Happy Christmas Eve! I can’t believe Christmas is tomorrow I am so excited! I hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas traditions and family and friend time 🙂 Much like Amelia, our travels, days or year may not have been exactly how we expected it to go but in ‘the end’ we must always aim to bring joy and happiness and see the good in even the dullest moments. Catch you next year ❤ Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!
As Amelia and her family drove home she was bombarded with questions. How was New York? How was the journey? Make any new friends? How is the job? Are you happy? Are you excited? Did you talk to Aunt June? So, so, so many questions. Then her family discussed all she missed while she was away and the delicious Christmas Eve dinner that was planned for that night. Her brother, Jeremiah, was playing with ‘Bingo’ and her dad drove cautiously as they headed home in the night. Only the moonlight and the car’s headlights lit their way home, as the wooded road that led to their home was dimly lit. As her family discussed the changes to the house and the travels they had while she was gone Amelia began to think about Roy, Mrs. Jolie, and the children. She hoped they would reach out to her and she knew for sure that she would send a letter to each of them tonight. Amelia couldn’t wait to hear what they had to say.
“Amelia, Amelia, are you listening?” Amelia’s mother said. Breaking Amelia’s thoughts.
“Yes, mother?” Amelia responded.
“We are home,” Her mother replied. Amelia looked out the window to see her childhood home. Hidden in the thickly forested woods was a white house with a wraparound porch and dark blue shutters. She could see their cat, Whistles, peering at them through the window.
‘It’s time for dinner,” Amelia’s mother announced. The whole family headed inside, with Bingo strolling behind. The table was set with different delicious foods, her family was never one to adhere to traditional holiday cooking, so the table had thin-crust pizza with a homemade pesto, roasted vegetables, little cookies in the shape of stars and the family famous banana bread. It all looked incredible, and so the family dug in, eating until they could no more. Slept with full bellies and happy thoughts and woke to the giving and loving fest that is Christmas morning. Amelia gave and received so many gifts but the best thing she was received came a few days letter. Two letters came in the mail.
It was wonderful to receive your letter, the children really enjoyed it. We will be leaving the cabin in a few days to head back to New York. We would love for you to visit… perhaps talk to the kids? Ben and Felicity are always asking about you. Please send more pictures next time! The children loved to see your home and hometown… they want to visit! Please enjoy these pictures of all the kids together in my home and the home itself. I even attached some pictures of our Christmas dinner! Please keep in touch! Happy New Year!
Holly and the kids.
Thank you for your lovely card. I am sure that your family was excited to see you. As for me, it was odd to meet again face to face but after some good food and talk, I can say that I feel like I really belong here, among family. It is crazy what time can do. We too had a delicious meal and your home and family looked delightful. I have shared some photos of me and my daughter, Demi, and the rest of her family. I would love to continue to talk and perhaps meet all together with the children in New York. I never expected that train delay to take the turn that it did but boy am I glad it did. Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!
“Amelia,” Amelia heard someone whisper as they shook her awake. She opened her eyes to see Roy looking down at her, ticket in hand and a solemn expression on his face. It was his stop. It was time to say goodbye.
“It’s time for you to go, isn’t it?” Amelia asked sadly.
“Yes, it is. It was great to meet you, Amelia. Please keep in touch. And I wish you the best Christmas with your family!” Roy said smiling.
“I hope it all works out for you Roy. Merry Christmas!” Amelia responded.
“Merry Christmas, Amelia!” Roy said as he headed out of the train doors. Amelia watched him out her window as he disappeared into the distance. Her stop would be next. It was getting late and the darkness was setting outside. A few stars could be made out in the sky, shining down on the towns the train passed.
“Greenwood stop is next,” the conductor announced. Amelia was almost home. She could picture her house and family, the good food and the cheesy Christmas movies. She was ready. Her time at the train station was nothing like she had expected but it was memorable none the less. This Christmas was going to be one for the books. Amelia got up to grab her bags and put her coat on.
“This is the Greenwood stop in Maine, please make sure to check for all your belongings and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” the conductor said cheerfully through the speakers. As Amelia walked out of the train the cool winter air hit her face. The snow on the ground was twinkling. In the distance, she could make out a familiar car, a green Volvo. Those inside exited the car, it was her family. Mom, dad, brother and even ‘Bingo’ the dog. Amelia was finally home.
