Gary's Christmas Wish
by Lori Anderson

Summary:  Gary gets a christmas wish from someone he doesn't know, and you won't believe what he wishes for.  Standard Disclaimer Applies

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Gary's Christmas Wish
by Lori Anderson

 Chapter 1

Meow. Thump.  Here we go again Gary thought as he got out of bed at 6:30 to go downstairs.

"I'm coming.  I'm coming," he grumbled as he headed towards the door in his black cotton robe.

Sighing, Gary opened the door just enough to slide the paper out from underneath the cat, and shut the door.

Just once he wished that the paper wouldn't come to him, and he could take sometime away from it.

Gary tossed the paper on the table, and went over to the coffee pot to pour himself a cup of hot black coffee.

He went back to the table, sat down, took a sip of his coffee, and opened the paper.

"Well, let's see what's in store for today," he told himself as he scanned the paper for any saves he had.

There wasn't any on the first page, but when he opened the second page, there it was.

"Store Santa gets mugged outside Walmart's.  A bell ringing Santa collecting for the Red Cross was mugged by an unknown person earlier today outside  Walmarts store.  He wasn't hurt, but the mugger stole what money what is in the kettle, and fled on foot.  According to police, the incident happened
around noon," Gary read. 

He shook his head and reached for his coffee cup to take another sip of coffee.

"Good morning sweetheart.  Anything interesting in the paper this morning?," Toni asked coming into the kitchen wearing her blue robe and going over to
the coffee pot to pour herself some good hot coffee.

Gary nodded.  "Yeah.  Around noon, I've got to save a store Santa from being mugged outside Walmart.  Good morning honey.  Are the kids still asleep?,"
he replied smiling at his wife.

Toni nodded.  "Yeah.  They're still asleep.  They'll be up in a while."

She went over and sat down besides her husband.  She took a sip of her coffee.

"Let me see the paper please."

Gary handed her the paper, and Toni read the article.

"Who would mug a Santa collecting for the poor?  This one is easy for you."

Gary took the paper back and nodded.  "Did you ever get anything like this when you were on the force?"

Toni shook her head.  "Nope.  It never happened when I was on duty as far as I know."

"It won't happen this time either  because I'm going to prevent it.  Could you fix me some breakfast please?"

Toni nodded again, and sipped her coffee.  "Sure.  Coming right up."

Chapter 2

After playing with his children after breakfast, Gary kissed Toni good bye, told her he'd see her later, and left. He had to go to Mc Ginty's and start his business like he did everyday ever since he and Chuck had gotten it from the man who had bought it from the orginal owner years ago, and turned it around.
"Good morning Chuck.  Marissa," Gary said entering the bar smiling at his friends.

"Morning Gar.  Nice weather we're having, isn't it," Chuck replied smiling back sipping his hot coffee.

"Since when you are so interested in the weather lately pal?"

"Since Jade and I have been watching the weather channel every night.  She got me started on it the other evening, and you won't believe some of the weather we've been seeing on the weather map."

"I see.  Is there any specail reason you two are watching the weather channel?"

Chuck nodded.  "Yeah. there is.  We were having dinner the other night, and out of the blue, she wants to go to her mother's house for Christmas this year.  I said okay and asked her where her mother lives.  She said that her mother now lives in Florida in a condo and called her when I was here at work wanting us to come there for the holiday.  She wants the weather to be nice so we don't have to worry about fighting any snow or ice."

Marissa smiled.  "I can understand how Jade would feel about that.  Emmet's relatives in Ohio wants us to come there for Christmas.  We plan on driving there instead of flying," she said.

"What are you and Toni going to do for Christmas this year Gar?"

Gary poured himself a cup of coffee and took a sip before he answered. "We're going to have our own special christmas with just the kids and us at home this year.  My parents are taking a cruise for the holiday."

Marissa sipped her coffee.  "That sounds nice Gary."

Chuck decided to change the subject.  "So, what's on your agenda today Gar?"

"I've got to save a store Santa from being mugged outside Walmart today at n oon."

"Anyone who would mug a store Santa would have to be crazy or something.  I know you'll get there before it's too late.  You can tell us all about it when you get back."

Gary sipped his coffee again and went inside his office that he shared with Marissa and Chuck. There were some paper work that he had to do, and he sat down to do it.  He smiled as he remembered the last time he had done paperwork around this time of year.  That was when he had met Nicky and helped her to get over the feeling that she had caused her parent's death that year.  She had kept in touch with letters to let him know how she was doing and asked him to write back when he could which he did.

