…Mrs Christian slipped on a patch of ice and Mr Christian caught her by the hand to steady her. Together they climbed slick steps over the wall toward the home of Father Christmas, abandoning the narrow way…
On the far side of the steps, from their new point of view, she saw that the home of Father Christmas was a great and beautiful inn. With its shutters open and lights in the windows, it looked like an enormous Advent Calendar that had come to life. Laughter and music resounded on the frosty air.
Mrs C put her arm through her husband’s, and they crossed the wide, neatly shoveled and salted walk to the door. She was thinking about past Christmases, about family times and comforts, and the children’s innocent delight in the holiday.
She also remembered the sadness. For Christmas was only a winter bloom, its scent intoxicating but quickly fading. People spoke about the magic of the season, and yes, it did have a kind of magic, and so like others she longed for it. But she knew that she would be left with nothing for it always failed to keep its promise of lasting joy.
Something slipped out of Mr C’s pocket. Crouching he retrieved a tattered Book. Mrs C bit her lip as she watched him slip it back in his pocket, then they walked on.
Lost in her thoughts again, she heard her husband scolding someone – childish voices mingled with his gruff but kindly tones. The two soon were surrounded by urchins, wan faces and pinched faces, imploring ones, resigned ones. Small hands were held up, palms open. Tears streaked dirty faces.
“We need it more than you!” the lad Want said.
Greed tried to force her hand into Mrs C’s pocket, “Give it here!”
“Can you spare just a little?” the girl True Need asked.
Other pilgrims were making their way to Father Christmas’s home. All but one child hurried away to beg from them. True Need put her hand into Mrs C’s and looked up with love and longing. Mrs C smiled at True Need, and Mr C swung the sweet child up onto his shoulder. Together the three entered the cheerful residence…