by Trish Kocialski

I never was one to get excited about Christmas, let alone like it. All the glitter, the lights, the singing, and cheerful faces were all just too much for me. I mean, well, shouldn’t people always be cheerful and kind and considerate? Not just at the holidays? Heck, maybe it’s all that eggnog that puts smiles on folks’ faces. Anyway, this year the holidays turned out to be a bit different, as you’ll soon see.

It all started the day after Thanksgiving. I lucked out, had the day off from work and was looking forward to a four-day weekend. I drive a UPS truck in Naples, Florida and I knew the next four weeks were going to be pure hell; I was so looking forward to sleeping in, but it was not to be.

* * * * *

"Do you hear what I hear?" I mumbled as I looked at the clock by my bedside. The sounds of laughter and the tapping of a hammer were far from muted as they drifted in through the open window.

"Take it easy, grumpy. It’s just the Halls putting up their holiday decorations."

"At 7:30 in the morning?" I started to get out of bed, fists clenched and ready for a fight, but was stopped by my lover’s arm as she grabbed my silk boxers and pulled me back down onto the bed.

"Whoa tiger, where do you think you’re going?"

I lifted a fist and jabbed at the air. "I’m gonna go over there and deck the Halls! Maybe then I can get some sleep!"

"Oh, that’ll be a nice way to start off the holiday season."

"Yeah, well, just call me Scrooge!"

She reached around my waist and pulled me down against my pillow, then slowly nuzzled my neck, tickling my ears with her soft breath.

"C’mon sweetheart," she whispered softly as she plied soft kisses on my neck, "it’s the holiday season and they’re new neighbors. Give ‘em a break."

Heck, I’m a sucker for those little kisses of hers and I could feel the goose bumps beginning to trail down my back, so, I gave in.

"Oh, all right. But, I’m going to have a talk with them later." I folded my arms across my chest in an attempt to maintain my indignation but knew I was losing the battle. Within minutes, the laughter and hammering were forgotten as my mind focused on a new distraction: my lover tracing my earlobe with her tongue and her hands mellowing my mood.

* * * * *

At noon, I walked out of the house and looked over at the Hall’s house. Up on the housetop it looked like a Fifth Avenue department store display with Santa and his sleigh being pulled by what looked like a whole herd of reindeer, Rudolph the red nose reindeer in the lead. There were jingle bells in the shrubs and they jingled with every breeze. Silver bells were on the front door and a blue Christmas tree stood boldly in the front window. The front lawn looked like something out of a Far Side cartoon with the twelve days of Christmas scattered across it. The ‘ten lords a leaping’ looked like escapees from the local jail and I won’t even go into what the ‘maids a milking’ looked like. The whole yard was covered with Christmas stuff. The only thing that was missing was Frosty the snowman.

As I stood there gaping at the sight, two little girls about four years old came out the front door carrying what I supposed were the two turtle doves, and placed them next to the palmetto by the garage. The taller of the two saw me and came running over.

"Hi!" she said with a toothless grin. "My name’s Noel. I’m five. We just moved here from Cheektowaga."

"Cheek-ta-whatta?" I mumbled in response.

"Cheektowaga, silly. It’s in New York!"

"Ah, that explains it," I said with a smile. By now the other little girl came over and Noel pointed at her.

"This is my sister, Noel."

"Um, I thought your name was Noel," I said with a look of confusion on my face.

"Silly! I’m the first Noel….she’s the second Noel. She’s only four."

"Okayyy," I drawled out, "whatever." All I could think of was Bob Newhart’s Larry, Darryl and Darryl.

"We were both born on Christmas so Mom and Dad named us Noel. Noel is my first name and it’s her middle name, but we both like to be called Noel, especially at Christmas time."

Okay, this was getting a bit too bizarre for me. "Well, that’s nice," I said as I turned, hoping to escape. I walked to the end of the driveway to get my newspaper, but I guess four and five year olds don’t get simple hints because they followed me.

