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Just In Time For Christmas
Author's note: Tis' the season!
It was a snowy winter’s day. Mealonie Holiday sprawled upon a chair moaning. She knew from the looks of the snow, she would be snowed in by morning.
“Why does winter have to be so difficult?” mealonie grumbled “its wonder to think that people actually enjoy the snow.”
Nothing about the Holidays excited her. As she saw it, she had everything she could ever want. So why did she still feel part of her missing?
She began saying “I guess the snow is peaceful, but when you have to shovel it, you lose the spirit rightfully.”
Many people thought Mealonie was a heartless woman, but had everything imaginable. She had the biggest house by far, a good salary, a beautiful car, and so much more. Why want, when you can have? People in town knew what Mealonie was missing; the Christmas spirit.
“Christmas is just an excuse for stores to bump their prices on plastic toys and cheap tableware. Ah what’s it to me? What happened? Didn’t I have a good childhood full of Christmases?” Mealonie got up and started the fire in the fireplace.
“Sometimes I wonder who even cares that I spend all my time alone,” she continued “I wonder if I disappeared for Christmas if anyone would even care!”
The Blizzard slowed down and Mealonie decided to go collect more wood to last up for the chilly night. She grabbed her axe and bundled up. As she opened the door of her house, six feet of snow came plowing in. An arctic breeze nipped the air.
“Burr! Great! Just Great!” She exclaimed “I wonder if getting eaten by a bear is worse than freezing to death!”
Mealonie began to shoo the snow out with a nearby shovel. She grabbed her trail shoes, than shoveled her way to the top of the mound of built up snow encasing her house. She put her trail shoes on and started for the woods surrounding her home. The woods were the only thing that kept her separated from the small town that longed for her visit. It had been a long time since she had actually visited or even stopped in the Town. As Mealonie wandered through the woods, she thought about the past couple years; one subject she liked to pretend wasn’t there.
She mumbled “Better left unsaid.” Mealonie was startled by a man’s voice. “Child that’s why nothing ever changes in this ole’ town!”
She was surprised to see that the man looked very old. Why was he out here? He could get hurt very easily! She started to walk towards him. The wind picked up and she could not even see the ground in front of her. Mealonie became frightened and tried to run, only to result in a stumble. She blacked out.
The next thing Mealonie remembers is waking up in a stranger’s bed. The room was dimly lit and very tiny. “Where am I?” She wondered.
The person who lived there must have heard her because the sound of someone climbing the stairs was loud and audible. Well now she knows she’s on the second story. The woman who entered the room looked about eighty years old.
“How are you feeling Hun?” The old woman continued “my husband said you had quite a stumble!” Mealonie was curious “Where am I?” The woman replied “In my home in the middle of Logan town…” Mealonie knew exactly where Logan Town was, she lived in the woods across from it!
“So how did I get here?” Mealonie asked. “Well since my husband and I are very old, and there was no way he could carry you by himself, he marked his way into town and asked for help; A couple of men, two or three came to help bring you here safely” replied the woman. “So it took three… no, four men to carry me here!” Mealonie gawked in horror. She glanced down at her stomach. “And oh thanks, for you know, bringing me here safely!” mealonie said “But I still have questions like where is your husband? And how long have I been knocked out?”
The old woman just replied with “Hush child, you must sleep”
That night Mealonie had a dream about something that seemed unfathomable: Her family. “It all seemed so real though! My father was holding me tight telling me everything was going to be alright with tears streaming down his face. My brother was no older than six or seven.”
Mealonie noticed that the old woman was now in her room once again. She shared to the old woman all that she could remember about her family. The old lady looked as if she were going to cry. Why? Then she spoke “All these years they have misunderstood you. I never expected such an abrupt answer. No one knew the hurt of the loss of your mother at such a young age; then to lose your father too shortly after I can’t imagine all that you went through.”
“That’s right! It’s all coming back! Right after my parents died, and my we moved from this old town I was sent to an orphanage and my brother, adopted. We were separated.” Mealonie started to cry. The woman got up and walked to the door.
“There’s some supper downstairs if you would like some. Come down when you are ready!” The old woman said.
Mealonie looked around the room; she quickly observed that it was heavily decorated with Christmas Decorations. She got up from the comfortable bed and searched the room for her clothes. They were not there. She was hungry, and needed to wear clothes downstairs, so she opened the closet and searched for something to wear. Everything in the closet was Christmas related. She decided upon a pair of Jeans and a Christmas tree t-shirt, and hurried down the stairs.
