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The Christmas Shop


2022 Christmas Story by RL Williams


“Another year and another Christmas,” Maggie thought as she headed out on this day before Christmas.

She walked a few blocks to a row of older shops and a cafe to take in the sights and sounds of the holiday season.

Also on her to-do list is to buy herself a Christmas gift that has become a tradition since she lost her parents and there were no relatives to celebrate with.

“What shall I get this year,” she thought as she approached the retail establishments.

One store sign caught her attention.

“The Christmas Shop,” she read the sign, “that is a new store where the book shop used to be.”

As she entered the front door, a small bell announced her presence.

“Hello and Merry Christmas,” an older man greeted.

“Hi,” Maggie replied, “and Merry Christmas to you too.”

“Can I help you find something?” he inquired.

“No, I’m just looking,” she replied.

Maggie scanned the surroundings and saw a sparse collection of possible gifts.

A couple of minutes later, the shop proprietor approached again.

“Perhaps I could help you find something?” he asked.

Maggie thought a moment.

“I usually buy myself a gift the day before Christmas. I guess I am looking for something that will make me happy,” she replied.

“It looks like you don’t have much left,” she continued.

“The day is almost over and what I do have will be gone by the end of the day,” he explained, “then I will close up shop until next Christmas season.”

“I don’t really know what I want as my gift,” Maggie sighed.

“Ah, when you don’t know what you want, get what you need,” he offered.

After a brief moment of silence, the older man smiles and proclaims, “I have the perfect gift for you.”

“Ok,” Maggie replied, a bit hesitant.

The man went to a shelf that had one item left on it.

“This is what you need,” he said as he handed Maggie a box about a foot and a half tall.

“A doll?” Maggie asked, looking through the clear plastic on the front of the box.

“It’s what you need and what will make you happy,” he replied.

“It is a beautiful baby doll,” Maggie observed, “but I am a bit old for dolls.”

“This IS what you need,” he insisted.

“It looks expensive,” Maggie noted, “and I don’t know if I have enough money. How much is it?”

“98 cents,” the man replied.

“98 cents?” Maggie asked in a surprising tone. “This doll is worth much more. How can you stay in business when you charge so little?”

“We will be just fine,” the man smiled back at her, “and you will get a gift that will make you happy.”

“Let me gift wrap it for you,” the man offered.

“How much is that?” Maggie asked.

“Gift wrapping is free,” the man replied.

“Wow, only 98 cents for the doll AND free gift wrapping,” Maggie said trying to understand the economics of this sale.

The doll was quickly wrapped and returned to her.

She paid for the doll and left.

“What a bargain this was,” Maggie smiled. “I will have to remember this place for next year.”

She walked down the street in the direction of home as the sky was slowly darkening as the evening took over.

After a few minutes, she approached a woman and a young girl sitting on a bench next to the sidewalk in front of a small park.

Maggie decided to sit down on a nearby vacant bench and take in the atmosphere of Christmas Eve.

She noticed the woman was trying to comfort the little girl who was upset and sniffling.

“We will still have a good Christmas, we have each other,” the woman consoled.

“I know mommy,” the young girl replied, “but I don’t know why somebody would steal Christmas presents, and on Christmas Eve.”

The woman hugged her daughter as their sadness was all too obvious.

“Oh my, that is heartbreaking,” Maggie thought, overhearing them.

Maggie felt that her previous joy for Christmas had evaporated as she empathized with their plight.

“Wish there was something I could do to help,” Maggie lamented.

Looking around, Maggie noticed the gift-wrapped doll box next to her on the bench. She looked back at the mother and daughter and it was now obvious what she had to do.

Maggie left the bench, doll box in hand, and approached them.

“Excuse me,” Maggie said, “you don’t know me but I am with the Santa Patrol and we have been looking for you to give you this gift since someone took your other present.”

Maggie handed the gift-wrapped box to the little girl whose eyes were wide open now.

Both mother and daughter were a bit confused and thankful. Smiles replaced worry and concern and their tears were for happiness now.

“I don’t know what to say,” the woman said, “but thank you. How did you know about the stolen gift for my daughter? It was a gift that I saved up for many months so I could give it to her for Christmas.”

“It’s a doll in that box,” Maggie whispered to the mother.

“Wow,” the mother whispered back, “that was what the stolen present was. Thank you so much. You have no idea what a godsend this is.”

“I am happy to help,” Maggie replied as she experienced a warm feeling of joy come over her.

The young girl marveled at the wrapped gift in front of her.

“I know what is in the box,” the mother explained, “and I know you are going to love it.”

Everyone had smiles on their faces and an aura of happiness.

“Well, I have got to be going,” Maggie said.

“Thank you again. You have saved our Christmas,” the mother replied.

Maggie stood up and took a moment to decide which way she was going.

“I think I will walk back to that Christmas Shop and see if anyone is still there,” she thought out loud.

A few minutes later, she stood in front of the entrance to the now darkened storefront. The door opened and the man she had met earlier was locking up and leaving.

“Hello again,” Maggie greeted him.

“Hi. I hope you are having a great Christmas Eve,” he said as he smiled back at her.

“Yes, it’s been a good one,” Maggie replied.

“I take it you have found your happiness?” he inquired.

“This is one of my most joy filled Christmas Eves yet,” she said.

“That’s wonderful,” he replied.

“How did the gift you bought for yourself work out?” he asked, smiling as if he already knew the answer.

“Oh, I gave it away to a little girl and her mother who had her Christmas present stolen,” Maggie explained.

“I see,” he acknowledged.

“I wanted to come back and thank you for your help earlier today. It turns out that the doll was what I needed and the perfect gift after all,” Maggie explained. “That gift made three people happy tonight.”

“Make that four people,” he smiled, counting himself in on the joy.

The ringing sound of a handbell started.

“That is the volunteer at the church’s food bank and homeless center collecting donations,” he explained.

They both turned and watched the bell ringer who was across the street.

“I am also realizing that giving, not getting, is the real spirit of Christmas,” Maggie said, as the bell continued to ring.

“I need to head back home now,” Maggie said, “Merry Christmas.”

“I have got to go drop off the money from today’s sales,” he replied as he took a sizable thick envelope from his coat pocket.

“Have a wonderful Christmas,” he said.

Maggie turned and walked away in the direction of home.

Looking back, she noticed the man crossing the street and approaching the bell ringer.

She stopped for a moment and saw him put the envelope he was carrying into the donation box next to the bell ringer.

“Thank you,” Maggie said to herself with a joyful smile.


***

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

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