"So, what’s your name?" the second Noel asked.

"Um, Randi," I replied as I unwrapped the paper and focused on the headlines while walking back toward my house.

The first Noel tugged on my shorts and asked, "Whatcha want for Christmas?"

"New neighbors," I mumbled under my breath but said out loud, "I don’t know yet."

Her sister, Noel the second, smiled a toothless grin and said, "all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" then they both giggled, wriggling like little wind up dolls.

Just then I heard a loud voice calling from their front door, "Noel and Noel, come inside now and eat your lunch!" The woman in the doorway waived at me as the little girls ran for the door. I sighed a sigh of relief and went inside, glad to be back in a home with some sanity. It’s not that I’m anti-kids, I’m just not comfortable around them. I never had any siblings, and the only cousin I had was ten years older than me and a real dork. Terry on the other hand is a whiz with kids. Of course, her being an elementary teacher helps.

* * * * *

"There you are," Terry called as I closed the mud room door and entered the kitchen. "I was wondering what was taking you so long to get the paper."

"Um, I had a little encounter with our new neighbors," I said as I grabbed my cup of coffee and took a big gulp, wincing as I swallowed the lukewarm brew. "Yuck, it’s cold." I walked over to the microwave, put the cup in and hit the minute timer. "You know that boulder by their front door?" Terry nodded. "They painted it to look like a jingle bell!"

"Ah! A true jingle bell rock, eh?" Terry giggled, then added, "You didn’t deck anyone did you?" she asked cautiously.

"No. I was waylaid by two rug rats."

Terry laughed and came around behind me, wrapping me up in her long arms. "Bet that was an interesting conversation," she said as she gave me a hug. "What are their names?"

"Would you believe Noel and Noel?"

"You’re kidding, right?" she asked with the beginnings of her trademark giggle.

"Nope. The older one said she’s the first Noel." Terry’s giggle blossomed into a deep-throated laugh. "Yeah, seems they were both born on Christmas so their folks named them both Noel." I held up a finger in explanation, "But, the second one has Noel as her middle name."

"Phew! I was having visions of Darryl and Darryl."

"My thought exactly!" I said as I removed my now steaming cup of java from the microwave.

We walked to the kitchen table, pulled out the chairs and sat down. I slipped out the holiday ads and handed them over to Terry while I began reading the first section. As I scanned the front page, Terry nonchalantly asked, "So, what do you want for Christmas this year?"

"Terry," I began softly, "we’ve already talked about this and we decided with the new house and all, we weren’t going to buy Christmas presents for each other."

She smiled her big puppy dog smile at me and shrugged, "Just checking."

"Honey," I said, as I took her hands in mine, "all I want for Christmas is you."

"I know," Terry protested, "but don’t you want just a little something? Wouldn’t you like to unwrap just one tiny present?"

"Tell you what…just get some pretty paper and wrap yourself up in it and I’ll have fun unwrapping you." Terry blushed and I grinned. "Seriously hon, I’m just happy to be together in our nice new house this Christmas."

Resigned, Terry nodded and we went back to reading our newspaper which didn’t last for long, since about two sections into the paper, the door bell rang.

"I’ll get it," Terry offered as she closed the last of the holiday ads.

I nodded and drained the dregs of my second cup of coffee, then turned to the sports page. Hearing footsteps approaching I looked up to see Noel, Noel, and who I guessed to be their parents, coming through the mud room into the kitchen.

"Randi," Terry began with a smile plastered on her face, "we’ve got company. You know the girls," she said, as they whipped past me when they saw Zeke, our docile German Shepherd, lying on his bed in the corner of the kitchen.

"Noels!" their mom shouted as she saw their target. "Maybe you should ask if it’s okay to pet the dog." They stopped in their tracks and looked back with wide eyed anticipation.

"Oh, he’s a mush," Terry replied. "Go ahead girls; his name is Zeke." They both slid down on their knees and started to lavish the dog with attention, all of which Zeke accepted with dignity and grace.

