Anne opened the Advent calendar window for December 5th. Twenty more days till Christmas.
Today was the day the class was going to choose a name from Santa’s hat. Anne hoped she would pick her secret crush Jack Jennings. Jack had blonde hair that fell into his eyes and a crooked grin. He once shared a piece of Big Buddy bubble gum, and he later chose her to be on his kick ball team at recess.
Anne bundled up in her winter coat, scarf, hat and mittens and headed to school. The day that began with such optimism, slowly darkened as one disappointment followed another. Her best friend Mary was home with a cold. When Ann stood up to read, she opened her mouth and hiccupped loudly. Anne turned bright red, as the class laughed. She dropped her sandwich on the cafeteria floor, and then when the time came to choose names, Anne chose Edward Leggins, the creepiest boy in class.
Anne trudged home, all her hopes dashed. At dinner that evening, Daddy asked why Anne was so quiet. Anne told her Momma and Daddy about her terrible day.
“Well, tomorrow is a special day,” Daddy said as he cut into his pork chop.
“Really? What’s tomorrow? It’s not Christmas,” Anne said.
“No, but it’s a special day. Tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day. On St. Nicholas Day all children who place a clean sock out, will find a special surprise.”
“Oh, I want a special treat from St. Nicholas.”
“Then you have to put your sock out tonight, and no stinky, dirty sock, Peanut.”
“Daddy,” Anne giggled, “I won’t put out a stinky sock.”
“Now, one more thing Peanut.” Put all those troubles today on a piece of paper and place them in the sock, and St. Nicholas will replace those troubles with the Christmas spirit.”
Anne finished her dinner quickly. She even ate her peas without a fuss.
Anne took her bath, and then sat down in her clean nightgown and wrote in her best handwriting, all of the troubles from the day, including her disappointment with her gift buddy, Edward Leggins.
She pulled a clean white knee sock out of her top drawer and draped it over the end of her bed.
She went to sleep that night with a prayer to St. Nicholas to arrive safely to take her troubles away and bring back her Christmas Spirit.
December 6th, a Saturday arrived with a foot of holiday cheer in the form of snow. Anne jumped out of bed to look in awe at the winter wonderland outside her bedroom window.
Anne tore herself away from the thoughts of sledding, to glance at the end of her bed. Her knee sock had a bulge in it! Anne grabbed her sock and dug her fingers inside, pulling out a roll of her favorite candies, Necco Wafers! Wrapped around the roll was a note.
Anne unrolled the paper, and read the words written in red pen on the page.
I see that you had a terrible day. I am sure the spirit of Christmas is hard to imagine right now, but I promise if you look deep inside your heart, the spirit is alive. To bring the spirit back to you, try performing some good deeds without being discovered. Your spirit should return quickly.
Anne sat and thought. It made sense. Anne would be like Santa or St. Nick himself, bringing joy to someone without being seen. Anne opened her notebook and began writing a list of good deeds to perform.
At breakfast Anne refilled her Momma’s coffee cup while she was pouring cereal for Anne. Momma was surprised to find a full cup of coffee at her place and thanked her Daddy. He looked up from his paper, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, must have been the elves in the corners,” and he winked at Anne.
After breakfast, Anne bundled up and shoveled Mrs. Noreski’s sidewalk in front of her stoop. Then she put her paper inside the storm door so it wouldn’t get wet.
Momma took Anne to the library where Anne checked out two books, a Nancy Drew book for herself, and Mary’s favorite book. Later Anne brought the book over to Mary’s house and asked Mary’s mother to give it to Mary to read, but not to tell her who brought it over.
By bedtime, Anne was feeling full of the Christmas spirit. Anne and Momma baked Christmas cookies, and Daddy and Anne sat in front of the Christmas tree to read their books and share Necco wafers.
On Monday, Anne arrived at school with her Christmas gift for Miss Downs and her Christmas buddy in her book bag.
Miss Downs had decorated the room with paper stars strung like garland around the ceiling, and the little tree twinkled in the corner.
“Children, let’s thank the room mothers for the delicious refreshments. Everyone gather round the tree. Our special guest has arrived!”
Miss Downs clapped her hands and Santa Claus walked in the door!
The children clapped excitedly.
“Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas boys and girls.”
Santa swung his pack off his shoulder and began to call out names.
“Mary, Joe, Patty, Edward,” Santa handed a present to each child.
Anne watched Edward shake his package and look at it suspiciously.
“What’s the matter, Edward? Don’t you want to open your gift?” Miss Downs asked him.
“I’m afraid,” Edward mumbled.
“What are you afraid of, Edward?” Miss Downs placed her arm around his shoulder.
“I’m afraid his going to be a joke present. Last year someone gave me a bunch of kleenex and when I unwrapped all the kleenex there was nothing, but a penny inside.” Edward hung his head.
“Edward, would you like me to open your gift with you? I’m sure it is something special.” Miss Downs crouched next to him and helped Edward unwrap his present.
Anne was watching when her name was called. She jumped up and received a small package from Santa.
Anne kept watching Edward, his face was prepared for a disappointment.
Miss Downs opened the tissue and smiled up at Edward. “Look Edward. Someone knows how much you love to draw.”
A sketchbook, and a dozen colored pencils were tucked in the box
Edward’s face was suddenly as bright as the lights on the Christmas tree. He grabbed the box and ran over to his desk. Anne saw him open the sketchbook, and bend his head down to start drawing.
Anne’s heart was filled with Christmas spirit. St. Nicholas was right. Giving was the way to recapture the Christmas spirit.
“Anne? Are you going to open your present?”
Anne looked down at the gift in her hand. She quickly unwrapped her package and found bubblegum, a small bottle of perfume, and a necklace with a beautiful purple star. Purple was her favorite color.
Anne glanced up and saw Jack staring at her. As she met his eyes, he turned bright pink and shook his hair into his eyes.
Anne smiled to herself, St Nicholas had given her the best gifts ever.