It was Christmas Eve and Bob Cratchett sat huddled over a candle flame trying to warm his hands. Scrooge heard his lack of work, counting money and writing figures, and told him to get back to work. Bob said, “Please, Sir, may I take off a little early tonight? It is Christmas Eve, after all.”
Scrooge grumbled, “I suppose you’ll be wanting all day off tomorrow. Very well, go! But be here all the earlier the next day.”
Bob eagerly grabbed his coat, hat and scarf and hurried home to take Tiny Tim to the Christmas Eve service at church. Meanwhile, Scrooge went home to his miserable cold hearth and had a bit of soup and bread for dinner. Suddenly he was visited by his old partner, Bob Marley. Marley warned him that if he didn’t change his ways he’d end up wandering the earth with the chains he’d made for himself in life. In order to save him from this horrible end, three spirits would visit Scrooge during the night.
One of the spirits reminded him of his first employer who threw a merry Christmas party for his employees. The next morning Scrooge was a changed man. He arranged for Bob Cratchett to have a company dinner.
This story has a whole new meaning for me this evening. We got a call from the office this morning telling us we could start giving our trees away for free. In the meantime we were to work some more on tearing down our lot.
Some of the stories today were touching. The most touching was a woman who drove up in a little car and asked if we were still open. I told her we were giving trees away for free today. She said, “I had a really bad day at work today, and on my way home from work I got stopped by a cop. This is the nicest thing that’s happened to me all day!” I gave her a hug and said I hoped her Christmas would go better and she said she was sure it would now.
Still, Mark and I were working all day. I had hoped to be able to go to the Christmas Eve service at a church down the road from us, but we weren’t able to. Tonight I had to count out every penny, nickel and dime again. I had it all counted out and labeled this morning, but of course a couple of folks who got free trees today didn’t have stands for them, so I sold them some of our stands.
I found out from my mentor this morning that I was allowed to take some money out of my ending cash and give bonuses to my employees, so I did. “Rambo” brought us some eggnog, “Old Faithful” brought his words of wisdom, and the father of our best employee gave us some suggestions for where we can stay near here when we leave this lot. Our best employee is a twenty-two year old who works harder and is more reliable than most people his age. A couple days ago he brought us a present of corn filled pillows his mother had made that you can heat up and put on sore parts of your body (which we intend to do after this job is over). There was also some peanut brittle in his gift. We praised him to his father and his father bragged about what a good kid he is.
Last night I called and left messages on various church answering machines saying we had free trees to give if they knew of any families that could use them. Today I saw some uniformed Salvation Army people bell-ringing in front of Wallmart and I told them about the free trees. I don’t think anything came of that. We still have more trees left than the company really wants to reclaim. I think they were one step behind the market.
I have actually been talking to the trees, trying to tell them how beautiful they are and how I’m trying to find good homes for them. The very first tree in the tent was a twelve footer but no one bought it. We cut it down to nine feet and no one wanted it. We cut it down to seven and a half feet and no one even looked at it. The poor dear had scoliosis, but that’s the tree that was finally chosen by the woman who was having a bad day. Maybe they can comfort each other.
We are going to a company dinner at a restaurant in San Antonio for Christmas Day. There will be a speech about how we did. This is not how I wanted to spend Christmas, but Mark and I will celebrate Christmas on New Years when all of this is over.
May you all have Christmas in the way you most enjoy it…surrounded by family and friends, or a quiet celebration for one or two. May you enjoy the traditions you’ve built up over the years. May you find meaning in the reason for the season. God bless us, every one!