"Randi, this is Mr. and Mrs. Hall…our new neighbors."

"Rick and June," the mom corrected. "Mr. and Mrs. Hall are my in-laws!" she added with a hard slap on Rick’s abdomen, which he took without a flinch.

"Yep," Rick replied with a big grin. "We’re just Rick and June and the two Noels."

Oh, brother, I thought and then wondered how soon I could get the house on the market.

"The girls wanted us to come over and meet you," June began, offering up a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies.

"Well, um, that’s really nice of you," Terry said as she accepted the plate. "But, shouldn’t this be the other way around? We should be bringing you cookies to welcome you to the neighborhood."

"Uh, yeah…but we figured you’d still be unpacking since you just got here two days ago," I added with a shrug and indicated that they should have a seat at the table. As they sat, Terry pulled out some glasses and the milk jug and set them on the table.

"So," I started tentatively, "what brings you to Naples?"

"I’m the new manager for the UPS office here in town," Rick replied. "You know the big brown warehouse at the end of Industrial Parkway?"

"She sure does," Terry chimed in. "Randi is a driver for UPS."

"That so?" Rick said turning to face me. "Who’d you kill to get the day off today?" he said pointing a finger gun at me.

"Just my boss," I answered solemnly.

Rick looked me in the eye with a brutally intense stare, then burst out laughing. "That’s a good one, Randi. I like your style. How long have you been with the company?"

"Fifteen years. I started as a loader and finally got my own route," I answered, folding my arms across my chest. I didn’t add that I had had to take a lot of crap from the other drivers and the prima donnas in the office. Or, that I still had to prove myself every day, even though I had the best record for deliveries and driving safety.

Terry could feel the tension building in me and knew it was time to butt in.

"So…are you going home for the holidays?"

"No, no white Christmas for us this year. Let it snow all it wants in Cheektowaga…we’ll be satisfied with palm trees and sunshine!" June laughed again, slapping Rick’s abdomen once more. "Have you seen our winter wonderland yet? We had so much fun setting it up this morning."

"No, not yet, but Randi has, haven’t you Randi?" Terry gave me the smuggest look with a hint of devil in her eye.

"Uh, yeah…nice."

"Nice? Is that all it is? Nice?" Rick said with a bit more bravado than I expected.

"Uh, yeah…nice." I shrugged. "I mean, I just um…well, I’ve never seen anything like it before."

He grinned and slapped the table looking over at his wife. "I told you we should have gone with the North Pole stuff instead of the Twelve Days of Christmas! Those ‘leaping lords’ look really dorky June."

"Not to mention the ‘maids a milkin’," I added softly.

"Oh, now you two!" June waved a hand at us. "I spent all year making those decorations and they’re staying up. Right girls?"

The girls had been thoroughly licked clean by Zeke and were now ready to attack the cookies. They came running over to the table, nodding their heads and grabbing a cookie in each hand.

"I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus last year," the second Noel said with authority as she stuffed a whole cookie into her mouth.

The first Noel put her hand up to her mouth so the second Noel and her parents wouldn’t hear, then whispered to me confidentially, "That was really daddy in a Santa suit." She nodded in sad affirmation. "I know there really isn’t a Santa."

Somehow that little admission of hers just hit me in a place I didn’t know existed. I thought to myself: here is this little five-year-old girl who is supposed to believe in Santa and she doesn’t. I wondered what had happened to make her so sad and so sure Santa didn’t exist. I looked into those sad brown eyes and for the first time in my life felt like hugging a child. There’s just something about the eyes of a child that can reach into your soul. So, I hugged her and whispered back confidentially, "Well, ya know…Santa recruits daddies to help him. He can’t be everywhere at the same time, ya know."

She looked up at me with a glimmer of hope that faded quickly. "Then why didn’t Santa tell Daddy what I really wanted for Christmas?"

I shrugged and replied, "I don’t know. What did you ask Santa for?"

