Down For Christmas
By Audrey W.
John Gage lay in his hospital bed, watching the small television set mounted up on the wall. It was Christmas Eve and though some of the paramedic’s friends and co-workers had been by to visit with him for awhile, he found himself alone in the late hours of the night.
He understood, of course. Not only did visiting hours end at 8:00 p.m., but they had their own families and friends they needed to share the holiday with. Captain Stanley and Gage’s partner Roy DeSoto had each promised to be back the next day once gifts at home were opened and things settled down. The not-so-happy-patient would just have to make the best of things until that time came.
He thought back to what had landed him at Rampart General Hospital to begin with. An unstable portion of an old building collapsed, trapping him for a couple of hours before his colleagues could get him freed. The little boys they’d been sent in to find had made it out without a scratch. He wasn’t so lucky.
John was grateful they’d made it out okay. He just would have been even happier if he hadn’t suffered a fractured collarbone and cracked ribs.
He looked at the television screen again. The only thing he could find to make it feel more like the holiday at the moment was a children’s choir singing Christmas carols.
It was obviously a pre-recorded performance, as most of the girls and boys would be home in bed, anxious for Santa Claus to come.
There was one thing that bothered him as a youngster when he wasn’t home for Christmas. How would Santa know where he was? He had to smile as he recalled how Santa’s handwriting resembled his dad’s when home, and his grandfather’s during those few Christmases he and his sister slept at his grandparents’ home.
He’d once asked his grandfather if he was really Santa Claus. The answer? That sometimes Santa couldn’t be everywhere, so he would ask for some help along the way. His grandfather claimed he was just a helper.
This evening, he’d hesitantly confessed to Roy that even though as an adult he knew there wasn’t really a Santa Claus, being away from his own place brought back the familiar feeling of missing something; or being missed.
Man, what was I thinkin’? Roy already thinks I’m a nut. Said so a few years ago. I can just imagine what he thinks now.
Well, there wasn’t any changing things now. What was said was out, and that was it. He just hoped Roy understood.
After a few more Christmas carols by the choir on TV, he decided it was time to get some sleep. Of course, one of the nurse’s on duty would be in to check on him again soon, so the chance of much rest for long was slim.
John opened his eyes and yawned as he glanced around. He winced as he brought himself to a more seated position in the slightly raised bed. The room was only lit by a dim light above his bed. He picked up his watch on the night stand nearby. It was 6:15 am.
Apparently they’d let him sleep through the night after one more check after all.
Then he noticed something else. It was on the mobile tray, which was adjacent to the nightstand and near the bed. A small package wrapped in red paper with a card attached. He carefully reached to pull the tray closer, the contraption used to treat his collar bone injury slightly hindering his efforts. Once it was close enough, he picked up the gift. He removed the card and let the package set on his lap while he read the other.
To Johnny from Santa, Merry Christmas!
The handwriting looked familiar.
Dixie. . .Roy must’ve told Dixie yesterday. . .
Maybe Roy didn't think he was such a nut after all. At least not this time.
He tore the wrap off the gift, revealing that it was a wide angle lense in a box. Just what he was missing from his camera set-up. Something else he'd recently mentioned to his partner.
As he looked at the card again, another thought hit him. He and his grandfather had gotten it all wrong. It wasn’t that ‘Santa’ couldn’t be at all places so they had to fill in. It was that he was, because his spirit of kindness, caring and giving existed within people everywhere.
This was inspired by childhood memories of my parents and Santa, and carrying on the tradition with my own family. Never stop believing. I haven’t. :o)
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