Back for Christmas – A short Christmas story 

By ‘Rose’ Roshni Ganga

He walked through the cold snow with his thin jacket. If he knew the wind was going to blow like this today, he would have brought the thick cotton jacket. Large flakes of snow fell from the gray sky. He shivered a little as he held the thin jacket tight around him. In the distance he heard people singing Christmas carols in a choir, it sounded beautiful. But he wasn’t close enough to hear it well. Instead of sitting there in the nice warmth he now walked through the streets with the houses whose walls had become ice cold. He could no longer feel his fingers, but he had chosen to walk here by himself. If the fighting in the house would just stop, he wouldn’t be here at all. All the fighting started to annoy him. At first he pretended not to hear, but now he couldn’t pretend anymore. He used to wonder why they could never be happy. He wanted a whole other family, where no one would fight. He was already fifteen and could decide for himself what he wanted. Today he had decided to look for another family, he would never go back to the one he came from.

He didn’t know the time, it didn’t matter. He was so angry in the beginning, he had yelled at them so much and said so many things that he didn’t really mean. Did he regret it? If he was being honest, yes, he was sorry. But there was no point in going back now, it would be the same again. His stomach began to growl, what was the last thing he ate? When was the last time he ate something good? He didn’t know and he didn’t care. Tears welled up in his eyes, which he reluctantly wiped away. He wouldn’t be sad, this was his choice, his choice alone. It was starting to take more and more strength to make the steps in the thick snow and on an empty stomach he wouldn’t accomplish much. His dark brown curly hair, which always looked so beautiful, started to get damp. And the curly structure began to fade. He walked past an old fashioned house. From the outside it was a bit decorated with fancy lights. He could see in through the glass windows. He saw a big Christmas tree in the middle of the living room. It was decorated with a lot of things. Christmas balls, little angel figures, colored lights and a big golden star on top. The room looked quite cozy. There was a whole family sitting at the dinner table, they seemed so happy. Someone said something and the whole group started laughing. Yes, a Christmas evening. He didn’t have that now. He saw no fighting, no quarreling. He wished he was in there with that nice family. After a few minutes everyone raised his or her wine glass and made a toast. An elderly man spoke: ‘To this beautiful evening, to this amazing family and to…’ He lowered his head and continued walking. 

He kept walking and walking until he passed a small stall. The wood it was built with seemed old, but it was decorated with small cozy lights. He stopped for a moment and looked at the items for sale there. It was all old stuff, worn out, second hand. There was something glittering that caught his eye. It was a music box. He took a closer look at it. Unlike the other stuff, it still seemed fine. It had a nice shimmery edge. He opened it, and out came a little ballerina in a Christmas dress dancing merrily to a Christmas melody. He smiled. ‘Do you like it?’ asked a little girl. He had been so focused that he didn’t even notice the little girl. She was wearing nothing but a worn-out dress made of a very thin material. Her hair was braided back and some loose pieces hung over her face. ‘No, I…I mean it is beautiful. It’s just…my little sister would have loved this.’ His sister loved ballerinas, she wanted to be one herself when she grew up. ‘Where is she now?’ she asked.  ‘She’s at home.’ He had been so angry that he had completely forgotten about his sister. How could he have been so stupid? He just left her there without saying anything. He looked at the little girl. She was almost his sister’s age. ‘What are you doing here all alone? It’s cold out here.’ ‘I got used to the cold.’ she replied. ‘After you stand outside every day selling things, you get used to it. And I’m not alone, I’m here with my mom and my baby sister.’ She pointed to the little house behind the stall, it was very small. The door was open and he saw a tired lady with a baby on her lap. ‘This is how we live. We don’t have enough money, so I have to be here every day selling stuff.’ He felt so sorry for the girl and her family. She did everything so that they could survive in this cold. He thought of his own family. They weren’t really rich, but they had everything they needed. He felt so stupid, he had run away from his own family. ‘I do want to support you, here, I will buy this music box.’ He gave her a five dollar bill, the price he saw on a card next to it. ‘Thank you.’ she said. He gave her some more money that he had left in his pocket and said: ‘Take this, buy some food for yourself and your family.’ The girl shook her head. ‘No you don’t need to do this, I’ll just sell some more things.’ She didn’t move. ‘Just take it, it’s okay.’ The girl hesitated for a moment and looked at her mother. The lady nodded that the little girl could take it, and made a gesture to thank him. He smiled and nodded. ‘You’re a brave girl, you know.’ The girl smiled. ‘I know.’ He took off his jacket and handed it to her. ‘Here, it’s not a thick jacket, but it’ll’ do.’ She looked at him. ‘But won’t you be cold?’ ‘No, I’m fine’, he said. She took it and smiled widely. ‘Thank you so much.’ ‘No, thank you. You’ve made me realize something…Merry Christmas and also a thank you for the music box.’ She didn’t say anything, but he knew she was more than happy. He walked away with a happy feeling, he had helped someone else out and realized something. He didn’t walk further away, he walked back. Back to his family. He had been so angry with everyone and everything that he didn’t realize that he had so much. A family, a good home and enough food.  Why did he leave in the first place? Because of the fights? Yeah, because of that. But he and his family could work things out. If things didn’t work out, he still had to be there for his little sister. He would go back and give his sister the Christmas present. His family wasn’t perfect, but no one is. The cold wind made him shiver even more, but it didn’t matter anymore. 

The footsteps entered the yard. He walked towards the decorated door with the music box in his hands. He hesitated at first, but then he knocked. He could hear footsteps in the house walking quickly towards the door. The door opened. And there she stood, her worried face instantly turned into a smile when she saw him. ‘James!’ ‘Hey Jenna.’ he replied. She ran to him and hugged him tightly. ‘Where were you? Mom and Dad have been worried sick, me too!’ He pulled back and nodded. ‘I know and I’m sorry. I just…’ He didn’t really know what to tell her. ‘I just went to buy you a Christmas present’, he said and gave her the music box. Her eyes turned big. ‘Wow! This is beautiful…’ She opened it and looked at the ballerina dancing. ‘A ballerina… Thank you James!’ His sister hugged him again. His mom and dad also came. They were both worried sick. After they all had a group hug, James asked: ‘Can we go inside now and then talk?’ They laughed. ‘But of course James.’ They all hugged him tightly and went inside. He was glad he went back, back for the Christmas he still wanted to celebrate with his family. Things got better after that.