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The late model sedan sputtered, coughed and dutifully careened forward on a cold December evening.

 

Fred hit the gas pedal & ruminated as he always did, wondering again why life had dealt him this hand? Christmas Eve, foraging for returnable bottles to make ends meet.   

 

The chill was broken by the cry of Fred's daughter, Heather,

 6 going on 36 in her own mind, the same age her Mom was when she lost her in the fire.

 

 "Daddy stop!.. It's a Santa.. in the trash!"

Fred had no choice but slide-brake the car into the curb just ahead, He uttered a silent prayer that the road they traversed was free from the nearby Holiday mall traffic.

 

"Can we take it?.. Pleeze Daddy?.." Her head was outside the window now, the words tinged with frost."Just a minute, let me take a look."

 

Fred was no stranger to seeking treasure in trash, his home a monument to curbside chic.

 A worn out vintage 4-foot Plastic Santa with a few  small dents held court between a pile of black plastic cleanup bags and a dilapidated BBQ grill in front of a Cape Cod with no sign of life.

 

"Daddy, Look, Santa lights up!"..Heather was pointing to the broken light bulb screwed into a rusty socket that was mounted inside the plastic relic,

 

"Don't touch that, You are going to cut yourself." Heather knowingly backed off,

 

"OK, OK, Secondhand Santa is coming home with us, but now you really need to be good!"

She beamed in a look that Fred had only seen before in her Mother's eyes back when they actually had a life.

 

"We are leaving Santa outside tonight, Tomorrow we'll see about patching him up.."

Heather set the plastic relic on the driveway between the car and their door of the rundown duplex they called home. The snow was beginning to fall. The forecast was for a white Christmas...

 

They both woke up at 4AM, They both felt the light before they saw it.

Secondhand Santa stood in the middle of the snow blanketed front yard, lit up like a holiday

lighthouse. He was now closer to 8 feet tall and glowed with all the spirit of the day.

 

Sleigh bells rang in the distance and got louder. The snow sang as it fell, Happily..

--

 

 

Michael Fredrick is a writer based on the North Shore of Long Island

 

 

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