The trip into work was peaceful with only half the normal number of commuters. I got a seat on the train. Read a book. Watched black storm clouds gathering over the lake in the distance.
Work was annoying because I arrived to find complaints from a couple of customers and it took up most of the day resolving those.
At noon I ran out and brought Linda's Christmas present, a bottle of Oscar de la Renta perfume. It's getting harder and harder to find. I used to be able to buy it at our local mall, but they no longer sell the perfume. It is the only thing Linda wants and, fortunately, the big downtown Sears still sells it.
Walking back to my office, Linda's bottle of perfume neatly wrapped by the woman at the store, was a battle against the wind and snow kicked up by the third major storm to hit this area this week.
By the end of the day I was anxious to be home but when I arrived at Union station I found my train had been canceled.
The storm was playing havoc with the switches. The train message board was lit up with cancellation and delay notices. The waiting area began to fill up with disgruntled passengers longing to be home.
The next train was canceled as well. The crowd at the station got even larger and nastier. I was getting tired but any seating had been taken an hour ago.
I phoned home to tell Linda I would be late, but she was out. I left her a voice message and wondered where she had gone in the storm.
A man tapped me on the shoulder to ask for change. He wasn't a street person, he wanted me to know. He was fresh out of prison and even had his release papers to prove it. He needed the money to get home to his family. It was Christmas, even for criminals, so I gave him some change. He thanked me and moved on, likely to another sucker.
By now I was nearly two hours late but the next train actually arrived crawling tiredly along the platform crowded with weary commuters. I climbed wearily onto the train with no hope for a seat. But at least I would be on the way.
We jammed in and the great green beast pulled out of the station, only an additional half hour late. We jerked and swayed and by the second station the crowded had thinned out enough I got a seat.
Outside Eglinton there was another switch problem that kept us waiting for an additional ten minutes, but finally we pulled into Guildwood and I climbed off into the raging storm.
The car had to be cleaned off and the traffic barely moved on the slippery streets; but I didn't have far to go. It was my last day of work before New Years.
At home Linda was there. Her sister had driven in from Burlington for a Christmas visit with their mother and they had gone out to dinner together.
It was half way through the evening, watching Linda wrap the last of the presents that I realized it.
Somewhere along the way I had lost her Christmas present. Either on the subway going to the train station, in the lobby of the station or among the jostling crowd on the packed train. Somewhere I had put the bright red bag down. And forgotten it.
Linda was generous and made no last minute shopping jabs. I'm not sure if I can replace her gift before Christmas but I will do my best. I won't open my present until I can replace hers.
We are blessed, Linda tells me. The gifts are the cranberry on the turkey, not the feast.
Somewhere out there is a very nice smelling woman who is feeling very blessed this Christmas as well. And maybe she is.
WISHING EVERYONE A GREAT CHRISTMAS!!
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