A Christmas Wish Comes True
Hi it’s me Jenny and I wanted to talk to you. My mommy and daddy are kind of too busy to talk to me right now. They are both scared. It’s Christmas time and we’re supposed to be wrapping presents and putting out milk for Santa but we’re not. It’s not supposed to be like this.
Today was so much fun. Uncle Johnny came over and we all decorated the Christmas tree. It was funny to watch Uncle Johnny helping wrap all presents. I don’t know how he got all caught in the ribbon but I am glad mommy took his picture. It’s going to be one of my favourites. When mommy caught Uncle Johnny under the mistletoe his face went as red as a tomato when Daddy said he had to kiss mommy. Everyone was laughing as Uncle Johnny kissed mommy on the cheek.
Daddy says Christmas isn’t about presents or toys or all the stuff that Santa brings in his sack. He says its about the spirit of baby Jesus being born.
I think now that I’m older, I’m almost 10, I understand it a lot better. Christmas is about family.
Chris and Uncle Johnny said they would only be gone a little while. They said that they needed to catch the Christmas eve sales and pick up one more box of lights for the tree. Why didn’t they just stay home? We had lots of bells, and balls and stuff on the tree. We didn’t need those stupid lights.
God it was only supposed to be a quick trip to the store. A box of lights and a last minute present or two. How did it get so bad? When the phone rang and daddy answered it I thought he was going to cry. He told mommy that there had been an accident and that we needed to come and see nurse Dixie.
God I don’t want anything for Christmas, or my birthday or ever again if I can just have this one wish. Please let Uncle Johnny and Chris be okay. Please don’t take them away from us.
As Jenny finished her private discussion with God, Kel Brackett came around the corner. Roy and Joanne jumped to their feet. “How are they?” Roy asked.
The look on Dr. Brackett’s face told them more than any of his words could. “See for yourselves,” he said, as he motioned to the pair coming towards them.
Chris had a bandage on his arm and a small band-aid on his forehead but other than that he looked okay. Joanne and Roy pulled Chris into a tight embrace, thankful that their son appeared to only have minor injuries.
“Sorry I wrecked your car Joanne,” Johnny apologized, as he leaned heavily on the crutches he was using to get around, “I should have just taken my Rover even if the heater was acting up”
“Don’t worry about the car. Are you okay?” Roy asked.
“I’m not going to be climbing any ladders for about 6 weeks but I should be okay,” Johnny said wearily.
“What happened?” Joanne asked. “All the police said on the phone was there was an accident and we needed to get here as quickly as we could”
Johnny shook his head. “We were just coming out of the shopping mall parking lot when we were broadsided by some idiot going too fast and not paying attention” Johnny explained. “I tried to swerve out of the way but there wasn’t enough time”
“Thank God you two are okay,” Roy said sincerely.
Johnny slumped against the wall, exhausted from walking on his crutches. “Sorry I wrecked your Christmas eve,” he apologized.
“You didn’t wreck anything Uncle Johnny,” Chris protested. “You made sure everything was okay after the accident,” Chris said, as he looked over at the tired man.
Johnny nodded. “That’s right sport. Had to take care of you. Who else is going to help me with the Frosty and Santa display in the front yard if I let anything happen to you,” he quipped lightly.
At that moment Captain Stanley walked into the conversation. “I just heard from HQ that you were brought in,” he said. “Are you all right John?”
“I’m okay cap. Just need to get off my feet and take some good drugs,” he joked.
“You’re welcome to stay at my place,” Captain Stanley offered.
“I’m fine at home. I just need someone to drop me off at the ranch,” Johnny said.
Kel shook his head. “That’s not the deal we made,” he said.
“Deal?” Roy’s ears perked up.
“I wanted to keep Johnny at least one night but he assured me he was going to rest somewhere and not by himself” Kel looked at Johnny. “With that broken leg and 3 cracked ribs you’re lucky I’m feeling generous to let you go at all”
Johnny gave a slight grin. “I have Chino,.” he said. “He can watch me”
“Uncle Johnny that’s just silly. Chino is your dog. You are coming to our house to stay,” Jenny said before any adult could jump into the conversation. “We need to get home and celebrate the spirit of Christmas,” Jenny smiled. “Daddy says that’s the most important thing”
Roy smiled with pride, “that’s right sweetheart. It is”
“And in that train of thought, Johnny you are coming home with us where you belong,” Joanne said.
