GRANTS STORE, THE GIFT OF HOPE
As you come upon the big city streets. Near the tall buildings is a small two story building that holds a mini department store with a small apartment on the second floor where a middle aged man is the descendant of two generations of Grant’s Department Store. The summer saw decent sales that kept profits at a good margin . . .
. . .As fall came there was a slow but steady downward trend in sales that began to make it hard to pay the rent space for the building . . .
It was almost 3 o’clock and the store was fairly busy with customers looking at clothes and novelty items of Christmas and Santa items. The Christmas music was warming the air as the shoppers were looking for last minute presents and hoping to find that one item that couldn’t be found.
(Ring . . . . . . . . . . .Ring…….) “Tami can you grab that” Said Mr. Grant. “I’ll be right there. I’m finishing up this order . . . . . (Ring . . . .)”Grants Department where you can find that last gift on your wish list, Tami speaking . . . . . . .Ok, Mr. Hendrix, I’ll go find him.” Tami walked through the isles to find Mr. Grant Stocking some shelves with some Christmas travel mugs. “Mr. Grant, a Mr. Hendrix is on the phone. He says he is from Grandview Estates . .” Tami was patiently waiting for a response as Mr. Grant turned a shade of white, like he just saw a ghost.
“Mr. Grant? . .” “I’m sorry Tami . . .(long pause) I’ll take it in the office.” “Are you sure you are ok Mr. Grant? . . .” As he walked away, “just a lot on my mind. I’ll be ok.” As he disappeared behind a shutting grey door to the office.
“Hello . . .” “Henry . . This is Bob Hendrix from Grandview Estates. Do you have a minute? We have an important business matter to discuss.” “Why yes, of course sir. How can I help you?” “For many years your family has ran the store on this lot. It’s only been a year since my company has become your new land lord. Henry, do you know why I called you today?” “Yes sir. My rent was a little short.” Mr. Hendrix voice raised in tone.
“A little short! Lets try $2,500 short.” said Mr. Hendrix impatiently. There was a semi long pause. “Mr. Hendrix . . .” “Please call me Bob.” “Bob, the last couple months, I’ve struggled to make rent. The sales have been . . .we are having trouble getting people to shop in the recession . . .I grew up in this store. All the years I helped balance the budget, Mom and Dad always had enough money left over to take us out to eat at a nice restaurant. The last couple months I’ve been living on a few staples like mac and cheese. In Oc . . .” “Yes, in October Henry you were short but paid the rest the very next day. That was quite charming,” interrupted Mr. Hendrix. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you Bob. People come in spurts. With my last landlord they understood and it only happened a few times.” “Henry do you realize what I provide for you? . . Building code inspections, Fire Marshall inspections and property tax at no extra charge. Welcome to my world.
Ok here’s the deal. Since its Christmas I’ll give you a one time deal. Today it’s the 16th. You pay $2,500 plus half o Jan rent on the 26th or you will be evicted . . .Do you understand?. . . Well!?” “Y . . Yes sir,” said in a quiet sad tone form Henry. “Merry Christmas Mr. Grant,” said in a frustrated and snotty tone, then he hung up. After Mr. Hendrix hung up, “Geez am I getting soft? He better have the money.”
It was a frozen landscape outside and if you look in his window past the icicles you would see a man frozen in time. As minutes seemed like hours and Henry stared out the window. It seemed like he couldn’t even hear the honking horns of the traffic but his own heart beat. It’s like his whole life passed before him . . .
Am I going to let this guy bully me? . . .Then he was a list on the wall that his father wrote many years ago. . .
(And remember you are Santa’s Helper, without you, our customers might not find the special gift to make their Christmas bright.)
He looked around the office thinking of all the memories. . . 9 awards for peoples choice awards and 3 articles of old yellowed newspaper that had him, mom and dad in front of this historic store that has brought much joy to those who have entered in its doors.
My customers need me. I can do this. It cant get any worse . . .
(knock, knock) As the door slowly opened. “Mr. Grant, the 5 o’clock bus will be here any time. It’s already picking up out there. Can you lend me a hand sir, before the rush really hits?” “Ya, let’s go spread some Christmas cheer!” As Henry was overcoming some scary news. He truly loved the people he served. Tami said “We should remember one of the family sayings,” as they both repeated. “And remember you are Santa’s helper, without you our customers might not find that special gift to make their Christmas bright.” “Lets go get them,” as Henry put his had up for a whopping high 5 from Tami. “You are so cool Mr. Grant. I really love this job.”