Amelia sat in the plush red seat of the train. Roy was seated behind her, the train was busy and there were no double seats. In 12 hours she would be home, by the fireplace, with a fuzzy blanket, and her dog ‘Bingo’. But for now, she had a long train journey ahead of her. As Amelia closed her eyes memories flashed of all the fun and exciting things she did with the orphans at Penn Station. The cookie eating, the caroling, the playing in the snow, making maple candies, eating pancakes, taking pictures with the Polaroid camera. It was a good time, for everyone. Amelia also remembered Mrs. Jolie and her ‘Mrs. Clause-esque’ personality and her constant want to make the children happy. It was humbling, to say the least.
Amelia looked back at Roy who had instantly dozed off, with a smile on his face. He had surprised Amelia with his personality switch from ‘charity-hater’ to an optimist in all things. There was so much Amelia had learned from those few hours.
“Hey, Roy!” Amelia whispered to a snoring Roy. He snorted awake.
“Yeah,” he replied.
“Did you have a good time? Are you happy?” Amelia asked, curious. The question was ambiguous but Roy understood.
“Yes. I had the best time. I am beyond happy. I can’t wait to meet my family,” Roy replied.
“I wish you guys the best,” Amelia said kindly.
“As do I to your family,” Roy said with a glint in his eye.
And with that, the two friends fell asleep, with dreams of family and Christmas to occupy them on the long journey.
“Kids, it is time to say ‘goodbye’ to Amelia,” Mrs. Jolie announced to all the kids.
“NOOOOOOO,” all the children shouted as Amelia grabbed her bags and train ticket.
“I’m sorry kids but I have to go now and catch my train, we will keep in touch… I promise!” Amelia assured the children.
“Roy, I think it is time for us to go,” Amelia said as she pointed to the ‘NOW BOARDING’ sign next to their train number. Roy looked down and patted Ben’s hair, he knew it was time to go. Amelia and Roy headed over to the train, bags in hand.
“It was nice to have met you all, I won’t forget these few hours trapped in a train station with you, you made it all worth it,” Amelia said, she was a little teary. It truly had been a great and surprising twist to her unfortunate delay. And though she was sad to say goodbye to the new friends she made she was looking forward to being home for Christmas.
“Thank you for being such great company, we have all really enjoyed the time together,” Mrs. Jolie replied.
“I hope you have a good time with your family Amelia,” Ben said with a bright smile on his face. Ben then handed Amelia another Polaroid, it was a picture of her and Ben eating some cookies in the waiting area. Ben and Amelia were both laughing. On the back, the card read.
Thanks for everything Amelia. I hope you have a great Christmas.
Amelia smiled and gave Ben a hug.
“No, Thank you!”
And with that Amelia and Roy boarded their train. Off to Christmas and family.
“Is there anything that you want to take a picture of with your new camera?” Mrs. Jolie asked the kids.
“Oh, I have an idea!” said Felicity and she whispered something into Ben and the other kid’s ears.
“Mrs. Jolie, the kids and I have a request. Could you take a picture of all of us with Amelia?” Felicity asked, speaking for the entire group.
“Oh yes of course! Gather together now in front of the Christmas tree!” Mrs. Jolie replied. Amelia couldn’t believe it. The kids wanted the first photo on their new camera to be with her, someone they had only known for less than 24 hours. The kids and Amelia all gathered in front of the station’s Christmas tree. The tree was decorated with little signs of stations and cities all over North America.
“Say cheese!” Mrs. Jolie said as she grinned along with the smiling faces of the children.
“Do you know who we should invite into the picture next?” Amelia asked the kids.
“Royyyyyy!” they all cheered. Roy let out a chuckle as he sheepishly headed over to the group for the photo.
After Roy’s photo, they asked a security guard to get pictures of them all together, with Mrs. Jolie. And then the kids took turns with their new Polaroid camera to take pictures of the snow and the inside of the train station. The kids showed the pictures to Amelia and let her keep a few. Amelia was so wrapped up in the moment that she didn’t realize it was time to board, her train would be arriving in 15 minutes. It was time to say goodbye.
As the children were munching away on their delicious pancake filled breakfast, with sticky maple syrup dripping down their happy faces, Amelia began to search. She was searching the train station to find the perfect gift for the presentless children. The station was full of cafe’s, restaurants, some groceries and New York tourist gift stores. Amelia figured the gift store might be the best bet… but what could she get the kids that would last for years and that they could all use?