Chapter 3

Right before noon, Gary left Mc Ginty's heading downtown towards the Walmart's store hoping to get there in time to prevent the store Santa from being mugged by someone coming down the street wearing a ski mask. He got there and saw the Santa standing outside ringing the bell asking for donations by the red pot. Smiling, Gary reached in his pocket and took out a dollar.  He dropped it into the kettle, and turned around in time to confront the would-be robber
in the face.  "I just put a dollar in there, and I'd be real mad if I saw you reaching in there to take it out.  So, if I were you, I'd forgot about reaching inside the pot to get the money that's going to those less fortunate.  These people inside the store can see you too," he told the man.

"How, how did ya know what I was going to do mister?," the would be mugger asked stunned.

"It doesn't matter how I know.  Either drop something in the pot, or get out of here.  Choice is yours."

Sighing, the man walked away shaking his head that Gary had somehow knew what he had planned.

"Thank you mister.  I'd be in a lot of trouble if you hadn't come along.  My name's Bruce," the Santa said.

"Nice to meet you Bruce.  My name's Gary Hobson, and you're welcome," Gary replied smiling.

"Well Gary, you  just helped saved Santa from being robbed.  Is there something special you  would like for Christmas this year?"

"Yeah, but I'm afraid it's nothing that you can do.  Have a nice day."

Gary went back to the bar taking out his paper and was relieved to see the story about the mugging gone.

"If I had a christmas wish, I'd wish that from Chirstmas Eve until after New Years that the paper would go to someone else, and I could spend some time
with my family without worrying about the paper," he said.

Knowing that it would never happen, Gary put the paper back in his pocket and went on his way.

However, little did he realize that his wish had been heard by a lady who had been passing by.

She had heard what he had said, and was determined to make it come true for him.

When she got home, the lady put her coat in the closet and walked to her living room.

On her mantle above the fireplace was a picture of someone she knew very well.

"Gary Hobson, for your good deed today and your good heart, your christmas has been heard and granted. On Christmas Eve, your wish will come true!," Harriet chanted with her eyes closed and smiling.

Once every year, Harriet would go out in the town walking down the streets looking for people she could help who had a good heart and who helped others without a reward.  This year, Gary is the person she chose. He would never know until Christmas Eve that his christmas wish had been granted.

Chapter 4

Gary returned back to Mc Ginty's unaware that he had made a christmas wish that was about to come true. He entered the bar and saw Chuck behind the bar talking on the phone and writing something down on a piece of paper on top of the bar.  "Why doesn't he go in the office and use the phone in there?", Gary thought to himself as he walked to the office that he shared with Marissa and Chuck. Inside, Marissa was busy at her computer typing something and knew that Gary had just come in. "How did your save go Gary?," she asked as she continued to type away on her keyboard.

"It went alright.  Did you know that Chuck is using the bar for a desk when we he have customers sitting there drinking their beers and other drinks?,"
Gary replied sitting down in his chair across from Marissa.

Marissa finished what she was doing and shut off her computer beforfe she answered.  "Yes.  I've heard him take out the notebook the minute after the
phone rang,  I have no idea what he's writing, or whom he's talking too.  It could be Jade calling him about something, or someone making a reservation
for tonight."

At that minute, the door opened, and Chuck entered the office a strange look on his face.  "Gar, you're not going to believe this, but some lady just called and said to tell you that your wish is going to be granted that you made.  She said it was her pleasure to grant your wish and hope you like it. Did you make a wish of some kind to this lady without knowing it?," he told Gary giving him the phone message.

Gary frowned.  "No.  I didn't make any wish that I know of.  Whoeve this lady is, she must be mistaken."

"Did you see anyone other than the ones at the place where you went to earlier?"

"Nope.  How did this lady know my name and to call me here?"

"That's what I asked her Gar, and she said that was her little secret.  She hung up before I could ask her anything more.  Do you think it could be that pyshic lady again back in town?"

Gary sighed.  "That sounds like something she'd do."

"Who are you guys talking about?," Marissa asked.

Gary told her about the eposide about the physic that he had saved once and what happened afterwards.

"Why don't you call her and find out if she's the one who called here?"

"Good idea.  I'll do that Marissa."  Gary picked up the phone, and dailed the physic's number he still had. This is Gary Hobson.  You remember me from the last time we met."

"Yeah, I remember you, and I want to congrulate you on your marriage and having twins.  To what do I owe the honor of your call Gary?  Do you want me
to read your palm or something?," the lady said.

"None of that.  Did you call here earlier and tell Chuck that I made some kind of wish to be granted?"

The physic laughed. "No.  I'm not a mind reader Gary.  It wasn't me."

"Okay.  Sorry to have bothered you.  Have a nice day.  Good bye."

He hung the phone a little puzzled.  He scratched the back of his head the way he did when he was nervous.

"She said it wasn't her that called here.  Chuck, if the lady calls again, get her name please."

Chuck nodded.  "Sure Gar.  If she calls here again, I will."

