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Entry date: 12-25-2023 – The Trees Christmas Story part 2 – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

Merry Christmas.

 

For the record, I have learned that it takes almost as much time, maybe more in some cases, to really poorly wrap a present. Over the last few years, I have been really (as Rhondi would say) leaning into the subtle art of poorly wrapped presents. I may start a business.

 

***** 

 

The pie man was too excited to think about going home that day. It was the biggest order he had ever had and a party invitation to boot. But…

 

What did the man mean when he said his boss was not a man? The pie man was so confused. He could have sworn that the man had said something like, “He said you’re the best pie maker in the country.” If that wasn’t the boss, then who was “He”?

 

It didn’t really matter, though.

 

The pie man started working on his ciphering. This order would mean a lot of extra supplies and preparation time. He was already planning on being busy for the next two weeks, but not this busy.

 

Over the next week, the pie man got everything in order. He was meticulous (Just like you, JR – Dad) and as he made his final preparations, he was confident. All would go well and with this one order, he could afford to buy that new oven he had been eyeing for the last couple of years. He could bake even more pies than ever in the coming year.

 

During the week before Christmas, the pie man was completely focused on his work. He woke up at 3:30AM every day and went to his shop. He started making crusts by 4AM, fillings prepped by 5:30AM, and by 8AM he turned his sign around.

 

The pie man loved how people behaved around Christmas. Almost everyone who came into his shop seemed happy and excited. They made small talk, he boxed their pie (or pies), and away they went. The pie man made more pies than he had ever made before. If he was the type of man to pat himself on the back, his arms would have been very sore indeed.

 

When the morning of Christmas Eve came, the pie man woke up a half an hour early. He couldn’t wait to start his day. The pies for the party were almost all done. He had held off on everything but the apple pies and a couple of special meat pies he was going to present as his gift to the party host.

 

He had decided to close early that day so that he could get ready for the party. The pie man rarely socialized. He loved to read in the evenings and sit by the fire at his home. He lived near a beautiful pond although it was completely frozen over at this time of year. The pie man enjoyed the stillness of the season. It was inspiring to him.

 

The four hours the shop was open flew by. The pie man sold all of his available pies and he finished the last of preparations. All 111 pies for the party were boxed and ready to go. He had borrowed a van from the supply man, so he would have no problem getting the pies to the party. The supply man had been very happy, too, because of all the extra supplies the pie man ordered. He was happy to help.

 

The pie man closed up his shop, loaded the van, and went home to relax and get ready for the party. It had been years since he had been to a party. In fact, it had been years since the pie man had thought about much other than making pies, opening and closing the shop, and what to read.

 

It dawned on the pie man that he might have to talk about something other than pies on this Christmas Eve. Usually, he just opened a bottle of port, dished himself up a little meat pie, and started a new book by the fire on this holy night. What would he talk about?

 

And, it was nagging him, who would he be meeting tonight?

 

The pie man decided to just roll with it. Roll with the dough, as he often said to himself as he was making pies during the day. When the clock over his mantle chimed five bells, the pie man knew it was time to get going. He adjusted his bow tie, looked at himself in the mirror by the door, and left the house to grab the van.

 

Nearhaven Lane was about a ten-minute drive from the pie shop and the pie man was not about to be late. He had decided to enjoy the short walk from his home to the shop to collect his thoughts. He had prepared a short speech for the party host about how the order had changed so many things for him.

 

The pie man wanted to convey to the host that he had been a little apprehensive about such a large order, but it had taught him many lessons, too. If anything, the pie man loved a good lesson and didn’t know that even at his advanced age, he could still learn new things.

 

When he got to the pie shop, he started the van to let it get warmed up for the drive over. The pie man double checked everything in the shop, too, so he could enjoy himself at the party. Everything was turned off and in its proper place. The shop would be ready for him on the 26th.

 

He got behind the wheel of the van and headed to 1172 Nearhaven Lane. The pie man did not remember ever being on this street before, though he had passed it many times on his way to Timber Lodge. The pie man loved Timber Lodge. Their hamburgers were the best he had ever had, and he had no problems telling people if they ever asked.

 

But that was rare.

 

It was 5:50PM when he arrived at the gates of the house. They were open and the pie man wheeled the van through like he had been there one thousand times before. The man with the expensive overcoat was standing outside as the pie man navigate the half moon shaped drive and pulled up to the front of the house.

 

The pie man put the van’s transmission into park and waved at the man and the man waved back at him as he walked towards the van. He got out of the van, straightened out his jacket, and put it on.

 

“Welcome, pie man! Can I give you a hand?” said the man.

 

“Thank you! Merry Christmas, sir. I would love some help,” said the pie man.

 

“Oh, yes. Merry Christmas to you, pie man. Here, let me grab the cart.”

 

The man in the jacket grabbed a large metal cart and rolled it over to the back of the van. He and the pie man began loading it up with pies.

 

“I think we are going to need to make a few trips,” said the pie man.

 

“I think you’re right,” said the man in the coat.

 

As they were bringing the first batch of pies up the walk way, a woman in a sparkly dress stood in the door way. The pie man was transfixed. He had never seen a woman so beautiful. He stopped in his tracks and the man in the coat was now pushing the full weight of the cart.

 

“You okay, pie man?” He asked.

 

The pie man forgot himself for a second.

 

“She’s so lovely.”

 

The man in the coat stopped, too, and looked at his boss.

