Christmas AngelsThe cold wind blew against her face as she helped her daughter take her luggage from the trunk. She smiled at her in a mother’s attempt to hide her breaking heart. Her girl would be spending Christmas at her father’s this year. She would be left in a strange city, alone. She hugged her daughter, kissed her goodbye, told her to have a good time at her Dad’s and then watched as she disappeared into the plane.
She watched out the window as the plane taxied and then lifted into the cold dark air. The intercom played “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as she tied her scarf around her neck and put on her gloves.
“Not a chance.” She said to no one as the automatic doors opened and the cold wind met her again.
She had used what little money she had to buy Christmas gifts for her girl to take with her. Hopefully, her ex-husband and his new wife would see that Santa came and provided her with more than what her meager wages had allowed.
She had moved here with hope that it would be good for her and for her daughter to start fresh. It had been to hard staying in a place where old memories were a constant reminder of her failure; failure of a woman and failure of a wife. She was combatted with “if only” a hundred times a day. She had left not realizing she was running away from and not running toward. She pulled her old car in front of the café where she worked. Bright green and red lights framed the windows and doorway. She had not decorated their apartment. Why decorate when her little girl would not be there to enjoy it. She knew it would take more than decorations to brighten her spirit this holiday season. The sounds of the church bells rang through the air, but to her they sounded mournful.
Her apartment was chilled when she returned home. She had turned down the thermostat in order to save money. After all, the girls would not be here so she didn’t need to keep it as warm as usual.
Her feet ached so she switched on the television and covered herself with the worn afghan as she watched as the angel got his wings in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“Where’s an angel when you need one.” She said to herself as tears flowed uncontrollably from her eyes until sleep took over.
She woke to the sound of someone knocking on the front door. She opened it to the light of morning and to a notice hanging from the door knob. If the utilities weren’t paid, they would be shut off.
“Go ahead God. Hit me again.” She cried out. “If you even exist, then where are you? I’ve yet to see an angel come into my so-called wonderful life.” Her bitterness had taken the place of her broken heart.
She walked to work. The walk would do her good she reasoned and besides it would save on needing to pay for gas.
He was sitting on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.
“A penny for the poor?” He asked as he reached a silver cup up toward her.
“I don’t have any money.” She spat out the words.
“I asked only for a penny, Ma’am.” He said again. “Certainly you have a penny.”
“Yes. I have a penny,” she said reaching into the pocket of her coat. “But what good will a penny do you?” She asked as she heard it clink to the bottom of the empty cup as the man gently rose from his sitting spot.
“Oh. It’s not what it will do for me.” He replied. “It is what it will do for you.”
He smiled a warm smile, winked and walked away.
Her shift was almost over when she saw the old lady walk in and take a booth. She wore an old coat, so frayed that at places, shine gave way to holes. She sat her bag on the bench beside her.
“May I take your order?” She asked
“How much would a glass of water cost?” The old woman asked, taking off her worn cotton gloves and revealing ancient cold, bony hands.
“Twenty five cents is what we’re told to charge.” She answered.
“That much, huh?” The old woman replied opening an empty change purse.
“That’s okay. I’ll get it.” The waitress replied and returned with a cup of hot tea.
“Here. Drink this.” She said. “It will do you more good than a glass of water.”
“Thank you my dear.” The old woman said as she smiled up at her. She drank her tea and as she opened the door to step out into the night, she smiled at the waitress.
She started her walk home. Her feet reminded her that she had already been on them for eight hours. She saw the small boy sitting on the curb. His newspapers he was to deliver lay strewn around him. He was holding a hurt foot that had been caught in the spokes of his bike wheel.
“Are you okay?” She asked as she picked up his papers and returned them to his newspaper bag. “I hurt my foot; it’s bleeding.”
“Why don’t you go home and get it taken care of she said, placing the last paper into the pouch.
“I can’t. I have to get these papers delivered or I’ll lose my paper route.” He answered.
“Where do you deliver them to?” She asked.
“To the end of
“Well, go on home and get your foot bandaged. I will deliver these papers for you. You can come to that cafe down the block tomorrow and get your bag.”
“Thank you Ma’am.” He said as she helped him stand up and watched him push his bike off into the night.
She picked up the bag and started on the paper route. She was thankful her feet had stopped hurting her and she was surprised to feel something else. It was something inside of her; something in the area around her heart. It was a small feeling of happiness.
The morning brought a fresh blanket of snow. She tied her scarf around her neck and pulled on her boots. She placed her work shoes into a sack to take with her, and made certain to take the newspaper bag so the young boy could pick it up.
She blinked against the brightness of the sun sparkling on the new fallen snow. It crunched beneath her feet as a cold wind blew small tornadoes of white around her feet.
She saw the young girl, standing next to the lamp post. She stood on one foot struggling to hold the other in air as she placed a piece of cardboard into the bottom of the shoe she held. The sole was worn so badly that the cardboard would be all that kept the girl’s foot from the snow.
When she reached the girl’s side she replaced her boots for the work shoes in the sack and then helped the girl slip into the boots she had removed.
“Thank you so much.” The young girl said with a smile that melted at the remaining bitterness she had been holding onto.
“You’re welcome.” She said as she watched the girl walk down the street.
“She heard the church bells ring.” They sounded beautiful in the crisp air.
The bell above the café door twinkled announcing the arrival of another customer just as the café was about to close. The gentleman making the entry slid into a nearby booth.
“May I take your order?” She asked when he put down the menu.
“Yes.” He replied. “I know that it’s about time for you to close up shop, but I have two colleagues that are meeting me. Could I bother you to stay open a while longer until they arrive.
“Yes.” I think that will be alright.” She said. “Can I get you something to drink while you’re waiting?”
“Coffee, please” he answered.
His colleagues arrived shortly and after dining and collaborating, they left. She cleared the table and found the tip he had left her would more than pay her utility bill.
She walked into the night air of Christmas Eve. She saw the Christmas light twinkling and marveled in their beauty. She stopped at the street lamp on the corner to listen to the carolers sing of peace on earth and good will to men. She heard the laughter of children sledding down the hill and it was then she realized….her bitterness had been replaced with joy and hope. The spirit of Christmas had found its way into her heart. It had broken down the walls of her own- making and it began by giving a simple penny.
God did send angels she realized, and it was all so simple. Angels came in the form of everyday people who had love and caring in their hearts.
She thought of how she, herself had been given an angelic opportunity. She had given a penny to the old man, a cup of tea to the old lady, helped the paperboy deliver his papers and gave her boots to the girl.
She stopped to admire the Christmas tree in the town square and heard the bells on it tingle. She smiled as she remembered the line in “It’s a Wonderful Life” that said “Every time you hear a bell, an angel gets his wings.” She giggled as she looked over her shoulder to see if any were sprouting.