Gary tried to concertrate on his paperwork, but he couldn't get the strange message out of his mind. It made him feel like he had been watched earlier, and whoever had called, must have overheard him saying that he wished that someone else could get the paper from Christmas Eve until after New Years.
When he went home that evening, it was still on his mind as he entered his house.

"Daddy's home!," Rose cried as she ran towards her father from the living room where she and Jeff had been watching television while Toni was preparing dinner in the kitchen.

Gary smiled as he picked up his daughter.  "How's daddy's little girl?," he asked her.

"Fine.  Mommy's in the kitchen making dinner."

Gary kissed Rose on the check and gently set her down on the floor.  "Okay. Go back and finish watching your show.  I'm going to talk to Mommy for a few

Rose skipped back to the living room and Gary walked to the kitchen to talk to Toni.

"Hello sweetheart," he said kissing her on the check.

Toni turned around and smiled at her husband.  "Welcome home honey.  How was your day?," she asked.

"I'll tell you later.  Were the kids good today?"

"Yeah, they were real good today.  Go sit down and relax.  Tell the kids to wash up for dinner."

Gary nodded and went back to the living room where he sat down in his chair to relax.

Chapter 5

All through dinner, Toni knew something was bothering Gary, but didn't say anything just yet.  She'd wait until they were alone for him to tell her what had happened during his save earlier and afterwards. "The kids have their christmas list all made up, and are wanting you to take them to get the christmas tree this Saturday," she said raising her coffee cup to her lips and taking a swallow.

Gary sipped his own coffee.  "Okay, but it'll be after I'm done with work that day.  I'll try to get off early enough that we can go to the tree lot before dark to get our tree," he promised his twins.

"I'll make you hot cocca to drink when you get back from the christmas tree lot since it'll be cold that day."

Rose smiled and took a sip of her milk to wash down part of her salad that she ate.  "Did you tell Daddy what you want for christmas Mommy?," she asked looking at her mother.

Toni sighed.  "Not yet honey.  I'll tell Daddy when I'm ready.  Maybe you should tell him about one of the items on your list that you want for christmas."

"No fair!  If she can tell, so can I," Jeff said hearing what his mother had just said.

Gary decided the best way to handle the situation.  "Give your lists to your mother, and she'll take it from there. Understand one thing:  If she doesn't buy all of what you've written, don't complain.  Okay."

"Okay daddy.  Sounds fair enough," Jeff replied.

Now, that was settled, Gary went back to eating his dinner and enjoying himself.

Later, that night, after the kids were in bed asleep, Toni and Gary sat in the living room listening to the stereo playing christmas music softly, drinking coffee on the love seat together.

"The save went alright as always.  I went back to the bar, told Marissa how it went inside the office, and that's when Chuck came into the office.  He had just been on the phone talking to someone, and handed me a message that he written down on a piece of paper.  He told me I wasn't going to believe it, and I didn't," Gary told Toni as he sipped his coffee after he was finsihed.

Toni looked into his mud-puddle- eyes.  "What did the message say honey?," she asked.

"The message was from some lady who said that it was a pleasure to grant my christmas wish and that she hoped I enjoyed it.  She didn't leave a name, and hung up before Chuck could ask her anything else.  The truth is that I didn't make a christmas wish.  I did sorta of wish that I wouldn't have to worry about the paper from Christmas Eve until after New Years, but I know no one heard me say it.  I thought it might be something that the physic lady would do, and I called her to ask her if she had called and left the message.  She denied it. Said she wasn't a mind reader, and that it wasn't her that called earlier and left that message."

Toni frowned.  "This sounds a little weird to me.  You're sure that noone was watching you that you don't know of earlier?  I don't like some nut calling you at work and giving you that kind of message."

"Neither do I sweetheart.  I told Chuck that if she calls again, that he should get her name."

"Good idea.  The sooner we find out who this lady is, the better."


Meanwhile, Hazel was sitting in her house by her fireplace in her rocking chair petting her cat.

"I should've given Mr. Fishman my name before I hung up on him ealier Pokey. I want it to be a surprise for Mr. Hobson when on Christmas Eve, his wish gets granted.  I am not a witch nor anything like that.  It's just a specail power I've been given to grant someone's unspoken wish as I see fit," she told her pet.

The cat just purred in her lap and shut her eyes to sleep as her mistress continued to stroke her.

"Don't you fall asleep in my lap now.  We'll go to bed pretty soon.  I know you're tired and so am I."

Hazel yawned, and decided that it was time for both her and her cat to go to bed before they both fell asleep in the rocking chair.  She didn't want to wake up with a stiff neck in the morning.

Back inside his house, Gary was staring at the fireplace, trying to figure out who had called earlier that day.

"Gary, sweetheart.  Please don't worry about it now.  It 'll keep you awake tonight, and you don't need that. Tell me what you want for christmas, and don't say nothing.  I know you too well," Toni said.

