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A Merry Little Christmas Night

“From now on, our troubles will be miles away…” The carolers’ bright floated with the snow across the wintry night, accompanied by a delightful chaos: children’s laughter and playful screams, greetings like reunions at the doors of roadside shops closing for the night, resounding cheers from a group of red-faced men on the sidewalk as the mistletoe took yet another couple by surprise, and, loudest of all, the clicking of the horse’s hoofs against the cobbled road.

The densely clothed boy in the buggy smiled and pulled the girl close to him, her head resting on his padded shoulder for a moment. It was a real smile, but it was also overdone, like a guest who smiles sincerely but holds the expression a moment longer than is natural, both to ensure the host of his happiness and to remind himself of it. The girl turned her head to look into his eyes. His prolonged smile was reflected many times over by the childlike delight encompassing her face, which seemed itself to reflect brilliantly the overwhelming display of lights that covered the town like a mask. He quickly pulled her closer, hiding her eyes under his chin, kissed her on the forehead, and turned away from the lights of the city to the darkness of the cold, winter night.

There were no stars out in the sky – at least no stars were visible from the streets. Perhaps the overwhelming of the city’s bulbs obscured nature’s delicate Christmas lights. Perhaps there truly were no stars. Perhaps he was not looking hard enough, at least not in the right place. Regardless, when the boy looked from the lighted street to the sky he saw only darkness.

“Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore.” A blur of motion in the form of a snowball brought his attention back to the bright earth. His mind drifted to memories of presents and hot chocolate and Santa Claus. A trace of a smile appeared as he remembered a snowball war with a childhood friend who had since moved away. The city’s chaos faded out as laughter of “They’re retreating! We won! Nobody will ever be able to beat us!” rang like a bell in his memory. It was memories like these that helped to warm him against the night’s chill. Perhaps tonight would serve as a fireplace of nostalgia for future winters.

The buggy turned onto a similarly decorous road, and the wind immediately gathered speed and fallen snow as it rushed down the open street, whipping at decorations and coats and causing the pedestrians to hurry to the corner. The hectic motion of the street pulled his thoughts back to his life – not this holiday trip, but to the stresses of his real life. His internal alarm clock beeped duties and deadlines, and he scrambled frantically for the snooze button. He pulled the girl closer to hiding their faces so that only the light could reach them. He focused intently on a strand of lights and held her as tight as if the wind would otherwise take her away.

Having completed its circuit, the buggy slowed to a halt, and the driver over-zealously wished the couple a merry Christmas as they made their way , backs to the wind, to a coffee shop a few stores away. After sipping reminiscent hot chocolates, they walked hand-in-hand past smiling faces, decorated windows, and present-filled arms to a bench across the white field from the boisterous children.

“Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” They sat alone together, the warmth from their tightly pressed bodies desperately fighting the icy air. From this new perspective, the lights of the city did not seem so overwhelming; the colors blended harmoniously into a beautiful symphony of joy, lighting the town as a beacon of hope to a bleak world. He smiled – a genuine expression of joy – and held her tighter for a moment. She smiled and looked up at him. “Look!” she exclaimed with delight, “The first star tonight! Make a wish!”

He turned the star, a brilliant solo of light against the inky sky, and his smile spread even wider, stretching until it cracked into laughter. No words came to his lips – he simply stared at the star, smiling and shaking his head in delightful awe.

One wish – just one. He glanced from the star to the town’s lights to the girl in his arms and back to the twinkling star, and he realized that his wish had already come true, at least for the night.

“Hang a shining star upon the highest bough. And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.”




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