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.