The Experiment

‘Well here it is the fifth of December and I still do not have my Christmas shopping done nor my holiday menu prepared…pour me another glass of Merlot,’ Neva J. announced. ‘I like the idea of having Christmas Dinner with the homeless at the Lions Club…first, we help prepare the feast and then we sit down with them and enjoy Christmas Dinner together,’ said Chet. ‘We all could go; Grandma A. and aunts Wanda and Vema and Guelda…along with cousin Gene and cousin Brenda,’ said a happy Billy B. ‘We could perform a Christmas Play for them…with props that were used last year in the Christmas performance of the It’s A Wonderful Life…there is still a lot of fake snow left,’ said Jane. ‘Dad has a Santa suit and a long white beard that stays on with glue,’ Daryl added. ‘I think that we should include the rumors that Santa was actually seen last year at Debbie’s house…she swears that she not only saw him but that they enjoyed milk and cookies together,’ Chet noted. ‘Poinsettas will be needed…and a lot of them…they add so much to the ambiance of the holiday,’ Neva J. laughed as she poured another glass of Merlot and one for each of the collaborators.

‘Did you hear that Cousin Freds is closing…and all of the staff are being laid off just before Christmas,’ Jane asked? ‘Cousin Freds is a great store…why they have a little bit of everything…a bit like Wal-Mart…which has not been realized as yet,’ Chet responded. ‘What will those poor people do…there is nowhere in our little town or the surrounding region that is hiring,’ Daryl mused. ‘Let us invite all of the laid-off Cousin Freds staff to join us in the Christmas Play and for Christmas Dinner at the Lions Club,’ Neva J. said with a hearty laugh! ‘We will have turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and pumpkin and pecan pie…and that is just for starters…the wine will flow and hot apple cider and a little Jack Daniels to help us through our celebration,’ Rosie proclaimed!

‘I would love for us to have a tribute to JFK…before the Play begins,’ said Rosie in view of his assassination just a few weeks before. ‘We not only will do so but we want you to read your poem that you wrote about what a wonderful President that he was,’ Neva J. said with a tear in her eye.

Christmas Day was here and Billy B. and Chet, Jane, Neva J., Rosie, and Daryl were busy at work in the kitchen of the Lions Club. They were assisted by Cousin Fred’s displaced staff and some little people dressed as Elves. Now, these little people that were dressed as Elves…did not break character…they spoke in the Elfian Language and answered in English only when requested. They moved so rapidly that it was difficult to follow their movements. They laughed and chittered a bit like squirrels. Chet heard one say something like ‘The Old Man will be here soon.’

As Rosie read her poetic tribute to JFK there was not a dry eye in the house.

‘I have not had such a fine Christmas Feast since I was a boy,’ said Earl who was homeless. ‘Back in those days we even had roasted chestnuts and Christmas Pudding…but then again I was raised in York, England,’ Earl continued. ‘Mum brought me to America and we lived with her Mum and my Grand Mum in Eldorado when it still had three Movie Houses…I worked in the Coal Mines…until they closed,’ Earl said with a deep sigh. ‘My wife left me and she took our little daughter with her…they moved to Chicago…and I have not seen them in some time,’ Earl said in no more than a whisper… ‘What I would give to see them again and tell them that if we had stayed together I believe that I could have found another job…and that we would have been alright,’ said Earl.

‘I hear that you are looking for Santa Claus said the ‘rotund little man with the pipe fastened securely between his teeth and the smoke encircling his head like a wreath…I have come to hear everyone’s Christmas wishes,’ the amazingly authentic Santa Portrayer said. The Cousin Freds staff noted that they were all out of work and that they did not know what they were going to do… Santa said that he had spoken to the Cousin Freds owners and showed them how to keep their budget in the black and that they were so happy that they were going to hire everyone back on Monday…the day after Christmas.

‘Earl…I have someone who wants to say hello to you…,’ Santa said. There was Earl’s wife and daughter and they ran to him and embraced him. ‘I am hiring you and anyone of the homeless who wants a job as Santa’s helpers in 1964…you can stay in Eldorado and work throughout Southern Illinois…as there are more than enough people that need your assistance,’ Santa laughed so hard that his ’round little belly shook like a bowl full of jelly!’

Suddenly Santa was gone and an angel was in the room. ‘Santa has many other stops today…but he says that if you need him he will be back,’ the angel said with a benevolent smile.

‘I know that this sounds impossible but I swear that I saw Santa change into the angel,’ Chet said…

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