It had been a busy night at my bar and I was cleaning up after the last guest left. It was Christmas Eve and most people headed out a little early to get home or do last-minute shopping. I locked up, turned off the lights and went upstairs to the apartment I shared with my wife Nicole and our little girl Mariah.
It was quiet in our apartment but I could see a dim light coming from Mariah’s room. I peeked in to see my girls saying their evening prayers. My daughter’s sweet voice was hushed but I heard her say “And God, please tell Santa the only thing I really want for Christmas is a kitty”.
I sat in the living room staring at the Christmas tree. Nicole came in and sat beside me. “You heard?” I nodded and said “You know, Nic, she’s such a good girl, never asks us for anything. I have to see if I can find her a kitten.”
“At this hour, Kevin? Where are you going to go?”
“Honestly Nic, I have no idea – but I have to try.”
Every place I tried was either closed or sold out of kittens and puppies. Even the humane society and animal shelters had no kittens. I drove up to Westchester and down to Brooklyn with no luck. Time was running out and I was getting more and more depressed with every passing minute. I just wanted to make Mariah happy; disappointing my little girl on Christmas was not an option.
As I was heading back home, Nicole called. “Kevin, did you have any luck?”
“No luck, Nic. I’m tired, I’m frustrated and I’m really bummed out. I’m gonna stop for a quick cup of coffee and I’ll be home in a few. Love ya.”
I pulled into a 24-hour Dunkin Donuts and ordered a coffee while the store owner’s cat rubbed up against my leg. “Adding insult to injury” I thought. At this God-forsaken hour the store was empty. I asked to use their restroom and as I walked to the back of the shop, I noticed a box in the corner. Normally a box wouldn’t interest me but this box was whimpering. I gently flipped up the top and to my amazement saw four kittens in the box. Forgetting my need to use the restroom, I raced back out front, startling the owner.
“Sir, I’ve been driving all night looking to buy a kitten for my daughter for Christmas. Please, I’m begging you! Can I possibly buy one of your kittens?”
The owner looked at me and said “Aw, no man. They’re not for sale.”
I stared at him blankly, not knowing what to say. I was exhausted and frustrating and finding a box full of kittens was a miracle. At this point I did’t care about my pride – all that mattered was Mariah – and I was willing to beg. I slowly got down on one knee.
The store owner looked shocked and even a little embarrassed. “Aw, come on man! What are you doing?” he asked incredulously. “Get up off the floor. I already told you I can’t sell you a kitten.”
I stood, looking him square in the eye. “I know, sir, but it’s my little girl. She … ” and he cut me off in mid sentence.
“I can’t sell you one” he repeated emphatically. “But I’ll gladly give you one for your kid.”
I swear to God, I could have kissed him. Grinning like an idiot, I grabbed him by the shoulders. “Bless you, sir. Merry Christmas!”
“Sit down and drink your coffee” he said as he shuffled off to the back of the store humming “Jingle Bells”.
Christmas morning Mariah excitedly ran into the kitchen and saw the mugs of hot cocoa and the Dunkin Donuts Munchkins box on the table. “Yay, Christmas Munchkins!” she squealed as she reached for the box, her big green eyes opening wide when she saw the tiny kitty staring back at her.
Yeah … this is the best Christmas ever.
NAR © 2018