Mealonie stopped halfway down the stairs in awe. The whole house was decorated perfectly for Christmas. She turned the corner and stepped into the kitchen. The old woman was standing in the kitchen. “Why is your husband gone? Where is he?” Mealonie asked quizzically. “He has to earn our pay somehow,” The woman said “Through rain, snow, sleet, and Blizzards he chops wood for his shop.”
Mealonie was worried now “That is a very strenuous and difficult task, he is with others hopefully!”She said. The woman nodded her head with a reassuring “yes”.
The old woman then said “Come sit down dear! Have some of these Grits, and make yourself at home I am making Gingerbread cookies so…” The rest was a blur to Mealonie. She was dazed with the smell of Gingerbread cookies. It was almost like a dream to Mealonie. In the morning she would wake up and this whole experience would be gone. But is that truly what Mealonie wanted? She decided to enjoy whatever time she had left in this comfortable life.
“When do you want me to leave?” Mealonie asked while fumbling with her bowl of grits.
“Sweetie you are in no position to leave in such a storm, especially with an injury like that!” replied the old woman.
Mealonie finished her grits and stood up. “Thank you so much for letting me stay with you, I would have died out there.”Mealonie said while pushing her chair in. The old woman nodded then went back to shaping the gingerbread.
When Mealonie reached the room she had been staying in, she heard the door open downstairs. Mealonie was too curious to not wonder who it was so she crept down the stairs to have a peek. Since every room in the house was very tiny she could not see who had just arrived so she crept towards the Kitchen once again
She saw an elderly man kissing the old woman on the cheek. He looked so familiar… but who was he? Mealonie stepped into the kitchen. It was the man from the woods! Thank god he was ok!
Mealonie said “Um hi, I just wanted to make sure I got to tell you thanks.”
He smiled and said “It was the right thing to do!” Mealonie noticed that she hadn’t caught either of their names.
“What would you like me to call you by?” Mealonie asked.
The old woman replied with “My name is Gretel and my husband’s name is Nicholas.”
“My name is Mealonie Holiday; it’s so nice to have met you both!” she said.
The old woman smiled at her then glanced back at her husband. Mealonie had never felt such comfort in her life! The old couple were looking into each other’s eyes so deeply you would think they were sharing stories telepathically! But no, it was just an amazing love bond. Oh how Mealonie wanted to be loved like that! Mealonie left the kitchen and decided to explore the tiny home.
The first thing Mealonie saw was that the two-story home she was in was a log cabin. It was very small, but very well-kept. On the first floor when you would walk in you would see the stairs going up. To the left of the front door was the sitting area and to the right was the living room. The kitchen was next to the stairs, connected to the living room- Leaving Gretel and Nicholas’ room beside the kitchen. Her room was the only thing upstairs along with a small bathroom.
When Mealonie sat on her bed she felt a wave of anger. “Where did that come from?” Mealonie asked herself. Mealonie started to remember her brothers’ face, and fought tears. “What happened to you?” Mealonie sobbed. She had these terrible anger and trust issues her whole life that must be linked to her family. Mealonie climbed into the rocking chair next to the window and gathered her knees into her chest.
“I just miss you brother.” Mealonie whispered.
When mealonie awoke she was still in the chair. The snow was falling perfectly, the kind of weather that makes every kid want to play in the fresh snow. Everything looked white, except for the occasional rooftops in the distance or the very tip of pine trees. Mealonie felt so safe yet alive in the home. She had to build a protective barrier up against everyone she met so she could never be hurt. Mealonie wanted to live in this fantasy as long as possible.
It’s true she had an amazing house, cool car, newest technologies, but everything that had once mattered to her; she did not long for anymore. Mealonie thought about her assistant Amelia who was always trying to please her, but she always blew her off for something that seemed to be more important. Mealonie never got close to anyone for the fear of the good-bye someday.
Mealonie glanced out the window again. There were children building a snowman in the neighbor’s yard. She was happy and maybe for the first time in her life! She dressed herself and went downstairs.
Mealonie grabbed her coat and stepped outside into the arctic air. A small snowflake landed on her face. She giggled in delight “Magic!”
A little girl that seemed to have popped out of nowhere chimed in “Isn’t that exactly what the word Christmas is!”
“w-what” Mealonie asked in shock.
“Magic, hope, joy, giving, and Love… everything a good Christmas should be filled with!” replied the little girl.
