I hope everyone enjoys the story and that it stimulates your minds to what an apocalyptic Christmas would really be like.
A CHRISTMAS GATHERING
Snow still blanketed the ground from the storm earlier in the year, giving Camp Valiant a Christmas look and feel John had never experienced back home. He rested his arms on the top of the front gate and stared out at the wintry scene. The blanket of white looked soft and cozy like a carpet of cotton.
Did it really take an apocalypse for me to appreciate the pure and pristine beauty of the snow and how appropriate it was for the holiday celebrating the Savior’s birth?
“Will Santa find us?”
John jumped at the sound of a voice behind him. He’d been so focused on the picture perfect landscape in front of him that his youngest son, Cody, had approached undetected. Clutching his chest, John turned around and tried to smile as he waited for his heartbeat to return to normal. “Sorry, what did you say?”
“Is Santa Claus going to be able to find us?” asked Cody. “There’s no addresses on any of the buildings. Most of the people still live in tents. And we don’t have any chimneys for Santa to slide down.”
John struggled to keep a smile off his face. With all of the problems the members of the camp had encountered so far it was comforting to deal with the matter of whether Santa could find them. It gave him a sense of normalcy he hadn’t felt in a long time.
“That is a good question,” John said, stalling for time.
Cody stood there, looking up at John. An expression of concern occupied his son’s features. This was obviously a serious problem for the boy.
John kneeled down to talk with Cody. “Do you remember the family discussion we had about all of the wars, disasters, and civic unrest going on in the world?”
“Sure.” Cody nodded. “Mommy cried, Robert joined the army, Sarah ran away, and then we moved here.”
Sarah hadn’t run away, but John didn’t feel it was the right time to argue the point with his son. He placed a hand on Cody’s shoulder. “How did you feel when those things happened?”
“Sad . . . and mad.” Cody scrunched his face in concentration. “Mostly sad.”
“That’s how the rest of us feel.” John waved his arm in a sweeping motion that indicated Camp Valiant. “All of us have given up comfortable homes and many of the items that are important to us.”
“What does that have to do with Santa?”
“Well . . . what do you think it’s like for Santa with so many people fighting?”
Cody gave John a wary look. “Santa lives in the North Pole. Nobody’s fighting with him. That’d be stupid. If they declared war on Santa they wouldn’t get any presents.”
“Alright,” said John. “No one is fighting Santa. That doesn’t mean the situation around the world doesn’t affect him. He has a big enough job visiting everyone on Christmas Eve in order to give them presents. Can you imagine how Santa feels about all of the children—and adults—who need help?”
“I guess it makes him sad,” said Cody, his mood subdued. “Maybe he should deliver food and medicine instead.”
“That’s a lot to expect from one person.”
“Santa’s not a person,” said Cody. “He’s Santa. He has Christmas spirit, holiday elves, and magic reindeer. He can do it.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s too much to do—even for Santa.” John let go of Cody’s shoulder and stood.
A determined look spread across Cody’s face. He looked up at John and said, “Don’t worry, Dad. I can help Santa.”
Then Cody marched off in the direction of the warehouse.
John wasn’t sure if that solved the problem, but he was proud of the way his son acted. Not many people would offer to help Grandfather Christmas. Most would just dwell on their misfortunes.
That’s my boy.
Now, all John had to do was figure out how to handle the long series of Christmas disappointments he expected to plague the camp. John’s feet crunched in the snow as he strolled over to the community kitchen. Thoughts about an apocalyptic Christmas bounced around inside his head. It sounded like something out of a science-fiction novel.
Who really had time to turn their thoughts to celebrating the birth of the Savior when they were busy staying alive? Christmas marked the celebration of Jesus arriving on Earth—the first time. The events currently plaguing mankind sent a clear message that Jesus was about to return. Would future generations celebrate the second arrival of the Savior?
John spent a few minutes trying to imagine what sort of activities and traditions would be part of the Jesus Returns holiday? How similar would it be to Christmas? What would everyone call it? The Homecoming? The Peace Launch? Or maybe Day One?
Attempting to invent a new holiday gave John a headache. He decided to leave the task to the holiday experts and fiction writers. Stomping his feet on an improvised doormat, he opened the door to the kitchen and stepped inside. Becky was gathered with a few of the other members of the kitchen staff. Bill Summers and Wayne Crawford stood nearby.
“What do all you think about having a camp Christmas party?” John asked.
“Would that involve more singing?” Wayne Crawford spit out the question like a grape gone sour.
“I suspect it would,” said John.
“Figures.” Wayne crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall behind him. “Mormons have an unhealthy obsession with signing. When they’re happy they sing. When they’re sad they sing. When someone is born they sing. When someone dies they sing. I’m surprised they don’t sing about singing.”
“Are you forgetting that you’re Mormon too?” asked Becky.
“No,” said Wayne firmly, “but I’m not obsessed with singing.”
The rest of the group laughed.
“A Christmas celebration sounds like a good idea,” said Bill Summers. “I can get some of the construction crew to put up a few decorations around the Community Center.”
“I suppose that leaves me with the task of finding a way to turn our food storage into something that resembles a Christmas dinner,” said Becky.
“That just leaves you Wayne,” said John. “I don’t suppose you want to be in charge of the musical portion of the celebration—do you?”
Wayne glared at him, but did say anything.
“I guess I can find someone else to do that,” said John, doing his best not to laugh.
Becky and the kitchen staff studied the boxes of food stacked against one of the walls, obviously looking for inspiration. Bill put on his coat and headed for the door. John joined him. They were about half way across the compound when Cody came running up and handed John an envelope.
“What’s this?” asked John.
“It’s a letter to Robert,” said Cody, with a great deal of excitement. “I know it will take awhile to reach him so I wanted to do that first. Can you drive that into town tomorrow and make sure it gets in the mail?”
John nodded. A trip into Greenville would give him a chance to visit with Sheriff McKinney and see how the town was holding up during the recession. He planned to ask if there was anything Camp Valiant could do for them.
“Thanks.” Cody ran off toward the security office.
“What are you doing?” asked John.
“I can’t stop and talk now, Dad. Santa really needs my help so I have a lot to do.”
John watched his son run off. He couldn’t help wondering if he had just witnessed the start of something big and wonderful.