It was Christmas Eve as she stood in the front door with her bags. Everything on the inside was familiar but the outside was a foreign place to Lacey. After living on the outskirts of New York City most of her life, her parents decided to pack up and move to New Bern, North Carolina. A small coastal town and the kind of place Lacey’s mom, Susie, had always dreamed of living. Now instead of snow on the ground and brightly colored lights, there was browning grass and white lights that seemed to get lost among the plantation-style homes. This was the first Christmas Lacey had off in years, and this wasn’t what she was picturing.
For the past five years, Lacey worked as a producer at a television station in Cincinnati, Ohio. Many people think it’s an exciting, interesting job, but what many people don’t realize is that it’s a 24/7 job. The news does not stop during the holidays. So for the past four Christmases, Lacey spent the day inside the newsroom, putting together shows. Then either her family would come see her or she would spend the rest of Christmas day with friends. But finally Lacey had climbed up the producer ladder and was able to get a few days off around Christmas this year. She was excited to go home and go into New York City, walk along Madison Avenue with her mom and look at all the famously decorated store windows. Then they would go by Rockefeller Center and marvel at the beautiful Christmas tree while snow fell all around them. It was tradition and it was all Lacey had ever known in her 27 years.
But then on November 2nd she received the phone call from her dad, Mark, saying that they sold their home and they would have to be out by the end of the month. Lacey knew her parents put the house up for sale, but with the economy the way it was, she assumed it would take a few months before her childhood home would sell. She at least thought she would be able to spend one more Christmas in the home she grew up in. Then a week later, she received another call from her parents. After spending a weekend visiting friends down in New Bern, they found a home they fell in love with and put money down on it! So to recap, in just the matter of a week, Lacey’s parents sold off her childhood home and instead of staying up north, her parents were going to fly south to a small town call New Bern? Lacey couldn’t hold back at that point. Tears welled up in her eyes thinking that everything was changing and she couldn’t seem to catch up. She never even heard of New Bern, but there was one thing she did know, for the first time in her life she wasn’t going to have a white Christmas.
The news just seemed to be the cherry on top of a year that hadn’t gone exactly the way Lacey wanted. Her job as a producer was starting to wear on her, there wasn’t any signs of a promotion and her attempts to find another job yielded nothing. Her love life was also less than stellar. She had fallen in love with one of her best friends, Aaron. But after years of flirting and the potential signs of them being more than just friends, he pretty much spelled it out for her and told her she didn’t have that special something that he wanted in a girlfriend. Even though she was going to a whole new place, Lacey needed this Christmas to get away from everything and everyone in Cincinnati.
“What do you think?!” Lacey snapped out of her daze and saw her mom walking toward her. “It’s cute,” said Lacey as she set down her bags on the bench right next to the front door. She took off her jacket and pulled her long, brown hair out of her scarf. Not like she really need those extra layers since the temperature was just around 50 degrees.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but all the furniture is set up and we made sure your room is all put together for you,” Susie smiled, trying to make her daughter feel at home, even though she could sense her sadness.
“Great. Where is Bryan,” asked Lacey. Her brother Bryan decided to move down to New Bern with her parents since he was laid off from his fancy Wall Street job during the financial crisis, and he hadn’t fully recovered. Bryan figured starting over in a new place was for the best.
“Oh he’s off at the store with your dad getting everything for dinner tomorrow night. C’mon let me show you the house,” said Susie.
Lacey carefully wandered around and saw all the Christmas decorations her mother put up every year. Presents already started to fill up under the Christmas tree.
Her mother showed her around. The kitchen was beautiful with all new appliances, and there was an island, which is something her mother always wanted in the kitchen. The two of them went through each room, her mom going into every detail like always, but Lacey just stared at all the familiar furniture from her old home. Her favorite room had to be the sunroom on the second floor that had a balcony that looked over the harbor.
Lacey heard the door close downstairs and peered over the railing and saw her dad and brother come in with their arms full of groceries. She ran downstairs, hugged them both and exchanged the usual how are you’s and how do you like the house questions.
“Well I better go unpack,” Lacey said as she grabbed her bags and headed to the back bedroom that also looked over the harbor. She put her bags down next to her dresser, sat down at the edge of her old bed and pulled out her phone. There was text message from Aaron.
I MISS YOU! REBECCA’S PARTY ISN’T GOING TO BE THE SAME WITHOUT YOU!
