Mary Christmas hated the holidays. The twinkling lights gave her headaches. Pine trees aggravated her allergies. Worst of all, people wishing her a “Merry Christmas” drove her bonkers.“Merry Christmas!” some clerk would chirp brightly as Mary paid for her prunes and onions. “That’s my name, don’t wear it out!” Mary would snap, scowling. When she was little, kids taunted her mercilessly about her unusual name. She grew to despise it.Until one Christmas Eve, when everything changed.
Mary was reading when a thunderous crash shook her cabin. She dashed to the door and flung it open. There in the snow lay a sleigh, some reindeer and a guy in a red velvet suit. “You got five seconds to skedaddle,” Mary growled as the man groaned. “Can’t move. Threw my back out.”
An hour later, the guy in the red suit was propped on her sofa drinking tea. He asked her to take over his job, since he was temporarily out of commission. “Are you nuts?” she demanded. “Someone has to do it. I’ll pay you.” When she found out she could make enough money to keep her pantry stocked with prunes and onions for a year, she agreed. That’s how Mary ended up doing Santa’s run that Christmas Eve.
She found the houses easily; the reindeer knew the way like the backs of their hooves. Figuring out which gift went with which kid wasn’t a problem. She just reached into Santa’s sack and grabbed the right one every time. The chimney thing was weird at first, but she got the hang of it after a couple of tries.
She was stuffing the last stocking at the last house when a floorboard creaked.
Turning, Mary stared into the wide eyes of an old woman.
“Mary?” the woman asked.
“Yeah…who are you?” Mary replied.
“It’s me, Murgatroid.”
Suddenly, Mary recognized her childhood nemesis. The one who had started the teasing about her lame name so many decades ago.
“You ain’t no kid,” Mary snapped. “I must be in the wrong house.”
“I don’t think you are,” Murgatroid sighed. “I was just thinking about you yesterday.”
Mary’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “You were, huh?”
“I’ve always wanted to tell you how sorry I am that I made fun of your name when we were little,” Murgatroid admitted sheepishly.
“Then why did you?” Mary asked.
“Because I was jealous. Nobody thinks twice about someone named Murgatroid Glopnik. Everyone remembers a beautiful name like Mary Christmas. See?”
A beautiful name? Mary had never thought of it like that before. Somehow, hearing it put that way, though, she knew it was true. She told Murgatroid she forgave her and hugged her goodbye.
When she got home, Santa was decorating a tree next to the fireplace.
“Your back feels better?” Mary asked.
“My back was never hurt,” he said with a wink, plugging in a strand of twinkling lights that, for the first time ever, didn’t give Mary Christmas a headache at all.