Millie’s five year old daughter Alicia came home from day care one day announcing how she had a fun day playing with the hamster one of the aides had brought in for the kids to enjoy.
In her excitement, she exclaimed how cute and fuzzy and soft the hamster felt when she held it and Millie could tell that Alicia had truly bonded with the little creature. She was by no means naive and knew it wouldn’t be long into the conversation when Alicia would be asking for a pet hamster to have for herself at home. Sure enough, not five minutes into her story, Alicia asked, “Mommy can I get a hamster? Please?”
“Let me think about it,” was all Millie wanted to commit to at the moment because she did want time to think of what it would mean to get Alicia a pet. Not just the fact of Alicia having a pet to play with, but she had to take into consideration the cost and care of having a full-time pet.
She looked down to see Alicia staring at her with the most pleading eyes and Millie had the greatest urge to give in right then and there but she managed to resist and quietly said, “We’ll see, Honey. If mommy can afford it, we’ll get you a hamster.”
Alicia threw her arms around Millie’s waist. “I love you Mommy. I love you with all my heart.”
The next day Millie drove to the next town over where there was a pet store to buy a hamster for Alicia, but when she got there, there was a sign on the hamster cage, “Sold. New supply after New Year’s.”
Disappointed, Millie left the store and headed for home. It was already dark and had begun to snow. She kept searching her mind for the location of another pet store but just couldn’t recall any being close by. The only one she remembered was at least 50 miles away and she had no intention of driving there for a hamster under the best of conditions, let alone during a snow storm.
Cruising along and her mind occupied on finding a pet store, Millie didn’t realize that the road beneath the snow had frozen and form a thin layer of ice. She hit a solid patch of ice and lost control of the car. It skidded about twenty feet before coming to a stop. Luckily, she had skidded into the parking lot of the “Last Meal” truck stop.
Millie took a deep breath and easily stepped on the gas pedal. The car shifted from side to side but wouldn’t go forward. She tried reverse and that only made her situation worse. She had no alternative but to go into the diner and see if she could get some help.
Inside the diner, she made her way to the telephone and called road assistance and was told it would be at least an hour before someone could get there to help her out. Frustrated, she had no choice but to reluctantly wait in the diner until help arrived.
Sitting in a booth, she noticed two men sitting at the counter and figured they were the drivers of the trucks in the lot. The waitress came over to her table.
“Good evening. Can I get you something hot to drink?”
Millie nodded. “Coffee, please.”
“If you don’t mind my asking,” the waitress said when she brought the coffee, “what are you doing out on a night like tonight?”
Millie relayed Alicia’s story her own attempt to fulfill the request and then the mishap on the road.
A couple minutes later, one of the truckers approached. “I couldn’t help overhear your story about your daughter and the hamster. Mind if I sit? I think I might be able to help you out.”
Millie nodded and the man sat down. “I make a lot of deliveries to pet stores and I can tell you that not one of them for at least 100 miles or so has any at the moment.”
Millie closed her eyes thinking it was just one more piece of news to make it reasonably safe to assume it wasn’t meant for her daughter to have the hamster, or at least have it in time for Christmas.
When she opened her eyes, she realized the man sitting across from her had white hair and a short beard and age spots on his upper cheeks and forehead and his hands. “How can you help?”
The man’s face lit up. “I have a brother-in-law who lives in Florida not far from a pet shop. I can give him a call and have him ship one up this way by airmail so you can get it in time for Christmas.”
“I don’t know,” Millie started to say, but the man cut her off.
“It’s your daughter and the only way you can get it right now.”
“What about the storm?”
The storm shouldn’t last all night and the roads will be clear by tomorrow. Airport’s only ten miles from here. Let me give him a call and see. What do you say?”
She didn’t know if the man was believable or just spouting something from his imagination but she had no other choice than to give it a shot. “Okay,” she agreed.
Five minutes later, the man came back and asked for her name and number and returned to the phone. A few moments later, he sat back down in the booth. “Your all set. He’ll call you with the flight information.”
“How can I thank you?” Millie asked.
“By having a great Christmas with your daughter.” He rose from the seat, went to the counter and paid his check and left the diner. Millie watched as his tractor pulled out onto the snow-covered road.
Not long after, the road service vehicle came and got her car hooked up and towed her home.
When Christmas morning came, Millie was awakened by Alicia’s happy screams, “Mommy! Mommy! Look what Santa Clause brought me. He did it Mommy! He did it. He brought me a hamster! My very own hamster!”
Millie watched as Alicia gently picked up the hamster and cuddled it.
“Isn’t Santa great?”
“He sure is,” Millie replied thinking of the man with the white hair and beard. Tears filled her eyes. “He sure is.”
December 25, 2013