Authors: Lillianna Blake
Tags: #chick lit
Single Wide Female
Sammy’s Christmas List
Copyright © 2015 Lillianna Blake
Cover design by
Beetiful Book Covers
All rights reserved.
I stared at the calendar on my screen. Wasn’t it only a few days ago that I’d made plans to accomplish certain things before the new year? I’d made the plan in August, and yet here it was two days before Christmas, and I’d done nothing to reach those goals.
The first goal was to get a short inspirational story I was working on completed. In the span of a few months, I’d completed two or three pages when what I needed was at least ten. The next goal was to try a brand new sport, which I’d not even chosen.
Then there was the intention to be more social with others. I found myself holed away more and more as I focused on my writing. It was easy to let days go by without doing anything other than texting with Max or sharing a phone call with a friend. I needed more activity than that.
And as always, I’d added a goal to my list that involved trying new food, as I liked to expand my food experiences.
As the months turned into weeks, I’d taken to calling my goals list my Christmas list, determined to accomplish everything before the holiday arrived. But my Christmas wish list was sadly quite neglected. Everything on it remained unchecked, even as carols were being sung and Christmas lights were hung.
“Where did the time go?” I frowned and closed the calendar. It made me a little sick to my stomach to think that it was too late to change things. But was it? “Maybe I can still do a few things on my list.”
I picked up my phone and started to dial Max for ideas, then I remembered that he was out of town for the holidays. I hung up before the call could go through.
No, there wasn’t anyone for me to turn to for motivation. If I wanted to do the things I set out to do, I needed to look inside for the motivation.
“Okay, I can give up and say maybe next year, or I can get as much done as I can before New Year’s.” I took a deep breath and decided that I was going to do my best to get it all done.
The best part about the Internet was being able to find everything I could dream of with a simple search. In just a few minutes I’d found a ski lesson I could sign up for. I went ahead and paid for three lessons—the introduction for beginners. Maybe I wouldn’t be leaping off mountain slopes, but I’d have enough of a grasp that if I ever traveled in the future I could ski with confidence.
I intended to explore the world the first chance I got. As I filled in the online registration form, I noticed that I had to sign a waiver that released the ski resort and instructor from any liability due to injury. That made me a little nervous, but I plunked in my credit card number anyway. Within minutes I had a class scheduled for the very next day. I was excited to get out there and try something new.
After signing up for the ski lessons, I searched for opportunities to join seasonal festivities. I discovered that my neighborhood hosted a community Secret Santa. All I had to do was go to the main library and sign up. That sounded perfect to me.
As I was perusing a few shopping websites for the perfect Secret Santa gift it occurred to me that, though I’d ticked off several items on my bucket list throughout the year, I’d not really given anything back. Christmas was the time of giving, but that came in more forms than just wrapped gifts or baked cookies. I decided it was time that I volunteered for something and gave back to my community.
I did a quick search for volunteer opportunities in the area. There was a group of volunteer carolers to sing at a retirement home. My singing voice was not exactly a sound that most people enjoyed. I could show up at the soup kitchen to distribute holiday meals, but I was a little worried that the pumpkin pie might tempt me to the point that there wouldn’t be any left to distribute. I
came across a cheerful website full of smiling children.
“Do you want to bring cheer into the lives of impoverished children?
“Are you looking for a way to give back this season?”
As I read the questions out loud, I smiled. “Why yes, yes I am.”
The website described a one-night event during which needy children would receive gifts to ensure that they had a wonderful Christmas. Just the thought of it warmed my heart. What better way to remind myself of the true meaning of the holidays than to see joy in the eyes of a child?
As a child, I’d never gone a Christmas without something spectacular under the tree. I was eager to return the favor. I signed up and was set for orientation the next evening.
With so much under my belt for the holidays, I felt inspired to start on some resolutions for the New Year. While tapping away on my keyboard to create my list I transitioned from a sensation of failure to a sensation of promise. I would accomplish all the things I wanted to before the New Year and have a head start on what came next.
Since my mother was away on a cruise for the holidays and all of my friends had plans there was no reason for me not to try a brand new style of food for Christmas dinner. I decided to order Vietnamese food for dinner on Christmas day. I called a few restaurants and found one that was open and willing to deliver on Christmas. I asked them to put together whatever dishes they would recommend. Once the food was taken care of I was ready to head down to the library to sign up for Secret Santa.
I stepped out the door and into wonderland, or at least that’s what it seemed like. Snow crunched under my boots. Christmas music drifted out of nearby shops, and the streetlights were decorated with garlands and poinsettias. It was a beautiful sight.
The library was nearby and the temperature wasn’t unbearably cold, so I decided to get a little exercise by walking. As I walked I smiled and waved to the people I passed on the sidewalk. Some smiled back. Most just blew frozen air at me and hurried past. I ignored the grumpy people—they just weren’t in the Christmas spirit. I kicked the snow off my boots at the entrance of the library and stepped inside.
