It’s Kaitlyn’s first post-college Christmas, and she is looking forward to spending it at her beloved Nana’s farm in rural Tennessee. For the first time, Kaitlyn can afford to buy Nana store-bought gifts from money earned from her first “real world” job. However, Kaitlyn’s old car has different ideas and stalls out on the cold and snow Christmas Eve.
Will Santa bring Kaitlyn her own sweet Christmas surprise? Maybe a second shot at love?
By: Stephanie L. Robertson
Kaitlyn Ridgeway breathed on her cold hands. How she wished she had taken time to stop and buy winter gloves after she’d got off work that night.
It was Christmas Eve—the first Christmas that Kaitlyn had been able to afford store-bought presents to take home to Nana. For the past four years, Kaitlyn had struggled to pay herself through college without going into debt. Nana had always instilled a debt-free philosophy in the young woman, who had lived with her grandmother ever since her parents had died.
Now Kaitlyn lived in Nashville, Tennessee and worked at a publishing company as an editorial assistant.
Kaitlyn had imagined a glamourous post-college life for herself—living in a trendy Germantown studio apartment, listening to live bands with a cool group of friends and a special guy, meeting authors at quirky coffee shops….
What she got was a stiff reality check. Instead of her interesting little apartment with a reading nook, Kaitlyn rented an upstairs bedroom from Mrs. Reams—and Mrs. Reams’ chihuahua barked nonstop. It was not a very romantic existence, to say the least.
And now Kaitlyn would be the first to admit that she had suffered from selective hearing at her job interview last spring at the large publishing company where she currently worked. She had ignored some key words: filing, maintaining a database, and scheduling appointments. Instead, she’d only heard “potential for growth” and “point-of-contact for authors.” In addition, her editor was not a patient or pleasant person to work for.
Still, she was getting paid and hoped to move up in the company. So far, she hadn’t had much of a chance to meet new people.
At that moment, she was just happy to make it home to Nana’s farm in Loretto, Tennessee—population 1714. Loretto was southwest of Nashville, almost to the Alabama state line and two hours from Nashville.
Kaitlyn couldn’t wait to get home. She had carefully selected several gifts that Nana would love. For the first time, the gifts were store-bought instead of handmade.
Nana would be so proud!
Kaitlyn longed to get back to the farm to her beloved grandmother. Kaitlyn longed to love on Nana’s scraggly one-eyed Grizabella, who would lie close to Nana’s old easy chair and purr while Nana quilted.
Nana kept a motley coup of chickens, a few barn cats, and Henry, the old pony that Kaitlyn used to ride until her feet nearly reached the ground.
Now Kaitlyn was driving a beat-up Toyota Celica that leaked antifreeze. She would eventually have to buy a new car, but she could walk or ride her bike to work. At the same time, she couldn’t ride her bike to Nana’s.
Kaitlyn dreamed of owning a 1965 Mustang. She was thinking of this while sputtering along at only fifty-five miles per hour.
Then it began to snow.
“Now that is just great!” muttered Kaitlyn and turned on the wipers. Or should she say “wiper.” Only one worked.
She was literally in the middle of nowhere. Though she knew these roads like a human GPS, Kaitlyn wondered if the Celica could make it.
The car finally stalled out somewhere between “kin and kain’t” as Nana would say.
Kaitlyn let out a cry of frustration. There was nothing around for miles. Snow accumulated on the Celica’s windshield, and the darkness deepened.
“Maybe I can start it up again after I give it a little rest,” thought Kaitlyn. She wrapped her quilts around her tighter. It was cold. Seriously cold. She tried the ignition again.
Kaitlyn pulled her cell phone from her purse. She hated to call the police for help. But she had no choice, and she certainly didn’t want Nana driving in the snow.
Headlights shone over the next rise, and a vehicle came to a stop in front of Kaitlyn.
She began to dial 9-1-1 but stopped herself when she saw Santa Claus step from the vehicle.
Kaitlyn had to laugh at the situation.
She rolled her window down an inch or so.
“Ho, ho, ho! Do you need a charge?” called the Santa.
“I don’t think that’s going to help this beater out tonight. I think it’s dead.”
“Is that you, Kaitlyn Ridgeway?” asked Santa, after he approached her car.
Kaitlyn’s eyes registered disbelief. “Is that you—Santa?”
“No,” said Santa and pulled down his snowy white beard. “It’s Jeff Stanton—from Loretto High.”
Instantly, a flood of memories rushed back to Kaitlyn’s first love from way back in 9th grade. The two had gotten along so well together, but they lost touch after Jeff’s family moved to Alabama.
“Jeff? What are you doing out here?” Kaitlyn smiled. Why hadn’t she thought to look him up on Facebook before?
“I’m heading to Florence to deliver some toys to the hospitalized kids at Helen Keller Hospital before going home to Mom and Dad’s. What about you?”
“Going home to Nana’s.”
“Well, I’m getting a little bit cold standing out here in the snow. Why don’t I give you a lift and we can call a tow for your car?”
Without hesitating, Kaitlyn opened her car door. She gave Santa Jeff an awkward embrace and together they transferred the presents and luggage from the Celica to Jeff’s car.
Unlike her own car, Jeff’s was warm as toast.
Kaitlyn held her hands up to the heating vent to defrost them.
Before driving away, Jeff looked up a towing service, but the only ones were several miles away and closed for Christmas.
Kaitlyn took a surreptitious glance at Jeff’s hand. No ring. She hoped the guy wasn’t in a relationship. She immediately felt embarrassed for thinking such a thing. Then, looking around at the vehicle’s interior, she asked, “Is this a 1965 Mustang?”
“How did you know?”
“Just thought it looked like one,” said Kaitlyn, who spent a great deal of time looking up the model on the Internet.
It seemed like the miles passed to soon before Jeff pulled his car into Nana’s driveway. Nana’s Christmas tree gleamed merry and bright from a front window in Nana’s cozy little farmhouse.
“Mind if I call you sometime?” asked Jeff, looking down at Kaitlyn’s left hand.
Kaitlyn said, “I’d like that. Just look me up on Facebook…you know my name, Santa.”
Jeff grinned. “Merry Christmas, Kaitlyn.”