A/N I'm acting on my whims. I don't usually do this, but I am writing a story when I'm in the middle of another. So here it is. One chapter. That's it. So bear with me.
It was cold and windy. The evening sky had darkened and the snow was blowing softly down the busy street. It was a beautiful evening. And on such an evening, Gary wanted to be spending it at home with his family. After all; it was Christmas Eve. He glanced at his watch. It was 7:15 PM. His son had said that they would be coming over around 6:30. Gary had really been looking forward to that. He wanted to watch Trevor, his three-year-old and only grandson push around his toy trucks. And he wanted to hold Julia, his one-year-old and only granddaughter, on his lap while she nibbled on a Christmas cookie. Gary sighed. Instead, he was waiting for some family to come walking down the street only to have their money stolen.
Gary ran his fingers through his graying hair and stamped his boot-clad feet. It was bitter cold outside and he looked longingly at Hanson's Bakery and Coffee Shop across the street. "Mmm," He thought, "Wouldn't that taste good right about now?"
He watched as two little girls, a little boy, and their parents walked into a toy store across the street. As the children excitedly pointed out dolls, bears, and model trains, he smiled wistfully. It hadn't been so long ago when his children had been like that; small, excited, their eyes dancing as they gazed at the bright holiday lights around them. Now they were mostly grown.
David, his oldest and only son, was now 24-years-old, married to his wife Helen, and they had two children of their own.
Lena, his oldest daughter at 21, had been going to college. When she wasn't at school, she lived at home, but otherwise she lived in a dorm at the University.
Michelle was his youngest. At 18, she was still living at home, not yet having the courage to go out on her own. She had always been pretty quiet.
As Gary thought about his family, his mind drifted to his wife, Tara. Oh, how he missed her! He had been gone all day because of the Paper. How he hated days like this! He could be home with his wife, children, and grandchildren, but instead he was out protecting a city that didn't even care!
And it was Christmas of all things! It seemed that everywhere he went; most people out during the season wore a scowl on their face that said; "Say one word to me and I'll bite you!" But, that wasn't what Christmas was about, was it? Gary shook his head as an angry man walked past him. Gary shook the Paper, beating it against his thigh. He had been out in the cold all day, stopping car wrecks, pulling people from the street, keeping kids off thin ice and not once, not once, had he gotten a "thank you". People just gave him sour looks that said "Are you trying to make my holiday even more miserable?" Gary looked around him. Was all of this really worth it? For a moment, he let the thought enter his mind that he should just go home. The family being robbed, well, it wasn't life-or-death or anything. He could let it slide… couldn't he? But then he scolded himself. No, he couldn't do that.
Suddenly, he saw the family from the Paper start walking down the street. Gary's heart went out to them. The father was on crutches, the mother was toting in one arm, a bag, and in the other, a small baby. There was a boy no bigger than five or six and he was carrying a toddler who was almost as big as he was. Then there was a girl about ten. She was carrying one large duffel bag on her back. They all looked tired and cold.
And then Gary saw him; the man that would rob the family for all it was worth. Gary rushed to the scene. "Hey, back off! Leave these people alone!" He held up a baseball bat and the man hurried away.
"Gee, thanks, mister," The man on crutches said. "Let me give you something for your trouble." He began to reach into his back pocket for his wallet.
"No, no, that's alright," Gary said quickly. "I, I don't want anything."
"Thank you so much, sir," The woman sighed, shifting her weight between the bag and the baby. "We don't have much and I don't doubt that that man would have taken everything we owned. We didn't buy Christmas gifts, so we have enough to pay the rent for another 3 weeks, but if he had… Listen to me talk. Sir, its cold and it's Christmas Eve. I should let you go. I'm sure you're wanting to get home to your family."
"You didn't buy Christmas gifts?" Gary asked softly, glancing at the small, frail children.
"No, mama and daddy couldn't afford presents this year," The ten-year-old spoke up, "But we'll be alright. Besides, Christmas isn't all about the gifts."
"Yeah," the six-year-old joined in, "We got a big, nice family. We all love each other. We don't need presents. We got each other and that's all that matters. Christmas isn't about presents. It's about love."
"Love!" The toddler exclaimed, clapping her palms together.
Gary could see the tears in the parents' eyes. And he could feel them in his own. Yes, the kids were right. Christmas was about love. Not gifts, presents, parties, and such. Unless you're sharing Christmas lovingly as a family for all the right reasons, why celebrate? Gary reached into his back pocket and produced one-hundred-dollars. "Here, take this" he said, "Buy some Christmas gifts for your children."
"But, but, but…" The parents were at a loss for words.
"No 'buts'," Gary protested, pressing the money into their hands and backing away, "Please; take the money. It'll be my Christmas present to you. Merry Christmas!" And with those final words he disappeared around the corner. He could hear some voices shout "thank you!" as he walked away and Gary smiled.
He thought about his previous questions; "Was it all worth it?". Yes, he decided. It was all worth it. He had been out all day and hadn't received one grateful glance. But, that didn't matter. He had learned an important lesson that day. A lesson he would never soon forget. Love. Love was what Christmas was all about.
Gary walked past a grumbling woman and smiled. Suddenly the woman stopped, and smiled back. Yes, love makes Christmas so enjoyable. And with these thoughts in mind and the sound of Christmas Carolers in the background, Gary made his way home. And suddenly, he wasn't so cold anymore.
A/N Well, that's it. I did it because something inside told me to and I hope it touched all of you in some way. Have a Merry Christmas!