"I asked him to make my kitty better but he didn’t. Mommy and Daddy said Snowball had to go to some place that was over a rainbow bridge."

Uh, oh. See what you get for getting sucked in? Now what am I going to say to this kid? "Uh, well, Santa’s job is to make toys in his toy shop. I don’t think he can fix sick kitties." Her brown eyes got wider, a look of confusion on her face. "Oh? But, when I sat on Santa’s lap at the Mall and told him what I wanted, he said not to worry."

Yikes! I’m getting in deeper and deeper! I looked up to see Terry staring at me. I guess the look of fear on my face alarmed her, and she came to the rescue. Yeah, I may look and act like a hard ass, but deep down inside I can be a mush.

"Noel, would you like some milk with your cookies?" Terry asked as she stepped over to us.

The offer of milk with her cookie suddenly became more important and the first Noel enthusiastically nodded her head, following Terry eagerly. I sat there wondering if anyone else saw my panicked expression; I casually looked over to the rest of the Halls and was relieved that they were looking at the Toys ‘R Us ad instead of me.

The Halls stayed a bit longer and we found out that Cheektowaga was a suburb of Buffalo and that they were secretly glad to be out of that snowbelt even though all their relatives still lived there.

June told a funny story about how her Grandma got run over by a reindeer when she was twelve. Her granny lived in Maine on a farm that had a small river and some woods out back of the farm house. Anyway, her granny was crossing over the river and through the woods on her way back to the farm when a herd of reindeer came bounding out of the woods and one ran right over her. It was a good thing she was bundled up or she could have been seriously hurt.

"Anyway," June continued, "the night Grams told us that story, I had nightmares about Grams chasing Rudolph with an axe, shouting something about hit-and-run reindeer and I woke up yelling, "run, Rudolph, run!"

Then Rick told one about a disaster that occurred one night when he had chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The little suckers exploded into the living room, splattering everything in sight with flaming chestnut meat. The description of his antics trying to stomp out the little buggers with his bare feet was hilarious. All in all, this introduction to our new neighbors turned out okay, although I wasn’t too thrilled to learn I was living next door to my new boss.

After they left, Terry came up to me with that ‘what have you gotten yourself into’ look on her face.

"What?" I said in self-defense even before she opened her mouth.

"Spill it mush ball," she said defiantly, crossing her arms over her chest.

"What?" I repeated, albeit a bit more reluctantly.

"What put that look of fear on your face with the first Noel?"

"That? Oh, it was nothing really."

"Ya, right! And I suppose that panicked look on your face was just for fun?"

"Who, me? Panicked? Nah, I just don’t know how to deal with kids, that’s all." I got up from my chair, started to collect the empty milk glasses and picked up the nearly empty milk jug. "Looks like I need to go get another jug of milk," I remarked, heading to the back door.

"Not so fast, Slick." She stood in front of me so I couldn’t get to the door. "C’mon, come clean."

"Oh, all right." I sat back down and told her about the first Noel’s admission about not believing in Santa and my explanation, and then about Snowball, and my explanation.

"I just didn’t know what to say. That jerk of a Santa in the Mall should never have told her not to worry."

"Oh, dear…that poor little girl. No wonder she doesn’t believe in Santa."

I stood, sticking my hands deep down into my pockets, and shrugged. "Yeah, I feel so lousy. Got any suggestions?"

"Well, I wonder if her parents have a clue about how she feels. You said she whispered and covered her mouth, right?"

"Yeah, she did."

"Chances are then that they’re clueless, but if the opportunity comes along, we can mention it to them."

"Like one of your ‘teachable moments’ you use in class, huh?"


"So, why do you think she picked me to tell?"

"Don’t know love, but it’s a good sign. She’s carried these feelings for a full year and she needs to get through this or she’ll never like Christmas."

* * * * *

About two weeks later I was just finishing an exhausting day of deliveries. The holiday season for any delivery person can be a royal pain in the you-know-what. Anyway, I had just finished filing my paper work when I got called into Rick’s office over the PA system.