Gary smiled.  "I can never hide anything from you can I.  Okay.  How about something for the jeep?," he replied.

"Try again.  It has to be something for you, and not for your jeep outside."

"There's a certain sweatshirt just like the way I have that I've been wanting for a while."

Toni smiled.  "That's more like it.  Now that I know, I'll get it for you."

"Your turn.  What do you want for christmas from me?"

Toni thought for a monment.  "A heart shaped necklace."

"You've got it my love.  It's getting late.  Let's finish our coffee and go to bed."

Chapter 6

The next morning, Gary went to get to get the paper as usual, and brought it to the kitchen where he put it on the kitchen table.  He went over and poured himself a cup of coffee to drink while he read it.  He took his first sip,set the cup down, and scanned the first page for anyone that needed saving.  Finding nothing on it, Gary opened the second page and read it, but didn't see anything there either.  The others pages didn't have anything on it either that needed his attention either which he though was very strange for some reason. "What's going on here?  Usually there's something in here for me to do, but there's nothing at all in every page.  Is this a joke Snow?  C'mon.  What's going on ?," he asked frowning at the paper again.  Sighing, Gary took another sip of his coffee, and decided to search the paper once more just in case.  This time, there was something on the third page that hadn't been there before when he had checked it, and Gary read it. "Woman's Purse Stolen at Pet Store.  An eldery lady had her purse stolen from her as she was leaving the store with a bag of catfood at ten this morning.  According to witnesses, she was almost to her car with her bag when a teenage boy came running around the corner, grabbed her purse, and took off running.'   Wow.  Sounds like a easy save today.  One of these days, these guys are going get arrested for doing things like this", he said
shaking his head, and  taking another sip of his coffee.

 Toni came downstairs in her blue silk robe and went into the kitchen to pour herself a cup of coffee.

"Good morning honey.  What's in the paper this morning?," she asked smiling at Gary.

"Some lady gets her purse stolen outside a pet store at ten this morning by a young punk.  That's the only thing I've seen so far that needs my attention today," Gary replied smiling back at his wife.

Toni came over and sat down besides him.  "You've got an easy save today. I'm taking the kids shopping with me today.  We might come over and see you
later.  DIid you sleep alright last night?"

Gary nodded.  "Yeah. I slept real good.  How did you sleep my love?"

"I slept good too.  Especially with you beside me as you were."

"Maybe I ought to get you a new nightgown.  Perhaps something kind of sexy."

"The necklace will be fine.  I know what you mean, though.  I'll buy my own nightgown."

"Okay.  I won't argue with you.  How's about some breakfast?"

"Coming right up.  The kids will be up soon, and I'll fix theirs as well."

Chapter 7

Gary went downtown to the pet store around ten oclock to save the woman from having her purse stolen by a teenager coming from around the corner.  He
spotted the lady coming out of the store and went up to her. "May I carry that bag for you to your car lady?," he asked polietly smiling at her.

"That would be nice.  Yes, you certainly may young man," the woman replied  smiling back at Gary.

Gary carried the bag of cat food to the woman's car and she followed him holding onto her purse with both hands.  The minute they reached the lady's car, the teenager approached the pet store from around the corner. He was looking to snatch the woman's purse and take off running like he had planned.  However, he was too late, because she was safely inside her car in the front seat buckling her seat belt, and thanking Gary again for helping her carry the bag of catfood to her car for her.

"Thank you again for helping me young man," she said.

"You're welcome.  My name is Gary Hobson," Gary replied.

"Mine is Martha.  Thank you again Gary."

"Nice to meet you Martha.  Take care now."

Martha waved goodbye, started her car, checked to make sure no one was behind her, and drove out of the parking lot.  Gary had just saved her from having her purse stolen by the teenager who was at the door.

Realizing that his would-be-pursesnatching attempt had been foiled, the teenager sighed and left.

Gary returned to Mc Ginty's and told his friends about the save at the pet store.  "So, I carried the bag of catfood to her car for her which left her hands free to grab her purse.  As I was leaving th parking lot, I saw the guy who had came to try to take her purse by the petshop door with his hands in his pockets.  He knew that his plan had failed and had to leave emptyhanded," he told them sipping a cup of coffee.

Chuck smiled.  "I can just see the look on that kid's face after he knew that you had prevented him from stealing the woman's purse, Gar," he said.

Marissa nodded.  "Good job Gary.  Even Toni would proud of you for that save," she told him.

Gary turned to Chuck. "Any calls while I was gone pal?"

Chuck shook his head.  "If you mean the mystery woman, no.  I wish she had called so I could ask her name."

"Toni didn't like it when I told her about it last night.  She could sense that something was bothering me all through dinner, but waited until we were alone to ask me what.  When I told her, she said she didn't like the idea of some woman calling me here and leaving a strange message."

