It was a cold winter night. The wind was whistling around the trees. Small balls of snow were flying in circles moved by the chirp of the wind. There was a beggar lying on a frozen bench covered with snow and fallen leaves from the trees. No one could imagine who this man clothed in rags was.
The boy approached him with caution. He seemed to be asleep. He could hear the movement of his lips vibrating in the silence of the night.
“Mister, Mister! It’s too cold to be asleep on this bench covered in snow.”
The old man covered with rags woke up suddenly and looked at him with sadness.
“Hello, boy! Don’t worry, I’m used to the cold. Where I come from everything is covered with snow. It’s really cold there.”
“But if you carry on sitting on this bench you are going to freeze. And it’s Christmas Eve and you should not be alone. I’d like to take you to my house but we are very poor and we have no more beds. But I could shelter you in the attic.”
“Oh, don’t worry. I am okay. Just a little sad because I have lost my job. Nobody wants my service nowadays. Everything is very modernised with cell phones, computers, and other things.”
“That’s true, but I don’t have those things. My mother is too poor and doesn’t have money. My father, I actually never met him because he died before I was born. My mother works very hard and she doesn’t earn enough money to buy me presents. But me, I don’t care too much about presents because my mother loves me, and my little dog does too.”
“Then what would you like, boy?”
“Well, I have lots of wishes.”
“Umm, wishes? That’s good. What are your wishes?”
“Well, I would like to have lots of teddy bears and, more than anything, a new bicycle. I would also like to buy a new coat for my mother because the one she has is too old and she is always cold. For my little dog, I would like to be able to put him on my bike and take him to the park.”
“Beautiful wishes, son! Well, boy, go home because it’s getting late and your mother will be worried.”
“See you later, Mister. Maybe tomorrow I will come to see you.”
The boy covered his ears with his coat, looking backwards as he walked. He felt a bit sad to leave that poor man covered with rags alone. When the boy arrived home, his mother received him with great joy.
“Look, son, someone very generous has left a new bike and some teddy bears at the door. Even a coat that fits me very well.”
“Oh, Mother, what a beautiful teddy bear and the bike is new! And a new coat that will protect you from the cold and you won’t need to use the old one. Look, Mother, I’ve been in the park and I met an old man covered with rags, and I want to say to him that my wishes have come true.”
“Well, we will go after dinner because our neighbours have invited us to celebrate Christmas Eve with them and their family. Son, you know that we are very poor and they have enough food for us.”
“But Mother, perhaps it will be too late and he will be frozen.”
“Okay. Wrap yourself in your coat and we will tell the neighbours that we will be a little bit late.”
“Thank you, Mother.”
“Hurry up, son.”
Mother and son were so excited by the happy events and wanted to share them with the lonely old man covered with rags. They arrived at the bench in the park but there was no one there.
Suddenly all the trees were surrounded by bright lights illuminating the park. A reindeer-driven sleigh was rising into the sky.
There was the beggar, but he wasn’t wearing rags. What a surprise! His rags had transformed into a precious red velvet coat. The beggar was sitting on the top of the sled. He raised his hand and, waving to them said –
“Goodbye, my friends. I have got my job back. Someone wished for my presents. Enjoy them!”
Full of joy, the boy shouted –
“Don’t you worry, Mister! I will enjoy your gifts and I will continue each year wishing for new ones, so you can carry on working and I can have presents. You are like a father to me.”
“Yes, son, I am Father Christmas. See you next year. Merry Christmas!”
Written by Olga Fogarty from the key phrase Father Christmas