The Value of a Red-Nosed Reindeer
By Audrey W.
“So we’re on for tonight. Bowling, right?” Chet Kelly confirmed.
John Gage gave a firm nod. “Right. Seven o’clock.”
The two men, along with John’s partner Roy DeSoto, had just finished another twenty-four hour shift on duty with the rest of their crew and were walking out to the parking lot behind Station 51, ready to head for home.
“You sure you don’t wanna join us, Roy?” John asked.
“Can’t. I promised Joanne I’d go Christmas shopping with her later today. Only ten days to get it done and there’s a couple of things she’s afraid will be gone if we wait any longer.”
Gage snorted a laugh. “It’s gotta be even closer to Christmas before I get in the spirit for that.”
“Me too,” Chet agreed. “Maybe if we had snow around here it’d be different. But right now? Can’t get motivated,” he said with a shake of his curly-haired head.
“Just wait till you’re married and have kids. It’ll change.”
Both Chet and John blew the comment off with snickers. Those days were so far in the future for either one of them. . .
Roy figured someday the last laugh would be on them and that time would come sooner than they expected.
John glanced at his watch as he got ready to head out for the bowling alley. It would take about twenty minutes to get there, so he had about another fifteen minutes before he’d need to leave.
The off-duty paramedic plopped down on his couch in the livingroom after having turned on the television to pass the little time he lad left. Right away an advertisement on the screen caught his attention.
“Coming up this evening at seven o’clock on NBC, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. ”
Rudolph’s on *tonight*?
“Oh man. Why’d it have to be on tonight?”
Ever since the animated Christmas special had first aired on December 6th, 1964, he had made sure to watch it every year. The Christmas season just wouldn’t be the same without it. Now what was he going to do? He had to be at the bowling alley during the time it was on.
It’s not like it’ll be on again this year. . .
His thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the telephone from where it sat nearby on an end table. John reached for the receiver.
“Hey, Johnny, it’s me. . . Chet.”
Now was his chance to get out of going bowling. . .or at least delay it. He couldn’t give the real reason why he didn’t want to go. That would bring him more strife from teasing than he even wanted to think about. But he couldn’t think of an excuse in a matter of seconds, thus no words came out.
It didn’t matter, as Chet continued on.
“I’ve got bad news. I have to cancel for tonight. It’s kind of a family thing. . .nothing really major, you know, but I definitely can’t go bowling. I’m really sorry, man.”
But John had quit listening after the words ‘cancel for tonight’.
That was it! His problem was solved and he didn’t have to admit to anything.
“You there?” Chet asked when he was still met with silence.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m still here.”
“Did you hear what I said?”
“Yeah. . .ya can’t make it. I heard. I heard. It’s okay, man. We can do it another evening. . .maybe next week.”
“Wow, you really took the news good.”
“Well, we’re firemen. We’re used to things changin’ on a dime. It’s okay, Chet.”
Man is it ever!
“Okay, great. I guess I better get ready for that family thing then.”
“Right . Talk to you later.”
Once he returned the receiver to its cradle on the phone, John clapped his hands together and grinned wide. He was going to get to watch Rudolph. Christmas would still feel the same.
Chet sighed with relief as he sat on his couch. He was so sure Gage was going to give him a hard time. Instead he hardly gave him any time at all. . .and he certainly wasn’t let down about canceling.
Kinda odd. . .
But it didn’t really matter right now. What did matter was that he was going to get to watch a favorite classic Christmas show he hadn’t realized was on until he heard the announcement that it was coming up.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without it, but he couldn’t admit that to John. He’d have been razzed about it clear into the new year for sure! Thus why he had to make up an excuse. . .vague so as not to be a full blown lie. . .to stay home.
By the time the show ended an hour later, John was really in the Christmas spirit.
“Maybe I’ll go Christmas shopping tomorrow. . .”
The words stopped him in mid step between the television and the couch. Had he really just said that? Apparently Roy had been wrong. It wasn’t going to take marriage and kids for things to change. Just the ‘kid’ inside him to come to the surface for an hour.
Across town, Chet was much the same. The Christmas spirit had grown inside throughout the show and flourished with the group of characters singing ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’. Now he was ready to get his shopping underway and mingle with the others doing the same.
So much for needing a wife and kids to make a difference. . .
In yet another section of Carson, Roy DeSoto and his wife tucked their young son and daughter in bed for the night. Though the children had been insisting they weren’t tired after spending a fun afternoon-into-the-early-evening with a favorite babysitter, once they settled down for an hour to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, both had to admit they were ready to go to bed. Jennifer so she could dream about playing with the toys from Misfit Island and Christopher so he could dream about riding in a flying sleigh with Rudolph at the lead.
Roy definitely was grateful for the traditional wholesome Christmas special. Especially to the little red-nosed character who was the center of it. Not just for this night, but for the joyful memories it provided for himself and his family over the years. Little did he know the impact it had on his bachelor friends as well.
All in all, the value of Rudolph? If anyone asked the two paramedics and curly-haired fireman from Station 51, they’d probably get the same answer from each.
Disclaimer: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer obviously doesn't belong to me, I just borrowed him, as watching the show and remembering days gone by inspired this story. :o) No copyright infringement is intended.
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