It was December 23, and the North End of Boston was filled with Christmas cheer. Lights twinkled on the trees, and the cafes and restaurants were adorned with wreaths and garlands.
People hustled and bustled through the narrow streets and lined up outside Modern Pastry and Neptune Oyster in search of goodies for their Christmas feasts. Car horns honked impatiently. Tourists chattered excitedly in various languages and stopped to snap pictures.
The only person seemingly left out of the festivities was Christopher Columbus. A narrow alley off of bustling Salem Street, deserted except for a few parked cars and an abandoned mattress, led to his home in the parking lot of the Knights of Columbus headquarters. As always, he stood solemnly atop his modest pedestal, isolated behind a tall fence.
Merry Christmas, Chris. How have you been? Everything is so cheerful out there, with the lights, and the decorations, and everyone buying food and presents. And you are here all by yourself. Nobody seems to care about you out there, but I do. You have no decorations, and no presents, and no family, and no one coming to visit you. But I’m here to visit you. I didn’t forget.
I stood for a few moments with my friend Chris, separated from him by the fence.
And then I noticed that the gate behind him, on the other side of the parking lot, was open.
And an idea came into my mind.
Perhaps Chris could receive a gift after all.
I didn’t know for how much longer the gate would be open, so I had to hurry. I turned back onto Salem Street and, turning my head to the left and to the right, began scanning the storefronts for one that might sell suitable gifts for a marble statue. I remembered passing by a CVS earlier, shortly after getting off of the train. So, battling through the crowds, I retraced my steps. Once inside the cramped drug store, I found myself surrounded by an overwhelming assortment of candy, stockings, toys, and holiday decorations. What would Chrisopher Columbus like? I asked myself as shoppers flowed around me, checking out the merchandise, and the automatic doors noisily clanged open and closed. A statue cannot eat, so candy was out. The toys all seemed too juvenile and silly for a great admiral. I noticed a table filled with bouquets of flowers, which were beautiful but very expensive, and likely too big to rest securely atop Chris’s small pedestal. And then I noticed that next to the flowers were some small plants, with beautiful white flowers, that cost only $7.
The perfect gift for Chris!
I paid for a plant and, praying that the gate hadn’t closed, carried it carefully through the busy streets.
To my tremendous relief, the gate was open, allowing me to stroll into the parking lot and present the admiral with his gift. A sign sternly warned me that trespassing is forbidden and that violators will be prosecuted, but I ignored it, figuring that no one would mind, because after all, I was there to give the statue a gift, not to harm him. I gently placed the little plant between his marble feet.
Merry Christmas, my friend. I brought you a gift after all. I hope you like it.
I took a few photos of him with his gift, patted his foot, and bid him farewell.
See you later, Chris. It’s been wonderful to see you, as always. Until next time…