Marissa didn't like it either.  "Maybe she won't call, and you can forget about her.  If you didn't make a wish that anyone could hear, then I wouldn't worry about it Gary."

"Yeah, you're right Marissa.  I'll just forgot about it right now."

Meanwhile, Hazel was pouring herself a cup of tea at her house from her tea kettle thinking about Gary. "I know that something has been somewhat of a burden to him, and I intend to make him not to have it through the holiday.  This I vow that your wish will be one that'll make you happy Gary Hobson," she said.

She took her cup of tea into the living room, set it down on her coffee table, and picked up her knitting needles. "Have to get this done for my friend.  Don't be jealous.  You'll have your time later.  Go take a nap for now," Hazel told her cat as she started working on the sweater she'd been working on.

The cat meowed once and walked towards his little spot where he could lay down and take a nap.

Hazel took a sip of her tea and carefully put the cup back on the coaster so it wouldn't leave a mark. She worked on her project humming to herself a song that she loved so much at this of the year.

Gary worked in his office on some of the paper work trying to get some of it done.  "Produce is up again this year like that one year.  What is it about fruit that people like so much?," he asked Marissa.

"It's always been that way this time of year Gary.  A lot of people like to eat fruit, including me," Marissa replied.  "At least, this is one christmas that you aren't alone my friend."

"Amen to that.  I have to take my kids to get our christmas tree Saturday afternoon, so I"ll be leaving a little earlier than usual.  Toni is doing the shopping."

Chapter 8

Toni and the children were inside the local grocery store, and she happened to see Meridith, Paul Armstrong's wife shopping with her daughter, Victoria. "Hello Meridith.  Victoria," Toni said smiling at them. "Hello Toni.  My goodness!  Rose sure gets prettier everyday.  Have you and Gary ever thought about sending them to school when they're ready?," Meridith asked smiling back.

"We haven't discussed that yet Meridith.  Right now, we've got kind of a mystery on our hands."

"Really?  I hope it's nothing too serious."

"It's not.  Some lady, we don't know who, is granting Gary a christmas wish, and he never made one. That is, he made a secret one, but not loud enough for anyone to hear it."

Meridith frowned.  "You say he never said his wish loud enough for someone to hear.  Did he tell you what his wish was if he had one?"

Toni nodded.  "Something about the paper.  I don't like the idea of some woman calling him at work and telling him that she's granting his wish that he never said out loud."

"Hmmm.  I think I should tell Paul about this.  He can put a trace on the phone, and the next time she calls, he can get an idea of where she's calling from, and send one of his men to the place."

Toni shook her head.  "No, don't do that Meridith.  It's nice of you to offer, but it's not necessary."

"Well, let me know what happens.  I'll see you later."

"Okay.  Tell Paul I said hello."

Meridith promised she would, and moved down the isle with Victoria in the cart.

Toni looked at her children.  "Don't tell Daddy about this, okay.  Let's get what's on the list and go home," she told them, and went down the isle herself taking what she had on her grocery list.


Hazel sighed, and put down her knitting needles.  Her hands were beginging to get cramped, and her eyes were starting to burn for some reason.  She reached for her cup of tea and took a sip to relax her. 

"Ah!  That feels so good.  Looks like a nice day today outside.  Time you went out for a while," she told her cat, Pedro, who was lying in his spot peacefully taking his cat nap."Alright.You can go outside later."

Hazel yawned, and rubbed her eyes gently with her fists.  She glanced at the picture up on the fireplace. It was a picture of her and her husband, Walt, taken on their 50th wedding anversary some years ago.

Since then, he had passed away from a heart attack, and she was alone with just her cat for company.

"I miss you so much Walt.  I wish I could've saved you somehow, but it was time for you to go.  I know you wanted me to go live with our daughter and her family in Florida, but Chicago is my home, and I intend to stay here until the day that I join you in heaven," she softly said tears in her eyes and took another sip of her tea. If I had a christmas wish, Hazel told herself, it'd be that I wouldn't be alone so much of the time.

Back at Mc Ginty's, Gary was sipping a cup of coffee and trying to do some of his paperwork in the office. He wondered if Martha was the woman who had called him earlier, but he knew she wasn't the one.

"I've got to quit thinking about this before I drive myself nuts," he told himself.

"That'd be hard for you to do Hobson,": a voice said and Gary turned towards the door.

"Armstrong.  What brings you here?"

"My wife called me from her cell phone in the car a few minutes ago.  Said that you got a phone call from some lady saying that she's granting you a christmas wish you're unware that you made," Paul replied.

"How did your wife find out about that?"

"She and Victoria ran into Toni and your kids at the grocery store and Toni told her about it.  You're not the first one this has happened to Hobson. There's been others who've had the same thing happened."

"Like some woman calling them where they work or live and telling them what she told me."

