It was a chilly Christmas Eve. Everything about the night indicated it would snow, but it hadn’t yet. If it didn’t start soon, it would be a green Christmas.
Tomorrow would be full of family and a couple friends. Dinner would be a crazy, yet entertaining, affair. But tonight he kept for himself: a solitary dinner followed by a quiet walk in the park, then listening to music until he fell asleep. It was the perfect contrast to the chaos of Christmas itself.
The city had strung colored lights throughout the park. It was beautiful, but without snow to reflect and amplify their light, the display did nothing to alleviate the darkness of the night.
The park was mostly empty. People had started their celebrations early, and few were out walking. So when an older, overweight man in a red coat came up to him, he was more than a little surprised.
“Can you help me? My sleigh tipped over.”
It took him only a moment to recover. “Really? You don’t really think you are…”
“No, I don’t.” He replied in a tired voice; the question was not new.
“But you have a sleigh?”
“Right. I just need someone to give me a hand. If you don’t mind.”
“Oh. Sure. I’ll help. Lead on.”
They walked a little ways and came upon a cart tipped over on to its side.
“I thought you said it was a sleigh.”
“You see a lot of snow around? I have to use the cart when there’s no snow. I give rides through the park.”
“So the Santa vibe…?”
“Yeah. It gets more customers. Here, help me right her.”
They had the cart upright very quickly.
“There you go.”
“Thank you. I’ll hook up the horses and then take the cart back to the shed. Merry Christmas, young man.”
“And to you.” He began to turn away, but a thought made him pause. “Are you headed home?”
“Such as it is, yes.”
“None to speak of.”
“Well, would you like to come to my place? A warm cup of tea? Listen to some Christmas music?”
The old man gave him a long look. “You know I’m not Santa Clause, right? You aren’t going to get a miracle being nice to me.”
“Well, then, a Merry Christmas indeed. Lead the way.”