(Today, my friends, I’m pleased to share a holiday story that first appeared here two years ago. Enjoy!)
“It was Christmas,” Jen told me, “and my son was six. Like most six-year-olds, he was really excited about the coming holiday.
“The problem was that I was flat broke. It was all I could do to put food on the table. But I wanted to do something to make Nate’s Christmas special.
“One day, just as the shopping season was in full swing, I got a crazy idea. ‘Nate,’ I said to my son, ‘Would you like to play a Christmas game?’ Of course he was eager to play.
“’Well, it’s a secret,’ I whispered, putting my fingers to my lips and looking around as if to see if anyone was listening. ‘Here’s the deal. You and I own absolutely everything in the world. Everything! It’s all ours!
“‘But, see, there’s so much of it that we don’t have anywhere to keep it. So we made stores and we put the stuff there, and we let people come and buy it and take it to their homes to enjoy. Cool, huh?’
“’Really?’ Nate said, all big-eyed. ‘Everything?’
“’Yes,’ I told him. ‘Absolutely everything. Would you like to go visit our stuff and see how much of it there really is?’
“’Sure!’ he said. And off we went. Nobody paid any attention to two more shoppers pawing through the merchandise.
“We started at the local dime store and looked at the cowboy hats and goldfish and parakeets and clay. Then we went to the toy store, and Nate was in heaven, sitting on bikes, pulling games from the shelves, trying on a baseball glove. He carefully lifted a big red fire truck from one of the shelves. “Boy, I hope somebody takes this home,” he said. “It would sad if it just sat here in the store.”
“We went to the sporting goods store and he tried on ice skates and lay on a big toboggan. We looked at kayaks and fishing rods and tents and canoes.
“’It’s a good thing we have these stores!’ Nate said. ‘We sure own an awful lot of stuff!’
“I got into the game, too,” laughed Jen. I tried on dresses and rings and dabbed on samples of perfume as we toured a big department store. We sat on soft sofas and watched the display TVs.
“We must have spent five hours, just going from store to store, laughing and pretending that the whole world was ours.
“We were exhausted when we got home, and as happy as if we really did own everything. We had supper and some cocoa, and after his bath, I read Nate a story and tucked him into bed. As I bent to give him a good-night kiss, he flung his arms around me and squeezed me tight. ‘We really had fun today, didn’t we!’ he said.
“’We sure did, buddy,’ I answered. ‘Have a good sleep and sweet dreams.’
“’Mom?’ he said, looking me right in the eyes, ‘I really love you.’
“’I love you, too, Nate,’ I said. And as I turned off the light, I knew our secret was really true. Everything that mattered in the world was ours.”