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Our Ghost of Christmas Present

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Posted 12-27-2010 at 12:36 PM by Jeff Westover

Every Christmas Eve, long after the children have gone to bed, he comes. The first thing on Christmas morning the kids look for is whether or not he has been there. They anticipate his coming and have even conspired to catch him in the act.

But they never do.

He is money in the bank. He comes every year.

He is not Santa Claus. He is John, an old friend of mine dating back some 30 years.

Our lives have taken different paths. We became first acquainted as green missionaries attending the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. We were there for language training, to learn Portuguese. We were both headed – we thought – for Brazil. Months later, after our group had all kinds of trouble securing government clearance to go to Brazil, we were reassigned to labor in Puerto Rico.

John and I got together once or twice in the year we were in Puerto Rico. But when we returned home around the same time we found each other within a year or two when I moved from California to Utah, where I was going to school. We roomed together for a while and even worked at a ski resort together for a time.

I got married, took a career position and had kids and moved around, leaving Utah I thought for good. John stayed at the same job he had in high school and is yet to marry.

When I moved back to Utah more than a decade ago, John was here to pick up where we left off, as if never a day was spent apart. We go to dinner four or five times over the course of a year, keeping tabs on each other’s family and situation. Occasionally there is a need that brings us together. When I have had occasion to move John always comes over the help out. Sometimes he might accompany us on an event and if there is something major going on – like when Aubree came home from her mission earlier this year – John was there to celebrate with us.

Every Christmas Eve, long after the kids are in bed, John will stop by whatever place he can still find open and buy something he thinks we will use. I’m guessing he spends his time with his family – he is the youngest of nine children, a very popular uncle with dozens of nieces and nephews – then he drops by my house on the way home.

He is the classic convenience store shopper, picking up bags of chips, cookies, sodas, cheese spread and assorted chocolate. He knows that in my house the stuff he gets will be eaten within days. He is so regular and so predictable that the kids have come to count on his coming as much as tracking Santa Claus and reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. It’s just not Christmas without John dropping something off on the porch.

This year my kids conspired to catch John. Even though Santa sent the kids to bed around 10pm they were going to catch him. My older children were given the strict assignment to look out for him and to bring him into the house. At one point, around 1am, they thought for sure they heard him. My son went tearing outside to go get him but, of course, it wasn’t John they had all heard. We finally got to bed around 3:30am and around 4:30am my youngest two got up – and before even looking to see what Santa had put under the tree – they spied the goodies John had left on the porch.

Foiled again.

There are lessons aplenty for my children each Christmas season. But none is greater in my eyes than the loyalty of a fine friend, who never fails to remember us.

I don’t think John knows what an impact his late night/early morning Christmas visits have come to mean to us. I’ll likely call him today and we’ll pick a time to go out and have some dinner somewhere, catching up again on lives that are getting older.

I try to tell him every year how grateful I am. It never seems enough.
Total Comments 1


  1. Old Comment
    How wonderful that you have such an amazing friend like John, Jeff. That is how I feel about my friends Paul and Susan. What a wonderful story and what an amazing friend.
    Posted 12-27-2010 at 01:32 PM by caninemom3 caninemom3 is offline
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