Amelia passed the stores I ❤ NY sweaters and mugs, she skimmed the New York Tour Guides and maps and the NYPD and NYFD fan gear. By the postcards showcasing the beautiful Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, Amelia spotted the perfect gift. A Polaroid camera. The camera would be the perfect gift for all the children to use and would be a great way for them all to remember each other and the memories they share. She grabbed the camera and a few other treats and magazines to carry her through the upcoming long train ride. Amelia couldn’t help but smile, she could not wait to see what the children wanted to take pictures of.
“Hey, Children!” Amelia announced. Attempting to change the children’s attention from the mouthwatering pancakes to herself. The children slowly looked up to see what all the fuss was about.
“I have something I want to give you. It is an early Christmas present, from me to you,” Amelia explained.
“A present?” Felicity asked.
“Yes,” Amelia replied.
“We don’t need a present, the trip is our present,” Felicity explained confused.
“It’s just a little something I wanted to give you all,” Amelia said as she pulled the camera from her bag. The children were speechless, they simply admired the camera from afar, unsure of what to do.
“I-i-is that for you us?” Ben finally spoke up. Mrs. Jolie finally budded in.
“This is Amelia’s gift to you and what do we say if someone gives us a present?” Mrs. Jolie said.
“We say ‘thank you'” Felicity said through tears as she ran to Amelia and gave her a hug.
“So what are we going to do during the hour before your train boards?” Ben asked curiously.
“Well it is morning time… so how about we all go out and get some breakfast?” Amelia replied.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Mrs. Jolie said knowingly.
“Breakfast is my treat this time, what are you guys craving this morning?” Roy said, asking the question to all the children.
“PANCAKES,” they all yelled. They must’ve been big fans of that breakfast delicacy.
“Well we do already have the maple syrup, so why not?” Roy said with a big smile on his face.
“I will go fetch some pancakes for everyone,” Roy said as he wandered to find an open cafe.
“Are you looking forward to getting home Amelia?” Mrs. Jolie asked.
“Of course! I can’t wait. We are going to do so many fun things! My family and I always watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas on Christmas Eve and curl up by the fire. We also like to open one stocking gift early,” Amelia said, remembering the fond Christmas memories.
“That sounds quite exciting! I do have to ask you, if you could, try not to mention the presents too much to the kids. They pretend that it doesn’t bother them but I know it does,” Mrs. Jolie said kindly but with a sad expression on her face.
“They don’t get any presents at all?” Amelia asked in shock.
“Their ‘gift’ is to come with me to a country home I have in Canada, but no, they don’t ever get any toys or games that I know they want,” Mrs. Jolie said looking down, avoiding Amelia’s eye contact. Amelia was surprised she didn’t realize the kids weren’t going to get anything for Christmas.
“Time for pancakes!” Roy said holding a tray with stacks upon stacks of warm and fluffy pancakes. The maple syrup dripping down the sides of the delicious cakes and the fresh fruit warming at the side of the hot breakfast.
But Amelia wasn’t hungry anymore. She now knew what she was going to do with the hour she had before her train departed.
“Good morning Amelia!” Amelia heard someone say. She looked around to find that she was cramped on a plastic waiting chair covered in her winter coat. When she opened her eyes she saw Mrs. Jolie and Roy looking over her.
“Your train is boarding in an hour… thought you might like to know!” Mrs. Jolie said with a bright smile. Amelia looked at the board. Train 141 boarding at 6:00 am.
“That should mean that you will be getting home in time for Christmas Eve Dinner!” Roy announced. It took a while for Amelia to comprehend what was happening. She was really truly going to be home with her family for Christmas.
“That’s amazing!” Amelia finally said.
“What about you guys, when are your trains leaving?” Amelia asked.
“Well I am on the same train as you, just on a different stop,” Roy said.
“And the kids and I are boarding in two hours, we get to send you off!” Mrs. Jolie said.
“It really is all working out isn’t it?” Amelia said happily.
“Not really, we are going to miss you,” Ben said from behind Mrs. Jolie. He had a sad and disappointed look on his face as he looked down at his old shoes.
“Well I am sure that Mrs. Jolie will be giving me some contact information so I can email you all, would you like that?” Amelia asked kindly.
“Yes!” Ben said and gave Amelia a hug.
“Plus Ben we still have an hour before I board, that is plenty of time for us to have some fun!”
“Alright so here is what we have to do! Felicity got us some fresh snow, so now with Roy’s maple syrup, we are just going to pour some into little dollops in the snow, wait until it hardens and then we eat it up! Sounds good kids?” Amelia announced to the assembly of kids awaiting her instructions.
