Suzanne and I made a decision later that morning, and that was, instead of champagne and strawberries, which we had done several times before when she was here, we’d keep it simple. Just some wine and some good bread along with olive oil for dipping and perhaps a few chocolates to top it off.
It was Christmas, after all, and that was why she had stopped by for this all to short visit.
After we had decided, I said, “All right, I’ll get the bread and the olive oil, you get the wine and chocolates.” I noted that she could probably get some better wine than I could, and a a much cheaper price, if she paid anything at all”
Suzanne just smiled and said, “Bobby, I will bring the wine, and I will give you choices. Would you like a Cabernet, or a Pinot Noir, or a Chardonnay?”
I said, “I like all three, and if there’s any left over after we’re done, they won’t go to waste, so don’t scrimp.”
“Oh, my friend,” she said, “you are such an imp. I will make sure we have some left over.”
This was going to be a Christmas party, and so I got to work getting everything ready. I went through every box and found any candles that were left over from the old house, got them out and ready to light for the night. I lined up an evening’s worth of Christmas music from my library and I was ready to just enjoy spending the evening with her, the wine, the bread and chocolates.
Bailey and Brandy were not left out of the party either. Suzanne had brought some of the treats that my sister Jane had given them that they liked so much. So, the party was on.
I lit every candle I had, and turned down the other lights in my little space, and after a while, the glow of candlelight was the only illumination in the room, and it gave it a magical look. The music helped set the mood, and it was one of a quiet joy. A feeling I used to get when Joanie and I would have the house ready for our little private party on Christmas Eve. It made me remember. It also made me miss her all the more.
Bailey and Brandy had their treats, and were now finding a place to relax and take a nap, not to far from Suzanne, though. For some reason they liked being close to her.
I chose a Cabernet to start the party off with, and she had made a good choice. It was a wine I couldn’t have afforded on my budget, so this night was going to be special.
I poured us each a glass, and as I sat at my end of the butcher block table, and she at the other, I just stared at her for a moment, amazed at what a sight this would be if anyone else could have seen it.
She, also, saying nothing for a moment, lit one of her long, dark cigars, and smiled at me.
I raised my glass and said, “Kala Christougena.” That was Greek for Merry Christmas.
Suzanne laughed, and said, “Bobby, you little cheater. You must have looked that up on your computer. But even if you did, they didn’t show you how to pronounce it.” Then she said, “Merry Christmas to you, too.”
“Okay, so I looked it up,” I said, I just wanted you to feel at home for a little bit.”
She said, “I always feel at home when I’m in your home, and I appreciate the effort.”
We opened another bottle of wine, this time a Pinot Noir, and everything seemed to take on a softer glow in the candle light. I asked her again, why she stopped in, and what her plans were for the Christmas holiday. I knew that they celebrated it, even if their traditions were a little different from ours.
Suzanne took a puff on her cigar along with a sip of the wine, and said, “As I told you the other night, I wanted to stop and see you and tell you how happy I was for you and the writing you have done since I last saw you. I also wanted to let you know that it really wasn’t me that inspired you to get to work as you did. If you remember, the night I left, I pointed at the picture of Joanie on your wall, and you knew she was the real muse, and was all you needed to get her story told. I was just sent to give you a little boost. You have done that, and now you have to finish.”
I then asked her about Christmas, and she gave me one of her puzzling muse answers as she had done many times before. “She said, Christmas is a special time, especially for children, and if you can let yourself think as a child, it will be magical.”
Then, she took another sip of wine and asked me what I thought of Christmas.
I told her we didn’t have enough time, nor do I have enough space to go into it.
“All I can say,” I said, “is that all my life Christmas has been a magical time. When I was a child at home, when I was first married to Mary Ann, and later when I would spend time at my sister, Joni’s in St. Cloud, and finally the years with Joanie when our house used to shine so on the inside that anyone passing by would know that this was a home that kept Christmas. Joanie also loved Christmas as much as I did.”
“Oh, Bobby, my friend,” she said, “I knew all that, I just wanted to hear you say it. Not many men have the ability to express emotions like you do. That is a gift, not unlike what children are able to do.”
“So,” I said, “you’re saying I’m like a child?”
“You know exactly what I mean,” she said, “and don’t ever lose that ability.
After a few more glasses of wine, she looked at me across the table. The candlelight seemed to embrace her, making her more beautiful than ever. I just sat there not wanting the evening to end.
She sensed my reluctance to let go of the moment, and looked at me and said, “This has been a wonderful time, and a great way for me to start my Christmas season. Unfortunately, I have to be gone. Mother is expecting us all for Christmas, and mother will not be disappointed.
“However,” she said, “there is one thing I want to do before go.”
Now she’s got my attention, I’m trying to picture what that might be, and hoping what it might be.
She said, “I’m going to leave you with a poem. Think of it as a Christmas present from me to you. I think you will understand the words in my poem, and I hope you like them.
I asked her again, if she really needed to leave so soon, and she just nodded and I knew she was going to leave.
I asked her one thing and that was if she would stop by again when she was in the area.
She said, “Bobby, I will be watching you, and be sure that I will be back, if even for a brief visit. You are my friend.
Then, before I could say anything else, I looked and she was walking through the door, and was gone. How those muses do that thing with the doors, I still don’t know.
After she was gone, Bailey and Brandy wandered around for a few minutes wondering where their friend had gone. I poured myself another glass of wine, and noticed a piece of paper on the table where she had been sitting. I picked it up, and it was her poem, her Christmas poem. Here it is.
There’s a world out there,
Filled with color, light and magic.
Open your heart and you will see it.
The eyes of children this Christmas Eve will see it.
To them, nothing is impossible.
Anything imagined can be.
Reindeer really can fly,
An angels do get their wings
When a Christmas bell rings.
Music on a cold, Christmas Eve
Is a train of images that takes them
To magical places.
Take a moment tonight,
Close your eyes and remember
When that train took you to magical places.