Christmas Eve afternoon and Wes was finally putting up the decorations Jacob had been pleading with him to do for weeks. After their disappointing morning visit with Kate - no change – Wes vowed to put his heart into giving Jacob the best Christmas he could. And for Jacob, though he liked getting presents, that meant sparkling lights, hot chocolate and cookies set out for Santa – carrot sticks for the reindeer were a must - and watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.
This had all been Kate’s department and boy, had she made it look easier than it was. Wes had only gotten as far as opening the boxes; he had no idea where to begin. As glittery stars and bears, lights and garland, snowmen and angels seemed to mock him from their cardboard homes, Jacob walked into the room to see his Dad staring uncomprehendingly at the decorations they’d hauled down from the attic.
“Mom puts these outside,” he said, pointing at the snowmen, “and the tree goes up last. When all the decorations are on the tree, the angel goes on top.” And with all the delicacy a young boy could muster, he reached into the box that held their angel and handed her, in all her porcelain glory, over to his Dad.
“Thanks, Champ,” he said, “what would I do without you.” He hugged Jacob tight and was happy to not see the usual eye roll from his ‘I’m too old for that’ son.
Three hours later, father and son, hot chocolate in hand, had set the stage for their holidays to come. Wes sure wished Kate were standing here with them admiring the snowmen on the front porch ready to greet passers-by, garland and bows taking their places on the porch railing and the tree alight in the living room window.
“You have to make a wish, Dad,” Jacob said. “Mom says wishes whispered to an Angel in the silence of Christmas Eve have the best chance of coming true.”
Wish it were that easy, he wanted to say, but believing it was futile didn’t stop Wes from staring into Angel eyes and silently praying that his wife would wake up, or at least that Jacob would always remember her loving words and ways in the years to come.
“What did you wish for?” Wes asked, as if he didn’t know.
“I can’t tell you. If I tell you it won’t come true,” Jacob told him.
He didn’t expect Jacob to tell him everything, so leaving it at that, Wes tucked Jacob in for the night, then settled into his chair to wait until Jacob was asleep so Santa could go about leaving presents and imbibing the sweets he’d helped his son set out for Santa. And he had to make sure the reindeer nibbled on the carrots left out for them before taking himself off to bed.
The jingle of the phone was what woke him from his chair hours later. His jumbled thoughts went from who could that be calling at this time of night to sheer panic in seconds. “Please God, no, not today. Not on Christmas,” he quickly prayed as he stumbled to find the phone in the dark. “Hello?”
to be continued...