Armstrong nodded.  "That's right.  We've haven't been able to find out where she's calling from, but with your help, we might this time. "


"Let me put a tracer on your phone and when she calls again, keep her on the line long enough for us to trace where it's coming from.  Maybe we can find
out who she is and why she does this."

Gary thought for a monment.  "I don't know Armstrong.  I've got customers and family who call here at times. Isn't there another way you can find out where she's calling from other than putting a tracer on my phone?"

"There might be Hobson.  If there is, can I count on your cooperation?"

Gary nodded.  "Yeah.  Anything I can do to help."

"Good.  I'll get back to you on what we can do to find out who this lady is and where's she's calling from."

Chapter 9

Later that evening, Gary had a private talk with Toni in the kitchen while the children watched television. "I had a visit from Paul Armstrong today.  He said that his wife called him on her cell phone, and told him about the mystery lady calling me at work and leaving that message.  You wouldn't know how she found out, would you?," he said knowing that she told Mrs. Armstrong, but wanted to hear it from her.

Toni sighed.  "I admit that I told her about it in the store honey, but I also told her not to mention it to Paul. I had no idea that she'd go ahead and call him later.  I'm sorry if this upset you," she replied.

"I'm not upset.  He told me that I'm not the first person this has happened to, and wants to do something to catch this person and find out where she's calling from and why she does this."

"Maybe she just wants to help people someway. "

"You could be right, but it still gives me the creeps thinking about that message of hers."

"Go sit down in your chair and relax while I finish fixing dinner.  Put it out of your mind for a while."

Gary smiled, turned, and went inside the living room to sit down in his chair to relax like she said.

He watched his children watching television, and it always made him feel good inside.


Hazel's phone rang, and she put down her cup of tea to answer it.  "Hello," she said into the mouthpiece.

"It's me mother.  Bruce and I want you to come and spend Christmas with us. We will not take no for an answer.  We'll send you a ticket, and Bruce can pick you up at the airport when you arrive," Juile told her mother from her phone in her house in Florida listening to christmas music on the strereo.

Hazel sighed.  She knew her daughter can be stubborn at times, and this was one of them.

"Alright.  I'll come and spend Christmas with you and even New Years.  When would you want me to come?"

Julie looked at the calendar on the wall.  "You can come down on the 21st, and stay until the 3rd."

"I'll have to have someone watch my cat while I'm gone."

"Pedro will be fine mother.  Make the arrangements before you leave."

"I will.  Thank you for calling and inviting me to come and spend the holidays with you and your family."

"You know we wouldn't want you to be alone at this time of the year.  I'll see you on the 21st."

"I'll be there.  I love you."

"Same here mother.  Goodbye."  Julie hung up her phone.

Hazel hung up her phone and took a sip of her tea.  It would be good to get away for a while.

"I'm going to put you with a friend of mine while I'm gone Pedro.  Julie won't take no for answer.  She got it from her father who was the same at
times when he wanted something.  You'll be alright."

Pedro just meowed as he sat beside her chair swishing his tail back and forth.


Paul Armstrong sat in his easy chair playing with his daughter, Victoria, while his wife fixed their dinner.

"Have you been a good girl for Mommy today?," he asked her smiling.

"Yes Daddy.  I remember what you told me:  That if I be real good, I might get what I asked for on my list," Victoria replied smiling back at her

"That's right.  Just keep that in mind."

Meridith brought a salad bowl out to the table, and sat it down in the middle.  "She's got her eyes on a very special doll that she wants, honey. She'll show you the picture after dinner," she told her husband.

"I'll have to see what the price is before I agree that she can have it."

"Of course.  I explained that to her, and she understands."

Chapter 9

As he promised, Gary took his children to get their christmas tree that Saturday afternoon while Toni stayed home to make them all some hot chocolate and cookies to have when they got home from the tree lot. "This one looks nice.  What do you think kids?  Shall we get it?," Gary asked his twins pointing at a tall tree they had found.

Rose smiled. "Oh yes!  Please get it Daddy," she replied excitedly.

"Very well.  I'll go pay for it, and we'll take it home so Mommy can see it." Gary went over and paid the man for the christmas tree. Then, he came back, and with the man's help, carefully tied it to the top of the van with some rope he had brought.

"Thanks mister.  Merry Christmas!," Gary said shaking the man's hand smiling.

"Same to you Mr. Hobson," the man replied smiling back.

Gary drove back to the house playing christmas music on the radio with the children singing along.  Christmas was four days away, and he knew that Toni had a lot on her hands to get everything ready for the holiday.  She had already gotten the chirstmas shopping done two weeks ago, and she didn't have
to worry about that.  Still, Gary couldn't help thinking about the strange phone call he had recived two days ago while he was out doing a save and the
message.  He'd forget about it for now, and concertate on his children singing and having fun sitting in the back seat of the van in their seats.


