Christmas Story Time
2020 Christmas Story by RL Williams
“Fifty seven degrees,” the outdoor thermometer read as Audrey looked out the front window.
“It’s going to be a bit nippy outside tonight,” she thought to herself as she put on a coat.
Audrey headed out the front door and walked down the porch steps.
“Here it is Christmas Eve. Another Christmas without Crystal,” she remembered with a tear in her eye.
“Crystal was such a good child,” Audrey recalled as she exited her front yard and walked onto the city sidewalk.
A moderate breeze made it seem even colder.
“What’s that?” she asked herself as she saw an envelope flutter around on the sidewalk.
She picked up the envelope and examined it.
“To Noelle: From my heart to yours this Christmas,” the handwritten words said.
“Hmmm, no last name or address,” Audrey observed. “I wonder who this letter belongs to?”
She looked around and saw no one.
Audrey put the letter in her coat pocket and started walking towards the house next door.
She approached the lighted front door and rang the doorbell.
Moments later an older man opened the door.
“Hello,” the man said.
“Hi,” Audrey responded. “I live next door and I found this letter on the sidewalk and I was wondering if you might know who it belongs to?”
The man looked at the envelope.
“Sorry, I don’t know anyone named Noelle,” he stated. “Maybe you should open it?” he suggested.
Audrey looked at the frayed gold paper seal on the back of the envelope.
“No, I wouldn’t feel right about opening it. It could be something personal,” she answered. “I will keep looking, thanks.”
“Oh, wait a moment,” the man said.
“Yes,” she answered.
“If I could have a minute of your time,” he asked, “my wife fell the other day and has to stay in bed for a few days. I am trying to move the Christmas tree into the bedroom and I could use some help.”
“Of course,” Audrey replied. “I can help you move the tree.”
The two of them gingerly moved the decorated Christmas tree into the bedroom. They straightened the tree and adjusted some ornaments as the bedridden woman looked on.
“Thank you dear,” the woman offered.
“No problem,” Audrey responded.
“Thanks again and Merry Christmas,” the man said as he walked Audrey to the door.
She left the house and continued walking down the sidewalk, still determined to deliver the letter to its rightful owner.
A few minutes passed and Audrey noticed a small dog running down the sidewalk towards her.
“Here boy,” she said as she stooped down to try to entice the dog to come to her.
The dog slowed down and as it attempted to pass her, she scooped the dog up into her arms preventing it from crossing the street and getting into traffic.
“It’s ok little one,” she whispered as she comforted the dog and looked at the tag on its collar.
“Let’s see, your name is Daisy,” Audrey said as she read the tag.
“I wonder where your home is?” she questioned, looking around.
Audrey proceeded down the sidewalk, now with two items in need of an owner.
After passing a few more houses, she noticed a woman and child frantically running from yard to yard yelling the name, “Daisy!”
“Here girl, here Daisy,” they shouted.
“Excuse me,” Audrey said in a raised voice, trying to catch their attention.
“Mommy, it’s Daisy!” the child exclaimed as she pointed to the dog in Audrey’s arms.
“Oh, thank you, thank you,” the woman praised Audrey. “That is our dog Daisy who ran out the front door a few minutes ago.”
“Aw, here you go,” Audrey said as she handed Daisy to the woman.
“We were afraid Daisy would run into the street and get hit by a car,” the relieved woman said.
“I was able to catch her before she got into the street, so everything is fine,” Audrey replied.
“Thank you again,” the woman said, “and Merry Christmas.”
“Um,” Audrey spoke, “you wouldn’t know someone named Noelle who lives around here would you?”
The woman thought a moment.
“No, not a Noelle that I am aware of,” the woman replied.
“Ok,” Audrey acknowledged, “and Merry Christmas to you too.”
The woman and child turned and walked away with Daisy.
Audrey decided to cross the street to continue her journey in search of the letter’s owner.
She soon found herself passing the local senior center.
A man and a woman standing on the sidewalk noticed her approaching.
“Merry Christmas,” they offered.
“Merry Christmas to you too,” Audrey replied as she paused her walk.
“We were wondering if you could possibly help us out?” the man asked.