She could feel the tears starting to form and thought this is exactly why I needed to get away. Even though Aaron made it clear they would never be a couple, he still said these things that gave her hope.
She looked under her “favorite people” on her phone and found Aaron’s number, and despite her head telling her not to call, her heart moved her thumb over the phone icon and soon she heard Aaron’s voice on the other side.
“You are never allowed to leave me again!” Aaron shouted at her. Lacey laughed while a small tear trickled down the side of her face. “How is the new house? Are you in the middle of nowhere? Have you heard banjoes yet?”
“It’s actually a cute house with a great view of the harbor. And believe it or not, no banjoes yet but I’ll keep my ear out for you. And of course no snow,” said Lacey.
“Oh you and your snow. You are crazy obsessed!”
“Well there are worse things that I could be obsessed about. Are you going over to Rebecca’s for the party tonight?”
“Yeah, Rebecca told me her best friend who just moved to Cincy is going to be there, so she’s hoping me and her will hit it off,” Aaron said with some excitement in his voice. Hearing him talking about another girl made Lacey’s stomach turn and she could feel her voice start to shake a bit.
“Oh wow… sounds like fun,” Lacey said as she tried to cover up her shaky voice.
“I probably shouldn’t have said that. You know I’m so use to telling you everything Lace, that I sometimes forget… you know.”
“I know, I know. Seriously don’t worry about it. Remember we told each other that things wouldn’t change between us after the talk and I want you to still be able to come and talk to me about anything.”
But Lacey had hoped that wouldn’t include other girls. It was typical of Lacey to put others feelings before hers, especially Aaron’s. “Listen,” said Lacey, “let’s not bring it all up again, I just wanted to give you a quick call since I got your text message.” Lacey wanted to get off the phone as soon as possible. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow and you can fill me in on the party.”
“Ok sounds great. Miss you love and have fun down in the deep South,” said Aaron.
“Miss you too bye,” Lacey quickly hung up the phone and just closed her eyes and let a couple of tears run down her cheek. She had to get out of the house. She could start to feel herself lose control with all the changes in her life. Lacey didn’t want her family see her red eyes, so she shouted that she was going on a walk and headed straight out the door.
She had no idea where she was going, but all Lacey knew was that she needed to get some fresh air. She walked for about a mile and looked at all the plantation homes. While they were beautiful, she couldn’t help but remember the homes in her old neighborhood. She could picture them all lit up with multi-color lights and with tacky Christmas statues in the front yard.
Lacey found a bench looking out on the water and decided to take a seat there. She looked out onto the water and her thoughts went back to her old home. She could see the Christmas tree set up in the living room, a roaring fire in the fireplace right next to it and snow completely covering the ground outside. Lacey would give anything to be back in that house right now.
Then suddenly her thoughts went back to Aaron. How could he not give her a chance? Didn’t he see how great they would be together? The two of them made each other laugh and they shared moments together that she never had with any of her other friends. Lacey had been told multiple times by people that it was hard to hangout with the two of them because they had their own little world together.
Tears started to fill her eyes again. There had always been a glimmer of hope that her and Aaron could be together. But ever since their talk, all of those hopes were dashed. She would never know what it would be like to hold his hand and never know what it would be like to kiss him. And Lacey knew it was because she wasn’t the skinny, blonde hair bimbo that Aaron always went for.
Lacey put her face in her hands and just started crying uncontrollably. The holidays are suppose to be filled with cheer, but she couldn’t even muster up a smile.
“Excuse me, do you mind if I sit down?”
Lacey looked up and saw an old man with a cane. His hair was completely white and she could see a smile behind his full beard.
“Oh of course you can sit down,” said Lacey.
“Thank you young lady. My name is Nick,” he said as he carefully sat down on the other side of the bench.
“I’m sorry if I surprised you, but such a pretty lady shouldn’t be crying,” Nick said with a thick, Southern drawl.
Lacey tried to put a smile on her face. “Well, thank you. I guess I’m just having one of those moments,” she said.
“So are you from around here?”
“No, my family just moved down here from New York City, and I’m here visiting them for Christmas.”
Nick chuckled, “I knew it. New Bern is a small town where everyone knows everyone. Plus with that accent there’s no way you live below the Mason-Dixon line.”
“Well you caught me. New Bern is beautiful but it’s definitely weird being down here,” said Lacey.