“I was talking about the snow, but I’m glad you’ve had good Christmases.” said Mealonie sharply.
“My family doesn’t have a lot but we have each other. Daddy says ‘all you need is love’ right? I’m guessing you have had the best Christmases ever!”The little girl exclaimed.
“Actually I live by myself, in a mansion on the other side of the woods.” Mealonie said blatantly.
“It must get awfully lonely. Living by yourself, and never celebrating Christmas!” The little girl said in disbelief.
Mealonie looked away, Tears stung her eyes. That’s probably what hurt Mealonie the most. She didn’t have a boyfriend or husband to come home to. She had no children, no family; her name might as well be ‘Mealonie Lonely.’
“Listen miss I don’t really know you, but no one should spend Christmas alone; How about you spend Christmas with my family and me. It’s nothing extravagant, but it’s where the love is.” Offered the little girl.
“Well that’s very sweet of you, thank you for the offer-” mealonie was cut off.
“Annie’s the name! I can’t wait!” Annie said.
Mealonie gave her name then they parted. Mealonie felt all giddy inside, her first Christmas invitation!
Mealonie ran into the cabin to grab a second coat and headed for Main Street downtown. This is where she presumed all the people would be she wanted to feel the Christmas spirit. She thought that maybe, just maybe, she might find the answer to her unknown anger and coldness. Mealonie didn’t want to be known as the mean, heartless woman she knew her employees called her.
She must have walked for two miles when she was thinking that her cold, sore feet were going to fall off.
“Oomph!” Mealonie moaned as she sat down on a nearby bench.
As she gazed around, the whole town looked perfect. Blankets of thick snow encased almost everything. Yet the sight was gorgeous. In the center of town there was an Ice skating rink where you could hear “Let it snow” spilling from the gigantic speakers. Mealonie got up, put a smile on her face and rented a pair of Ice Skates.
She saw others hop onto the ice, and she had never ice-skated before but how hard could it be? Right? Mealonie jumped onto the ice just like she had seen, only to have her feet come right out from under her.
“Ouch, well that was certainly deceiving!” mealonie said rubbing her backside.
She heard a slight chuckle come from behind her. A man of about 23 was standing behind her, and instantly realized her humiliation and frustration and went to help her up.
“I can get up just fine! Do I look crippled?” mealonie said sarcastically.
Mealonie tried getting up, but ended up falling again, this time harder. The man helped Mealonie to her feet and introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Jake Enchanter”
“I’m Mealonie Holiday.” She locked her legs so she wouldn’t fall again and tried to stand straight.
“I take it you haven’t done this before, huh?” Jake smiled as he spoke, Mealonie trying to keep a tough face but dying with giggles inside.
“Well, no but don’t I get credit for just jumping right into it literally?” Mealonie giggled.
“Let me show you the correct way, so no one else gets hurt! Ha-ha!” Jake chuckled, then took Mealonie’s hand to get out of the others way.
They skated so gracefully together as if they were one! Mealonie had never been this happy! He had not let go of her since she fell which was at least an hour ago! It started to get dark, and Mealonie did not want to get caught in a snow storm. She faced her unfortunate odds of knowing even if she started for Gretel’s home she would not make it before dark.
“It’s awful cold out you know,” Jake said kicking snow “It would be easy in this winter air to get frostbite!”
“I will be just fine, where I’m staying isn’t far from here.” Mealonie said.
“I have a horse, and Dasher and I would be more than happy to give you a lift home…” He offered kindly.
“No,” Mealonie said on instinct but slowly changed her mind after she saw fresh snow falling “Well that would be very helpful.”
Mealonie and Jake sat their skates at the rental counter and headed towards a street-lamp with a horse and carriage tied to it.
Mealonie stopped in awe. “Where…” she stuttered “How…Wow!”
Jake laughed and helped her onto the carriage. She gave Jake the directions to Gretel and Nicholas’s house as they slowly drifted away from the little circle of shops and homes surrounding it. Mealonie and Jake started to talk about the smallest things that turned into a topic they shared and couldn’t stop talking about. When they arrived at the log home, the last thing Mealonie wanted to do, was leave.
“This place looks SO familiar…” Jake mumbled.
“That’s what I said too, but a lot of things are Déjà Vu,” Mealonie said “Like people, cars, pictures, and-“
The rest Jake didn’t hear. He knew he had seen or been to this house before. He helped Mealonie off the carriage and she gave him a hug, along with thanking him for the ride.
“See you around?” Jake asked breaking the prolonged silence.
