The Life and Times of Lee Graham: Chapter Six, Part Two, Christmas With Mrs. White
Chapter Six, Christmas With Mrs. White, Part Two
by Lulabelle Gimlin
The light supper Mrs. White referred to was the biggest meal Lee had ever seen. "That sure is a lot of food," the boy cried as he ran ahead of the women, little Livie racing after him equally delighted.
"Lee!" commanded Polly. "Livie! I'll not have you running in Mrs. White's lovely home! You both know better than that!"
"Oh it's no worry," said Esther. "The Mrs. and I are glad to see your children enjoy themselves, isn't that right, Mrs. White?"
"It certainly is," she smiled. "But Polly is a good mother trying to teach her children how to behave in company, so we must support her in laying down some rules for her youngsters."
Then she turned to Livie and Lee, her eyes twinkling as she said, "You two know Santa Clause is coming here tonight, don't you?"
"Santa?" asked Livie.
"He is?" asked Lee, obviously confused.
"Well, of course he is," said Esther. "Doesn't he go wherever there's well-behaved children to spoil?"
"He never came to our house," said Lee, looking to his mother for some sort of explanation.
Polly was hesitant to tell the truth about this because, now that she saw how bright her children's faces were at the mere idea of a visit from Santa, the truth seemed downright mean. She looked to Mrs. White and started to say, "Josiah has never thought...."
"Oh!," said the older woman obviously realizing that the childrens' father had never wanted them to believe in Santa Clause. She wondered if that also meant these children had never before awakened on Christmas to find wrapped presents under their tree. She wondered then if the Graham children even had a Christmas tree. She continued, "Josiah must have thought Santa couldn't find his way up Alma Hill in the snow. But he did! He just got the wrong house. All these years, Santa has been delivering your presents here! And me, having no children at all, I've just held on to them until I had a chance to give them to you properly, like Santa would want!"
"So Santa will come here while we sleep?" asked Lee.
"Yes, he will," said Esther.
"In fact," said Mrs White, "Santa could just keep right on delivering your presents to my house every year, if that's alright with your mother?"
Polly was struck almost speechless by the kindness this old woman was showing her children. Somehow, she managed to say, "Yes, that seems like a fine idea."
"Well good," said Esther. "Then, that's settled. Tonight when we put out the cookies for Santa Clause, we'll also leave him a note saying that from now on he should leave the gifts for Lee and Olivia Graham right here at Mrs. White's home."
Then, they all sat down at the table which was laden with a roast chicken, two kinds of bread, a huge mound of sweet yams, a bowl of split green beans cooked in butter, three kinds of Christmas cookies all cut out in the shapes of stars, gingerbread men, and candy canes, and a bowl full of something Esther called *her Mother's Christmas pudding.* There was also a loaf called a fruit cake which no one even touched.
By the time night fell, bellies around the table were full and everyone was as happy as they'd ever been. Esther accompanied Lee to a room where he was to sleep all by himself in a bed so high off the ground he needed a step stool to climb in. She helped him prepare for church and seemed to enjoy telling the little boy what to expect in the service.
Mrs. White took for herself the privilege of seeing to the little girl's attire and preparations. Livie was very pleased to find there was a new dress for her to wear underneath the new coat and a baby doll for her to hug all night long.
Polly found herself completely alone in a room for the first time since Lee was born. Until she took that first breath of free air, she had not realized how much she missed time alone with her own thoughts. Of course, she was grateful to Mrs. White for all the ways in which she was making this Christmas special for the Graham children and herself, but it was the space and time alone that meant the most. There would be no way ever to repay the older woman for that precious gift.
As they walked together through the back door of the little church in Alma, every head turned to get a look at the new arrivals. The smell of incense was in the air and candles were lit around the edges of the sanctuary. Mrs White looked around for a pew with enough room to seat five more. Alma's mayor, Tom Wheeler, stood and motioned to the old woman and her party.
And so it was that Lee Graham attended his very first Christmas Eve church service, sitting in the very front row where he could see everything up close and personal. He watched as the creche was brought in and listened intently as the story of Jesus' birth was told by the pastor. When the choir sang, Lee closed his eyes and thought he heard angels.
Sometime before midnight, Livie was asleep, her head leaned against Polly's shoulder. At the end of the service, Mayor Wheeler shook Lee's hand. "It was a pleasure sitting with you, young man. Any time you want to come to church, I'd be happy to have you sit with me."
"I think I'd like that," said the boy. And that was how Lee Graham came to be an Episcopalian.
To Be Continued....
Previous Chapters of The Life and Times of Lee Graham can be found here.
* Lulabelle Gimlin is an SL RP character of Stephanie Mesler. The Life and Times of Lou Graham is copyright Stephanie Mesler, 2014. This story may be reprinted for inworld RP purposes with proper attribution to its author, Lulabelle Gimlin (Stephanie Mesler).