“Help you with what?” Audrey inquired.
“Well, we always sing some Christmas carols at the senior center every Christmas Eve and the third member of our group is sick and went home,” he explained.
“Would you join us and sing the carols as our third person?” he asked.
“I don’t really sing,” Audrey said with a faint smile.
“Neither do we really,” the woman replied. “It is not about singing perfection to the seniors here, it is about being there with them.”
“It has become a tradition over the years and they always seem to perk up when our group sings for them,” the man added.
“Some of them have no family to visit and this gathering at the senior center tonight is their Christmas,” the woman continued.
Audrey thought for a moment.
“Ok, I will do it,” Audrey decided, “but I don’t know how good I will be at singing.”
“You will do fine, just follow our lead,” the woman said.
The man, woman, and Audrey went into the senior center and began singing Silent Night.
She noticed that the people listening to their carols had smiles and a sense of joy from the musical notes they were singing.
They proceeded to sing Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, Frosty the Snowman, and finally Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
The seniors in attendance clapped and smiled after they finished their last song.
An elderly man and woman came up to Audrey.
“Thank you so much dear,” the woman said. “This brings back many wonderful memories of past Christmases with my family.”
“I am sure I speak for all of us when I say thank you and Merry Christmas,” the man added.
“You are certainly welcome and Merry Christmas to you also,” Audrey replied with a tear in her eye.
“Oh,” Audrey remembered, “do either of you know anyone named Noelle that lives around here?”
The man and woman thought a moment.
“No, I don’t know a Noelle,” the woman said.
“The only Noelle I know passed away many years ago,” the man added.
“Thanks anyway,” she replied.
Audrey and the two other carolers left the senior center as the center began to shut down for the evening.
“Thank you so much for helping out tonight with the Christmas carols,” the man said.
“You did great and they really enjoyed it,” the woman added.
“You are so welcome,” Audrey responded, feeling a sense of joy. “It was fun.”
“You can join us again for singing any time, maybe next year?” the man asked.
“Maybe I will,” Audrey replied.
They exchanged Merry Christmases and then parted ways.
Audrey sat down on a bus stop bench next to the sidewalk.
“It’s 8:30 and getting colder,” Audrey noticed as she looked at her watch.
“I don’t know if I am ever going to find Noelle,” Audrey said in a disappointed tone.
Her thoughts soon turned to her deceased daughter Crystal.
“I miss her so much,” she thought, tearing up.
An older woman that was leaving the senior center approached.
“May I sit here,” she asked politely.
“Sure,” Audrey replied. “There is plenty of room.”
“Are you ok?” she asked, noticing her teary eyes.
“Oh, yes, I am ok,” she hesitated.
After a few moments, Audrey regained her composure.
“Um,” she started, “you wouldn’t know anyone named Noelle would you?”
“Yes,” she smiled.
Audrey immediately perked up.
“My name is Noelle,” the woman admitted. “Why do you ask?”
“I am searching for someone named Noelle,” she explained. “I found a letter on the sidewalk addressed to a Noelle with no last name and I have been trying to find this person all night.”
“That is very kind of you,” Noelle responded.
Audrey pulled the envelope out of her coat pocket and showed it to her.
“What? Oh my goodness,” Noelle replied with stunned look.
“I must have dropped the letter after I started my walk tonight,” she continued.
“So, it is yours?” Audrey asked.
“Yes,” Noelle said in a sad and broken voice. “It is a letter from my late husband who passed away five years ago on Christmas Eve.”
“I always take this letter out of the drawer and carry it with me on my Christmas Eve walk each year,” Noelle added.
“Wow,” Audrey said.
“Thank you so much for returning it,” Noelle said appreciatively. “It means so much to me. If you had not found it tonight, I could have lost it forever.”
“You are welcome,” Audrey replied. “I am happy I was able to help.”
“You are an angel,” Noelle said as she smiled.
“No, no angel,” Audrey said, “just someone who ...”
Audrey paused a moment.
“Just someone who misses her daughter,” she said, suddenly overcome by sadness.
“Where is your daughter?” Noelle asked.
“She was killed in an accident almost three years ago,” Audrey explained.
