradition. Just the two of them. One Logan was thankful he’d started when Josh was just barely old enough to unwrap a gift. Now, with Josh well over six years old, it was the one tradition that gave him a much needed excuse to get out of the cold house that use to be a home.
“Got your list ready?”
Josh held his folded up piece of paper high in the air with a smug grin. Santa would know what to do. He would make all Josh’s dreams come true. He was eighth in line to sit on Santa’s lap. He knew ’cause he counted with both his hands and still had two fingers left over. That made eight. Logan waited off to the side with his camera ready as Josh crawled up in Santa’s lap and leaned over to whisper in his hear. After several seconds, Santa shot an empathetic look towards Logan just as the flash rendered him blind for blink or two.
Oh, no..what’s he telling that man? God, please don’t let him be…
Josh hopped down after handing Santa the folded up note. Santa gave a quick nod and patted Josh on his head before taking the next kid on his over-sized lap that jiggled like a bowl full of jelly.
The next few days passed with very little Christmas talk from anyone other than Josh. An occasional group of holiday well-wishers would make their way through the neighborhood offering yuletide carols and waving through the large picture window of the living room. A card or two came through the mail but Josh was the only one interested in who was sending them. He lined them up on the mantel where their three stockings were hung by the chimney with care.
The twenty-fourth had come and it was time for Josh to be nestled in his bed with visions of sugar plums dancing about in his excited little blond head. “Daddy, don’t forget to leave some milk and cookies for Santa.” Logan swallowed hard to force down the lump in the back of his throat. It was the only time of year he ever dared to cry and he didn’t dare let anyone see him. His six-foot three inch stature didn’t mesh well with soaking wet cheeks. He gave a quick nod as he pulled the door just closed enough to leave a tiny stream of light running across Josh’s power ranger covered floor. He poured a cup of milk, took a few gulps and took several bites out of the day old chocolate chip cookies…Santa’s favorite.
“Good night, Sarah. Merry Christmas,” he whispered. Silence answered back as he once again turned to face the wall. What felt like an eternity later, the clock finally struck midnight and Logan drifted off into a loveless sleep. Moments later, Josh came barrelling through their bedroom like a bolt of lightening.
“Santa came! Santa came!” He ran into the living room and stopped in amazement at the enormous amount of presents surrounding the tree. “He ate some of the cookies. Look” Logan took his normal seat beneath the tree to hand out the presents one at a time. More power rangers, a remote control spy vision car, heelies, and playstation games flooded the room. Just one present left. Josh opened it to find the three foot spider man he’d admired in the toy store window. Still, his smile wasn’t near as big as Logan had envisioned. Josh’s bottom lip trembled for a moment when his eyes caught a glimpse of one more gift.
“That has to be it! That’s the one I asked Santa for.” Josh dove for the present to find his dad’s name on it. “This is it. Open it Daddy. I know this is it.” A confused Logan carefully unwrapped the box to find a framed photo of Sarah and himself on their very first Christmas. Tucked neatly inside was a folded letter in a white envelope with his name on it. He looked up with tears in his eyes before opening the letter.
“My dearest Logan,
I know how hard this is for you. I know this is not ever what you had planned for us so many years ago. It wasn’t exactly what I had planned either. Sometimes life doesn’t ask us what we want.
I want you to know how much I love you, even when you don’t feel it. Even when you turn to face the wall and feel all alone, my heart aches for you …and I love you with all that I am. I’m sorry for not saying it more. I’m sorry for missing every opportunity to touch your hand in public. For letting the moments slide when I could have complimented you on a job well done or for remembering every birthday and anniversary. I’m sorry you feel so empty now. I hope someday you’ll forgive me.
I need you to do me a favor. It’s time for you to live again. It’s time that Josh hears your laughter and enjoys wrestling with you again. It’s time for happiness to fill our home once again the way it did so many years ago. We can’t change the path our lives have taken but we can move forward and change the future.
I’m asking for your forgiveness. I know you’re still angry. I know you’re hurt. I need you to understand that I did what I had to do. It’s who I am. It’s why you loved me in the first place. I love you more than you will ever know but it’s time to move on. Please. Today’s a new day and a new chance to love , laugh and live more than you ever have. Take that chance and run. Josh deserves that much. So do you.
I will always be here. I will always love you. Please let go of the past and step forward in the freedom of a brand new life. After all, that’s the very freedom I gave my life for. Don’t waste it.
With all my love,
Logan held the letter close to his broken heart as Josh dove into his lap. “See Daddy, I knew Santa would tell mommy you needed her. I asked Jesus too so I knew she’d send you a Christmas present.” Logan rocked Josh in his arms for several seconds before he stood up to place the picture by the framed triangular flag on their mantel.
“Daddy! It snowed. Look, it snowed. Mommy sent some snow from heaven. Can we go make snow angels?”
Logan let out the first belly laugh he’d had in two years as he grabbed their coats and gloves from the hall closet and headed outside to play.
(In honor for all those that put their lives on the line every single day so we can live to see another Christmas of freedom. Thank you. )
I’ll be posting the next victims of the holiday tag game in just a day or so. Be prepared. It could be you.