 

“That’s my boss, pie man. She invited you.”

 

“Why?”

 

“She wanted you to meet someone.”

 

“Who?”

 

“You’ll see, pie man.”

 

As the two men got closer to the woman in the sparkly dress, the pie man grew more enamored. The dress itself wasn’t exactly a color. It seemed, as the light of the day ebbed away and Christmas Eve’s inevitable magic began to intervene, to be every color all at once.

 

The pie man thought her dress looked like a box of delightful crayons on fire.

 

“Welcome, pie man,” she said in a voice that melted both men’s hearts.

 

“Thank you, m’lady,” said the pie man.

 

“Please come in, pie man. John, make sure the pies get to the kitchen. This man has worked hard enough,” she said.

 

“M’lady? I beg pardon, but it was my pleasure to make these pies for you. I’m happy to see them to wherever you would like them to be.”

 

“It’s quite all right, pie man. John’s strong and healthy. He can take care of the pies. The other guests will start arriving shortly. There is someone I’d like you to meet. Please do come in.”

 

The pie man walked up to the lady. As he got closer, the reflection of her dress shown in her eyes and the pie man was almost hypnotized by her dazzling beauty. She extended her arm and the pie man reached out and took her hand.

 

“Thank you, M’lady,” he started to say, but she cut him off.

 

“Come in, pie man.”

 

The feeling of her hand in his sent gales of pleasure to the pie man’s heart. He had never felt such love and affection from anyone else in his life, not even his own mother. How could this be, he wondered, as he gripped her hand the tiniest bit tighter. He didn’t want to break the spell.

 

The woman in the dress seemed to glide more than walk as she led the pie man into the house. It, like the hostess, was perfectly beautiful and seemed to almost shimmer. If the pie man would have let his eyes go a little unfocused, the house would have almost seemed to be in the state of melting around him in a most pleasant way. Rich warm hues were everywhere, and the smell was divine.

 

The scent was like a perfectly toasted marshmallow mixed with the best smelling pine tree ever.

 

The hostess led the pie man into a large room, and he could see the reason for the wonderful pine smell. A Christmas tree large enough to make Andre the Giant look tiny was in the corner of the room. Sitting on a couch near the tree was a man dressed in a red velvet suit. It was Santa Claus.

 

“Santa,” said the hostess.

 

“Yes, dear!” boomed Santa, although there was seemingly no effort from the man to make his voice sound so loud.

 

“This is the pie man. You said you wanted to meet him, didn’t you?” said the hostess.

 

Santa Claus was up and off the couch with inhuman grace. A swan, maybe, or a gazelle, the pie man thought, could only move so gracefully. Not a man.

 

“I did, dear. Ho ho ho, pie man! Well met, good fellow,” and Santa stuck out a perfectly white gloved hand.  

 

The pie man was dumbfounded but he put reluctantly let go of the hostess’ hand and gave it to Santa Claus who shook it vigorously.

 

“Shouldn’t you be….” The pie man trailed off.

 

“Ho, ho, ho…oh yes. I’m off in a jiffy, pie man, but I wanted to thank you for all the great pie over the years. A lot of people in this area put your pies out for me tonight and I wanted to meet you and thank you in person, so thank you, pie man, ho ho ho.”

 

“You’re welcome, I guess. This is incredible. Are you really him?” was all the pie man could say.

 

“Ho, ho…I am he,” said Santa and the hostess put her hand reassuringly on the pie man’s shoulder. The pie man’s hand was still in Santa’s, and he wasn’t sure he had the power to let go.

 

“But…”

 

“Don’t fret, pie man. Just keep making people happy with your pies. I’ll stop by and say hi when I can.”

 

Santa turned his gaze to the hostess and reached for her with his other hand.

 

“Thank you, Margaret. I left a little something under the tree for you two.”

 

Santa gave both Margaret and the pie man a final squeeze of the hand, made his eyes twinkle, and was gone.

 

Margaret turned to the pie man.

 

“Let’s see what he left us. I’m so curious, aren’t you?” she asked.

 

“Margaret?”

 

“Yes, pie man?”

 

“Is this a dream?”

 

“No, pie man, it’s not a dream.”

 

She led him to the tree. There was a small white box with a red ribbon perfectly knotted and tied around it with a tiny card that said, “M + PM” on it.

 

“This must be us,” she said. “Open it, won’t you?”

 

The pie man took the box from Margaret and regretted every second his hand was going to be away from hers. He quickly removed the ribbon and found a corner of the paper to pull away from the box inside.

 

There was a small card in the box. It read:

 

Everyone deserves to be happy.

Even the pie man who makes all the pie.

Margaret will know what to do.

Pie man is way too shy.

 

Love,

Santa

 

Underneath the card was some mistletoe.

 

*****

 

At the end of the story was a small note from his dad:

 

Merry Christmas, J.R., from one hopeless romantic to another. Trust the pie, son.

See you at the trees.

Love,

Dad

 

J.R. decided he would read this every year on Christmas and maybe write a few stories of his own, too. The Pie Man deserved to ride again, he thought, as he began to miss his dad even more than he thought he still could. How many Christmases had it been? Why did he wait until now to give this to me? Were there more surprises to come?

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



This dog is sleeping behind me. Luckily she's a dog and doesn't care that her paw was pushing her chin in a strange way. She was just wants a scratch on the head. Merry Christmas to all the fur babies, too.

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