“YESSSSS,” they all yelled in unison.
“Shall I show the kids how it is done, Amelia?” Mrs. Jolie asked.
“Yes, please Mrs. Jolie” Amelia replied.
“Everything alright Amelia, Holly told me you were worried about not getting home on time?” Roy asked as he walked up from behind her.
“Holly?” Amelia asked. Confused on who that was.
“Oh uh, Mrs. Jolie, my bad.”
“Her name is Holly Jolie?” Amelia said through a fit of laughter. She was looking and sounding more and more like Mrs. Claus by the minute.
“Haha yes, I suppose that is a tad humorous,” Roy said with a chuckle. “But in all honesty how are you doing, anything I can do to help?”
“I am just worried I won’t get home on time and then miss out on all the family fun, I was really looking forward to Christmas back home…” Amelia said sadly.
“Amelia, Amelia, look at my maple taffy, it finally hardened, it took a while… but I got you one too!” Ben said as he handed Amelia a maple taffy.
“Thank you, Ben, does Roy get one too?” Amelia asked.
“I’ll go get him one now,” Ben said as he ran back to the group of kids.
“See Amelia, if you just wait a while things will work out in a sweet way,” Roy said with a chuckle as he walked up to meet Ben.
Maybe everything would all work out. That’s all Amelia could do now, hope.
“You look upset, everything all right?” Mrs. Jolie asked, interrupting Amelia’s thoughts on the train delay.
“Yes, I am just a little worried that I won’t be able to make it home for Christmas… there was already a delay without the snow and now with the snow, it may take even longer…” Amelia replied she was worried.
“Mrs. Jolie, Mrs. Jolie! It’s midnight!! Which means it is Christmas Eve!!” Ben yelled as he ran over to Mrs. Jolie. His cheeks were bright pink and his warm breath could be seen in the cold night air.
“Oh yes, it is!! Exciting right?” Mrs. Jolie’s words were bright but she maintained a worried expression when looking at Amelia. Ben then turned around and began to run to Roy to tell him the ‘good’ news.
“The train ride is 12 hours, only if I leave now will I get there at noon. I have a feeling that I am going to miss Christmas Eve dinner…,” Amelia was getting sadder and sadder by the second thinking about missing out on fun Christmas Eve adventures with her family.
“I know we aren’t who you had in mind to spend Christmas Eve with but you have really brought all of our spirits up, especially Roy’s,” Mrs. Jolie said with a chuckle.
“We should at least try to make the most of these moments, you will get there eventually, no matter what,” Mrs. Jolie said – with a twinkle in her eye.
“I found the snow, Amelia!” Felicity announced as she ran over to Amelia and Mrs. Jolie.
“Is it time to make the candy now?” Felicity almost begged.
“Do you think it’s time Mrs. Jolie?
“It is always time Amelia.”
“I have it!” declared Roy as he showcased the maple syrup he had purchased from the train station’s grocery store.
“What do we do next Ms. Amelia?” Roy asked, his mood had completely changed, he was content and excited.
“We have to go out in the snow of course,” Amelia said with a giggle.
“Jackets on kids!” Mrs. Jolie declared. The snow was falling even harder than before, it was making it hard to see. The kids all ran to their coats that were waiting for them on their plastic chairs. They put them on rapidly and ran outside. Tongues out and arms wide they began to spin around in the snow and laugh.
“Oh please be careful kids,” Mrs. Jolie said, but her words were drowned out by the loud laughter of the kids. They were so content to be in the cold breeze with the icy flakes falling on their smiling red faces. They were having so much fun they almost forgot about what they had set out to do.
“Hey, weren’t we going to make maple candies?” asked a little blonde curly haired girl, she looked about eight.
“Yes, we are! What is your name?” Amelia asked.
“My name is Felicity,” she responded casually.
“So the candies?” she sounded a little impatient which made Amelia laugh.
“Right of course, well do you want to scout out some clean snow to pour the maple syrup on?” Amelia said.
“Yes M’am,” and with that Felicity was off. Amelia looked at the kids again. Roy and Mrs. Jolie were among them now. All together they were rolling in the snow creating snow angels. They were blissfully happy, with not one care in the world. But Amelia could not stop thinking about one thing Roy said about snow, “It stops you from getting to where you are going”. What if she didn’t make it home for Christmas?