Johnny's cheeks reddened again as he nodded. “I’d appreciate that,” he said softly.
“Then let’s get you home and off that leg,” Roy said, eyeing the cast on Johnny's right leg.
Kel handed Joanne Johnny's prescription and the instructions that accompanied his home care. “You take it easy and Merry Christmas everyone,” Kel said as he stepped back to let the Desoto gang pass, “and Johnny, any problems, I want you back here right away” he said firmly.
Johnny nodded as he turned to leave.
Roy walked Johnny down the hall as Chris and Jenny followed closely.
30 minutes later Roy pulled the car in front of the house. Johnny had been dozing against the side window as they drove home.
“He looks tired,” Joanne said as she looked at their slumbering friend.
“I think he’s hurting more than he is letting on,” Roy said. “A broken leg is very painful not to mention those cracked ribs”
“Come on Johnny let’s get you inside,” he said as he went around the car to open the passenger door.
Johnny eased himself out of the car and with both Joanne and Roy’s help he was able to get into the house. Johnny was settled onto the couch and after another dose of pain killers was soon sleeping soundly.
The rest of the day passed quietly. The traditional family trip to evening mass was cancelled as they all felt they needed to stay home to let Johnny and Chris both rest from their ordeal.
Finally around 8 in the evening Johnny started to stir. He looked around as he remembered where he was and what had happened.
“Chris you okay?” he asked as he spotted the little boy sitting in the chair opposite him.
“I’m okay Uncle Johnny,” Chris assured him. “How about you?”
“I was just about to ask that?” Roy commented, as he walked into the room with a tray holding some food and a glass of juice.
“I’m fine,” Johnny said, trying to sound convincing as he struggled to sit up. The pain in his ribs and leg reminded him that he wasn’t really “fine” quite yet.
Johnny looked at his watch, “aren’t you supposed to be at church?” he asked, knowing from previous years that the DeSoto family attended a Christmas Eve Service.
“We decided to stay home this year,” Roy told him. “Didn’t want you left by yourself”
Johnny shook his head, “I’m sorry about that. I didn’t want to screw up your plans,” he apologized, “Is it too late for you to go to church?”
Joanne came into the room with a warm smile on her face. “It’s not where we need to be this evening, “she said, “and I am sure that God will understand our absence this year”
“But . . .” Johnny started to protest.
“No buts,” Joanne cut him off. “Family always comes first, and you are part of this family” she reminded him.
Johnny wanted the attention off him so he decided to change the subject. “I bet you are excited about Santa coming tonight,” he said with a smile.
Jenny nodded enthusiastically, “I hope I get exactly what I asked for,” she said.
“What did you ask Santa for?” Roy enquired, hoping that it was something that he or Joanne had already thought of.
Jenny just smiled, “It’s something that only God and Santa get to know about,” she said. “I think I better get the milk and cookies out,” she said as she headed out of the room.
Roy, Johnny and Joanne watched Jenny leave the room without another word . She came back a few minutes later with a plate with 2 cookies on it and a small glass of milk. "I hope Santa likes the snack,” she said as she placed the treat on the corner table.
“Uncle Johnny you can sleep in my room,” Chris offered. “It’s on the main floor,” he explained. “I don’t mind sleeping in the sewing room”
“I was going to ask you about that,” Joanne smiled, pleased by her son’s generosity.
The 13 year old boy got to his feet. “No problem,” he said. “I will get my stuff”
“I hate to put you all to so much trouble,” Johnny apologized again. “I really can just go home and sleep on my couch”
“Not going to happen,” Joanne said with a smile, “So you better just relax and let us take care of you”
Johnny closed his eyes, trying to block out the embarrassment he felt being taken care of by his friends.
A short time later Joanne and Roy helped Johnny down the hall to Chris’s room. By the time they got him settled he was perspiring heavily from the exertion. “See you in the morning,” Johnny said as he laid back exhausted on the bed.
“If you need anything, please call,” Roy told him, knowing that it really was in vain because Johnny would never ask for help.
“Good night, and Merry Christmas,” Johnny said with forced smile.
“Good night Johnny,” Joanne said as she closed the door.
