Max and Mr. Padraic
“I’ve ruined Christmas.” Max and Mr. Padraic were sitting in the lobby of the Olive Grove Retirement Home, a box of LED flashlights on the one side, and a bag of Jelly Twists on the other. Strains of “O Holy Night” drifted down the corridors from an ancient-sounding PA system. The Talleys were visiting that day, and had sung Christmas carols at the cafeteria during lunch. AJ had come along, but he still refused to talk with Max. And now Max was having his long-anticipated talk with Mr. Padraic about turning LED flashlights into Laser Guns, but all he could think about was how rotten he felt. “Everyone is mad at me.”
“Surely, not everyone.” Mr. Padraic shook the red and green candy in his fist. “I’m not mad at you. Who else brings me boxes and boxes of Jelly Twists?”
“The people who are supposed to care, then.”
“It’s about your birthday, isn’t it?”
“Yes. … I wanted to be sure that my family would notice me—that they wouldn’t forget that it’s also my birthday. But now everyone is avoiding me, and I’ve tried so hard, but I’m sure it’s going to be the worst birthday ever.”
“Well, it’s been years and years since I was a boy”—Mr. Padraic paused to take another bite of his Jelly Twist—“but the best way to ensure love finds you is to give plenty of love away, and often! You’re a kind lad, and your parents love you. I’m sure they’re planning something great for you!”
Max didn’t want to tell Mr. Padraic that he had ruined his chances for that happening by his insistence on taking care of planning his birthday himself.
“I love my children,” Mr. Padraic was saying, “and I would do anything for them.” Max remembered that Mr. Padraic’s family lived far away, and that they usually didn’t make it out to see him during the holidays.
“Will your family visit on Christmas Day?”
“Oh, no. But don’t worry about me. You have a lot to think about.”
“I don’t care anymore! I’ve tried to make it wonderful, but I feel miserable, and AJ won’t even talk with me. I wish I could change everything back.”
“You could, you know! Just think of what made Christmas special before, and try to do that now—starting today. You’ll need to hurry, as there’s not much of Christmas left. But you’re the boy who thought of a birthday Christmas tree for yourself. You’re inventive! I’m sure you’re up to the challenge.”
On the way home from the retirement home, Max thought of what Mr. Padraic had said. He still wished people would pay attention to his upcoming birthday, but it seemed his plan wasn’t working, and he was sorry he had ruined Christmas for his family and his best friend.
Not much time left, and lots to do! thought Max. He was going to make things right.
To be continued…
Authored by R. A. Watterson. Illustration by Yoko Matsuoka.
Copyright © 2011 by The Family International