A Christmas Story (2020)
1 Christmas Story (2020)
Only five more hours of his shift as Jim squinted through his fogged face shield. He checked his patient’s I.V. and made sure Oxygen levels remained within the green. He daydreamed for a second about the next morning. Soon his shift would end, and he could throw away his disposable PPE and wash his hands and head home.
Vacation started the moment he left the hospital, and his little man would be waiting patiently for him. Nathan, his seven-year-old, had a difficult time controlling his excitement around Christmas. Every year, since his toddler days, he sat in front of the Christmas bin as they would sort through piles of all things Christmas or he would run around house repeating, “It’s Christmas.” Usually, Mom would work in the kitchen on turkey soup and prepare Hot Chocolate but not this year.
Every December, no matter how crazy his life had been his thoughts always centered on Nathans excitement. This year he worked hard to move his thoughts away from how much he missed Shelly. Jim shook his head and forced himself to think of things he had to get done when he got home.
“Happy Holiday Jim.” The nurse behind the unit desk said. “Grab some of that Pumpkin Pie from the break room I do not need the temptation.”
“It’s the Holidays diets be damned!” Jim replied. “Happy Holiday to you too Jeffrey.”
Jim replaced his scrubs with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt along with a nice Fall jacket. He replaced his surgical mask with his new Charlie Brown Christmas mask he ordered on Etsy and headed out of Mercy Medical towards the parking garage.
Once inside the garage he waited for the elevator to the employee parking on the 4th floor. The entrance to the lower levels of the parking garage remained closed due to the area being quickly turned into patient overflow. He thought about how Shelly passed on in a similar structure at a Medical Center Downtown and started to hyper focus on how he could not save her.
How lucky that he put in for his Christmas vacation prior to all this madness. He focused on his luck instead of Shelly. Administration honored his vacation, but a lot of his co-workers were being forced to work through the Holidays. Somehow, he slipped through the cracks.
“I am on my way Nathan.” He said aloud to himself as he started his car and headed down a ramp and off Mercy Medical property.
The thirty-minute drive to his home in suburbia seemed to only take seconds as he pulled into his driveway. He jumped out of the car and ran to the door.
“Mr. Jim, welcome home.” Norma, Nathan’s sitter, greeted him at the door. “Nathan is taking a nap. Everything is well.”
“Thank you, Norma. I appreciate you and I hope you have a Happy Holiday.” Jim replied as he handed Norma her check for services with a little extra.
While Nathan napped Jim pulled the bins from the garage into the living room. He grabbed the box with the fake tree and a few extra items. Almost immediately he put up the fake tree as Nathan walked out and rubbed sleep from his eyes.
“Daddy!” Nathan ran into Jim’s arms for a hug.
“Nathan are you ready to take down the normal and replace with the magical?” Jim asked as he twirled Nathan around.
“Yes, Daddy!” Nathan fell free from Jim’s arms and ran to the bin where he peered into what seemed like a never-ending roll of tinsel.
“Nathan if you start laying everything neatly on the table, I will finish putting up the tree.” Jim showed Nathan how he wanted the decorations placed before finding them a new home and went back to assembling the fake tree.
“Are we putting up lights outside today?” Nathan asked as he moved the tinsel to their living room table. “The tree is beautiful.”
“Of course. Looks good I have to admit, and we have not even started to put on the ornaments.” Jim made sure that the tree lights were installed properly. “Be careful with the breakable stuff son.”
“Yes Daddy.” Nathan opened the lid of an empty snowman cookie jar and looked inside. “Are we going to make sugar cookies this year?”
Maybe.” Jim replied as he stood back to see if any of the branches could be moved around to provide a sense of balance. “First let us cover this empty wall with this banner Grandma embroidered last year. The one that says, ‘Merry Christmas.’ Hold on Nathan I am going to get the step ladder from the garage.”
Nathan continued to place candles and candle holders with Poinsettia designs and a vase he painted in Preschool. He smiled as he gently put the vase down and started to gather the Nativity scene being careful with Baby Jesus as Mom had always instructed.
“Where shall we put the Nativity scene this year?” Jim asked as he returned with the step ladder and started to put up the banner. “I thought maybe that bookshelf over there.”
“Perfect.” Replied Nathan as he held a small dove in his hand and twirled it to pretend it could fly. “Can I help?”
“Of course, what do you think you are doing now?” Jim gathered the Nativity figurines and walked over to the recently emptied bookshelf. “I will let you put Baby Jesus in the manger.”
“Daddy didn’t Mommy put the Baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas morning?”
“Not this year Nathan. You can place him in the manger when I finish.” Soon they finished the Nativity scene and started to randomly place Knick knacks on shelves. The snowman cookie jar took center stage on the kitchen table along with porcelain utensils with Santa painted neatly on them.
“I don’t know Nathan we may just need to buy cookies for Santa this year. I don’t think I can bake them as good as Mom.”
“No Daddy we have to cook them ourselves.” Nathan finished handing candles. “I like how all the candles are lined up.”
“These are called Advent candles. We have not followed the tradition for a while, but they look nice right here.” Jim removed a lighter from his pocket and lit the first candle in a series of candles. “Let us light the candles this year Mom would have liked it that way. Are you ready to decorate the tree?”
“Yes, Daddy. Yes!” Nathan could not hold his excitement as Jim separated a small box from the now empty bin. “My favorite part besides Hot Chocolate!”
“Ok. First things first Nathan we must put up all store-bought ornaments then we put up the ones you made at school and last, but not least, we put up the ones that hold memories.” Nathan handed Jim ornament after ornament as they slowly began to sparkle and shine in the tree’s lights. They finished the green and gold along with all things Santa. Soon they placed all the popsicle stick snowmen and felt angels.
Nathan handed to Jim a State of Nevada ornament and the Snoopy ornament Grandma gave them three years ago. Finally, Jim picked up what he considered the most important ornament of all a glass ornament with words etched on the side.
“What does it say Daddy?” Nathan asked.
“Jim and Shelly’s first Christmas. This ornament brings Mommy down from heaven to feel our love and joy this Christmas.” Nathan held the ornament at eye level and looked at a crystal as it reflected the trees lights. “I love you Shelly.”
“I miss you Mommy.” Nathan held onto Jim’s leg as they both stared at the ornament. “Put it on the tree Daddy.”
Nathan placed the ornament on the tree, and they backed away to look at how everything turned out.
“The star Daddy. We almost forgot the star.”
“Mommy usually put up the star when we finished but I can hold you up.” Jim handed the star to Nathan and picked Nathan up and held him towards the top of the tree. “Can you reach?”
“Yes. I got it.”
“I am going to start some Hot Chocolate.” Jim explained as he placed Nathan back on the ground.
“Daddy can we move out our sleeping bags and sleep with Mommy under the tree this Christmas?”
“Yes Nathan. Let us do that.” After Hot Chocolate they carried their sleeping bags under the tree where they crawled in and stared at the lights.
“Merry Christmas Daddy and Mommy I love you.” Nathan said before he hugged Jim and fell deep asleep.
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