Hazel was the arrangements for her trip to go visit her daughter and son-in-law in Floridia for the holiday.  A friend of hers had offered to take care of her cat and get her mail while she was gone which made her happy and relieved.  It was one less worry for her to think about while she away. "You'll like my friend Shirley, she told her cat smiling at it as she petted it's head.

Pedro just meowed and purred in her lap content.

"My fight leaves tomorrow morning at nine oclock from OHara.  Shirley will come at seven to get you and the key to the house in case she has to go in for
something.  You behave yourself while I"m away.  I don't want to come back and find out that you've been a bad boy.  I'll buy you something while I'm down


Gary carrired the tree inside the house after the children had gone in first, and set it down in the living room for Toni to see. "Come and look at the tree sweetheart," he said removing his gloves, and putting them inside his pockets.

Toni came out of the kitchen and looked at the tree.  "It's beautiful!  I know the perfect spot for it.  Put it right by the window," she said smiling pointing at the spot by the window.

Gary carefully put the tree in the spot she had pointed at and stepped back. "Good choice honey.  How about some hot chocolate?  It's cold outside, and I
need something to warm me up."

Toni laughed.  She went back inside the kitchen and came out with a hot cup of cocoa for her husband. "Here you are.  That'll warm you up for now."

Gary sipped it, and knew what she meant.  Later, she and him would snuggle up in bed together.

"Okay kids.  Let's get started decorating the tree.  You get the ornaments you want to put on it, and I'll get the lights ready."

Chapter 9

The christmas tree looked really pretty in the corner by the window with all the lights and decorations on it.  Even the tinsel that hung from some of the branches made the tree sparkle in a certain way. "Good job of decorating the tree kids.  There's some more chocolate chip cookies on the table if you want some," Toni said.

The twins went to the kitchen to get their cookies and Toni moved closer to Gary who was standing in front of the tree. "They really knew just where all the decorations went, didn't they?  What a nice tree you and the kids picked out," she said. 

Gary nodded.  "The minute they saw, they loved it.  You should've seen the look on their faces when we brought it," Gary replied.

"This is going to be one wonderful christmas this year.  All of us together in our house like we always wanted."

"They better not eat too many of the cookies before dinner.  What  are we having anyway?"

Toni sipped her hot cocoa.  "Roast, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, and rolls."

"Sounds good.  The kid's will love the mashed potatoes with gravy."

"I know honey.  For Christmas dinner, we're having goose with all the trimmings and everything."

Gary sipped his coffee and put his arm around his wife.  "It's hard to believed that Christmas is two days away."

Toni smiled.  "We won't put the kid's presents under the tree until after they're asleep tonight.  I've got them hidden away somewhere that only I know
about.  When it's time, we'll get them and set them under the tree."

"Good thinking my love.  We can't have them snooping and trying to figure out what's inside the boxes."


Hazel arrived in Florida in the afternoon on the 19th as planned.  Her son-in-law meet her at the airport, and took her luggage out to his car parked
in the airport parking lot where he put them inside the truck as Hazel got inside the front seat.

"Welcome to Flordia Hazel!  The kids will be glad to see you and so will Jane," Robert told her as he drove out of the parking lot.

"Thank you both for inviting me to spend the holiday with you.  I'd been lonely otherwise," Hazel said.

"We couldn't have you spend Christmas all alone in that house.  Why don't you move down here?  I'm sure we can find you a place here to live so that you can come and visit us whenever you want,."

"I appreicate the offer Robert, but I'm happy in Chicago.  I was thinking about getting an apartment actually after the New Year."

"You're finally going to sell the house after all this time?  I don't know how Jane will take that."

"She'll take it just fine.  The house is nice, but holds too many memories for me.  An apartment will suit me just fine."

"Let's not talk about it until after the holiday. We don't want to spoil your christmas."

Back in Chicago, Chuck was putting up his and Jade's christmas tree in their living room in a spot by the window.

"How does that look honey?," Chuck asked stepping back and looking at the tree.

Jade smiled.  "It looks perfect Chuck.  It'll look even better decorated. I've made some hot cocoa if you'd like some," she replied.

"That'd be fine.  You know, I'm glad that Gary's not alone and not living in that apartment of his anymore at this time."

Jade handed Chuck a cup of hot cocoa.  "Be careful!  It's hot.  You told me all about it when we first met.  He's so happy with Toni and his twins that I
feel like he has finally gotten the best presents ever.  That Marcia must have been a real witch to treat him like that.  I shouldn't say this, but I hope
she's the one all alone without anyone special this time."

Chuck laughed.  "She'd have her parents, but I know what you mean sweetheart. She wanted to make ammends with Gar by inviting him to her wedding with
Pritchard, but that didn't work out either.  She left him at the altar."

"I'm not surprized.  I feel sorry for anyone who'll marry that woman."

