“Slow down, Gladys,” Millie begged. “Give me a chance to let the caboose catch up.” Millie referred to her own large square-shaped-back-side.
“Well, hurry it along. This steam engine is ready to roll.” Gladys teased as she pretended to pull the chain that would make a train whistle blow, “Woot-woot!”
The daring duo had escaped the confines of the nursing home to enjoy the annual Christmas tree lighting at the court house. The entire community participated in this festive occasion.
“Do you see what I see?” Gladys exclaimed pointing upward.
“What?” Millie squinted, “I can’t see anything since that cataract surgery flopped.”
“A star,” Gladys urged Millie to look again. “That star looks like it’s dancing in the night. See, with a tail as big as a kite?”
“Hrmph, I can’t see anything.” Millie’s pessimistic attitude shone brighter than any star.
Millie stopped to catch her breath. She had balked at the idea of leaving the comfort of the home when she could see the tree lighting clearly from her spot by the window. Since Gladys’ granddaughter would be singing, she ventured out.
“We must get closer,” Gladys urged as she finagled their way through the crowd.
With one hand, Millie clutched her cane and firmly grasped Gladys’s hand in her other. “Oh, do you hear what I hear?” Millie stood straighter than she had in years, tilting her head just right.
“No, I can’t hear very well, remember?”
“I hear Melinda singing. The music is floating high above the trees. I know her voice anywhere. It’s as clear and big as the sea.”
Gladys popped out of the crowd with Millie in tow like someone spitting watermelon seeds in July. Gladys’ toothless grin greeted Melinda as she filled the air with her jazzy rendition of Winter Wonderland.
“Excuse me, Miss Night,” a young boy pulled at Gladys’s sleeve. “Have you seen the mayor? I have a message for him.”
Gladys pointed towards the courthouse doors where the mayor always sat at the ceremony, ready to pull the switch that would light the tree.
“Who’s that?” Millie peered around Gladys.
“Oh, that’s the Shepherd boy, Gabe. You know his daddy, Jacob Shepherd?”
The boy ran up the stairs and entered the warmth of the grand courthouse.
“Excuse me, Mayor,” Gabe approached with polite respect. “Mr. King. Do you know what I know? I need to tell you something important.”
Mayor King held his finger up to indicate that he would get to the young boy in just a moment. “As soon as Santa arrives on the fire truck, I’ll pull this breaker and be right with you, Gabriel.”
“But sir, that’s what I need to tell you. Santa isn’t coming.” Gabe twisted his hat in his hands and continued, “Just outside of town, a child was born in this shivery cold. They couldn’t get through the crowds on the street so they had to pull over.”
“Is it Marigold and Joey’s baby?”
“Yes, so Santa rushed to be there.” Gabe relaxed now that he knew the mayor understood. “It was quite the sight to see Santa running and jingling his silver and gold bells as he shouted to everyone, I’m a grandpa…I’m a grandpa.”
Mayor King rushed out to the microphone, “Listen everyone, listen to what I say.”
Everywhere the crowd grew silent, except for Millie, “This is highly unusual. This isn’t how the Christmas tree lighting goes.”
“Listen to what I say, people, we need to pray,” Mayor King announced. “A child was born tonight amidst our celebration. This is a good thing. Marigold and Joseph have welcomed on this glorious night their son. He is sleeping safe in Mari’s arms. Tonight we celebrate the goodness of this wonderful birth.”
Mayor King stopped here and motioned to Gabe. He ran inside the courthouse and resumed the mayor’s post.
“I’m proud to announce the birth of my grandson, Joshua Christian King.” Mayor King pointed towards the tree. “Gabriel Shepherd, pull the switch!”
Just as the tree lights came on, the fire truck siren announced the entrance of Santa. Instead of carrying a bag of gifts, he had in his arms, wrapped in a warm towel, baby Joshua. He brought the baby and handed him to the paternal grandfather.
Joseph walked up to hug his father. The newspaper the next day had a picture of Santa, the Mayor holding baby Joshua, and Joseph beaming with pride. The headlines read; Santa and the Three Kings Celebrate Christmas.
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