“Well for starters it’s the end of December and I’m not even wearing a coat out here. And I also have a slight obsession with snow, so it’s going to be weird not have a white Christmas for the first time,” Lacey replied.
“Well you never know, Christmas miracles do happen,” Nick said with a slight smirk.
Lacey shook her head, “I guess I don’t really believe in miracles happening for me this year.” She looked over at Nick and he had a confused look on his face. “It has been one of those years where nothing has gone my way, so not only will I not have snow this year, but the love of my life will never love me back.” Lacey couldn’t believe that she was spilling her guts out to a man that she hardly even knew. But she figured she needed to let it all out, and who better than a man that she would probably never see again.
“Well young boys these days just don’t know a good thing when it’s staring them right in the face. Why would you want to be with a fool like that anyways,” said Nick.
Lacey let out a little laugh as a small tear trickled down her face.
“Plus, maybe you shouldn’t focus on what you don’t have and instead look at what you do have. You have a family to spend time with on Christmas Day and who are probably wondering where their daughter is now,” said Nick.
Lacey looked over at Nick. He was right. This is the first year in a while that she would be able to spend Christmas morning with her family. She would be able to enjoy opening gifts and watching her family unwrap their presents without having to rush off to work. Her co-workers would kill to be with their families, instead of working on Christmas Day. At that moment, she realized just how petty she was being.
“You know what Nick, you are right. I shouldn’t let a boy or a snow-less ground ruin my holiday,” Lacey replied. She got up from the bench, took a look at the sun starting to set around the water and then looked down at Nick. “Thank you Nick, that’s something I needed to hear.”
“You’re welcome Lacey. Now go on out of here and go see your family. And have a merry Christmas,” said Nick with a sparkle in his eye.
“Merry Christmas to you too Nick,” Lacey said. She started walking and took a final look back at Nick, never knowing if she would ever see him again.
The next morning, Lacey woke up with a smile on her face. She could smell the coffee brewing and just like every Christmas, her mother’s famous pancakes were on the griddle. Lacey got up out of bed and turned toward the window and couldn’t believe her eyes!
There it was, snow was falling from the sky and covering the ground. How was this even possible? It had been in the 50s and sunny the day before. She rushed downstairs to see the Christmas tree lit up and a fire roaring in the fireplace.
“Merry Christmas sweetheart,” said her mother as she flipped another batch of pancakes on the griddle.
“Merry Christmas! I can’t believe it! It’s snowing!” said Lacey.
“I know it’s some kind of Christmas miracle,” her mother said.
The words “Christmas miracle” stuck in Lacey’s head and her thoughts instantly went to Nick. She shook her head and smiled thinking about that wonderful, old man she randomly met on the park bench.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the door bell ringing. She glanced over at her mom with a confused look on her face and started toward the front door. She figured maybe it was neighbors stopping by to say hello, but this early in the morning? She swung open the door and there he was.
Aaron was standing on the front porch, with a small bag in his hand. “Surprise! Merry Christmas” he said as he held open his arms.
But Lacey couldn’t move. Why was he doing this? Why was he here? “What are you doing here,” she said with a frown on her face.
“Well that’s not the hello I was hoping for,” said Aaron.
“Well what do you expect? You knew I needed this time to get away from you after our talk. Remember I’m not special enough to be with you, those are your words… not mine,” Lacey fired back.
“Listen Lace, I’m an idiot and should have never said that to you. You were only gone for one day, but I’ve missed you like crazy. While I was at Rebecca’s party last night all I could think about was you, and wishing you were there with me. So I paid a fortune to get a flight early this morning, because I had to be here with you and tell you I made a big mistake,” said Aaron.
Lacey couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “So does this mean you want to give this relationship a chance? Is that what I’m getting from that big speech of yours?”
“Yes, I want to give this a chance, unless you have changed your mind about everything,” Aaron replied.
A big smile grew across Lacey’s face. “No I haven’t changed my mind. All I’ve ever wanted was for you to realize what a great couple we would be together.” Lacey jumped into Aaron’s arms, looked up at his face and finally landed the kiss that she wanted to give him for years.
The two stood outside on the front porch in each other’s arms and looked out at the snow. Lacey couldn’t believe everything that had just happened to her in the past 24 hours, and she knew that Nick was the one that she had to thank for the Christmas miracles.