“Now that that is sorted out… What should we do Ben?” Roy asked, getting excited.
“I don’t know… I guess just wait for the train to come,” Ben said glumly looking at the board with the boarding times. Amelia looked at it too. Her train to Maine was yet again delayed another hour.
“Well, we have to do something! We should have some fun!” Roy said, even more enthusiastically. Amelia was in shock. His personality had done a 180-degree change. He went from the grumpy old man cursing at the delays to the man teary and excited to spend time with a child at the train station. Amelia had to take advantage of this.
“I know what we should do,” Amelia said knowingly. Amelia thought back to a family memory of pouring rich maple syrup on the ice cold snow, thereby hardening the syrup into a delicious taffy. It was so fun and exciting to get out the maple syrup when the snow was falling hard.
“We are going to make maple candies!” Amelia announced.
“Maple candies? How?” Ben asked. Amelia looked at all the children, Roy and Mrs. Jolie.
“All we have to do is buy some maple syrup from the station grocer and then pour the gooey maple syrup on the cold snow, it will then harden and we can enjoy the sweet treat!” Amelia explained.
“I’ve got the maple syrup!” Roy yelled as he began to run towards the grocer. Amelia chuckled. This was going to be fun.
“You’re right Amelia, I don’t know if she will be mad at me,” Roy finally said.
“Well, what are you going to do about it?” Ben asked, excited.
“I am going to call them right now and explain everything… it will be her first time hearing my voice….” Roy said, all of a sudden nervous.
“You can do this Roy,” Mrs. Jolie said.
Roy walked off to the corner of the station and began to dial a number on his phone. The children were still gathered by the entrance of Penn Station to watch the snow fall on the ground. The cold air and snow blowing in as the entrance doors opened and closed. Amelia walked over to the kids, the cold air shocking her temporarily. She looked at all the kids sitting by the entrance, she looked at Mrs. Jolie who was attempting to purchase hot chocolate for everyone, she looked at Roy. Roy was in tears, explaining everything that had happened. Mrs. Jolie walked over with two hot chocolates in her hands.
“Can I get some help?” she asked, nodding her head at the hot chocolates that still needed to be grabbed from the coffee counter. Amelia rushed over to grab the hot chocolate and began to distribute them to all the kids. They were ecstatic, of course. They returned to their positions by the entrance, now using the hot chocolates to keep their hands warm. Amelia was still holding two hot chocolates in her hands. Mrs. Jolie had ordered one for Roy. Amelia felt a tap on her shoulder, she turned around to find Roy.
“Any hot chocolate left for the stranger?” Roy said- looking apologetic.
“Of course!” Amelia said handing him the hot chocolate.
“How did it go?” Mrs. Jolie asked.
“Good. Really good,” Roy said tearfully.
Mrs. Jolie walked over to Roy. Roy was still gazing out the window.
“Roy, do you have a Christmas memory that you want to share?” Mrs. Jolie asked.
“None that will make your smile or laugh, it is not joy I would be spreading,” Roy replied calmly.
“Then where are you headed this year for Christmas?” Amelia asked.
“I am… I am looking for the family that you all say is so great… I am looking for the people to spend my Christmas with,” Roy answered, ambiguously.
“And who is that exactly?” asked Ben as he neared Roy, curious about the situation.
“My estranged daughter and her family… I am supposed to meet them tomorrow at 8:00 am when my train gets in but with the delay…” Roy turned around so Amelia could not see his tears.
“I already made a mistake once, the least I can do is show up on time…” Roy said, now getting angry at himself.
“Why don’t you just let them know you have a delay?” Ben asked- as if the answer was clear. Roy knelt down next to Ben.
“Ben, this might be hard to understand, but with the number of mistakes I have made with my relationship to her, every little thing I do adds up and it just makes her resent me more. This will just be another thing on the list of mistakes I have made and she will hate me for it,” Roy said and slowly walked away.
“How do you know that?” Amelia questioned.
“How do I know what?” Roy retorted.
“How do you know that she resents you or will hate you for this delay?” Amelia said.
“I- I… I don’t… I think…” Roy began.
“You don’t,” Amelia said plainly.
“What is there to hate about snow?” asked Ben confused.
Roy looked at him, for once a kindness in his eyes as he looked at the 6-year-old boy.
“Well, well… you see it is cold and it stops me from getting to the places I want to get to,” Roy said cautiously. Ben looked at him confused.
