Christmas Story Collection
2021 Christmas Story by RL Williams
Upon entering the older brick building, Lauren noticed a rather odd collection of bicycles, clothes, toys, and other things grouped together on metal racks and on the floor.
She was in a large room with a high ceiling and some open space in the center.
“Hello,” said an older man who came out from another room. “Can I help you?”
“Hi,” Lauren replied, “I’m here for the job you advertised.”
“Oh, great! With only a few days before Christmas, we can really use the help,” he explained. “It doesn’t pay much and we will need you to help out on Christmas Eve.”
“That’s OK,” Lauren smiled, “I need a job and haven’t been able to find anything yet and I can work Christmas Eve.”
“What exactly will I be doing?” she asked.
“We take discarded and broken toys, bicycles, and clothing and fix them up to give to children and others in need at Christmas,” he explained. “You will help us with fixing them and getting them ready for our Christmas Eve giveaway.”
“Um,” she frowned, “I really can’t fix anything and…”
“No worries,” he interrupted, “everyone starts out where you are at now. We will get you up to speed in no time.”
Lauren was a bit puzzled, doubting she could do a good job here.
“Let me show you around and introduce you to the two other people that are working here,” he said. “By the way, my name is Willie.”
As Willie and Lauren toured the facility, she felt as if a huge mountain were in front of her.
Entering another large room, she noticed a few dozen bicycles in various states of disrepair. A lot of toys were piled up in one corner. Some clothes were in several big boxes in another corner.
They walked up to a long table where two people were busy mending and repairing things.
“Sally and Warren,” Willie called to the two workers, “this is Lauren, our new helper.”
“Hey Lauren, great to see that you are here to help,” Sally replied.
“Nice to meet you,” Warren said.
“Good to meet both of you,” Lauren replied. “I don’t know how much help I can be though.”
Sally and Warren looked at each other and smiled.
“Today, we are working on bicycles,” he explained. “We need to get as many of them ready as possible.”
“We need you to detail and finish them after Sally and Warren work on and test them,” he said. “Some will need painting or polishing or a general sprucing up so they will look their best.”
“I’m really not a painter,” Lauren sighed. “I wouldn’t know where to start.”
“So, you are not a painter?” Willie asked.
“No, afraid not,” she replied.
“Follow me,” Willie said.
They both walked over to a repaired bicycle. Willie showed Lauren what areas on the bicycle to paint and he painted one part of the bicycle.
“Here,” he said, “take this brush and paint this other part.”
Lauren proceeded to paint the round metal tubing a cherry red color.
“Success!” Willie exclaimed. “You are now a painter.”
Lauren smiled as she moved on to the next part of the bicycle to paint.
Sally walked over to Lauren who had just finished painting her first bicycle.
“Not bad, not bad at all,” Sally complimented. “You did good.”
“Thank you,” Lauren replied.
“Do you have plans or family in town for Christmas?” Sally asked.
“No, no family and no special plans,” Lauren said as she let out a sigh. “It’s just me and I really don’t get into the Christmas thing. It has never been a good time of the year for me. Depressing actually.”
“Oh, sorry,” Sally said. “It’s my favorite time of the year.”
“Yes, it’s good if you get presents and good things happen,” Lauren countered.
“Well, I really don’t get much as far as presents for Christmas,” Sally explained. “Getting all these toys and clothes fixed up and giving them away is why it is my favorite time of the year.”
“Really?” Lauren said in a perplexed tone.
Sally and Lauren continued their work, fixing and painting the broken bicycles.
As the work day came to an end, Lauren looked around at all the bicycles they had worked on and finished.
“Wow, we got a lot done,” she observed.
“Yep,” Sally agreed. “You did great painting them.”
“Thank you,” Lauren smiled.
“Attention everyone,” Willie commanded. “That is it for today. Everyone did a great job and we fixed and readied so many toys today. The bicycles are looking great too.”
As each employee left through the front door, Willie thanked them.
“Lauren, how did you like it here today?” Willie asked.
“It was,” she thought a moment, “good. I hope I did a good job for you.”
“You did great,” Willie replied. “Will you be back tomorrow?”
“Yes, I will be here,” Lauren promised as she smiled.
Walking home, Lauren pondered the day’s experience.
“I don’t know why, but I really liked working there today,” she thought to herself.
After she arrived home and had something to eat for dinner, she decided to go to sleep early as she was exhausted from the workday.
She awoke the next morning after a good night’s sleep.
“I can’t remember when I have slept so soundly,” she thought.
Walking to work, she was cheerful and excited.
For the next two days, Lauren worked hard, helping to get more bicycles and toys ready for the giveaway on Christmas Eve. At the end of each day, she returned home exhausted yet content.
It was finally the day before Christmas and Lauren was up and ready to go not long after dawn.
“I am actually looking forward to going to work today, imagine that,” she spoke out loud.
“It is Christmas Eve and I think I am a bit excited about it,” she thought.
As she walked to work, she wondered what this day would be like and if it would be as good as the prior days working there.
“Hello, Lauren,” Willie said in a loud but welcoming voice.
