Welcome to my Christmas present for you, my readers. This is the story that has kept me from posting lately. Hopefully, y’all enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Oh, and this story has been beta read! Thanks a million to Heather over at The Menu Mama for taking the time out of her busy schedule to read THE CHRISTMAS WISH until I’m sure she never wants to see it again!
John Saden had been Santa’s helper for a long time. For years, John and his white beard had gone to the local shopping mall to sit in Santa’s chair. John figured he had heard about every gift request under the sun. He had heard little boys ask for BB Guns and Red Rider Wagons. Little girls dressed in their new Christmas dresses had asked for baby dolls and strollers. Every time John had said if the child was good, he or she would get what they wanted.
Even from a distance John could see the sadness in the boy’s eyes. The woman with the boy looked well off. John assumed money would be no problem to fulfilling the child’s Christmas wish. Yet, there was something about the boy that warned John not to agree to give the child what he wanted.
The line moved slowly, but soon the sad-eyed boy was standing in front of John. “What’s your name?” John asked merrily.
The boy looked up at the woman. “Go ahead, Peter, tell Santa your name.” The woman prodded softly.
“If he’s Santa he’d know my name.” Peter snapped under his breath.
Something told John not to interfere. John saw the young woman look back towards the next woman in line. The other woman shook her head slightly. “I’m just one of Santa’s many helpers.” John explained quickly. “The ol’ elf is so busy this time of year he’s gotta have a lot of help.”
Peter looked ready to call John on his lie. The girl behind Peter in line suddenly ran up to Peter. “It makes logical sense that Santa would need helpers, Pete. There are a lot of children for Santa to talk to. Why wouldn’t Santa use some North Pole magic to get all of our requests?”
“Because it’s just dumb, Allie.” Peter grumbled under his breath.
Allie didn’t look to be any older than Peter. She turned to John. “He’s Peter Zeidrich. I’m Allie Brackney. This is Mary. She’s Pete’s sister-in-law. Now, Pete, tell Santa what you want for Christmas.”
“He can’t do it!” Peter hissed angrily.
“You don’t know until you ask, son.” John motioned for Peter to come over.
Sighing angrily, Peter walked over to Santa. “I’d like my sister home for Christmas.”
“Where is your sister?” John asked as he glanced over at the woman who Allie had called “Mary”. Mary sadly shook her head in a silent message not to promise the sister would be home.
“St. Jude’s in Tennessee,” Peter’s response only created more questions in John’s mind.
“Not everyone knows what St. Jude’s is.” Allie said almost helpfully.
Peter glared at the girl. “He’s Santa’s helper. He should know about a cancer hospital for kids. Ain’t that many of them.”
“There aren’t,” Mary corrected in a motherly tone.
“There aren’t that many of them.” Peter restated his last sentence without sarcasm or rolling his eyes. “I’d like my little sister, Heidi, to be cured and home for Christmas.”
There were some things even Santa couldn’t deliver. A miracle was one of those things. John tried to remember if any of his training had prepared him for such a request.
Mary stepped up beside Peter. Her hands gently rested on Peter’s shoulders. Tender caring filled the green eyes of the beautiful woman. “Ask for the other present, Peter.”
Nodding, Peter swallowed hard. “Mary says there really isn’t any hope, unless my big brother can save Heidi.” The area had gone quiet the moment Peter mentioned cancer. Most everyone could hear Peter’s whisper. “If Heidi has to die, do you think you could make sure she gets a pretty pair of wings? And maybe a halo of silver? She loves silver because it shines more than gold. All the pictures I’ve seen of angels have halos of gold.”
John had to fight the tears he felt. Swallowing hard, John managed to nod. “I’ll make sure Santa gets Heidi a halo of silver. Now, other than bringing your sister home, what can Santa get for you?”
Peter looked up at Mary. “Can I talk to Santa privately for a second?” Mary looked hurt, but she nodded. Peter stepped closer to John. John nodded after hearing the whisper.
Almost smiling, Peter took a few steps back. “I asked. Can we go now?” Peter muttered under his breath.
Sighing, Mary smiled apologetically at John. “Be a good boy, and we’ll make sure you get that Christmas wish.” John stated before he smiled. “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
Rolling his eyes, Peter walked off. “He’s usually polite.” Mary apologized for her brother-in-law.
Reaching in to the bag beside his chair, John took out two candy canes. “You look like you could use one, too, miss. I assume Peter’s parents are with his sister.”
“My father-in-law is, but Peter’s mother…” Mary’s voice trailed off. “I don’t know where she is currently. I don’t think Peter knows, either.”
“‘Merry Christmas’ rings hallow sometimes.” John’s voice was barely a whisper as he handed over the candy canes. “I hope you find some joy this year.”
“We will.” Mary stated as she took a baby from the woman in line behind her. “Shall we go find your uncle, Alexandria? If we’re not careful we will get left behind.”
John quietly watched the young woman walk away. He was pretty sure that he could glimpse the wings hidden beneath her jacket. For both Peter and Mary’s sakes, John would make sure someone knew of Peter’s Christmas Wish.