“Oh yeah, defiantly!” Mealonie said excitedly.
“Just in case I don’t see you, Merry Christmas!” Jake said.
“Thanks!” Mealonie said, and then ran into the house.
She went to her room, undressed and went to bed with a smile on her face. She couldn’t wait for the new day!
When Mealonie awoke, she smelt more cookies being made. She dressed herself quickly and plundered down the stairs prepared to help Gretel with whatever she needed done. Gretel was so kind for letting her stay, she needed to do something for her! When she entered the kitchen there were over 25 trays lined up for the cookies Gretel was making.
“Hi! Can I help?” Mealonie asked warmly.
Gretel smiled and handed Mealonie an apron. Mealonie noticed that there were only Gingerbread men and woman! It was Mealonie’s favorite, a coincidence?
Mealonie couldn’t help but to ask “Who are all these cookies for?”
Gretel’s face scrunched up worriedly as if Mealonie should have known “The children of course!”
“Oh, ok” Mealonie exclaimed, still confused.
Mealonie kneaded, rolled, cut out and lined so many trays with Gingerbread that their hands were numb. When the last tray came out, there must have been over 300 cookies! Mealonie was proud. Gretel thanked Mealonie for her hard work, and then dismissed her.
Mealonie scurried away thankful for the break. Who knew that cookie making could be so strenuous! She would never underestimate an elderly woman’s knack for cookies ever again! It was hard work. Mealonie giggle at the very thought.
Mealonie had fallen into Gretel’s comfortable life. She was involved more in someone else’s life than she had ever been before. She had even forgotten about her life on the other side of the woods. Mealonie knew in the back of her mind that in a few days- maybe even weeks if she was lucky she would have to face the ugly truth called her life; Reality.
Mealonie had already started to feel better, so she decided to leave. The elderly couple needed space, and al Mealonie was, is matter! She put on a coat from the closet upstairs and prepared for a long walk to a place she could never call home.
She walked down those steep stairs one last time. She found Gretel in the kitchen. “Hi, Gretel I just wanted to tell you thanks for letting me stay here. I really appreciate your hospitality and your beautiful home. It’s time for me to go home though.” Mealonie exclaimed
Gretel smiled graciously “God bless, and have a safe journey,” Gretel added “Just when you think you’ve lost hope, it’s then that the tide will turn. Harriet Beecher Stowee my child. True wisdom.”
“Thank you, take care!” Mealonie spoke then headed home.
As Mealonie trotted home she passed townspeople who all waved to her. She felt like she was part of the community! With every step, and every tree she questioned herself as to why she was leaving this town once more. When she finally reached the woods she had walked at least 3 miles. Mealonie did not feel the least bit tired though; she had too much on her mind.
As she took her first few steps back into the woods, she could not help but to hear the small steps of something or someone behind her. She was being followed! She turned around quickly and found a little girl behind her, trying to jump in her footsteps. Mealonie recognized this little girl though. She was the one she met near Gretel and Nicholas’s house! Oh what was her name? Abby, Andy, A—A-N-N… Annie! That’s it! Annie.
Mealonie said “Hi there! What on Earth are you doing out here in these woods by yourself, little miss?”
The little girl giggled “I don’t know; following you?” Mealonie was aghast.
Mealonie got down to the Childs level and asked her why she wanted to follow her. “Honey your parents must be worried sick! You must go home!”
Annie sighed “But no one will go Ice Skating with me. Will you PLEASE take me?”
Mealonie was surprised. Annie continued to plead for Mealonie to come skating with her. Mealonie gave in and headed towards town again with the little girl.
When Annie and Mealonie reached the ice rink the little girl could not have been more excited. They rented their skates and hopped onto the ice. It was quite moments before they realized that they were not alone on this snowy night.
Mealonie skated over to the plastic wall and peeked around it. There she found Jake getting ready to scare her. Yes! Jake was exactly who she wanted to see! Before she could say anything Annie had skated over to the edge and was now screeching “Daddy, Daddy, Dad-e-e-e!” Annie exclaimed.
Mealonie was really confused now! Daddy?
“Let me introduce you to my daughter. This is Annie! But from your guys duet skating I assume you have met!” Jake said.
Mealonie explained how they met. Jake smiled big “That’s awesome! Well Mealonie I know this last minute, so you probably have plans already, but how about you spend Christmas with my family and me?” Jake asked.
“Yes! Of course! This will be my first Christmas celebration in years!” Mealonie stated.
