A boy declines his grandfather’s invitation every Christmas but becomes intrigued when it abruptly ceases one year. He decides to visit him to find out what happened, only to discover the house in shambles and his grandfather missing.
“One plate…two plates…three…and last but not the least…four! Perfect!” 85-year-old Gregory thought as he arranged the dinner table and headed to the kitchen.
Following the Christmas preparations, Gregory was waiting for his son’s family to visit him, especially his grandson Aaron.
Gregory had made the traditional turkey, sweet potatoes lightly glazed with brown sugar, and a final wedge of pumpkin pie topped with a dollop of ice cream, just how Aaron liked it.
The good smell still lingered; the fireplace was blazing with logs Gregory had cut last week from a tree in his backyard.
Gregory slowly took a seat at the table with a bottle of wine and poured himself a glass, hoping that this year Aaron wouldn’t turn down his invite. It had been almost 20 years since Aaron had last visited him.
Gregory would send him a letter of invitation every Christmas, inviting him and his parents to come see him, but that never happened. However, he never lost hope and prepared a Christmas dinner every year for Aaron and his parents, hoping they would come one day.
As Gregory drank a sip or two of his aged beverage, his thoughts returned to the past – to the times when Aaron and his parents, Brandon and Linda, would spend the holidays with him every year.
He pictured Aaron complimenting him: “Wow, Grandpa! You are the best cook! Even mom can’t make such a delicious pie!”
“I agree, dad! You are indeed an amazing cook! Actually, Linda’s a terrible cook! She’s the best at her workplace, but the kitchen…God forbid!” Bradon would tease his wife.
Then he pictured Linda’s face, which would be flushed like a cherry because she was embarrassed whenever Brandon mentioned her cooking. She knew that no miracle could help her cook a proper meal in the kitchen.
Suddenly, the doorbell rang, and Gregory’s thoughts were interrupted. He rubbed his eyes and pinched himself to see if he was dreaming or not. The clock had struck seven o’clock, and it was the first time in 20 years that his doorbell had rung at that hour on the eve of Christmas.
Thinking it was Aaron, Gregory dashed to the door to open it. But as he answered it and saw the figure standing on his doorstep, darkness engulfed him, and he collapsed on the ground. He did, however, hear a voice trying to wake him up, but he lacked the strength to open his eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
20 years ago…
Aaron was 6 years old then and lived in the little town of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, with his parents. He shared a close relationship with Gregory and used to visit him every year at Christmas with his parents.
Gregory worked on a small farm, so he couldn’t buy expensive presents for Aaron, but the little boy never demanded a lot from him and adored all his gifts. But this sweet grandson-grandpa relationship changed when Gregory started growing up.
Aaron’s parents cited their busy schedule as the reason for their decreasing Christmas visits, which eventually came to a halt. As a teenager, Aaron said he had other things to do.
One year, when Gregory visited them for Christmas because he couldn’t control his urge to see them, he heard Aaron talking to his parents. “Mom!” Aaron cried. “Why is Grandpa here? Doesn’t he have a farm to look after?”
“Aaron, he’s your grandfather. Stop talking about him that way. And besides, you used to adore him! When did that change?” Linda asked him.
“Come on, mom! Just look at how Grandpa looks and dresses. He’s such an embarrassment! Please send him home!” Aaron snapped.
Gregory overhead everything and sobbed himself to sleep that night. The next day, he packed his belongings and returned to Virginia, vowing never to return to Pennsylvania and embarrass himself again.
However, after feeling lonely every Christmas and being unable to travel due to old age, he began sending invites to Aaron in the hopes that he would come to see him, but Aaron never responded, and the one time he did, he sent him a letter saying he was busy and wouldn’t be able to make it.
6 months after the day Gregory fainted….
Gregory slowly opened his eyes and took a look around him. There was a strange silence and a chill around him.
Suddenly, he noticed a nurse enter the room, her eyes filled with excitement and astonishment. “Doctor! Mr. Oliver is awake! He gained consciousness!” she yelled as she bolted from the room.
Soon, a doctor entered the room, examined Gregory’s eyes, and checked his veins. “It’s a miracle that you woke up, Mr. Oliver. We’re glad you’re fine now.”
Gregory slowly stood up and asked softly, “When can I go home, doctor? My grandson might have come to see me. I prepared dinner for him. I prepared all of his favorite dishes! I have to leave.”
The doctor sighed and took Gregory’s hand in his. “You’ve been in the hospital for 6 months, Mr. Oliver. You suffered a stroke. We couldn’t reach your family, but your grandson is here and eager to see you.”
“What?” Gregory’s eyes widened. “Aaron is here?”
“Yes, Mr. Oliver. I’ll call him right now.”
As Aaron entered Gregory’s room, he froze in place. His grandson—once a cheerful, chubby boy—was now a 6 foot tall, handsome man, dressed to the nines and wearing neatly polished shoes. He was accompanied by a woman, the same one Gergory had seen on his doorstep in a pink floral dress 6 months before.
“Grandpa, I’m sorry, Grandpa!” Aaron hugged him and burst out crying. The woman, Cynthia, consoled him and smiled at Gregory. “We’re glad you’re fine, Mr. Oliver. Aaron was really worried about you!”
That day, after the emotional reunion, Aaron and Gregory sat alone for a while when the boy revealed the whole story to him.
It turned out Cynthia and her husband, who were Gregory’s new neighbors, had come to invite him for Christmas dinner the night he fainted. They discovered he was alone and had no visitors during Christmas, so they planned to extend him an invitation, that’s when Gregory suddenly collapsed. Worried, the couple brought him to the hospital, where he stayed for the past six months.
Aaron was worried about Gregory when he didn’t receive a Christmas invitation from him that year. It was the first time in 20 years, so he flew to Virginia to check on his grandfather, but that was a few months after Gregory was admitted to the hospital.