The library had been transformed. There were blue sparkly snowflakes that hung from every ceiling tile. As I walked further into the library I noticed that the walls were plastered with bright green and red foil paper. On the paper were pictures of different people dressed up for Christmas. I smiled at the sight. It was nice to get out of my apartment and see how everyone prepared for the holiday.
As Max was away, and my mother also, I didn’t expect much festivity from the holidays. But now that I’d be participating in it, I was looking forward to it.
A folding table sat off to the side from the main desk. Colorful presents created towers on the table. A sign hung from the front of the table that indicated it was the place to sign up for Secret Santa. Behind the table sat a man in a full Santa costume. Even though I was aware that he was a man dressed up in an outfit, I still experienced a little intimidation as I walked up to him.
I recalled being a young girl on the knee of a mall Santa. I’d confided that I wanted a Barbie swimming pool. He told me that it was a waste of money and just to put my Barbie dolls in a pot of water and call it a pool. I took his advice and made it just a little better by using the stove to turn it into a Jacuzzi. I blamed Santa for melting all my Barbie dolls that year, much to the confusion of my mother.
Santa smiled at me and pushed a clipboard my way. “Fill this out if you want to sign up.”
“Thanks.” As I began to peruse the document I had to sign, I overheard a conversation among a few people nearby.
“Last year Vincent had the best Secret Santa idea. He took real fur and crafted it into a reindeer and then surrounded it with actual moss that he saved from the fall. Then he took two spindled pieces of wood and used them to prop the reindeer’s front legs up so it would look like he was just about to take off.”
“Sure, that’s nice if you’re into fur.” One of the others rolled her eyes.
“He harvested it from a dead rabbit. I swear.”
“Okay, well, either way, my idea is much better this year.”
“What is it?”
“Like I’m going to tell you. You’ll just steal it like you did last year.”
“I did no such thing.”
“Sure, that’s why there were two Secret Santa presents made out of fresh pine cones, green twigs, and imported glitter.”
“He’s probably telling the truth. I mean, the design was pretty uninspired.” The third person shook his head. “The goal is creativity, not imitation.”
“Precisely.” The woman smirked. “No imitating, Nick.”
“I didn’t imitate you!”
My eyes widened with every word I heard. Were they really discussing the Secret Santa I’d just signed up for? Was I expected to make something rather than snag it off a shelf somewhere at the last minute? Would I even have to wrap it? This was not what I expected, but I’d already signed my name. I slid the clipboard back across the table toward Santa.
He grinned at me and leaned across the table. “Well, well, Samantha, Santa has to know one thing if you want to participate in this program. Have you been naughty or nice?”
I laughed. “Oh, you know—a little of both.”
“Really? Just how naughty?”
“Well, you know, if you want to have a good Christmas, you have to tell Santa about all your naughty moments.”
My mouth dropped open. It disturbed me to the core to think of Santa as a creepy old man. “I don’t think that’s how it works. If you’ll excuse me.” I turned to walk away. As I moved away from the table a sharp crack on my bottom startled me.
“Hey! Not okay!” I turned around and slammed my fist into Santa’s fluffy white beard.
“Mommy!” A little girl in pigtails shrieked. “That lady just punched Santa!”
Santa fell back against his chair and tipped it over. He landed in pile of fluff and red suit behind the table. In the shocked silence of everyone who had witnessed the act, I realized that I’d become the most hated woman in the library. I spun on my heel and rushed toward the door. The little girl’s crying chased me right out the door.
As I ran down the sidewalk I wondered if anyone was running after me. I looked over my shoulder to check and ran right into a parking meter. It hit me hard enough in my stomach that I let out a shriek.
“Miss? Miss, are you okay?” A police officer ran toward me.
“I swear, he’s not the real Santa! He deserved to get hit!”
Then I continued to run.
By the time I reached the safety of my living room, I was covered in sweat. My heart pounded with fear that either small children or police officers were going to barge in at any minute. How had a simple trip to the library turned into something so horrifying? It was enough to make me want to hug the couch for the rest of the day and never see the sunlight again.
As I drew deep breaths and tried to focus on finding my inner peace I thought about where it had all gone wrong. I’d met new people, at least. I recalled that I signed up for the Secret Santa before attempting to knock out Santa. Which meant I had to come up with an amazing Secret Santa gift. I decided to do some safe web surfing from the comfort of my couch.
As I searched for the craftiest, sparkliest, Christmasy-est craft, I began to calm down. So my first attempt at having the most meaningful Christmas ever had failed. I likely traumatized a child and might have fractured Santa’s jaw. I couldn’t get stuck on that. There was too much to do. Even though I had yet to decide on a craft for my Secret Santa gift, I decided that I needed to switch gears and work on my book.
I opened up the story that I’d been neglecting and settled in to get some work done. As soon as my fingers touched the keys my mind went blank. I blinked a few times. Still nothing. I read over what I’d already written. That only led to my deleting quite a few passages.
“I didn’t think it was possible but I’m not making progress, I’m going backward.”
I shook my head and found myself daydreaming about Max. He slipped into my mind so easily. I forced him right back out.