Here’s a little Christmas short to brighten your day.

Working on Christmas Eve

I volunteered to work the late shift last Christmas Eve out of pure selfishness. Newly divorced, the idea of spending the night alone in my apartment, crying over sentimental holiday favorites on the boob tube, wasn’t appealing. When my manager asked if I’d mind working, I jumped at the chance.

Early in the evening, business was brisk with lots of last minute shoppers, but by nine, most had headed home. By ten, I was twiddling my thumbs and thinking if I had stayed home watching TV, at least I could’ve had a few glasses of wine to pass the time.

There were only two customers in the store that I could see from my register: an exhausted looking middle-aged man in a beat up bomber jacket, and an older woman wearing a green wool coat and a white fur hat. The man carried a basket filled with wrapping paper and bows as he studied varieties of perfume. The woman strolled up and down the aisles picking up skeins of yarn and other odds and ends.

Having made his choice, the man came to the register and I began to ring his order.

“Doing some last minute Christmas shopping?” I scanned the bar code on the Channel No. 5. “Looks like you’re going to make someone very happy.”

He shrugged. “I hope so. I’ve been working double shifts and haven’t had a chance to get to the stores before now. My wife’s a wonderful woman but I don’t think she’d be too understanding if there wasn’t anything under the tree for her.”

“Not many women are,” I agreed, as I bagged his purchases. “That’ll be $78.36.”

He opened his wallet and swore softly, his face drained of all color.

“What’s the matter?”

“I could’ve sworn I had four twenties, but I must’ve made a mistake because I’ve only got three now.”

“We take all major credit cards.”

The poor guy looked like he was about to cry. “I cut up all my credit cards when I had to start working double shifts to pay for them,” he said.

“Excuse me?” The little old lady in the green coat appeared at the register. “I don’t mean to intrude, but I overheard your dilemma. Please, let me help,” she said, handing over a crisp twenty dollar bill.

The man and I both gaped at her in surprise.

“That’s very nice of you, but I couldn’t,” the man said. “I’ll just go pick out something cheaper.”

“Nonsense!” said the lady in the green coat. “Your wife deserves the best and I can see you work hard trying to give it to her. Take it,” she said, pressing the bill into his hand.

“But…”

“No buts.”

“At least give me your address so I can send you the money when I get paid.”

“Absolutely not, young man! Think of it as a Christmas gift. We all like to play Santa now and then. You’re giving me my chance.”

Realizing it was pointless to argue, the man thanked the woman several times more before he hurried away.

“That was a really nice thing to do,” I said, as I rang up her purchases.

“It’s what Christmas is all about.” She smiled warmly and handed me her charge card.

I ran it through the machine, then checked the back of the card to match the signatures. In elegantly curved script was written: Mrs. S. Claus.

~Elise Skidmore ©2019

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