Outside the window, snow was falling softly. Sitting in front of the window was a man hunched over in a wheelchair. He was quite tall and you could see his hands had been strong at one time. He had been a physically powerful and hearty soul. He looked out the window with bright blue eyes which sparkled, but his expression never changed as if he saw nothing. “Jonathan!” a lady in white shouted.
“The Brownie troop will be here in 15 minutes. Do you want something to eat before they arrive?” Muriel asked.
“No, I am not hungry.” Jonathan answered. Ever since he had his stroke two years ago and had to move to the nursing home, his appetite had been poor. “Do I have to listen to those dumb Christmas carols again this year?”
“These children are trying to do something nice for you and the rest of the residents. It will not take much out of your busy day to pay a little attention to them.”
Jonathan frowned and just shrugged his shoulders. He actually looked forward to the children coming at Christmas. His wife, Sarah, had died a year ago, just before Christmas. Being 87, there were no friends left to come to visit and he had no children so he had no visitors. He wished that some of his lighthouse keeper buddies would come but he had not heard from any of them in many years. More than likely, they had all gone to the lighthouse in the sky.
He remembered the Christmases at the lighthouses he had served. How beautiful the lighthouses were when the snow swirled in the rays of the beacon.
Sarah put up a small artificial tree every year at the corner of the sitting room and it glistened with tinsel, fairy lights and a few special ornaments. He yearned for a small artificial tree by his bed instead of that monstrosity the nursing home put up in the entryway. When they were at the lighthouses, they never had many presents but Sarah always made him
something special and that was enough.
Running his fingers over the beautiful blanket that covered his legs, bearing pictures of lighthouses, he remembered the year Sarah gave it to him for Christmas. She was beginning to get sick and she had spent all of her energy on knitting the throw. It was warm but most of all, it comforted him when Christmas came and he was alone. Thinking of Sarah brought tears to his eyes. He missed her, especially at Christmas.
Suddenly, the room was full of little girls in brown dresses. The invasion of the Brownies had begun.
Muriel came and moved Jonathan up into a circle with the other residents.
Jonathan smiled at the group of children lined up in front of him. They looked
so cute and happy. As they sang, he particularly noticed one of the smallest
standing in front. She was adorable with long golden braids and big round glasses.
She sang with great gusto and joy.
The children had made a present for one of the residents. The little girl that Jonathan had been watching came up to him. “My name is Rose,” she said. “I like your blanket with lighthouses. My parents and I belong to a preservation group called Friends of Elk Point Lighthouse. We often go out and work on the lighthouse over the weekend. I love lighthouses.” Jonathan proudly told her he used to be a keeper of a lighthouse. Rose asked all sorts of questions about his lighthouses and what he did. They got so involved that when it was time to go, she ran off, forgetting to give him her Christmas present.
As she left, she waved at Jonathan and said she would see him soon. Jonathan wished she could stay longer. She was so cute and he loved to talk about his lighthouse days.
It was the day before Christmas and Jonathan was once again sitting forlornly, looking out the window at the snow. Most of the residents had gone to be with their families and the rest had visitors. Jonathan wished that the Christmas holidays would pass quickly and be over. It was easier to be alone when it was not Christmas.
“Jonathan, you have visitors.” Muriel hollered.
Turning, he saw Rose with her blonde braids leading six or seven people into the room. They were all carrying packages and one lady was carrying a small Christmas tree just like the ones he used to have at the lighthouses.
“Hi Jonathan! I’ll bet you thought I forgot to leave your Christmas present when I was here the other day. I took it back with me because
I had a better idea. My parents and some of the members of our lighthouse preservation group are here to celebrate Christmas with you. When the
weather is better, we are going to take you out to our lighthouse so you
can instruct us on how to take care of the building and tell us stories about your days as a lighthouse keeper. I remembered what you
said about the little tree your wife decorated every year. So my parents and I got you one. We decorated it for you just like you described. I hope it is okay?”
The lady carrying the tree put it on the table next to his bed. Jonathan looked at it with tears in his eyes. It was just like the ones they used to have at the lighthouses. It was perfect in every way.
Turning to Rose, he said, “It is so beautiful. You are a very smart little girl to have remembered what I said. But, more than that, you are a wonderful little girl to have gotten me this tree. We are almost strangers but you have given me the happiest Christmas I have had in a long time.”
Rose laughed and said, “Now, we are not only friends of a lighthouse but also friends of a lighthouse keeper. Merry Christmas Jonathan!”
This story appeared in the
December 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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