Well things did get worse. Mr. Hendrix put up a business for sale sign on Dec 23. There were many calls As you will see this story involves the lives of 3 families that will all be part of one Christmas miracle . . .
Tami? I’m sure you have some questions about the banner. “Yes Mr. Grant, why are you selling the store?” I told her all about the dealings with Mr. Hendrix . . . “I get it now Mr. Grant. Why didn’t you tell me before?” “I thought it would all go away. At this rate there is a good chance we won’t make it. We are a few thousand short. I’m going to step out the back door for a few minutes. I’m pretty stressed out and semi-depressed.” “Don’t forget your coat Mr Grant. It’s freezing out thee and try to find some hope.” “I will, see you in a minute.” As he stepped into the land of arctic chill. He walked by the dumpster and something red and white caught his eye.
But then he decided to ignore it. There was a homeless man sitting next to the dumpster. Henry slowly sad down next to him. “Merry Christmas young man.” “Merry Christmas,” said Henry. “I love this song,” he said. The year before Hentry put up speakers outside so others could hear the Christmas music. Then the man offered some of his magic in a bottle. Henry at first hesitated then took a big drink. (COUGH, COUGH) “Wow! Fire in a bottle!” said Henry. The old man laughed. “You don’t drink do you son?” “Not really sir.” For about 30minutes Henry braved the cold . . .
The cold was slowly catching up with him and he started to shiver. Then his homeless friend got up ad was happily intoxicated. He almost fell over and waved back to Henry, and wobbled his way down the street.
Maybe I can freeze to death. Then I can just be put out of my misery. No one would miss me. No family . . . Not even a dog that needs me.
Then slowly walking down the sidewalk was a small family all bundled up and still maybe shivering a little. “Mommy,” said little Johny.” “Yes Johny,” Said mom. “I want a big dump truck that I can take to the playground and play in the sand.” Then came the quiet voice of his sister Sara, “Mom. . .Dad . . At first I wanted some new books . . .but . . .,”the tears were growing in her eyes. The words barely made it past her lips. “I just want to go home.” and the tears came down. Daddy pulled out his hanky and helped catch her tears. Mom and dad gave her a hug. “Can we go see Santa?” she asked “Santa can help us.” “Ya, can we talk to Santa?” said Johny . . The Father was on the patrol for help. “Excuse me sir, can you spare a few dollars. Our car broke down and . . .” “I got to get home. I’m late for dinner, sorry.”
. . . “Maam, can you help us? Our family is stranded. Is there a homeless shelter near by? Asked the mother to a young lady. “I’m fairly new to the city. But I would ask Mr. Grant or one of his staff in Grants Department store. They are really caring and helpful.” “Bless you and Merry Christmas.” said Mary(mom). “Mommy I’m cold.” said Johny. “Come on Joe lets get the kids inside where we can ask them.” “Lets go kids,” said Joe, as they made their way to the front door. By this time Henry had decided he would run inside to great and serve these weary travelers . . .
There was a little bell that rang above the front door as Mary brought her family out of the cold crisp air into an enchantingly warm store with happy Christmas music playing (silver bells, silver bells. . . ).
Tami came to the front of the store as Henry was a few steps behind. “Welcome to Grants Department Store. My name is Tami, this is Mr. Grant.” He took a bow and the parents laughed. “It’s so nice in your store. We are in need of some help. Our car ran out of gas and we have no money. Can you tell us where we might be able to find a homeless shelter or soup kitchen?” asked Mary. “I can do better. Go down 2 blocks to 16 Street take a left and you will be at Marvin’s Soup Kitchen and shelter.” Said Tami. As she was giving directions, Henry brought out a medium sized box. “We are grateful for your helpfulness,” said Mary. “Wait, before you go everyone grab a pair of windproof snow gloves,” said Henry “But we . .” Joseph was trying to say we don’t have money. “Merry Christmas, and don’t forget to take some of these little plastic packets. You press the middle and it will keep your hands warm for a few hours.” “I want the pink ones.” “Mmm these are soo nice. Thank you so much. God bless you and Merry Christmas.” Thankfully said Mary. Then the rest of the family said, “Merry Christmas.” As they were going out Sara asked, “Can we see Santa?” and the door shut. “What a sweet family Mr. Grant.” commented Tami.