Johnny tossed and turned for over 2 hours in his bed. He was mad that he didn’t have his gifts with him for the next morning and that his ‘accident’ had really made a mess of things. ‘I could go and get them and bring them back. They’ll never know,’ he reasoned with himself.
Johnny pushed himself out of his bed and headed to the door. He hadn’t bothered to take off his clothes so he didn’t need to get re-dressed. He grabbed his crutches as he moved very slowly out the door. The walk down the hall was slow going but finally he was at the front hall. ‘now to just call for a ride’ he decided.
Johnny was sweating a lot from the pain flaring in his ribs but he was determined to go home and get his Christmas gifts. ‘Roy and his family deserve to at least know how much I appreciate everything they do for me’
Johnny sat on the chair beside the phone to rest as he tried to think of who he could call to give him a ride. He put his head back against the wall trying to will the pain to go away so he could think clearly. As he reached for the phone one of his crutches slipped down on to the ground. ‘damn it,’ he cursed softly to himself.
He started to reach down to grab the crutch and he gasped as his injured ribs almost took his breath away. ‘bad idea’ he thought to himself. He put his head back again. ‘guess I’m not going anywhere’ he realized’
The night seemed to tick by slowly for Johnny as he sat awkwardly on the firm chair. He was becoming more and more uncomfortable as he leg was protesting being down for so long. He was biting back the urge to call for help, but he felt it was his own stupidity that brought him to where he was so he would just suffer through it in silence. He sat back and stared at the darkened Christmas tree.
Whether it was exhaustion or the pain that mercifully pushed Johnny into the land of slumber but around 5 in the morning he finally fell into a fitful sleep. He had slumped over to the side, as he body tried to find the most comfortable position to sleep in, in the stiff chair.
Roy was the first one up that morning. He pulled on his robe and went to check on his partner. He was surprised to see the bedroom door open as he went to the bathroom to find Johnny. Seeing that it was empty he headed down the hall to the living room. He was shocked to find Johnny sleeping awkwardly beside the phone.
Roy knelt down and picked up the crutch that had fallen the night before. “Johnny,” Roy said gently as he tried to wake up his friend.
“Roy,” Johnny replied back.
“What are you doing out here?” Roy asked.
Johnny tried to pull himself up straighter but the hours spent in the awkward position had caused his injured ribs to become even more inflamed and he hissed as he moved.
“We better get you something for the pain,” Roy suggested as he got to his feet.
“I’m okay,” Johnny insisted. “Just give me a minute”
Roy disregarded Johnny's feeble attempt to down play his pain as he headed to the kitchen to grab some medication and a drink.
“Merry Christmas Uncle Johnny,” Jenny said excitedly, as she came bounding into the room.
“Morning sweetheart,” Johnny said warmly, “and Merry Christmas”
“I don’t think I better hug you,” Jenny said, “Mommy says your are too sore to be hugged right now”
Johnny nodded, “I think your mom is right, but your smile is almost as good as one of your hugs,” Johnny assured her.
That made Jenny smile even wider as she grinned at her favourite Uncle.
“So are you anxious to see what Santa brought you?” Johnny asked.
Jenny just smiled a mysterious smile as she went to get her mother and brother up. Within a few minutes the entire Desoto clan was gathered in the living room staring at the tree full of gifts.
Johnny had been helped into the living room by Chris and Roy and was propped carefully on the couch, despite his protests that he didn’t need to take up that much space and could share the sofa very easily.
“I think it’s time to hand out some gifts here,” Roy said as he reached under the tree. Several minutes later the piles around the people in the room were stacked up as everyone began opening their gifts.
Johnny had tried to stay awake for the entire gift opening, but the pain killers were pretty strong and he soon found himself unable to fight the sleep.
Jenny pushed her gifts away and went to grab a blanket. She covered Johnny up very gently as he slept on.
“Aren’t you going to open your presents?” Chris asked, as he admired his new model race car kit he had been wanting.
Jenny shook her head, “not right now,” she said. “I want to find out if my Christmas wish is going to come true,” she said.
“Didn’t you like the things you got from Santa and us?” Joanne asked, concerned that Jenny was disappointed in her presents.
“They are okay,” Jenny said, “but they aren’t what I really wanted,” she admitted.
“What did you want?” Roy asked.
