A Sailor's Christmas Gift

by William J. Lederer



Last year at Christmas time my wife, three boys and I were in France on our way from Paris to Nice. For five wretched days everything had gone wrong. Our hotels were tourist traps, our rented car broke down, we were all restless and irritable in the crowded car. On Christmas Eve, when we checked into a dingy hotel in Nice, there was no Christmas spirit in our hearts. It was raining and cold when we went out to eat. We found a drab little joint shoddily decorated for the holidays. It smelled greasy. Only five tables in the restaurant were occupied. There were two German couples, two French families and an American sailor, by himself. In the corner, a piano player listlessly played Christmas music. I was too stubborn and too tired and miserable to leave. I looked around the noticed that the other customers were eating in stony silence. The only person who seemed happy was the American sailor. While eating he was writing a letter, and a half-smile lighted his face.
去年,在圣诞节期间,我和我的妻子以及我们的三个孩子,从法国踏上由巴黎到尼斯的旅途。由于接连五天的恶劣天气,旅途上一切很不顺心。我们下榻的旅馆尽是些敲诈勒索旅客的“陷阱”;我们租用的那辆汽车老是发生故障,在拥挤不堪的车子上大家个个显得烦躁不安。圣诞节前夕,我们住进了尼斯的一家旅店,这家旅店又脏又暗,我们打心眼里感觉不到丝毫的节日气氛。    我们外出就餐时,天正下着小雨,天气寒冷。我们找到了一家死气沉沉的小餐馆。为点缀一下节日的气氛,这家餐馆刚刚做了番粗劣的装潢。一进门就闻到一股刺鼻的油污气味。整个餐厅只有五张桌子有人就餐:两对德国夫妇,两户法国家庭和一名孑然一身的美国水手。在餐厅的一个角落里,有位钢琴师在无精打采地弹奏着圣诞乐曲。 我情绪低落,加之疲惫不堪,执意不愿离开这儿去找别的餐馆了。我环顾四周,见这里的顾客一个个沉默不语,只顾吃着、喝着,唯独那位美国水手看上去兴高采烈。他一边吃着,一边写信,面带微笑,神采奕奕。