. . . “That was really good stew. And the kids liked it. The kids are happy playing with the toys in the play area. We have a place to sleep,” as Mary talked to her husband. There was a little boy who snuck into the play area. He had been walking for about 20min in the cold before he slipped in the door. A little upset, but he had been here before. His mother died almost a year ago. He missed his mom and his father was a workaholic. “Charlie?” said Marvin’s wife Wendy. “Don’t you want to be home for Christmas?” “Please don’t call my dad. He hates me. He never comes home from work.” “I’ll give you a few moments then I have to.” “In a few minutes we care are going to put on a Christmas movie.” Announced Marvin. Sara was over by the Christmas tree, all pouty. Mary walked over, “What’s wrong honey?”
“All I wanted was . . .” All the kids yelled, “SANTA!!” and Sara was electrified with joy as Santa cam in the door with a huge sack on his back. It didn’t take but a few seconds before all the children (of all ages) kindled bright warm smiles that glowed brighter the embers in the fireplace.
“Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas.” “Do you have a present for me too,” said an old man. “And for the grownups . . .” said another.
“Everyone gather round me and the Christmas tree. Everyone will receive two gifts.” “Cool,” said young Charlie. Everyone was very excited to see what they would receive. Some of them had not received a physical gift or present for years. The presents were passed out. “Wow the card has a gift card inside. I got wool socks and a $20 gift card to Jeeardees Italian restaurant.” “Me too,” said another. “Cool, I got some fancy snow gloves and a one night stay at the Travelers Inn,” said one man.
Johny was holding his present, slowly opening . . .hoping . . .wishing . . .there was one wheel. But was it a. As he pulled off wrapping of . . . “Yes!! it’s a dump truck! Here daddy what’s This?” “You can go to Grants and get another toy.” Sara was really happy. She got a horse book and a toy voucher for Grants. Then she gave Santa a big hug. “Thank you Santa. Can you tell us a Christmas story? As Sara climbed onto his lap. As Santa looked around the room. He saw warm smiles and happy eyes. Everyone got comfy in there chairs waiting for Santa’s story. . .
“Once upon a time, not too long ago . . .” The front door opened. In came Charlie’s father. “Daddy, I got a present. Can we stay and listen to Santa’s story?” “We need to . . .” “Please stay. You are no burden at all,” said Marvin. Then Charlie pulled him into a chair. “Ok, just for a minute.” said his dad. Santa reached inside his big sack and pulled out a present and gave it to Charlie’s dad. “Open it daddy, insisted Charlie. As he opened it, Santa continued.
“Once upon a time, not too long ago. Thee was a man for many years that was like Santa. He helped many people find the gifts they were looking for in his little store. Like Santa he was happy and always helped people find their smile.
One year he almost lost the spirit of Christmas. There was a recession. Which meant not many people were shopping at his store. He was afraid of loosing all that he had in his little store. But do you know what happened? “What?” all the kid asked as they leaned forward in their seats. “He remembered why he was so happy for so many years. And even thought he had very little, he still gave gifts to many people. But most of all the gift of hope. Everyone who came in got some free candy canes. Every child who came in would get a candy cane and a free little musical toy. While parents searched for that magic gift, the children sat and watched Christmas cartoons on a big TV.” “Did the man get to keep his store?” Asked Sara. “Yes, as he did good deeds and prayed to God, something magical happened. There was a huge crowd of people who came and he made his payment. Yes, all was well.” “Yeah!!” All the children clapped. Meanwhile Charlie’s father had really pondered the story. He was a successful business man and knew of such a story and wondered if Santa(or the man behind the beard) was talking about the man he knew. . . Then he realized he should take Charlie home. He wanted to ask Santa about the story. As he came out of his thoughts he glanced around the room . . . Where did he go? “Charlie, where did Santa go? Asked his father. “Silly daddy. He had to go deliver presents.” “Stay right here, as his Father quickly ran out the door. He ran halfway down the block . . .nothing. Just a hint of mini snow flakes that touched his nose and eyelashes. . . As he walked back inside Charlie wanted to go to Grants department Store to get his other toy, but his father was still lost in the magic of Santa’s story.