“But snow is great. You get to play in it with friends and when you get cold you can curl up by the fire with your family and drink hot chocolate and play games!” replied Ben.
“Just like your Christmas in Canada,” said Roy, he looked down at his feet.
“Exactly!” Ben almost yelled.
“See Ben that does sound great but the difference is that I don’t have anyone to do that with,” Roy said, regretting his words as he spoke them.
“Just because you don’t have family by blood does not mean that you don’t have people who care for you and love you, Mrs. Jolie taught me that,” Ben said and he walked away, done with the discussion. Roy looked out the window again. Amelia was shocked by the quick turn around of his character. Clearly, Christmas is not an easy and exciting time for everyone.
“I was thinking maybe I could share the firs—” Amelia began.
“CAN I GO FIRST AMELIA?” Yelled an eager red-haired boy, cutting Amelia off. Amelia chuckled.
“Someone is eager to share, of course, you can go first….” Amelia raised a brow as if to ask his name.
“Oh sorry! My name is Ben,” Ben said with a big grin on his face.
“Tell us your story Ben,” Mrs. Jolie said kindly.
“Okay, so last year we went up to Canada for our Winter vacation so it was very cold. I had never been that cold before. It was so so so cold but it was okay because when we got there there was SNOW on the ground,” his eyes widened at the term snow.
“It was so bright and fluffy and we all began to play in it. I had never seen snow like that in December. The best part was how when Christmas morning came it began to snow again! We had a white Christmas!! The whole day we spent making snowmen and snow angels and Mrs. Jolie made us hot chocolate with marshmallows and we played board games. That was the best Christmas I ever had,” Ben said, his eyes were a little teary.
“Is that what makes it so memorable for you Ben, the snow?” Amelia asked.
“Yeah oh and how Timmy fell into the river and he was so cold so we all had to give him a group hug for 10 minutes,” Ben said with a fit of laughter. He looked at a little brown-haired boy with freckles who was turning redder with every second.
“But if it weren’t for him falling in the lake we wouldn’t have started the fireplace and made s’mores so I guess it all worked out,” Ben said running over to Timmy to nudge him till he began to laugh too.
“Hey look outside!” Amelia heard someone call. The kids and Amelia looked outside to find flakes of snow falling. They were drifting with the wind and collecting on the ground- it was mesmerizing to watch. The station was quiet for a few minutes as everyone watched the snow fall. Snow right before Christmas, what could be better?
Then someone broke the silence.
“Gosh darn, I hate snow.”
It was Roy.
Amelia stared blankly at the people passing through the train station. Kids, parents, grandparents, businessmen, lawyers, doctors, artists, musicians, all passing through the station headed to their destination. The only commonality between them being that they all chose the train as the mode of transportation that would get them to their loved ones. Amelia thought back at her memories of Christmas’s spent in Europe. At the Christmas Market, the bits and bobs being sold, mulled wine, delicious baked goods and of course the company. Christmas stories and memories always made Amelia feel better. That’s it, thought Amelia, I know exactly what we have to do.
“Mrs. Jolie, would you mind if I sat the kids down and we all shared our past Christmas stories and memories? I think it would be a fun pass time.”
“Of course, what a brilliant idea! Kids lets sit in a circle like we do at home!” and with that, the kids all scurried towards Mrs. Jolie’s feet and sat criss-cross applesauce, attention drawn directly to her.
“Amelia has something she wants to do with you guys,” Mrs. Jolie said as she stepped aside so that Amelia could take her place.
“I want us all to share our Christmas stories and memories with one another, as a good way to show what we are thankful for and too spread our Christmas joy!”
“What if we they don’t have any happy Christmas stories to share?” said the pessimistic voice of Roy himself. Amelia had been counting on this.
“Well then it is all the more important that you listen to the stories that we share today,” Amelia said with a nod.
Now let the stories begin.
The station had begun to clap for the orphaned kids who had just filled the huge New York Station with a spontaneous concert of Christmas music. The children were clapping and yelling for themselves as well, hopping up and down and smiling. However what was still on Amelia’s mind was how she had seen Roy really and truly singing. He sang without reservations and worries- but the second the music was off he turned back into the cold old man who had stomped all over everyone’s Christmas spirit. Amelia glanced over at Roy. He was back at his corner in the waiting room, if anything, he looked even grumpier now. You could barely make out his gray eyes from underneath his frowning brow.
