Sammy stood outside the local gift shop staring in the window. It was just three days to Christmas and he loved to stand and stare at all the bright lights on the tree in the window and at the toys and presents scattered round its base. The bright lights in this shop always drew him closer as he passed by on his way to or from the daycare centre he spent time at while his mum worked.
This Christmas looking in the window of this shop would be as close as he would get to having a Christmas tree. His mum had told him several times that they didn’t have any extra money for treats this year. It seemed to Sammy that each year since his dad had died things got more and more difficult. He didn’t understand that if his dad had died as a hero why were they left to suffer.
Sammy’s dad had been killed in an explosion whilst he was on detail in Helmand Province, in Afghanistan. Sammy had no idea where that was but everyone had told him that his dad had been a great man and died to protect their country. All Sammy knew was that his dad was no longer around to hold him and tell him everything would be alright. It seemed to Sammy that nothing was going to be alright ever again. After his dad had died they had moved into a smaller house away from all Sammy’s friends. Sammy’s mum had had to get a job, but Sammy knew she was not happy doing what she was doing, and she always came home from the factory smelling of the chemicals she used there, and she was always so tired.
Standing here looking in the shop window Sammy tried to forget all the sad tings in his life and pretend that Christmas was going to be wonderful again. He stared at the lights until the filled his vision, and his mind wandered to past Christmases when his dad was around and the days were full of fun. He could just about remember the first Christmas tree they had put up in their home. It had been loaded down with tinsel and decorations and covered in flashing lights of all colours. How he used to love to sit at the dinner table and stare at those lights just as he did with the lights in the toy shop now.
As he stared into the shop wishing that he was as lucky as his friends at his new school he felt a light touch on his shoulder. He hadn’t seen anyone come up behind him in the reflection of the shop window and jumped out of his skin. He turned round quickly expecting to find someone from school playing a joke on him. Instead he saw a tall smartly dressed gentleman who was smiling down at him. In truth this stranger had been watching him for some time.
“Hello there young man,” the man said to him. “There are some wonderful things in there aren’t there? Are some of them on your Christmas list ?”
“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” Sammy replied feeling a little silly.
“Well let me introduce myself. Then we shan’t be strangers any more. My name is Nicholas, but you may call me Nick and I must say I am delighted to meet you, ” The man held out his hand for a handshake.
Sammy put his hand in the Nick’s large hand and shook as he told him his name.
“So Sammy, which of those toys would you like most?” Nick asked him.
“I’m just looking,” Sammy replied revealing no more for a moment. “But, ….. If I had the money I’d buy that one there for my mum,” he said pointing to an electric massager, “She’s always tired and that might make her feel better.”
“I’m sure it would. There sure area lot of nice things in there, aren’t there? And such wonderful lights.” Nick peered through the window with the same kind of awe as Sammy.
“I guess.” Sammy dug his hands in his pockets and stared into the window too. He wished he really could chose some of the things inside.
“What would you like most in the whole wide world?” Nick asked him.
Sammy didn’t need to think about this one. “To have my dad back and for my mum to be happy again. I’d like to make Christmas special for her again,” he said. Tears brimmed in his eyes for a second or two until he blinked them away hoping Nick didn’t see them He didn’t want him to think he was a baby.
“That’s a mighty fine wish, my friend,” Nick told him.
Sammy wondered why Nick didn’t ask more about where his dad was and why his mum was unhappy, but he guessed he just didn’t wan to be nosy. He looked up at Nick and for a moment thought that he half-recognised him. When Nick looked down he smiled and looked away shyly.
“Well young man, it has been a delight to talk to you, but I’ve much to do over the next few days before I can rest awhile,” NIck told him as he started to turn away from the window, “…but I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas.”
“Thank you, You too,” Sammy replied smiling back.
Nick held his hand out for a shake, telling Sammy to keep wishing and who knows what dreams might come true. Sammy shook his hand and returned to looking in the shop for a second or two more before he went home. Looking in the shop window Nick appeared to have disappeared just as oddly as he had appeared.
When Sammy got home his mum was already home preparing dinner. He didn’t tell her about Nick because he thought she might be angry with him for talking to a stranger, even though Nick had seemed really nice. However, over the next couple of days Sammy thought about Nick a lot and how much he had surprised him appearing as if out of nowhere.
On Christmas Eve his mum didn’t work and they went for a look around the town and even had a cup of tea and a bun in one of the little cafes. Returning home that evening both Sammy and his mum were a little sad. Sammy’s mum was sad because she knew it wouldn’t be a wonderful Christmas for Sammy again. Sammy was sad because he knew his mum was sad and wanted so much to make her happy again. That night they watched the television until late then went to bed, neither of them really looking forward to the coming day.
At about seven o’clock the next morning Sammy was woken by shouts from his mum.
“Sammy, quick. come on down here, quick,” his mum shouted up the stairs.
Sammy guessed that she was trying to make the day a little more exciting for him by pretending to be excited herself. He slowly got out of bed and put on his dressing gown and one step after the other slowly went downstairs. As he got closer to the bottom step he could smell something different. It smelt like a Christmas tree but they hadn’t got one this year. Then he thought that he could see lights flashing as he rounded the bottom landing on the stairs. He wondered what on earth his mum must be doing.
Pushing the living room door open he stepped inside to see the most magnificent of trees in the corner next to the television. It was covered in wonderful decorations and the most amazing display of flashing lights. “What?” he said quietly. Under the tree was a pile of exquisitely wrapped presents, and to top it all beside the television a huge tin of ‘Quality Street’ chocolates.
“It seems Santa really does exist,” his mum said to him with tears in her eyes. “Who else could have done all this for us. And what’s more there’s already a turkey in the oven and vegetables on the stove. Good old Saint Nick.” she continued, laughing.
“Saint Nick,” Sammy said wiping away his own tears, “Saint Nick.”