"Let's drop the subject.  Let's make a toast to Gary for a Merry Christmas."

Jade raised her mug of cocoa.  "I'll drink to that.  To Gary and his family, A Very Merry Christmas!"

They clinked their mugs, and took a sip of their cocoa looking at their tree which would be decorated later on.

Chapter 11

Christmas Eve morning came and Gary sleepily reached over and shut the alarm clock off  at 6:30.  Something was wrong, he thought to himself, knowing he
should've heard the cat meow and the thud of the paper against his front door by now. Grabbing his black robe, Gary went to the front door, opened it, and looked outside.  No cat, and no paper on the porch. What's going on here?, he asked himself scratching his neck like he did when he was nervous about something.

Was someone playing a joke on him?  Sighing, Gary shut the door, and went to the kitchen to pour himself a cup of coffee. Gary took a sip of his coffee and sat down in his chair at the table to ponder what was going on.  Where was the cat? Where was the paper?  These two questions went over and over in his mind as he sat at the table, frowning.

"Keep frowning like that sweetheart, and you'r face will stay that way," Toni told him as she came into the kitchen.

"Morning honey.  You're not going to believe this, but there's no cat outside with the paper.  I looked outside, but they're not there.  That's very strange.  The last time it happened, that one guy from New York got the paper, and that turned out to be a very usual day.  I can't figure this out.  I wonder where the cat and the paper could be," Gary said sipping his coffee.

Toni poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down besides her husband.  "Maybe this'll explain it honey.  Some woman called yesterday and gave me this
message to tell you."  She handed Gary the paper the message was written on.

Gary read the note and smiled.  "Gary, my name is Hazel, and I just wanted to tell you that your slient christmas wish has been granted.  Starting today until after New Years, the thing that you wished for will be taken care of by someone else.  Enjoy your holidays.  I'll explain when I see you when I pay you a visit when I return," the note said.

"I'd like to meet this Hazel and find out what she means by my slient christmas wish has been granted," he said.

Toni sipped her coffee.  "Maybe she must have known about you wishing that you didn't have to worry about the paper until after New Years.  Don't ask me how. You can ask her that when you see her.  Anyway, think of it as our very special christmas present and New Year's gift from her."

Gary smiled again.  "Yeah, that's a good way of looking at it."

Christmas came, and Gary enjoyed watching his children opening their presents. He was really enjoying not to having to worry about the paper, and for once,
he could enjoy Christmas without worrying about having to run around doing saves.

Three days later, Gary was inside the bar going over some paper work in his office, when he heard his name being mentioned outside.  He got out of his chair and went over to the office door.  Gary opened it, and entered the main floor.  He saw a sixty year old lady talking to Chuck, who had just noticed Gary coming out of the office.

"There's the one you're looking for Hazel.  Hello Gar.  This is Hazel, and she's here to see you," Chuck said smiling.

Hazel had no idea that Gary was so tall.  "Oh my goodness!  You're a tall glass of water," she said.

Gary almost blushed.  "Thank you Hazel.  Would you mind stepping into my office please?," he asked.

He opened the door for her, and Hazel entered the office with Gary following right behind her.

"Please be seated Hazel.  Thank you for granting my unspoken christmas wish. How did you know I had even made one?"

Hazel smiled.  "It's a special gift I have Gary.  I can't explain it, but every once in a while, I get the feeling that someone has made a wish and without even meeting the person, I grant their wish.  I was sitting in my living room doing some knitting when I felt something telling me that you had made a slient wish, and that I should grant it."

" I guess in a way we have something in common.  I have a specail gift myself that I can't explain to people, and you have yours. Does your husband know about your special gift Hazel?"

Hazel's eyes turned sad.  "My husband's been dead for many years now Gary."

"I'm sorry Hazel."

"Don't be.  We had a good life together, and although I love my home, I'm going to have to sell it.  There's too many memories for me, and it's too big
for me to take care of by myself.  I've already found a apartment I can move into after New Year's."

"If you ever need anything, don't be afraid to ask."

"Thank you Gary.  If you ever need a babysitter, you can count on me.  I love children!  I have grandchildren of my own along with my nieces and nephews.
My son-in-law who lives in Florida is going to help me sell my house."

"Hazel, why don't you come home with me today?  I'd like Toni and my children to meet you."

"I'd like that Gary."

Gary called Toni and told her that he had met Hazel, and was invinting her to dinner if that was okay.

"Sure honey.  I'll set an extra plate for her.  I want to meet her and I know the kids will like her," Toni told him.

"Good.  We'll be there at the usual time.  See you later.  I love you."

"Same here.  See you at five.  Good bye."

Gary hung up his phone and turned to Hazel.  "It's alset.  She's setting a extra place for you."

"This is going to be a wonderful evening," Hazel said feeling good inside.

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