“You saw him singing too huh?” Amelia turned around to find Mrs. Jolie- smiling per usual.
“Oh, yeah, you too?” Amelia asked surprised.
“Yes, it is a true gift of his. I wish he would embrace it more but oh well,” she said and turned around to face the kids who had taken out a coloring book to share and color with.
Amelia looked at the kids. She wanted to do something else that was ‘Christmassy’ and exciting with them but she couldn’t think of what. As quickly as the Christmas cheer had exploded in the train station it had disappeared as soon as the caroling had ended. What would make Amelia happiest is if she could find another activity for the kids and another way to get Roy out of his shell- since she now knew deep down that he was just like everyone. Chasing his Christmas wish.
Amelia corralled the kids under the electronic board with the boarding times. The speakers were finishing up with ‘White Christmas’ and moving on to ‘Jingle Bells’. She looked at all the kids.
“Do you guys know ‘Jingle Bells’?”
“YESSS,” yelled all the kids in unison.
“Well then let’s give this Train Station something to enjoy while waiting for their trains! Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way, oh what fun…”
Amelia began to sing and the slightly off-tune children joined in. A few of them were still too busy finishing up their gingerbread cookies to sing. Who could blame them? Food is good. Mrs. Jolie was also singing, to Amelia’s surprise she could not sing at all. She had pictured a beautiful velvety soprano voice but instead got a croaky baritone. But hey that was the beauty of it, no matter how good or bad your voice is you were spreading the Christmas spirit.
Then the oddest thing began to happen. Something Amelia had not anticipated at all. The people in the waiting room began to sing too, some families with kids came to stand by them and join in. Even some of the staff at the restaurants and cafes had begun to sing and the security too.
Then the ultimate surprise. Of the mob of people surrounding the orphaned children Amelia could make out an old man with a grey receding hairline and glasses- it was Roy- and he was singing. Roy was really singing, he had his eyes closed and his hands were moving with every breath he took- he loved it. Amelia began to walk towards him. He too was a baritone but he had the velvety voice that Mrs. Jolie was lacking. The song ended. He opened his eyes to find Amelia standing next to him- staring.
“What do you want?” He asked gruffly. The man she had seen a few minutes ago had disappeared.
“Excuse me miss, you bought all the kids cookies but we never really introduced ourselves. I am Mrs. Jolie. I am bringing the kids to a home in upstate New York for the Holidays… get them out of the city a bit,” Mrs. Jolie said with a smile.
Mrs. Jolie huh — if Mrs. Clause had a French sister that would be her name… Amelia thought with a chuckle.
“That should be exciting for the kids. My name is Amelia Bell. I am heading up to Maine for the break- to visit some family,”
From behind Amelia heard a familiar gruff voice, “Family — what a waste– just like this cookie” it was the grumpy old man again. Irritated Amelia looked back and responded.
“I am sorry I don’t think I ever caught your name,” she said while struggling to be polite.
“You give strangers cookies without knowing their names? Something is wrong there…” he said with a low chuckle. Amelia was just surprised to see him smile.
“The name is Roy,” He said and walked off.
“What an odd man,” said Ms. Jolie. “I think he just has to get into the Christmas spirit, I mean look around what a perfect place for some Christmassy fun!”
Amelia had never seen a train station as a place to have fun for Christmas but now that she looked around she realized that there was, in fact, plenty of possible ‘Christmassy’ activities.
“Hey, Kids, who wants to sing Christmas carols?”
Amelia watched as the orphaned kids stopped to look at some iced gingerbread men at the bakery in the train station. She could smell the freshly baked cookies from where she sat. They were smiling and watching the store clerk decorate the cookies with snowy white icing and rainbow sprinkles. Amelia looked at all the kids and a thought occurred to her. Sure she was stuck at a train station alone but at least she could make the most of the situation and she knew exactly where to start. Amelia picked up her small duffle and walked confidently towards the group of kids. She was about to speak when the same elderly lady who was leading the group came up to her. She reminded Amelia oddly of what Mrs. Claus would look like. She was shorter than Amelia so she looked up at her and smiled.
“How do you do young lady?,” the Mrs. Claus look-a-like asked.
“Erm- I am doing well, actually I was just about to offer to buy the kids some cookies if that is alright?” and with that, the group of children erupted with screams of contentment. They all circled around her to give Amelia a group hug- to her surprise.
“Buying kids cookies… I would save your money if I were you…” said a man behind Amelia- It was the grumpy cursing old man. Amelia didn’t respond with words (just a stern glare).