“Great I look forward to seeing you! Arrive around 7!” Jake informed.
Mealonie exclaimed “Okay thanks! Goodbye.”
“Oh,” Jake said “And Mealonie…”
“Yes?” Mealonie asked.
Mealonie scurried home. She couldn’t wait for Christmas! Only a day away.
Mealonie reached her home just minutes after dusk. She couldn’t forget all of the amazing memories she had in the past week. She curled up on her queen bed. Her room was lavished with private decorator’s collections. Her house was humongous. But there was not purpose in trying to enjoy the space she had, there was no one to enjoy it with. She had worked hard her whole life for this? She fell asleep from exhaustion.
When she awoke she squealed with excitement. Christmas was tonight! She decided that she would make a pie and green bean casserole to bring to Jake and Annie’s tonight. Oh no! What was she going to wear? She made the food first, and then got dressed while it was cooking.
Before she knew it, she was out the door in a beautiful Christmas skirt and a red long sleeve shirt with two dishes in her hands, plowing through the Forrest. When she reached town she couldn’t believe how ditsy she had been. She forgot to get the directions to their house!
Mealonie went to the man who she had rented the ice skates from and asked him where Jake lived. Since the town was very small luckily the man knew. She hurried on her way.
She arrived just on time according to the Grandfather clock hung inside Jakes house. His house was very tiny, Two bedrooms and no bigger than 1,000 square feet. It was very cozy! Annie was the first to greet Mealonie.
“Mel, you’re here! Daddy told me you might not come but I knew you would! This is going to be the best Christmas ever!” Annie said happily.
Jake greeted her then showed her to the living room. Then a woman walked in “Hi, I’m Ariane! Oh Gosh let me take these dishes for you! You really didn’t have to bring anything, but these look wonderful. Thanks so much.” Ariane said.
Mealonie was happy, she saw Jake tending to the fire, and Annie playing with dolls by the Christmas tree. A few minutes later they were called by Ariane to come to the dinner table. Everything looked immaculate.
The ham was huge, and the sides looked delicious! Her pie completed the meal. They sat down around the table and gave thanks. Annie said the prayer “Dear heavenly father I know you’re with a lot of people doing miracles, but please bless this food and house. Thank you for bringing Ms. Mealonie to us, and please let her come around more. Amen.” Annie closed the prayer and reached for the mashed potatoes.
“Perfect!” Mealonie whispered under her breath. She was happy and felt at home.
Later on in the evening, when all four of them gathered into the small living room it was time to share stories about their lives.
Jake started “My earliest memory is very painful. I was about six years old. It was Christmas and my mother passed. It was hard on everyone, my sister and dad more so (I was too young to understand). My father mourned all Christmas and on December 27th he passed too. My sister and I were separated. I was adopted and had no clue of what happened to her. There’s not a day that goes by that I wish I could just see her. I feel as if my memory of her has been erased. But when I grew up and met you, Ariane, my world changed. You helped me live Christmas truly. Annie is our true gift. So that’s my life in a nutshell!”
Jake then looked at Annie for her to speak but she was fast asleep.
“This is going to sound like a one in a million chance, but that’s exactly what happened to me! I got sent to an orphanage, and was about seven! Oh Jake do you think it’s possible…” Mealonie said but was cut off “We’re, related?”
It was quiet for quite a few moments until Ariane squeaked. “Eee! This is so exciting!”
Ariane took Annie to her room, and Jake and Mealonie sat by the fire hugging.
“After all these years of the pain of not knowing who you really are, and sheer curiosity, here we are. Together.” Jake exclaimed. They both stared at each other.
“And here of all places, Merry Christmas brother!” Mealonie said with a huge smile on her face.
“Same to you big sis.” Jake said.
In the next year many things changed. Mealonie went to see her brother and his family every weekend. Mealonie was married in the following December to her brother’s best friend, Mark. Mark moved into Mealonie’s mansion with her. Right before Christmas Eve, Mealonie and the two families go on a walk.
“If it hadn’t been for Gretel and Nicholas, I would never had found you, let alone set foot in this town. I have to go thank them. How about we take a walk?” Mealonie said.
Everyone agreed and the families headed towards the cabin. When they came upon the street, and very lot, the house was not there! Nada! Zip!
“What?!” Mealonie said in disbelief.
She ran into the snowy yard. Where the house once stood Mealonie saw a note with a gingerbread cookie under it. The single word on the paper was the word that Mealonie would forever live by: Believe ~