Christmas Pain

Sandy knew that he was late. Traffic had been crazy that Friday afternoon, but he had had to pick up some hardware for Wilf if the bleachers were going to be finished for Sunday. Kids' concert required some props, and Wilf was just the guy for the job.

Sandy had known him for years and had overseen much of his work on job-sites. He was about eight years Sandy's junior, but looked almost the same age. Things had been rough the last five years, throughout his wife's bout with cancer, and afterward. He had not found it possible to return to church without Melanie. They had been such a close couple since third year high school dating. Regrettably, no children, but Melanie had found her progeny in decades of school children and Sunday School children.

True to form, Wilf had all the planks, brackets and casters in place by the time Sandy arrived. Time was always very valuable to this man, and Sandy could recall many a day of inclement weather when Wilf had managed still to prove himself productive on a building site. This job would probably take about eight hours over the two remaining days. Wilf had already painted a couple of convincing backdrop panels suitable for the pageant theme. He had done this so often with Melanie's classes.

"What will it be this season, Wilf? A flight to South Carolina again and a week of golf?

"Nope, no plane this time. They are getting too expensive. But I have thought about driving. I'll just see what the weather looks like by mid-week and then decide. There are a couple of buddies down there who will be up for the links for sure."

The two men remained silent for a couple of moments, but clearly their thoughts were on the joyful Christmas seasons which Wilf and Melanie had hosted in their home. It was gone now and replaced by a cheerless bachelor apartment.

"Buddy, you know that you would be welcome to share Christmas dinner with us. The girls will be coming with their families. It would do you good."

"Just let me think about it for a day or two, would you? Things now are just...different."

Thus ended the perennial episode. Courteous offer. Courteous response. But nothing would come of it.

With the team-work and timing which had made the two respected professionals in construction for so many years, these friends worked wonders over the next few hours.

One could hear over the banging of hammers and buzz of cordless drills, a radio somewhere, playing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".


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