“I’ll have 16 of your finest gingerbread men!” Amelia told the store clerk. The kids all began to munch happily on the cookies in the waiting room. Crumbs stuck to icing covering their hands and face. Amelia then walked over to the old man and handed him the last gingerbread cookie.
“It looked like you needed one,” she said as she placed the cookie beside him and walked away…
During Amelia’s intermittent glances at the board with all the train boarding times, she noticed the time climb up slowly from an hour delay to one hour and 15 to one hour and 30 and ultimately two hours. A woman came on the speakers to explain the situation. “Unfortunately there is a delay for train 141. It is unexpected and we are sorry for the inconvenience,” so I guess that’s their explanation… thought Amelia with a pang of irritation. She looked around the station, no one cared, everyone was cheerful and laughing. Except for an elderly man waiting by the corner of the waiting room, away from everyone, and cursing as he glanced at his ticket. He had a receding grey hairline and tired eyes. He made eye contact with Amelia who quickly looked away. Well isn’t today going great. Amelia looked down at her phone, time was passing so slowly and her family kept sending her pictures of delicious Christmas foods. Honey roasted ham, mashed potatoes, buttered peas, warm biscuits, Dutch Apple pie, they looked like they were having an early Christmas Dinner- and Amelia was simply stuck at a grimy train station alone. As she sat feeling sorry for herself a group of children passed her. They looked about the age of 2-8 years old, about 15 boys and girls lead by a sweet-looking elderly and plump gray-haired woman. All the kids had Christmas hats and candy canes in their mouths and big smiles on their faces, what stuck out the most, however, was their matching green shirts. They all read McGillan’s Orphanage for Boys and Girls. They were orphans. Instantly Amelia felt bad for the pity party she had thrown herself a few minutes ago. At least she had somewhere to go for the holidays…
Penn Station in New York City was decked out in Christmas decorations. Bells, red ribbons, Christmas trees, lights, ornaments, candy canes… the whole shebang. People were walking around the station with Santa hats and the restaurants and stores were giving out free treats and goodies for everyone’s travels. Amelia picked up a free oatmeal raisin cookie and some hot coffee. It was a late night train, 9:00 pm on December 23rd. She would be making it home on Christmas Eve around noon. She looked around the train station. Despite the decorations, it was still a little grimy and dirty. The waiting room was completely full of families and people trying to get home for the holidays. They all had the same anxious yet excited looks on their faces as they waited for their boarding gate to be posted on the board. That was when the first disaster struck. Amelia was already at a train station- a place where she did not feel comfortable or content, but what was worse was when train 141 was delayed… by an hour. An hour isn’t too bad thought Amelia as she settled into a seat in the waiting room. Could be worse. As long as I get home by Christmas I am all good. The intercom then began to play ‘White Christmas’ and she slowly sank into the tough plastic waiting chair. Looking around the station she saw everyone begin to board their trains. Everyone was so excited to be going home, hopping up and down and screaming with joy when the train told them to start boarding. And as everyone slowly began to leave she realized that they were all going home, and she wasn’t, she had never felt so alone…
Trains had never been Amelia’s favorite mode of transportation. However, this year it would be the cheapest and most efficient way to get to her hometown of Greenwood. In fact, the only thing that was going to get her through the train ride was the knowledge that at Greenwood snow was already littering the ground, frost was licking the trees, and a mug of hot chocolate was waiting for her at the kitchen counter. She couldn’t wait. But for now, she would have to tackle the train. Amelia wasn’t sure why she was not a fan. Airplanes never bothered her, as a matter of fact, any other mode of transport didn’t bother her— just trains. Perhaps it was that she always thought that they would be grimy and boring. At least on a plane, there is the excitement of flying through the sky. To her, the train was just a glorified and costly metro. But that didn’t explain her disdain for them. Maybe it was the many TV shows and movies that she had watched. They had led her to believe that at any moment a villain was going to destroy the train tracks. The train would then not be able to stop in time before launching off the broken tracks. And only someone of superhuman strength would be able to stop it. Or perhaps it was just that this was her first time taking a mode of transport that wasn’t a metro or car alone somewhere… Amelia thought as she entered the train station. She had arrived two hours early- not knowing if she should get there as early as she does for planes or metros so she just guessed and thought the earlier the better. She was prepared for the train ride, well at least she thought she was…
Catch you in the New Year ❤