My wife and I had been glued to the TV set since we first heard that Santa Claus was taken to The North Pole Regional Medical Center.

With in a few hours our television programming was interrupted with a news flash. The reporter appeared on the screen wet eyed and reported that the jolly old man had died from coronary failure.

Later the next day there was a special report that went into detail about how Mrs. Claus and the elves were traveling back to the North Pole with a large red sack of ashes.

The anchorman went on to say that the Air Force had offered an escort but Mrs. Claus chose to be guided home by Rudolph.

That bit of news destroyed any Christmas spirit my wife and I had.

We agreed with the President the twenty-fifth of December should be a national day of sorrow. Just hours before Saint Nicks ashes were to be scattered another news bulletin scrolled across the screen; the president of Toys R Us had committed suicide.

Now even more dispirited than ever we decided to see the play “The Christmas Carroll”. With no toys or presents to buy we had nothing but time.
Over the next two weeks we found other things to take our mind off the passing of Santa. There was a special musical at the church. Then another evening we joined friends and spent an evening Caroling.

We had close friends over for a meal one night. Afterwards we opened a bottle of wine. As my wife and I sat next to our friends enjoying the fire we both knew this was the perfect night to enjoy a bottle of wine that had been long stored for a special occasion.

A few days later “Christmas at the Zoo” took care of another evening. One weekend was left open for trimming the tree. One evening we set aside time to hand write notes placing them carefully in each Christmas card. The weekend before Christmas was spent decorating the house and spending time with relatives.

As Christmas drew ever nearer some how the thoughts of Santa Claus faded. My wife baked a cake that we took to our minister’s home. We sipped coffee and discussed the real reason for the season.

On Christmas Eve we had a light meal of sandwiches and eggnog. Afterwards we huddled around the fire to mourn our loss.

Neighbors asking that we join them in caroling interrupted this. As we moved through the neighborhood others joined our group.

I slept that night with a lighter heart than I had known in weeks.

The next morning I build a fire. My wife was busy in the kitchen planning the noonday meal. When finished there was enough to feed an army.

We looked at each other and without a word found a rather large picnic basket. In a matter of minutes we were in our car heading down the road.

After a loud rap on the door a small boy unfastened it with Christmas dinner in hand, a bologna sandwich. We introduced ourselves to his mother a young widow. We were thanked for the food and ask to join them. We both were delighted for the invitation.

After lunch I sat in the floor and told the Christmas story to the children just as I had so many years ago to my own.

Later we pulled into our driveway just as our own grown children and their spouses drove up. They shared the events of their day and we shared ours

I banked the fire for the last time later that night before retiring.

As I pushed the glowing coals into a neat pile, I wondered, was it possible that the world was better off without the old jelly belly man.

Merry Christmas

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