"It's foggy outside. The weather this December has been somewhere between Seattle and North Carolina." Those were the last words Ann ever heard from her husband Charlie as he stuck his hands into his Patagonia, lightweight, coat pockets on the way out the backdoor into the garage. He was late in buying one or two more presents before he was finally finished on the day before the 25th. Turning up sports radio he made his way down Hennepin which would eventually lead him into the parking lot where the newest boutique retail stores showed off their trend forward, holiday, display windows. Charlie was a decade or more older than the other buyers who were dressed in cutting edge fabric and acting like they had been overly caffeinated for three days. Charlie who came into his own 20 years ago in the talent agency business not only floated comfortably in this crowd but was noticed even more than the rest because he carried himself with an ease that said;"I don't need to try so hard anymore." With the help of an attractive woman that let it be known she had moved to the warehouse district from Chicago, Charlie landed on the most beautiful scarf he had seen since Paris 15 years ago. The silk fabric floated the gray and bluebird colors together like nature itself had formed the design. The price was a bit shocking but it was one of a kind and everything in that store was 30% more than what was hoped before turning over the price tag. The gift bag was stunning and the printed tissue inside was all that was needed to place the final gift under the tree.
Charlie maneuvered through the traffic up Hennepin and pulled into the garage, grabbed the gift bag and walked through the door into the back hall. Charlie knew immediately what he was up against when he saw Ann slumped a bit sideways in her down stuffed chair in the living room. She hadn't been feeling well as of late and the diabetes was finally getting the best of her. They both knew time was running short and while it crept up too soon on them, they were, in a way, ok with it all. Charlie said her name, touched her face and then made a call from his cell. He felt the tears begin to fill up his eyes and then without being aware fell backwards into the couch next to her. The silent time passed. Charlie eventually leaned forward, pulled the scarf out of the tissue and gently draped it over Ann's shoulders while whispering, "Merry Christmas" in her left ear.
He knew the children, friends and relatives would be pulling up within a few hours. He saw the reflection of spinning red lights as he walked over to the window. He leaned down and blew out the flame from the red candle that was sitting on the ledge. Charlie opened the window slightly and followed the smoke with his eyes as it drifted upward toward the sky. He kept his eyes to Heaven and quietly said; "Merry Christmas. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best gift you have received in over 2,000 years....Merry Christmas."