“Can’t tell,” Jenny said. “I talked to God and told him what I wanted from Santa” She looked over at Johnny, “I will know if my Christmas wish comes true,” she said knowingly.
Roy and Joanne were at a loss to figure out what gift they had missed when they had shopped for their daughter.
Jenny slid the rest of her unopened gifts back under the tree. “I’ll finish opening these later” she said as she went off to her room to get dressed.
Roy and Joanne were completely perplexed by her behaviour but they figured she would tell them in time what gift they hadn’t gotten her.
A few hours later everyone was dressed and the Christmas dinner was in the oven. The house was transformed into a welcoming place to greet friends who had been invited to join the family for dinner.
Johnny never moved from where he had fallen asleep hours earlier. Jenny got dressed in her new Christmas dress and sat in the chair opposite Johnny just watching him sleep.
Around 4 in the afternoon, the invited guests started arriving. Chris had appointed himself the official greeter, hoping he could keep people from ringing the door bell and waking up Uncle Johnny.
Everyone had heard about Johnny's and Chris’s accident from the day before and were being careful not to wake him as well. Soon the house was filled with friends as they waited eagerly for the Christmas meal to be served. The tree was filled again with gifts that everyone had brought to exchange, but no one was wanting to wake up the slumbering paramedic to start the gift opening.
Finally Johnny started to stir as the pain medication wore off. He rolled onto his side, trying to sit up, when he caught his breath from the ribs. “Easy John, let me help you,” Chet offered as he held out a hand to his friend.
Johnny took the offered support as he slowly pulled himself up to a sitting position. He looked around and suddenly felt very self-conscious that he was still in the clothes from the day before while everyone around him was in their holiday finery.
“Guess I should go and change,” he said, looking down at his rumpled clothes.
“You just stay where you are,” Kel Brackett said firmly, “I can see from here how uncomfortable you are”
Johnny grinned sheepishly, “it’s not so bad,” he said trying to laugh but stopping when his ribs protested the humour.
Johnny looked down at the tree and frowned, remembering that his gifts weren’t included in the pile. Chet leaned over to him. “I picked up your gifts this morning,” he whispered. “They are under the tree also”
Johnny smiled appreciatively, “thanks,” he said.
“No problem,” Chet replied, trying to sound very casual about the nice deed he had done.
“Supper is ready,” Joanne announced as she came into the room wiping her hands on a very pretty Christmas apron.
“Did you want me to bring you a plate of food?” Roy offered.
“I’d like to try to sit at the table,” Johnny said honestly, not wanting to be left out of the holiday gathering.
“Just take it nice and easy,” Kel instructed.
“Here let us help,” Mike Stoker said as he and Hank Stanley went on either side of Johnny and helped him to his feet. They walked slowly to the dining room where Joanne had the head of the table seat pulled out for Johnny to sit at.
“That’s Roy’s chair,” he argued, “I can sit in one of the other seats”
“Just sit here, then we can prop your leg up on a stool beside the table,” Joanne said.
Johnny blew out a frustrated breath, at he hassle his injuries were creating for everyone. He eased into the chair and was relieved when his throbbing leg was lifted by Kel onto a padded stool.
Soon everyone took their seats and grace was spoken. As the fabulous collection of food was passed around Johnny watched with pleasure the faces of his friends as they enjoyed the warmth of friendship and family.
“You’re not eating much,” Marco noted, as he saw the sparse amount of food in front of Johnny.
“Not very hungry,” Johnny admitted, “stomach probably couldn’t take much right now”
“Did you need more pain meds?” Roy asked.
“I’d rather hold off if I can,” Johnny said, “They make me so sleepy”
“Don’t wait too long,” Kel reminded him. “The last thing you want is to let the pain get ahead of you”
“I’m okay,” Johnny assured him.
Finally the meal was over and Johnny was dreading the long walk back to the living room. He was in more pain than he wanted to admit but he was determined to stick to no medication for as long as he could.
Chet could see how heavy Johnny was perspiring and he figured it was from his pain threshold being tested. “How about if we give you a hand back to the other room where you can get more comfortable?” he offered.
Johnny nodded,, “I’d appreciate that,” he said. He reached for his crutches, but Chet stopped him. “I’ve got a better idea,” he said.
“Mike, you and the cap can help lift the chair and Roy if you can hold his leg we can carry him back to the living room without him having to walk again,” Chet suggested.