"Yes, Mr. Hall?" I asked as I entered his office.

"Randi, I’m glad you haven’t left yet. I was wondering if you could do me a favor."

I shrugged a shoulder and said, "Sure, if I can."

"Well, my car is at the dealer’s getting some brake work done." He paused, "Wouldn’t do to have bad brakes with the kids in the car, right?" Another pause. "Yes, well, they just called and can’t get the job done tonight and don’t have a loaner left. June and the Noels are out shopping and I’m kinda stuck here. So, I was hoping maybe I could catch a ride home with you?"

"Sure. No problem. Just let me clean up and we can take off."

"Great! I’ll meet you in the parking lot. Thanks, Randi."

"No problem, Mr. Hall."

I headed for the small women’s locker room to clean up, change into my black denim trousers and black t-shirt, and grab my lunch bag before heading out to the parking lot.

Rick was already standing next to my truck. I unlocked my side and got in, reaching over to unlock the passenger door.

"Nice truck," Rick said as he slipped into the passenger seat.

"I like it. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it runs great."

"There are times I wish we had a truck, but with the girls we opted for a wagon."

"Well, if you ever need anything big hauled, just let me know."

"I just might take you up on that. June and I were planning on getting one of those play houses for the girls….one of those really neat ones that has a porch on it. Only we didn’t know how to get it home or how we could set it up without them seeing it before Christmas."

We rode in silence for a few miles and then I figured I’d ask him about Snowball.

"Mr. Hall…"

"It’s Rick…we’re off duty now."

"Okay, Rick. The other day when you and June and the Noels came over, Noel told me something that’s been bothering me."

"Which Noel?

"Oh, um, the first Noel."

He nodded briefly before commenting. "June and I thought we saw her whisper something to you after little Noel made that comment about seeing Santa kissing June. We’ve noticed Noel hasn’t been as enthusiastic about Christmas. June and I figure it’s because of the move."

"Yeah, well, she told me she knew it was you kissing June and that she doesn’t believe in Santa anymore."

He turned in his seat and looked at me with a curious expression. "She did? Darn! I was afraid she saw me in the Santa outfit. No wonder she doesn’t believe in Santa."

"Well, I think I got her past that part. I told her that Santa had to rely on helpers and you had volunteered. But, the bigger problem it seems was Snowball.

"Oh, God..." he hung his head, "Snowball. I should have known! She loved that kitten."

"Yeah, the Santa she saw in the Mall last year told her not to worry about Snowball and then …"

"He what? Oh, man! Don’t they teach those yahoos what not to say?"

"Guess not. Anyway, she doesn’t believe in Santa because he didn’t tell you about what she wanted…to make Snowball better."

"There was no way to make that kitten better. He had an upper respiratory infection that he just couldn’t get over."

"What if you got her another kitten? Think that would work?" I asked hopefully.

"I don’t think so. We asked her if we could get her another kitty and she wouldn’t have anything to do with that idea."

"Well, she certainly has taken a shine to our Zeke. She plays with him every time he’s outside." I thought a bit longer and then asked, "Do you have any pictures of Snowball?"

"Maybe. I’ll ask June when I get home. What have you got in mind?"

"I don’t know…yet...let me think about it for a bit."

After a silent night of pondering, I never thought I could put all the pieces together. As the hours ticked by I was becoming frustrated, when suddenly as it came upon the midnight clear ideas of a plan started to form. As soon as I could, I shared my fledgling plan with Terry; the next morning we got the pictures from June and started to put the scheme into motion. The Halls thought my crazy idea may have a shot, so they were eager to help.


* * * * *

The week before Christmas found us spending a lot of our free time with the Halls. The girls were really warming up to us and we often took them to the playground at Terry’s elementary school. It was made up of little ‘islands’ of safety wood chips that contained a different piece of equipment painted in the primary colors, each island connected by a bridge. The story about the ‘Rainbow Bridge’ was the key to my plan and I just had one more piece to put in motion.

