The Christmas Cards

Unopened letters lay on the leather foot stool in front of the old chair. There was insurance statements, books by Miller and Bertrand Russell, sandwich bags that held cookies in them from a nearby church, and a television remote. All piled on this falling apart foot stool. He’d sift through the items when he was bored. But, these letters, addressed to him from Carolina, he never opened. He left them intact, stacked neatly, waiting for the right time.

Maybe never. Perhaps he would never open these cards that came every year ’round the same time. Could be he just liked looking at envelopes. Real pretty envelopes with printed holly and angels blowing trumpets on them along with Merry Christmas running over the borders. The stamp was an American flag.

They just sat there. All these letters of Christmas unopened. Until one night at two in the morning when he could not sleep he considered it. The wind wailed outside, an occasional siren from a cop car, and a couple arguing in a room down the hall, made it impossible to slumber. He made some tea and sat in front of the stool running his hands through the pile. He reached over for the letters and smiled.

It’d been years since he’d seen her. He wondered if there was anything different about her. Wondered if she had forgiven him. Thoughts ran through his head.

There was no return address posted on the envelope, no name, just Charlotte, North Carolina printed in black with the date.

He’d heard she wound up there. Heard she married some insurance salesman. Didn’t hear whether she was happy or not. He thought ’bout that from time to time.

And, he wondered how she got this address. Guess anything’s possible these days.

They used to go out sledding this time of year. Went to a big hill there in Pennsylvania. Other couples, families, would be there too. She’d watch the kids smile and drink hot chocolate from a thermos. She wished for kids every year ’round this time.

So, as the wind blew harder outside, he sifted the cards through his fingers. Maybe one day he’d open one, or, all of em. Maybe. But, not today. Not today.

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