A Merry Minion Christmas, entry 2

Written for the “A Merry Minion Christmas” collection.

“Not as They Are”
Eric Martell
eBook Yes
Dedicated to my family

Six glasses of water, four trips to the bathroom, five hundred and eleven giggles. Finally three small people were asleep in what used to be my bed, and I was free to go about my nightly rounds. My wife was trapped under an assortment of limbs, but I’d taken the opportunity during one of the assaults to lie down on the floor, and to free myself, I only had to pry a tiny fist off my index finger. Stifling a groan at my stiff back, I mouthed “thank you” to my wife and got a sleepy smile in return.

I could still smell the woodsmoke in the air as I made my way down the stairs to the living room. The glow of the fire reminded me of Christmases from long ago, when my belief in the mystical was stronger and more innocent, and I could still imagine a world where there would always be someone to take care of me. The kids hadn’t yet grown into the jaded cynicism I knew would dominate their teenage years, but I had to fight against the desire to show them what was really out the door, if only they would just look. I didn’t believe in some treacly Hallmark Channel version of childhood, but there was strength in seeing the world not as it was, but as you imagined it could be, and I wasn’t ready to take that away from them.

My wife had gotten most of the gifts wrapped while I had the kids out shopping for something special for her, and they were stacked neatly in the basement closet. That was the kind of magic I’d come to appreciate more as I’d gotten older, the magic of dependability, of someone showing you they cared about you in myriad small ways that other people wouldn’t even notice. Expecting more than that was a good path to the shrink’s office or the bottom of a bottle.
The glow of the lights through the pine needles threw shadows around the room, and I let my eyes grow unfocused as I placed the last gift around the tree. We’d had a good year, and I knew the kids would be excited as hours of careful wrapping turned into fodder for a landfill in minutes. Snatching a cookie from the coffee table, I sat back on the couch and stared at nothing – just shapes and colors and shadows, losing myself in the act of chewing.

Every year, we read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to the kids, passing down the legacy of mythmaking to another generation. It wasn’t the Night Before anything anymore, except the Night Before the 5 AM after-Christmas sales, but whoever wrote an ode to that wouldn’t include luxurious language like “more rapid than eagles, his coursers they came” – a modern-day writer would say “his reindeer were fast.” We’d lost a lot more than the innocent belief in Santa Claus – we’d lost a belief in a beauty beyond the efficient buck.

The wind howled outside, and I turned to watch snow start to fall. They’d said it was too warm this year for a white Christmas, but their models are complex and imperfect. Guess the kids would get a chance to break out the new winter boots we’d bought them after all. The snow was awfully bright tonight, a pure white that glowed in the moonlight.
But there was a new moon tonight. I’d made a comment about it in regards to the whole “moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow” line during reading time tonight, and I’d even double-checked it on my phone. As I tried to wrap my brain around what I was seeing, the snow got even brighter, forcing me to lift an arm to shade my eyes. And then came the flash. And the voice.

IT IS YOUR TURN, CHARLIE.

There was no one around to speak to me, nor to speak to, but that voice was too intense to disregard. Impossible or not, it was there. “Uh, my turn for what?”

TO BELIEVE.

“I do – I did. There’s no point anymore. The kids do. That’s enough.”

BELIEF LIES WITH THE GIVER. YOU MUST GIVE TO BELIEVE.

“Give? I give all the time. At work. Here. Look at that pile of gifts! And the Salvation Army – well, not them anymore. But Toys for Tots. Gifts for soldiers. The wishing well at the mall.”

NOT THINGS. NOT MONEY. TO THE EMPTY HEART, MONEY IS COLD COMFORT.

“Then what?”

TO SEE THE WORLD NOT AS IT IS, BUT AS IT COULD BE.

“But how – how do I give that? People see what they want to.”

NO. PEOPLE SEE WHAT THEY’VE BEEN TAUGHT TO.

“So – my kids? Change what I teach them? Am I doing it wrong?”

YES. BUT NO. THIS IS NOT FOR THEM. YOUR CHILDREN ARE YOUR DAILY BURDEN AND GIFT. THIS IS FOR THE OTHER. THE LIFE YOU CANNOT TOUCH, BUT WHO NEEDS IT.

“Why – why me? What’s special about me?”

IT IS YOUR TURN. BE NOT AFRAID. THE GIVING IS NOT WITHOUT REWARDS FOR THE GIVER. OPEN YOUR MIND TO THE POSSIBILITIES.

I didn’t respond this time, but did what the voice did. I thought about what I was being given the chance to do. Affect another’s heart, mind, beliefs. Show them a new world – a better world?

And all of a sudden, I knew who.

YES.

“It’s okay – I mean, I barely know -”

YES. IT WILL BE DONE.

The voice was gone, and the glow disappeared from the snow. It continued to fall, though, coating the world in a skin of clarity and purity. All of the bad was gone, covered in an ever-growing skin. All of the good was gone, too. The past didn’t determine the future.

And that was my gift. The world not as it was, but as it could be.

I rose from the couch and returned to the bedroom. There was enough room on a corner of the bed for me to squeeze in, and I did, feeling the warmth of four sets of lives. Just as I was drifting off, a small voice whispered in my ear.

“Is it Christmas yet, daddy?”

“It sure is, big guy.”

1040 words

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4 Responses to “A Merry Minion Christmas, entry 2”

  1. I like seeing the world as it could be… I love this.

  2. I too love this and the ending is pure magic. xx

  3. So sweet and magical.

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