Travis’ room looked like a zoo. Each Christmas he received stuffed toys in all shapes, colours and sizes. Bunnies, deer, bears, owls, and squirrels stared with eyes like stars.
He often lined them up as bowling pins. Mom and dad then joined him playing ‘toy-ball.’ Instead of throwing snowballs, they chased each other using stuffed animals.
Another Christmas was coming quickly as a sleigh ride. Gifts from Santa would be wrapped in pretty colors and bows. Travis was sure each would be a new stuffed animal.
Maybe Santa didn’t know what else to bring. After all he had everything any boy needed. A mom, dad, and lots of fancy clothes and toys. At school they said he was a spoiled rich kid.
“They’re just envious,” mom said.
Travis wished he had one true friend. Not just someone to visit and see what he got for Christmas. Or visit only to stuff themselves from his many boxes of candy.
He wished Santa would bring something new this year.
“Listen,” said his mom. “The day before Christmas is supposed to be a happy time. Please try to smile.”
“Oh yes,” dad added. “Like this.” He showed his son how to make silly faces. But Travis didn’t laugh. Snowflakes began to pile up in the front yard, like a stack of marshmallows.
All Travis could think of was the same old story. No friends, nothing to do, except open up a mountain of Christmas gifts, from under the tree. And get more “STUFFIES” in bulging shapes and colors.
Christmas Eve supper was pork chops and potatoes. His plate also had a tiny pile of peas and corn. “Why do kids have to eat vegetables anyway?” he asked.
“Well,” mom answered, “many children have no proper food. Some have little food and…”
“…No presents for Christmas!” Travis interrupted rudely. It wasn’t his fault dad had a good paying job. Or, that they lived in a huge house with a field of beautiful trees in their backyard.
“But no one to play with me,” he whispered to himself.
A yawn full of teeth reminded Travis it was bedtime. His parents tucked him in, kissed him goodnight and left quickly. His night-light cast shadows on the wall.
Unable to sleep, Travis pulled back his blankets and stepped onto the cold floor.
Leaning on his windowsill he looked up at the stars. They reminded him of ‘blinking’ fireflies he saw when his family tented this past summer.
Tonight, bright lights in the sky looked lonely, like him. Floppy snowflakes began to fall.
Suddenly he saw a ball of movement by the swings. “It…looks…like…a little kitten,” Travis said slowly. The poor creature might freeze if it remained outside. Oh, a cat was the only pet he ever wanted.
But, his parents always said, “NO pets in this house. Their hair will get all over the furniture.” Travis had to do something. Maybe let the kitten in. Feed it some milk then let it out in the morning before mom and dad woke up.
“SSSH. Quiet,“ He scolded at the creaking stairs. “You’ll wake up the whole town.”
As the back door swung open, a huge draft of snow rushed in. Meowing was a faint sound asking for help.
Travis opened the closet and slipped on a pair of dad’s winter boots. Now his bare feet were warmer. In the darkness, he could not find his jacket. “No lights on or you’ll wake everyone up,” he told himself. He ended up wrapping mom’s coat around his shoulders.
“Here I come kitty,” was a promise.
Each carefully placed foot left a deep space in the snow. The swing set seemed farther from the house than Travis first thought. The kitten was shivering badly, yet happy someone cared enough to come get him in this terrible weather.
Picking up the little bundle, Travis turned to return to the house. But his tracks were covered over. He couldn’t see properly due to the wind throwing snow in his face.
Chills raced up and down his arms, as he pushed his way through the storm. After stumbling against the back door, he discovered it wouldn’t open.
“Oh no, it must have locked behind me,” he moaned. What to do? The snow pelted him and the little kitten, tucked in under mom’s coat.
Travis banged on the door, but no one heard. The wind must be too loud. Travis wasn’t happy to be outside and maybe turn into a snowman. Or become part of a snow bank.
From the corner of his eye, he saw a shape moving through the deep snow. Even in the whooshing wind Travis was sure he heard, “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
Santa? Could it really be?
Perhaps he was dreaming, but Travis didn’t mind being lifted up and carried away from the chilly wind and snow. He closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
The next thing Travis remembered was mom and dad shaking him.
“Wake up, Travis! Merry Christmas!!” they shouted.
He blinked, rubbed his eyes then saw a kitten in a cozy ball against his arm.
“Where did you find him?” mom asked.
“May I keep him, please?” Travis pleaded. He told them about his adventure in the back yard.
All this ‘chat-chat’ disturbed the kitten’s sleep. But she didn’t seem to mind. The little animal sensed this was going to be her new home.
Soon everyone sat in front of the tree. And a mountain of gifts waited for Travis. However they didn’t seem important right now. “Thank you Santa,” was a special greeting from Travis to the man in red.
Then he ran to each of his parents and whispered in their ear. Soon everyone was properly dressed for a cool winter walk on Christmas day. Travis held his head high heading down one street, as he pulled a toboggan full of presents
He knocked on every door giving away a gift to each child. After all, Travis had everything he needed. A great mom, dad, and a kitten he called Snowflake.
Yes, this was really Travis’ best Christmas ever!
© 2015 Esther and Richard Provencher