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"O Christmas . . . " by Sue Wright

 Sarah stood in the doorway of her Grandmother Simmons’ apartment, her eyes barely peeking over the box she carried in her arms. “Found it!” she exclaimed.

“Oh thanks,” said Grandma Simmons. “Now if you will, put it on the bed for me.”

In a few steps, Sarah had the box on her grandmother’s twin bed in the tiny studio apartment. Grandma recently moved into this senior housing complex.

    “So what’s in the box, Grandma?” Sarah guessed Christmas decorations since the box, marked #25 was covered in holiday stickers.

    “A few Christmas ornaments I couldn’t give up.”

    “But where will you hang them, Grandma? You don’t have a Christmas tree!”

    Grandma Simmons giggled. “Who needs a Christmas tree when you can have a Christmas tray?”

    Sarah rolled her eyes, smiling. Always the wordsmith, her Grandmother!

    “Wanna help?”

    Sarah nodded.

    “Great! Run back to the storage bin for me, and see if you can find one of those old TV trays in all the mess. Bring that best green tablecloth of mine, too. It should be in the box marked, ‘Just in case I ever have another party!’”

    Sarah couldn’t help but roll her eyes again as she scurried downstairs. Marching back into the apartment a few minutes later, she was struck how “Magi” she felt placing the “treasures” before her Grandmother. Wasn’t it interesting where a girl ran into her lost Christmas Spirit, even one grown elusive as Sarah’s?

    “Found everything!” Sarah announced. “What’s next?”

    “Let’s put the tray in front of the window. Then we’ll cover it with the tablecloth.”

    Job accomplished, the women returned to the box still lying on the bed and opened it. Sarah saw immediately how each item was wrapped in red tissue paper. How delightfully “Santa” of Grandma, she mused approvingly. Oops, there it was again! That abandoned Christmas spirit of hers was rearing its ugly head!

    It took nearly an hour for Grandmother Simmons to pull everything out of the box and arrange it on the tray because each bauble owned a lengthy story, including the tarnished silver bell and a worn dog collar. The truth was, all the keepsakes were in worn condition-- some damaged even-- their monetary value, worthless. Worthless as celebrating another Christmas, thought Sarah, her past year of dashed dreams leaving her hopes for Christmas cheer in ruins.

 Frowning, Sarah asked, “What happened to that one?” It was the last ornament in the box and the one her Grandmother apparently was saving for the center of the tray.

 “This bulb? It’s old as the year it was broken back in 1952. A wedding present from my best friend, and before I could get in on our first Christmas tree, your Grandfather sat on it. I was heartsick, but he was so apologetic, I couldn’t say much. Anyway, we stopped our other decorating to glue it back together best we could. It was a snowy night, and I made hot chocolate after we hung it on the tree.”

“But why save it after all this time?”

“Because it never fails to remind me how even broken things can be made whole and beautiful again?”

Sarah brushed a tear from her cheek. “Does that mean people too?”

“Especially people, Sarah. But you know that! It’s what Christmas is all about.”

Sarah’ face brightened as though she suddenly remembered something important she had forgotten. Then shiny as the Bethlehem Star, she began to sing, “O Christmas TRAY, O Christmas TRAY . . .”

“That’s the spirit!” cried her grandmother. “’It’s about time we got you put back together!”    

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