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Rated: E · Short Story · Holiday · #2309943
An undercover Christmas (500 words)
Ryan trudged through the sidewalk's heavy snow with the stoop-shouldered care of a man many years his senior. The brightly-colored lights lining the dark street, shaped like snowflakes, wreaths and angels, failed to claim his attention as they usually did.

"My first Christmas alone since I met Lorraine, and all my fault. Time spent together? No, I was working too hard for that."

He was so deep in morose contemplation that he almost tripped over an old homeless man sitting against the wall, legs stretching across the sidewalk.

"I'm sorry, sir, I didn't see you!" Ryan collected himself and looked the portly man over. His ragged felt coat was no match for the bitter cold. His bushy hair and beard were bedraggled and dirty, and a big sack rested by him in the snow.

"God bless you, good sir, and merry Christmas," he mumbled, stuffing his hands inside the opposite sleeve to try to maintain their warmth.

"Oh come now, I can't let you spend your Christmas out on the streets." Ryan bent down and held out a hand. "Would you like to come over my house? You can get cleaned up and enjoy a proper meal."

At home, Ryan prepared dinner while the stranger washed up. When the man came to the table his hair shone white as snow; the kindly twinkle in his eyes and the warm smile on his round face were unmistakable.

"Why, you're Santa Claus!"

"Saint Nicholas, more spiritually," he replied as he took a seat. "I'm not a global toy transporter with a staff of elves… more like a humble servant of God. I travel the earth to reward and encourage good in humankind."

"A saint, not a cartoon," Ryan nodded.

"Since you were so kindhearted as to invite a poor stranger into your home, you may have one Christmas wish granted." Saint Nick chuckled and leaned forward. "What would you like, Ryan? A nifty red Mustang? A Black and Decker tool set?"

"Oh no, sir. I mean, those would be very nice to have, but… is there any way you can help me make things right with my wife? I can't spend this Christmas without her."

"Well, you know I can't just magically make her appear on your doorstep and rekindle her love for you. Also, I need to ascertain whether you understand what went wrong between you."

"I neglected our relationship. We didn't need so much more money, we needed to be with each other. What good is it to be a lonely materialist?"

"I see your heart is in the right place. Why don't you call and offer an apology?"

"But… what if she isn't ready?"

"If you are sincere, she'll be ready. God will work in your hearts and draw you together again."

The next evening, Ryan and Lorraine walked down the city street hand-in-hand, admiring once more the festive Christmas decorations.

"I wish I'd prepared a gift for you."

"Lorraine, your love is the only gift I ever wanted."

Written (albeit too late) for "Note: 48-HOUR CHALLENGE : Media Prompt Deadl..."
But lo and behold, I received the Merit Badge anyway *Smile*
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Thank you for your participation in the  48-HOUR CHALLENGE:  "  All I Want for Christmas Is You   by  Mariah Carey " Media Prompt  hosted by  [Link To User support]  December 2023! We appreciate that you tackled this challenge... *^*Smile*^* *^*Thumbsupl*^*
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