On Christmas Eve, Terry and I took the Noels to the local mall to see the Christmas pageant they put on every year, while the Halls finished the last pieces of the plan. The pageant was fun. Locals played all the parts and one of Terry’s students was going to be the little drummer boy this year.

"Well, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas isn’t it?" Terry snickered as we walked into the mall, spying the crowds of people.

People were everywhere, shoulder-to-shoulder around the stage, lined up along the balcony, and seated on the floors.

"Well, if tank tops and shorts go with winter stocking caps, I guess you could say that." I pointed out a pair of teens dressed in that fashion.

"Hey girls," Terry said as she pulled them close, "I hear Santa Claus is coming to town today. Do you have any Christmas wishes?"

"YES!" shouted the second Noel followed by a wiggle dance of excitement.

"How about you, Noel," Terry asked her quiet sister.

The first Noel just shrugged her shoulders and shuffled her feet. "I don’t want nuttin’ for Christmas," she said in a soft voice, breaking my heart once more.

I picked up the second Noel and sat her on my shoulders. "Okay Noel, what do you see?"

"Here comes Santa Claus!" she said excitedly and started bouncing on my shoulders.

"Whoa, Noel!" I cried as I held her feet still. I looked down at the first Noel, surprised to see her looking up at me with a hint of optimism in her eyes…as if she wanted to believe. I reached out to touch her cheek, but she turned her face away. My heart was breaking for this little girl and I hoped that my plan would bring back the joy of Christmas to her.

The second Noel sat perched on my shoulders as jolly old St. Nicholas tossed candy to the crowd practically leaping off my shoulders as she tried to catch some of the confections. I had all I could do to keep her from toppling off.

After the pageant was over, we stood in line with the kids that hadn’t yet seen Santa, or those who maybe wanted a second shot at their requests. When it was finally our turn, little Noel eagerly went forward to sit on the jolly old man’s lap. Terry and I kept our fingers crossed that the first Noel would give in and give him a try. If she didn’t, I wasn’t sure our plan would work.

Little Noel smiled and talked, and talked, and talked. Finally, she nodded vigorously and slipped off Santa’s lap. I bent down and whispered to the first Noel, "Okay, sweetie. It’s your turn."

She looked up at me and shook her head. "No, I don’t believe in Santa."

"But, Noel, since you’re in line and all…"

She looked back at the kids waiting for their turn.

"They can have my turn," she said emphatically.

"Okay, how about this," I said quickly. "How about we both go up to Santa and ask him what happened last year. Maybe there’s a reason he couldn’t do what you asked."

The first Noel looked at me thoughtfully for what seemed like forever. Finally, she nodded and said, "Okay."

I took her by the hand and helped her into Santa’s lap, crossing my fingers as I looked back at Terry.

The first words out of her mouth were: "You’re not really Santa are you?"

The jolly old man looked at her and smiled. "No, sweetie, I’m just one of Santa’s helpers. You know he’s very busy this time of year and he needs all the help he can get."

I looked at Santa and smiled.

"But," he continued, "Santa did tell me to give you a message, Noel."

She looked up at him in surprise. "You know my name?"

"Yes, I may not be the real Santa, but he’s prepared us very well to talk to all the believers. You are a believer, right?"

"No, I don’t think so."

He pulled his head back in wonder. "You’re not? But, Santa said you are."

"Well, he’s wrong. Just like he was wrong last year," Noel said with a sniffle.

"Oh," the old man began. "You mean about what he said about Snowball? That you weren’t supposed to worry?"

"Yeah," she sniffled again. "But, he was wrong. Snowball went across that ‘Rainbow Bridge’ and I’ll never see him again. Not for a long, long, time!"

"Ah," he said softly, giving her a hug. "Snowball had to go across that bridge, Noel. He was very, very sick. But, if you believe…believe with all your might…Snowball may have a surprise for you tomorrow."

She looked up at him, confusion obvious on her little face. "What do you mean?"

