Seventy-six years old and she sits alone on Christmas Eve in a small apartment above the town's only hardware store. A small tree glows in the corner, under it several gifts from friends and family were scattered, she would get to those tomorrow. She sits at the table, having just finished a word puzzle. She has her health, she has money, she is independent ... she is alone.
She had three daughters and a son. Only one daughter remains, but she won't be visiting, she is with her new grandchild in Florida. The rest of the grandchildren are scattered across the country, evidence of them is pasted on the refrigerator in the other room. Some will call tomorrow, some will not.
Vietnam took her only son, cancer her two eldest daughters about ten years back, within a few months of each other, she wonders how she got through it.
Her husband is gone now, and had Alzheimer's for years before that, it was a blessing to her when he passed, she had barely been able to see the strong man she loved reduced to being so incapable.
She thinks of the year that has passed, how every day was pretty much like the last one, minus the weather, not much to differentiate when you are retired. One day pretty much runs into the next. She thinks back to when the house was full of kids, her husband, her friends, the noise she used to complain about ... the noise she missed so very very much.
The cat jumps into her lap as she looks out the window and sees a bright light in the sky to the east, shining almost too bright through her window, probably a plane taking people to visit their families she thinks. The clock strikes ten. Nothing moves. The clock strikes eleven.
Around the table, the spirits of her husband, son, and two daughters sit, trying to comfort her loneliness, but she has not the faith to see them, nor can she the child whose coming was foretold of by the star in the east ... she is alone.