Monday, March 19, 2018

THIRD PLACE: The Red Cup by Maria Taormina

Place-3Elise was the last person to leave the coffee store on Christmas Eve.  She knew it was a busy night for him and never left cookies and milk.  She figured for all the houses he stopped at he must be all cookied and milked out.  She brought her lunch box with the picture of ‘Rosie the Riveter’ on the front.  A gift he brought her when she was in the sixth grade. She made him a turkey sandwich, took her thermos and poured it full of fresh brewed coffee.

This year there was a just the red cup. She had painstakingly drawn a Santa, sleigh and eight reindeer on one side and Baby Jesus in a manger on the other.  She set it next to the thermos. Also on the table was that day’s edition of the newspaper. The last thing she left on the table was a note.

Dear Santa, Thank you for all you do.  I don’t need anything for myself.  But if I could have one thing this year, it would be peace and joy for the world.  We really need it.  Merry Christmas, Elise.

Seeing that the table had everything set out, she walked out the door and locked it behind her.

He always managed to know where she was.  She had been through so much in life and was special to him.

He landed the sleigh on the roof of the store.  Inside, he saw the lunch box and laughed.  He knew she treasured the gift.

He sat down at the table and opened the thermos, fresh, hot, black coffee.    And what was this? The red cup.  She sure could draw. He had encouraged her through his gifts to develop this talent.  He picked up half the sandwich, took a bite, and then sipped his coffee.  He picked up the newspaper and started to read.

He could tell by the illumination behind the newspaper that He was there.  Santa slowly put the paper down.  A man in his late thirties with dark hair and a beard with peace-filled eyes sat across from him.  “Merry Christmas, Jesus.”

“Hello, Santa.”

Santa moved his finger on the lip of his coffee cup and another red cup exactly like his appeared.  He filled it with coffee and gave it to Jesus.  He took the other half of the sandwich, put it on a napkin and slid it over to Jesus.

“Thank you,” Jesus replied.  He admired the cup before sipping the coffee.  “That Elise can really draw.  It’s her gift.  She spreads joy and happiness with all her drawings.  It’s a good thing.”

“Yes, it is.”  Santa nodded.  He looked at the front page of the paper. More details on the shootings in Paris.  Homeless man freezes to death in alley.  Woman, three kids in back seat, has car stolen while pumping gas.   Santa shook his head.  A tear ran down Jesus’s face.

“Jesus, what is wrong with this world?  There is so much hatred for one another.  I stopped bringing children certain video games and Rap music CDs this year.  I would look down my list, see that and even the reindeer got jittery.  What purpose does it serve?  How many times can you play a video game and keep killing people until it desensitizes you to life?  We made a mistake thinking this kind of stuff would be ok.  What have we created?  Can we ever get back to before all this?”  Santa motioned to the front page of the paper.

“Not all kids enjoy that stuff and some parents won’t allow it in their homes.  But Satan is subtle.  He has a way of making you feel you just have to have this or that, you really don’t.  Adults too.  But he fuels the need for greed in many different ways.”  Jesus said quietly.

“It isn’t what Christmas is supposed to be about.”  Santa sipped his coffee.

“It’s supposed to be about love and the joy of time spent with each other.  But people constantly think of money and what it will bring them that they think will make them happy.  You can’t let money control you. If you follow the way I will provide all that you need. Last night I gave part of the world the most beautiful sunrise and part of the world the most breathtaking sunset.  Not many people noticed. ” Jesus said.

“Not many people do that.  They have ear buds in their ears listening to something or they are on face book,” Santa replied.

“Communication is a great thing.  It’s what we are communicating that sometimes saddens me.  They speak of a hurriedness and then anger at not getting. And for what? They end up learning that sometimes you just need to be.  Let my Word and Light fill your thoughts.”  Jesus said.

“There is no value for a human life,” Santa said.

“Were you worried Santa that someone would take you out of the sky?”  Jesus chuckled.

Santa grinned. “There are many that still believe and have goodness in their hearts. But the others, chopping a person’s head off because they believe in you.  I pray it stops.”

“I walk among them in peace and love.  I have given them all my Word.  But there is free will.  These are human battles of Satan and me.  He walks among us too.  My believers must be strong.  Live the Word.  It’s hard sometimes.  But it is best. ”

“Jesus, I could stay here all night and talk with you.”  Santa finished his sandwich and cup of coffee.

“You know I am with you always.”  Jesus said.  “We have work to do.”

They hugged each other and were gone.

The day after Christmas Elise opened the store and walked over to the table with the lunchbox and thermos. She noticed the paper was folded differently.  The headline on the front page was changed.  In big bold print it now read, “Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room!”



Maria Taormina lives in Grand Blanc, Michigan with her husband. She has a short story published in Lori Wagner’s book, “The Quilting Patches of Life.”  She is currently working on two book projects, “Three Lifetimes in One” and “Divine Plates.”


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