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Christmas Presence

Dec 23, 2016

It was one of those days. Warm for mid-December and still some leaves left on the deciduous trees – but not many. And no indication as to how the remainder of the day would change his life for ever. 

Robert left home at about 10 o’ clock that morning, mainly because he felt in need of a walk. Instead of taking one of the familiar country routes, he decided to walk through the town and take in the Christmas decorations. There was a feeling of joy everywhere, people carrying bags obviously full of myriad gifts; parents trailed by expectant children; a distant sound of Christmas carols being sung by a local choir. All around him was goodwill and peace on Earth. 

Not altogether though. For him the end of the year had resulted in change; and not necessarily for the better. Last month he’d been made redundant and with hardly any compensation. Funds, or the lack of them, were now a preoccupation. With a pregnant wife, a mortgage, and two young children to support, his life seemed to be in freefall. To make matters worse, he had not told the family about his – and now their – misfortune. In addition, the arrival of Christmas was shining a spotlight upon Robert’s predicament. Hence his walk. 

Progressing along the High Street in a welter of self-pity and increasing hatred, he felt like the only person with any problems. The copious Christmas decorations which criss-crossed his horizon seemed only to taunt him. No point in looking in shop windows, he couldn’t afford a thing – and how to tell the family? Charles Dickens could surely have written a very interesting novel about him! 

He’d worn his re-cycled old leather jacket and as he continued along the High street, head down and hands thrust into empty pockets, he suddenly thought: “Empty pockets? Wait a minute!” 

And there in the corner nestled amongst the fluffy debris were three pound coins! What to buy? A coffee? A bar of chocolate? A LOTTERY TICKET! 

He walked into a nearby shop with a degree of furtiveness; you see he’d never bought a lottery ticket before. With head down he joined the queue and promptly bumped into a rather old lady: “I’m so sorry,” he said. 

“That’s ok, don’t worry.” 

“Don’t I know you; don’t you live just down the road from me?” 

“Yes I do. I recognise you too. My name’s Kath.” 

“Well hello Kath, my name’s Robert; I’m buying a lottery ticket for the first time in my life.” 

“Good luck. I’m just posting a Christmas card to my daughter, she lives in Australia, they’re the only family I have. It’s going to be a lonely Christmas this year!” 

The lottery ticket was purchased and that was it. Or so he thought. 

Some days later Robert was talking to his wife Helen when the subject of Christmas lunch arose. He had somehow managed to scrape together just enough money for their meal and a few presents.  Then ‘the cupboard was bare’! Helen suddenly said: “I’ve had an idea. Remember you told me about meeting Kath and how she would be on her own at Christmas, well why don’t we invite her to join us? The kids would love it, and they don’t have any Grandparents.”  

 It was agreed; and Kath duly accepted. 

Christmas was not far away and Robert was aware that on Saturday he would be watching the lottery results programme with more than the normal cursory interest.  

In most stories, you would have expected that the lottery result would be in his favour and all of their problems would be over. Not this one! His rapidly beating heart and barely noticeable layer of perspiration had been a complete waste of time. He was a confirmed loser. 

He finally decided to confess to Helen. Do you know what? After the initial shock, she calmed down and simply said: “Let’s just enjoy Christmas, we can worry about everything else after it’s over.” 

Christmas Day arrived and at least the family were happy; when Kath arrived she certainly added to the festive spirit. Helen was telling her about our disappointing lottery experience when she suddenly said: “After I saw Robert the other day, when he told me about his intention to buy a ticket for the first time, I decided to buy one myself. I’m not sure what you have to do. How do I check it?”   

After a frantic search for Sunday’s newspapers they saw there was still one unclaimed winner of £1.5 million pounds – and Kath had the right numbers! 

They had one of the best Christmases ever. Yes, she did offer them a substantial share of her winnings and no they did not accept. But Robert did find a very suitable new job rather more quickly than he would have thought; and maybe he deserved a bit of luck. But really, he knew that it had come about simply through a change in his attitude towards life. Kath, of course, can now visit her daughter whenever she wants. 

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year.

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