Johnny could have almost kissed Chet for his suggestion. The sheer magnitude of walking to the dining room was almost his undoing and the walk back wasn’t looking much better.
“That sounds like a good idea, pal,” Cap said as he and Mike, with Roy holding Johnny's leg for support carried him back to the living room. The transfer from the chair to the couch was done in relative ease and the relief on Johnny's face was very evident as he settled back with pillows.
“Thanks,” he said as he leaned back carefully.
Kel walked over to Johnny and handed him two pain pills, “You need to take these,” he insisted. Johnny nodded as he took the prescribed medication. Kel instinctively grabbed for Johnny's wrist to check his pulse, noting that it was a little fast. “I bet if I took your BP right now, I’d find it to be a little high”
Johnny grinned, “how about if you leave your doctor bag home today and just enjoy Christmas,” he said.
“With you around it’s hard to do that,” Kel smirked back. “But I will back off as long as you take it easy for the rest of the day”
Johnny nodded, “nothing else to do,” he said.
The gifts under the tree were handed out and everyone was admiring the generous gifts from each other. Johnny had fallen asleep again and his pile of unopened gifts remained beside him on the floor.
Jenny hadn’t opened a single gift again, instead she pushed them under the tree.
Roy frowned. “Jenny why won’t you open any gifts?” he asked.
“I don’t need them,” she said. “I only wanted one thing for Christmas,” she said.
“Jenny what do you want for Christmas?” Joanne asked. “You have so many gifts you haven’t even opened, how do you know it’s not one of these?”
“The gift I want isn’t under the tree,” she said. “It’s not a toy or a doll”
“Then what is it you want for Christmas, sweetie?” Marco asked, trying to help Roy and Joanne out.
Jenny walked over to where Johnny was sleeping. “I prayed yesterday that God would make Uncle Johnny and Chris okay after their accident. Well Uncle Johnny isn’t okay yet. He keeps saying he is, but he’s not,” she said insightfully, “all I want is for him to be okay”
She looked around the room, “Chris said that Uncle Johnny saved his life yesterday. That he helped him out of the car before it blew up”
“That’s right,” Captain Stanley admitted. “I wasn’t going to go into the details of the accident but I read the investigators report” he said.
Roy and Joanne were both unaware of all the details of the accident, having only gotten sketchy details the day before sat in stunned silence as they heard the details for the first time.
“Apparently when the car broadsided Joanne’s car it damaged the gas tank. Johnny realized that and knew he had only minutes to get out of the vehicle. He managed to pull Chris out of the car and drag him over 30 feet away from the vehicle seconds before it blew,” Captain told the gathered group.
“He did that with a broken leg and cracked ribs?” Chet said with admiration.
Chris nodded. “I didn’t even know he was hurt,” he admitted. “He just yanked me out of the car and told me to run,” he said. “He wasn’t able to keep up with me and when the car blew up he went flying”
“That’s probably where the rib injuries came from,” Kel deduced.
“Now do you know why I don’t want anything else for Christmas,” Jenny explained. “Uncle Johnny gave us the best Christmas present of all. He gave us Chris”
The lumps in everyone’s throats were so large it was hard to swallow.
“So all I want is to have the best present of all and for Uncle Johnny to be okay too,” she said warmly.
Johnny had started to wake up slightly and heard the emotional words from the precocious little 10 year old.
“I’m okay Jenny Bean,” Johnny said with a soft voice.
“Johnny how do I thank you for what you did?” Roy asked, choked by what he just heard.
“No thanks are needed,” Johnny said. “Like Joanne said, we’re family”
Jenny looked at her Uncle with a smile, “Are you really okay?” she asked.
Johnny used Roy for leverage as he pulled himself up so he was sitting again. “Yes sweetie, I really am going to be okay,” he assured her.
Jenny’s smile could have lit up the tree all on it’s own. She closed her eyes and bowed her head.
“God I want to thank you for bringing me the greatest gift of all this Christmas. You brought me my Uncle Johnny and Chris back. Thank you for making my Christmas wish come true”
As Jenny looked around the room she saw the smiles on everyone’s faces.
“Amen sweetie,” Johnny said, “And Merry Christmas everyone,” he added as he sat back on his pillows.
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