Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Do You Believe In Christmas Miracles (True Story)

For about an hour on Monday, I thought I would lose my mind. I also thought I'd ruined our Christmas. The day starts well enough with a trip to the doctor's office for a physical. Total cholesterol - 132; HDL - 55; Triglycerides - 143; blood pressure - 140/80; Pulse - 42 (I have an amazingly low pulse). Also, I drop off the office's homemade Christmas caramels. My other medical complications are in check. His advice. "Lose weight." He needs a parrot. He's been telling me that for years. Next, on to the in-laws at the assisted living center to gather packages to mail for them - check. I drop off more homemade caramels at the dentist's office. This always makes me feel evil for some reason.

Around the corner, I hit the bank for some spending cash and lots of cash for my wife. I hope it's for my present. Onward to Michael's for a box of special plastic baggies and find the last one. I head to Party City for some party trays to be used for house plants and notice the clouds thickening. I get the last three. The drive to my dermatologist, whose kid I feel like I'm personally putting through college, is uneventful as cars slip off the highway and clear a path for me. I drop off the office's Christmas caramels to a staff member who squeals with delight, remembering them from the previous years. Every light is green as I head back towards town and the Chinese store to pick up the last of the supplies for our annual New Year's Day party - our holiday present to our friends. I'm way ahead of schedule, though a few big drops splat on the windshield. I get out of the car, check my pocket, and find no wallet. The rain begins in earnest.

I panic. No wallet in the car, under the car, near the car. I drive away. No wallet at the Dermatologist's office. It's not lying comfortably on the ground, dangling in the bushes like the last bloom, or floating toward the sewer like a downed and drowned leaf. I'm ill. Nearly $600, credit cards, bank account numbers -- mine, my homeowner's association, ours. I try to center myself. I drive to the Party City with the closed satellite Police Station next door (budget cuts). It's not a bad area; it's just not a good place. It's the downside of the mall with seasonal stores featuring Halloween items no one wants at 90% off and a cornacopia of Christmas collectables of dubious quality, offices with no apparent clientele and stick-on signs, and stores with vacant-eyed associates. The wallet is not in the parking lot. I head for the door of Party City in a drizzle and walk in. A sleepy-eyed man in his early 30's stands near the unattended cash register. He looks bored stacking a few hundred boxes of candy canes.

"Do you believe in Christmas miracles?" I say to him without any preamble.

He looks at me surprised. Perhaps he thinks he misheard. "Huh, what?"

"Do you believe in Christmas miracles? Yes or no."

"Well, yes." A hint of a smile pushes out cautiously from the corner of his mouth. Is it really there or is he just humoring the distraught looking old, fat guy wearing a soaked, off-white USA sweatshirt and green gym shorts.

"Good. I'm looking for a wallet."

"Yeah, we found one." He walks to the register. "Your name."

"Rick Bylina."

Some of me must still be in the wallet. "Here you go." He hands me the wallet.

"Do you know who turned it in?" I want to give the person a reward or take him or her out to lunch.

"Nope." He walks back to the display.

I leave as the drizzle turns to a light mist. Back in the car, I let out a breath I have been holding and open the wallet. Everything, everything is there. I sit. The sun slices through the overcast as a parade of Santa's pass by, heading into one of the seemingly empty offices labeled "Santa Training." One waves as he walks past. I automatically wave back. He winks then bellows a hardy "Ho-ho-ho. Merry Christmas" before he slips into the office.

Yes, I believe in Christmas miracles.


Paul said...

Nice story. Good ending.

RCS1738 said...

Couldn't have happen to a more deserving guy! Merry Christmas.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Yay! I'm so glad it had a happy ending. Wonderful story and you told it so well. :)

Wendy said...

A wonderful Christmas story by a wonderful story teller. You had me holding my breath. No wonder you are such a successful author. May your 'One Promise Too Many' and 'A Matter Of Faith' fill many a Christmas stocking this year.