. . .Tami had minded the store for a little while. Here came Henry . . . “Well?” asked Tami, “Did everything go alright?” “I think so. I was a little nervous at first. Didn’t know if they kids would like me.” There was Charlie and his father who came in and Henry went
.to greet them. “Welcome to Grant’s Department Store. This is Tami and I’m Henry. How can I help you today?” “My son and I have these gift cards.” “Mr. Hendrix?” “Please call me(they both said “Bob”)” “Tami will help your son and I would be happy to help you. What do you need today?” “Great,” said Bob “Can you show me where to find the jeans?”
Henry was impressive and helped Bob find a lot of things. Jeans . . .razors . . “Look what I found. A spaceship with lasers and missiles,” Charlie was excited and Bob was really impressed with this store. Not too big and great service. Mostly the man who was about loose everything was giving him the means for a wonderful Christmas with his son. “Hey dad, can we check out the legos?” “I’ll be there in a minute” . . . Snow globes. Bob remembered when he was a boy and went to his Aunt’s house for Christmas. On the fireplace there were many snow globes. Bob found a section with lots of snow globes and picked up Santa and frosty snow globes and shook them then let the magic flow. Bob was near the front and noticed . . .
“Aww,” Tami gave a big hug to Henry. “I’m so sorry. I’ll miss my job, but you have spent your whole life helping others.” As the tears were coming down. “It’s not fair.” “I know,” said Henry so calm. “Something good will happen. Before you leave pick up any item in the store and have a Merry Christmas.” Bob at first was entranced by the snow globes, but now felt like that magic had been lost in the moment. Before Charlie and Bob checked out, Bob was puzzled by Henrys voice . . . Then it hit him. Henry was the Santa! . . . That night Bob had a lot to think about and it all started with a story Santa told. . . .
The night was over in Grants Christmas eve last minute shopping time. In his mind the last day of his existence in this store. Henry finished a late night dinner, did the dishes and went downstairs for the last walk down memory lane. The Christmas music was playing on the overhead. (Have yourself a merry little Christmas . . .) He remembered when he was a little boy. Mom and dad would put all the family presents under the tree downstairs in the store and would hand up the stockings over the fireplace, now replaced with a furnace. One year
He received a big fire truck and put out about 20 fires in the isles of the store. Right before dinnertime. Henry had really caught the Christmas Spirit. He had faith that God would help him find his future. He kneeled down before he went to bed..
“Dear God, I am truly grateful for all my blessings. Please bless Tami, the Jones family and all the nice people at the shelter. Please bless Charlie and Bob, that they can find happiness after their loss. I’m grateful for all the nice visitors and pray everyone will have a nice Christmas. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Henry laid down to sleep. At peace with his future. Even though he loved his store with all his life. . .
It was about 8am and Henry awoke to the sound of his doorbell. “Who in the heck.” Henry wondered who it could be on Christmas day. All the friends he knew lived out of town and a few aunts and uncles lived in Vermont. He opened the door. . .there was a small present on the door step.
There was a letter on top.
I tried to put myself in your shoes. I bet you are feeling pretty lost and scared. I have 2 presents for you today: #1)the banner is gone and #2) open the present before you finish reading this . . .
He noticed the box was very light. After taking of the wrapping and opening the box, he noticed 3 pieces of paper inside. Oh my goodness! He went inside to sit down. They weren’t just paper, but 3 receipts for 3 months of paid rent.
Henry you are not going to loose your store. I owe you and apology. Since my wife died, I became unreasonable. A real scrooge. Charlie and I would like to invite you to church across the street for 10oclock service.
Merry Christmas Henry,
Henry almost melted into his chair. He was glowing with joy and hope. That day Henry’s prayers were answered.
Henry went to church and became good friend’s with Bob and Charlie. Bob would come to visit Henry at least once a week and visit and share business ideas. Charlie was blessed by a dad who spent more time with his son. They went to the park, movies, camping trips and church together.
Henry offered a job to Joseph, of the Jones family. As Tami stared school in winter term. Henry and Bob provided the down payment to help the Jones family get into an apartment. . .
. . .and all was well in the lives of 3 families