“Hi,” she replied. “Here I am, ready to go. I really need to thank you for letting me work here.”
“No, thank you for helping us out,” Willie said.
After a moment, Willie asked Sally and Warren to gather around him next to Lauren.
“The day is here. It’s Christmas Eve giveaway day!” he said with a big grin.
“We need to finish up the final few toys and clothes still needing repair and then we will set up for the giveaway,” he continued.
“What time does the giveaway start?” Lauren asked.
“6 PM,” Willie replied.
Everyone rushed to get everything ready and in its right place.
“It’s been fun working here,” Lauren said to Sally.
“It’s work and it’s fun, what a concept,” Sally replied with a smile. “You haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until the giveaway tonight.”
Lauren also smiled, wondering what the night would be like.
As 6 PM approached, Lauren noticed that people began lining up outside the front door.
“May I have your attention,” Willie said to Lauren, Sally, and Warren.
“The giveaway time is almost here but before it starts I wanted to give each of you your pay and a little gift,” Willie said.
All three were given an envelope and a medium to large sized box with a gift picked specifically for them.
Lauren opened her box and smiled.
“A new coat!” she excitedly announced. “How did you know I needed one?”
“Looking at the condition of your current coat, it wasn’t difficult to figure out,” Willie explained.
“Thank you so much,” Lauren replied. “I’ll wear it home tonight since it is getting cold outside.”
“OK, it’s time to open the doors and start the giveaway!” Willie shouted.
As people strolled in the front door, they were directed to the various giveaway tables.
Lauren was in charge of the bicycles and a parent with her child approached.
“Hello,” Lauren welcomed them.
“Hi,” the lady said. “This giveaway is a lifesaver for us. My son has never had a bicycle and with all the medical bills his father has had, there hasn’t been much left over to buy presents.”
“Well, we are going to fix that situation right now,” Lauren replied as she turned to the little boy. “You can pick out any bicycle here.”
“Wow,” the boy said with a wide-eyed look. “Thank you.”
“You are welcome,” Lauren replied with a new found sense of happiness.
As the night went on, the people arriving slowed down just about in relation to the number of toys and bicycles and clothing left.
About 8:15 PM, the last of the people in need had left and everything had been given away.
“Thank you everyone for making this such a wonderful night,” Willie said in a loud and cheerful voice.
Everyone pitched in and put the tables and chairs back in their proper place and cleaned up the room.
Lauren was straightening things up when an elderly lady entered the front door.
“Hello,” Lauren offered, noticing the lady was wearing older clothes and shivering a bit.
“Hi,” the lady replied. “I was wondering if you have any old clothes left I could have?”
Lauren’s heart sank.
“No, I am sorry but everything has been given away,” Lauren said sadly. “I’m so sorry.”
“Oh, that’s OK dear, thank you anyway,” the lady replied. “Merry Christmas to you.”
“Merry Christmas to you too,” Lauren offered back.
As the lady turned and went out the front door into the cold night, Lauren sighed in despair.
As if a bright light was switched on, Lauren had a sudden flash of inspiration and an idea.
“Miss, excuse me, miss!” Lauren said as she ran after the lady who had just exited the front door.
“Come back inside, we do have something for you,” Lauren said excitedly.
The lady didn’t quite understand but came back inside with Lauren.
“Wait here,” Lauren stated.
The lady stayed in the front while Lauren ran to another room.
She returned carrying a box and set it on a table in front of the lady.
“This is for you,” Lauren offered.
The lady opened the box and saw a very nice coat, the same coat that Lauren received earlier as a gift from Willie.
“Oh dear,” the lady said. “I can’t accept this. It looks like a new and expensive coat.”
“It is now yours,” Lauren said. “I thought we had given everything away but I found this one last box that was left.”
“Are you sure,” the lady asked with tears in her eyes.
“Yes!” Lauren replied, also with teary eyes.
After a brief hug, the lady left wearing the new coat.
Willie approached Lauren.
“You did good,” he said.
“It was the right thing to do,” Lauren replied.
Sally walked over and smiled at Lauren.
Lauren smiled back.
“Sally,” she said, “you were right. It’s not what you get at Christmas, it’s what you give.”
“Bingo!” Sally replied with a grin.
“I want to thank everyone here,” Lauren said. “The last few days working with you has taught me so much. I came in here like one of those broken bicycles and by fixing them up I fixed myself.”
“This is probably the best Christmas I have ever had,” she continued.
Everyone said their good-byes and Merry Christmas wishes before leaving.
On her walk home that night, Lauren’s old tattered coat was no problem in the cold as the warmth of her heart more than made up for it.
She pulled out the pay envelope that Willie had given her earlier in the night and opened it.
“Wow, there is too much money here,” she noticed.
She took out a note from the envelope and read it aloud.
“Lauren, the extra money here is for you to buy yourself a new coat. Thanks for making this year’s Christmas Eve giveaway a great success! Willie, Sally, and Warren.”
For Lauren, Christmas had been repaired just perfectly.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
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©copyright 2021 RL Williams Jacksonville FL