The Santa heaved a sigh and looked right into Noel’s eyes. "Snowball can’t come back…but, he may be able to send a friend of his for you to look after…but you have to believe. Can you do that, Noel? For Snowball?"

"I…I think so."

"Okay," he looked around conspiratorially, then whispered in her ear.

The first Noel nodded then slipped off his lap and took my hand. As we walked away, I looked back over my shoulder and winked at the old man, getting a wink back in return.

* * * * *

Christmas morning turned out to be gorgeous. The sky was blue, the temperature was in the low 70’s, and the breeze was just a comfortable hint in the air. Terry and I had gotten up early to prepare for our next part in the plan. We tested the handheld radios finding that the earpiece I was to wear worked perfectly. When the phone rang once, we grabbed our surprise and slipped out the back door. Skirting the backyards, we were in place long before the first Noel and her family arrived. The bridge in the middle of the playground looked like it had come out of a storybook in its rainbow coat of paint. I scooted under it and kept my fingers crossed that the little bundle I had wouldn’t give the plan away. Terry watched from behind a clump of palmettos, ready to give me the signal.

"Okay, you wait here," the first Noel instructed her family as she approached the newly painted bridge. Then, she cautiously stepped up to it and closed her eyes tightly.

"Her eyes are shut tight," Terry whispered into the radio.

"I believe," Noel whispered. "I believe," she said a bit louder but with a little shakiness to her voice.

As she started to say ‘I believe’ the third time, I took my little bundle and reached up over the side of the foot bridge, depositing it squarely in the middle, then quickly withdrew my hand back to its hiding place. When Noel finished saying the words, I waited…and waited. Finally, Terry’s voice came over the radio.

"She’s opening her eyes…."

The next thing I heard were running footsteps on the bridge and a squeal of delight followed by a ‘meowww.’

"Mommy! Daddy!" Noel shouted. "I believe….I believe! Santa was right! Snowball sent me his friend to take care of!" She ran off the bridge carrying her new kitten gently in her arms.

I waited there, grinning…and yes, shedding a tear or two too…until I heard Terry tell me the coast was clear. When I got out from under the bridge, she was standing there with her arms open.

"Ya did good, ya mush ball!"

I slid into the open arms, welcoming her embrace. "Yeah, we did good."

* * * * *

It took us a couple of hours to paint the bridge back to its original color before heading back to the house the way we had come. That afternoon we went over to the Halls’ for dinner and to hear the most marvelous story told by the first Noel about Snowball’s friend.

"So, what’s his name?" I asked as I petted the coal black kitty.

"I’m naming him ‘Midnight’," she said with a huge smile on her face. "He looks just like Snowball only he’s all black!"

"Midnight, huh? That’s a good name," I agreed.

The first Noel looked up at me, eyes sparkling with joy, and I felt absolutely fantastic! In the eyes of a child I finally found that I liked Christmas after all!




1-All I Want For Christmas Is You

2-Blue Christmas

3-Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire

4-Deck the Halls

5-Do You Hear What I Hear?

6-The First Noel (Listed 15 Times! Do I get honorable mention for that???)

7-Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

8-Home For the Holidays

9-I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

10-It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

11-Jingle Bells

12-Jingle Bell Rock

13-Let It Snow

14-Little Drummer Boy

15-Over The River And Through The Woods

16-Pretty Paper

17-Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer

18-Run Rudolph Run

19-Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

20-Silent Night

21-Silver Bells

22-The Twelve Days of Christmas

23-Up On the Housetop

24-White Christmas

25-Winter Wonderland

Extra Songs…

26-Frosty the Snowman (Traditional)

27-All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth (Don Gardner)

28 - The Eyes of a Child (Air Supply)

29 - Black Denim Trousers (The Diamonds)

30- It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas (Traditional)

31 - Christmas Wishes (R. Sparks/A.Podell on AnnMurray album)

32 - Nuttin’ for Christmas (S.Tepper/R.Bennett)


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