Merry Christmas! (Langley Advance Times files)

A Christmas fable, continued

Jim McGregor finishes his story of a hardscrabble Christmas in Langley

Last week, Jim McGregor introduced us to Dan Peterson, back in his old neighbourhood for the first time in 10 years, and helping out a local family who were hard up at Christmastime. Dan and Barry were out Christmas tree hunting…

The security guard questioned, “Can I ask you where you cut that tree?”

Dan reached out his hand.

“I grew up here and I’m back for a visit. Old Mr. Fraser is a family friend and we always got our trees from him.”

The guard nodded. “He is one of the last holdouts to sell, drives everybody crazy. No worry about the tree, and if you’re planning on staying around and looking for work there is plenty coming in January when they start building. They’re looking for carpenters, truck drivers, electricians, all trades.”

He handed Dan an NOS Developments business card. Dan smiled, “Well, I’m moving on, but I just might know a truck driver that’s looking for work.”

Once they got the tree home, they set it up by the front window. June asked him to stay for lunch and over home-made stew Dan told her about his conversation at Mr. Fraser’s house and encouraged her to go see him and the community nurse.

He then gave Barry the business card he got from the security guard and told him about the hiring in January.

Dan stood up and pulled on his coat. “I have other people I’d like to see so I’m off. Maybe I’ll see you in a day or two.”

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, Barry was shoveling the driveway when Dan pulled up. Dan got out of his truck and looked at the house all decorated and noticed the familiar decorations on the tree shining in the window.

“The place looks good, nice job,” he said.

“Thanks to you,” Barry replied. “A lot has happened in two days. June signed a contract to be a full-time caregiver for Mr. Fraser and I start driving for NOS in January. To think a flat tire and a chance meeting with someone who used to live in this house would change our circumstances. We splurged and bought a turkey, and we would love to have you as our guest for Christmas dinner.”

“That’s quite an offer. I’ll see how the day goes,” Dan replied. “But as for the circumstances, I always remember how great our small town Christmas was. No matter how tough times were, there was always a promise in the lights and music and the smiles on people’s faces.”

Christmas Day came and went, and the guest chair remained empty, but they toasted Dan and thanked him with a prayer.

The next day Barry was getting gas and he asked the old timer at the gas station, “Have you seen Dan Peterson around the last couple of days? He helped us out and we wanted to say thanks before he left.”

The attended replied, “Dan Peterson? I don’t think you saw Dan Peterson. He was tragically killed skiing about 10 years ago. Too bad, he was nice young man.”

Angels don’t always look like angels at Christmastime. At least that’s what McGregor says. Merry Christmas!

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