Christmas Eve Happiness
By Evelyn Horan
It was Christmas Eve, last year. How I dreaded its arrival! I knew I shouldn’t feel that way–but inside my little house, the silence had become unbearable. I tried not to think about the past, but when the Christmas season arrived, I couldn’t help thinking about the past–about happier times.
I thought about last spring when my Ted passed on. Ours had been a good marriage. Ted was my best friend, and we were happy and contented with one another’s company. What made it even more difficult was that, at my age, 82, most of the family on Ted’s side and mine were all gone.
This time last year, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. It was my first Christmas without Ted. However, I displayed the most important decoration, the Nativity scene of the baby Jesus. It sat on the dining room table where my family once had gathered in happy excitement. In years past, we’d shared a wonderful Christmas Day with a feast of good food and lots of love and laughter.
Now, I had such a yearning for something or someone to love and hug that Christmas Eve.
I looked across to my neighbors’ house. Patrick and Desarae McDonnell had a pleasant young son, Aiden, and a pretty daughter, Alyssa, who was now in her late teens and finishing her senior year in high school. I could see the McDonnell’s tall spruce Christmas tree, standing near the large picture window. It was decorated with colorful ornaments and bright flickering lights.
In my imagination, I heard the happy sounds of family love as they sat down to their Christmas Eve dinner. Later on, there would be gifts to open and excited cries of delight.
Before I sat down that evening, I thought about having some cookies and milk. I still bake oatmeal cookies with raisins for the Christmas season. Looking at my platter of cookies, I questioned whether I had baked too many, just for myself. Then I heard the doorbell ring. When I opened it, there stood Aiden.
“Merry Christmas,” Aiden said happily. He held a little black Scottie with a red-colored, plaid ribbon tied around its neck. On its head was a tiny, black, Scottish beanie-cap with a round fuzzy pom-pom on top. The puppy’s pink tongue licked at Aiden’s hand.
With his free hand, Aiden offered me a paper plate wrapped in aluminum foil. “Mom wanted to share some of our Christmas Eve dinner with you,” he explained. “She hopes you will enjoy it”.
I held the warm paper plate smelling of delicious food. “Why, thank you, Aiden!” I exclaimed in surprised delight, “How thoughtful of your mother! Give her a big hug for me.”
Aiden nodded and gave me a wide grin. “I guess Mom told you Molly had three puppies a few weeks ago. It’s too many puppies for us. We thought maybe you might like to have this little guy to keep you company. We call him, ‘Mac’–short for ‘MacDonald’– a good Scottish name.”
“Oh, Aiden, he’s precious,” I said softly, as Aiden put the squirming puppy in my arms. “How kind of you all. I’d love to have Mac. And I know how to house-train and care for him,” I said confidently. “Don’t worry about that. We had several puppies when my children were small.”
“Merry Christmas,” Aiden said again. “If you need any help with Mac, just give me a call, and I’ll be right over.”
Tears filled my eyes. “Thank you for thinking about me,” I whispered. “Please, Aiden, come inside and take some of my homemade, oatmeal cookies to your family.”
“Thanks,” Aiden said. “And Mom told me to tell you she hopes you’re not cooking for yourself tomorrow. She’d like you to have Christmas dinner with us at about two o’clock. There’ll be turkey and the trimmings. I’ll come over and help you cross the street.
This time a few tears escaped and rolled down my cheeks. Aiden tried to avoid my eyes. I’m sure he saw them. I gave Aiden a quick hug. “Tell your mother I said thank you for the invitation. I’ll look forward to having Christmas dinner with you.”
With a covered plate of oatmeal cookies in his hands, Aiden crossed the yard and turned and waved. “Merry Christmas,” he said once more, smiling.
“Merry Christmas, Aiden, and thank you all again,” I called as a warm, squirming Mac wriggled in my arms. His little pink tongue spread wet kisses all over my cheeks. I closed the door. “I love you, too, Mac,” I said.
That night I slept a contented sleep. Mac and I are great friends. He keeps me active as I follow him around the house and take him outside for exercise. And yes, he’s spoiled. He even sleeps at the foot of my bed!
My friends, the McDonnell’s, are always checking in on me, and I’ve not had an attack of loneliness again. I’ll never forget that happy Christmas Eve when the McDonnell’s blessed me with their “good neighbor love.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – EVELYN HORAN
Evelyn is a former teacher and counselor with a Master’s Degree in Education and Life credentials in Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Pupil Personnel Counseling and was a school psychologist. She has written books and stories and articles for youth and adults.
According to Evelyn, “Writing for children and young adults has been a rewarding and “fun” experience. Young people have been helping me stay “young” for many years! in addition, writing for adults is also quite satisfying.