Gentle Readers, we here at the Alexandria Daily Poop have decided to avoid burdening you further with all the irritating, frustrating, infuriating horrifying sickening things that are going on, at least for today. Instead we present you with a true (well, maybe embellished a little, but mostly true) holiday story that really happened to our Beloved Editor, F. Allen Norman, Jr. Here 'tis, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!
BY F. ALLEN NORMAN, JR.
It was Thanksgiving a few years back, I'm thinking probably 2006; and I had spent all night the past night and most of the morning taking people to the airports and other transportation hubs. Myself, I couldn't make it back home that year, so I sought out a place that didn't require reservations and served a banquet with a real turkey. I found one at a corner of northern Old Town Alexandria. I was into my second helping of turkey and fixin's when a family came in and got seated.
One member of the family was a rather rambunctious little lad of about 5 or 6. His mother kept telling him not to run in the restaurant, but he kept it up. The whole scene was making many of the diners a bit uncomfortable, me in part because I thought the kid was going to run headfirst into a table corner or otherwise hurt himself.
Finally I stood up, dressed in my best suit. I addressed the boy's mother: "Madam, if I may, I'd like to have a word with your son" I said.
"Who are you?" she asked quizzically.
"I am Inspector Allen. I'm with the North Pole Police" I replied, looking dead serious.
The mother and everyone in the restaurant caught right on and gasped. "Owen!' the mother said, 'Look! It's an elf!"
Little Owen was awed at how suddenly things had gotten very quiet, and how he was suddenly the center of everyone's attention ... especially this big man who (he thought) was one of Santa's secret police. "Owen' I began, 'Do you know how Santa knows if you've been bad or good?"
Owen just bit his lip and fidgeted.
"Well, Owen, he has his own police force. They might be taxi drivers like me and they might even be the ice cream man in the summer. But we all take notes, and mommies and daddies write to us, too. Now today, just now, I watched you not minding your mom. Owen, let me tell you something."
Owen's eyes began tearing up as I continued: "Now, Owen, Santa knows little boys are going to want to rip and tear and run around. In fact, if little boys didn't like to rip and tear, Santa would be worried. And if you had gotten yourself hurt today, it would have ruined everyone's Thanksgiving; and it would have made Santa very sad. Santa doesn't want little boys to get hurt. That's why you should always listen to your mother when she tells you to sit still."
The kid was on the verge of a full-bore cry as if he were anticipating a whipping. So just before the waterworks began in earnest, I softened my voice and said: "Owen, are you crying because you think I'm going to tell Santa you were bad today?"
He sniffled, choked back a sob, and nodded.
I gave him a thoughtful look. "Okay, Owen, let me tell you what I'm going to do. Now, you're a little kid because you need to learn stuff, right?"
The boy nodded.
"All right, that's right. Learning is what little boys are supposed to do. Now, since I told you why you should mind your mom, did you learn anything?"
Looking bewildered about where I was going with this, Owen nodded again.
"Well, then, if you are supposed to learn, and learning is what you did today, then you did what you are supposed to do. and doing what you're supposed to do is being good"
As Owen's eyes began to clear, I pulled out a pocket New Testament, pretending it was my policeman's notebook. "So', I announced, 'I'm going to write in my report that Owen was GOOD on Thanksgiving!"
I have never seen such a reversal of despair into joy. "THANK YOU! THANK YOU!" he exulted. I told him to remember what he had learned, and returned to my table to a standing ovation from the other adults in the dining room.
I don't know whatever became of young Owen, who is probably 13 or 14 right now. But when I think of Owen's reaction when he realized he had been forgiven, I think of what thankfulness we should all feel as we celebrate the birth of our true Savior this season. Owen's redemption should reflect our own.