The conclusion of the brief, updated version of the Christmas classic, written by Sandy and her eight-year-old son, Cyclone.
“Oh great!’ Jane S. Cruge shouted to her computer. “I’m stuck here in the middle of A Christmas Carol!”
The instant message dialogue box read:
Christmas Present: Did I surprise you? Weren’t you warned?
Scrooge: What are you doing here!!!! Leave me alone!!!
Christmas Present: I’m here to tell you that you need to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas before it’s too late.
Scrooge: True meaning? Buying stuff that’s too expensive for people who don’t care? Yeah, right. No thanks.
Christmas Present: Your cousin Meg cares, you know. Why, I have no idea, but she does.
Scrooge: And your point is…?
Christmas Present: She’s broke, you know that? Her husband works hard, but she stays home with their kids and they don’t have money to get a tree this year for Christmas!
Scrooge: So? Her choice. Go away.
Christmas Present: She’s buying YOU something, Jane.
Jane spluttered over her keyboard. Scrooge: That’s stupid. I’ll tell her not to. Now go AWAY!
With a click of Jane’s mouse, Christmas Present was blocked.
Disgusted and not a little annoyed at the apparent conspiracy online, Jane got up, got another cup of eggnog, and left her house to look outside. Where she lived, there was no snow in the winter, but it was cool enough and damp enough for a thick, heavy fog to have settled on the streets like a blanket. The fog made her smile for the first time all day. Even her face felt different to her while she smiled.
On the sidewalk, she looked up and down the street and lost that smile. “Stupid, wasteful Christmas lights,” she grumbled out loud. The other end of the street was dark and she walked that way a little bit, passing a dark house and another house that had a barking dog in the window. The very end of the street was barred by a huge, iron fence.
Beyond the fence was a cemetery, and Jane liked the peace it offered. Quiet. Respectful. She liked that.
Thinking that, Jane turned and went home, keeping her eyes down so that she didn’t have to see the lights. It was time to sleep. She had to work tomorrow.
“Christmas,” she mumbled as she fell into bed. “Bah, humbug!”
She had a dream.
She was in the graveyard and there was a man in black cloak, like the Grim Reaper. She couldn’t see his face and his hands were covered in the sleeves of the cloak. All that she could see where his face should be was…blackness.
Jane stepped up to the person and all of a sudden, smoke rose out of the ground and formed letters! “Christmas Future,” the letters read.
She could see her cousin Meg standing in the graveyard, leaning on a walking stick next to a headstone. Jane realized that the cane belonged to Meg’s son, Tim, who had died. Then she noticed two men with shovels throwing dirt into another pit in front of another headstone. With Jane’s name on it.
Horrified, Jane woke up! Her heart was pounding as she checked her calendar. Someone – she didn’t know who – had checked off Christmas Eve.
It was Christmas! “I didn’t miss it!”
Excited, she didn’t even call, but immediately got in her car and drove to Meg’s house, cash in her purse to share with her cousin. She felt like she had to share, today. Had to do something, somehow, to make the cold feeling in her stomach go away. For the first time in her life, Jane S. Cruge felt empty, inside.
Did Meg know how to make that go away? Something told Jane her cousin did. Because Meg, no matter how broke she was, always had a rich warmth in her face and smile.
Meg’s house was on the other end of town, and Jane reached it within half an hour. The hour was early, but the sun shone brightly on the light coating of frost on Meg’s roof.
Jane knocked and waited impatiently for her cousin to open the door. “Jane!” Meg cried, a baby on her hip.
“Merry Christmas, Meg,” Jane all but shouted. “I didn’t have time to go shopping, but I brought you all a present. Those after-Christmas sales are great.”
Meg blushed and looked like she wanted to hug her cousin. Jane stepped back. “But I do want to ask you something.”
“What?” Meg said, ushering her into the living room to a host of pajama-clad children.
Jane hesitated, but, what with the scares and surprises of the night before, she felt she had to ask. “You sent me an email about the ‘true meaning of Christmas,’ or something like that. I, um, deleted it.”
“Oh,” Meg said, looking hurt.
“Could you tell me what it said?”
Then, Meg’s face all but exploded into a smile. “Sure! Sit down and have a cup of coffee and I’ll tell you all about it!”