Hushed and hurried teenage voices began filling up the once emptied cafeteria. The cafeteria was entrenched in the hustle and bustle of the high school lunching hour.
“Ah…the joys of high school,” I muttered. “Well everything except for the Monday mystery meat.” A small hint of a smile crossed my face but alas to no avail no one else’s face lit up like a set of beautifully arranged colored Christmas lights.
“Hey look everybody,” a loud voice sneered. “It’s Nauseating Noah and his nauseating lunch.”
The tray that once held his lunch was on the floor and his lunch was all over his face, his hair and his clothes.
My eyes daggered towards the mess and my feet even managed to move much quicker. “Brent do you always have to be so disgusting and demeaning?”
“What’s it to you,” Brent snickered. “Are you the Knight in Shining Armor here to rescue your Damsel in Distress?”
“Truthfully Brent I don’t think pink is your color,” I smiled. Smiles and snickers began spreading around the cafeteria like wildlife.
Brent’s face began to blush an angry shade of red. “Aaarrggghh…I’ll deal with you later.”
“Hey are you alright Noah,” my voice echoed with concern.
Tears began streaming down his face as he nodded yes. He tried hiding his tears within the pile of paper products I’d given to him. But even to me his tears could not be well hidden.
I offered him a pat on the back. “Hey it’s not your fault that Brent’s such a bully. He’s like that with everyone especially the new kids. Believe me I’ve been there and done that.”
“How’d you deal with it,” Noah sniffed.
I smiled. “Well why don’t you get yourself cleaned up, you can have some of my lunch and we can trade horror stories.”
He nodded in agreement; a small smile began to play across his face at the thought of food and even possibly a new friend. Throughout the remainder of the lunching hour we traded stories about of families, our tenacious older brothers, our dislikes of broccoli and country music but also our interests in writing, mystery novels and pepperoni pizza.
“So how come you don’t have a boyfriend,” he asked blushingly. “I mean….you’re so beautiful, smart and funny. I mean any guy would be lucky to date you.”
I laughed, “Thanks but I don’t think I can fill shoes that large. But it means a lot that you’d say that about me.”
I gazed at my watch quickly realizing that the lunch hour was over and I was about two minutes from being late to Algebra. I waved and we began parting ways when a thought suddenly occurred to me.
“Noah,” I yelled. “Why don’t you and I go look at Christmas lights around the neighbor hood tonight? It’ll be fun.”
He eyes and mouth open in surprised but were quickly followed by a thumbs up and an excited nod yes.
Noah and I met up at my house later that night. We were both bundled warmly in jeans, sweaters, knitted hats and gloves and bright colored parkas.
“Mom, the Eskimos are leaving we’ll be back in a few hours,” I yelled as we headed out the door ready to bare all….well at least only our noses for Father Christmas.
We began to aimless wander around the neighborhood wrought with Santa’s, reindeers’, Santa’s sleigh and reindeer and even Frosty the Snowman. The neighborhood was ablaze with brilliant white, red, green, pink, purple and yellow lights.
In the corner of one of the many blinding lit houses was a manager scene was the baby Jesus, the singing angels, the awestruck shepherds, the curious cattle and the pondering parents. I stopped for a moment and knelt quietly bowing my head near the Christ child.
Noah gazed curiously at me. “What are you doing?”
I smiled, “Jesus is the reason for the season. So often in the distractions of the Christmas decorations, the brilliance of the Christmas lights we forget about the brilliance of Christ. I was just praying that I never would.”
Tears began slowly running down his face. “Could you teach me about this Christ of yours, please?"
“Sure, why don’t we head back to my house and I’ll tell you all about Him,” I offered him my hand as we made our way home.
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