“Oh no, I am so sorry to hear that,” Noelle said in a somber tone.
“It is so difficult sometimes to go on with life,” Audrey sighed.
“It must be especially hard at Christmas,” Noelle observed.
“Yes, it is,” she agreed.
A few moments passed.
“Hey,” Noelle said, “I have an idea. Why don’t you join me on my traditional Christmas Eve walk?”
“We can dedicate it to both your daughter and my husband,” Noelle added.
“I don’t know,” Audrey paused.
“I find that when I do something to honor the memory of my husband, I feel a sense of purpose, and that helps,” Noelle offered.
“Ok, I will join you,” Audrey decided.
Both Audrey and Noelle got up and began their walk together.
As they traveled the sidewalks of the neighborhood, Noelle explained how she and her husband would walk the same path frequently and discuss the day’s issues with each other, sometimes funny and sometimes serious.
Audrey told of how she and Crystal would walk this same path on their way to the park just about every weekend when the weather was good.
They eventually ended up on Audrey’s street.
She noticed a familiar sight in one of the front yards.
“Hi,” a child yelled in Audrey’s direction. “Mommy, it’s the lady that saved Daisy!”
“Thank you again,” the mother said as she waved at Audrey.
“Looks like you have some admirers,” Noelle said with a smile.
“I helped them get their dog back,” Audrey explained.
“I am sure they appreciated that,” Noelle said.
As they got closer to Audrey’s house, another man in his yard who was adjusting some Christmas decorations noticed Audrey on the sidewalk.
“Hello again,” the man said, “and thank you for helping me move that Christmas tree earlier tonight. It made a world of difference to my wife.”
“You are welcome,” she said with a smile.
“More admirers,” Noelle observed.
“All I did was help him move his Christmas tree into the bedroom where his wife was at since she was confined to her bed,” Audrey explained.
“You are too modest,” Noelle replied, “Your help has added some happiness to their lives.”
“Well, this is my house,” Audrey said with a sigh.
“Why the sigh?” Noelle asked.
“The memories of my daughter Crystal, and she is not here, and it is Christmas Eve,” Audrey said with sadness.
They walked a few feet and sat down on the porch steps.
“Sometimes I feel like things will never get better,” Audrey explained.
“I know that feeling,” Noelle empathized.
“How do you deal with it?” Audrey asked.
“One day at a time,” Noelle replied, “and I try to help someone with something. Helping others helps me.”
“I don’t feel like I am really capable of helping anyone considering the way I feel. Besides, what can I do to help anyone?” Audrey questioned.
“Are you kidding?” Noelle smiled. “Tonight you helped your next door neighbor move their Christmas tree, you helped save and return a family’s dog, and you gave your time to sing Christmas carols at the senior center. Also don’t forget that you found me and returned my cherished letter.”
Audrey thought for a moment.
“You brought a lot of joy to a lot of people tonight,” Noelle continued.
Audrey thought for another moment with a slight smile.
“Let me ask you this,” Noelle offered, “when you were doing those kind things tonight, how did you feel?”
“I guess I did feel happy then,” Audrey admitted.
“I am certain your daughter is up there smiling down on you, as is my husband, whenever we help others. Besides doing the right thing in helping someone, they know it also makes us happy. They want us to be happy and not be sad,” Noelle said.
“So helping others is what my daughter would want me to do,” Audrey softly pondered.
“Yes,” Noelle confirmed.
“Shortly before my husband passed away, he wrote this quote on a piece of paper and put in the envelope you found,” Noelle explained. “He wrote, ‘you make a life of happiness by what you give, not by what you get.’”
Audrey thought a moment and then replied, “I think I understand.”
“You have been on quite a journey tonight,” Noelle said.
As they looked at each other, both with hopeful smiles, a group of Christmas carolers stopped on the sidewalk outside Audrey’s house.
As the carolers sang I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Audrey now knew that Noelle was right.
With Audrey and Noelle looking on, they began to sing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
As the caroler’s music filled the air, both Noelle and Audrey were at a joyful peace. They turned to each other and said in almost perfect unison, “Merry Christmas.”
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
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©copyright 2020 RL Williams Jacksonville FL