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An After Christmas Miracle

December 26, 2014



Some of you might not be ready for Christmas to be over, so here is a fictional piece I wrote that was inspired by an after Christmas trip to the mall.




The mall was choked with shoppers returning Christmas presents and looking for end of year deals. My sister had gifted me an unsuitable sweater and I’d come to return it. With the refund tucked into my wallet I worked my way to the mall exit. The aisles were jammed with sullen children, screaming babies and tired parents. Maneuvering around them required patience which at that moment I sorely lacked. I dodged into a pet store to calm my nerves and build up energy to slash my way through the jungle of shoppers to reach my car.


A rude young boy pushed past me with a crinkled dollar clutched in his hand. He pressed his nose to a tank swarming with goldfish advertised at a dollar each. An older man approached to wait on him. They didn’t appear to notice me but I was well positioned to hear their exchange.


“Can I help you, young man?” he asked politely.


“Are you Chinese?” the boy blurted.


“My parents were born in China, but I was born in San Francisco.”


The boy appeared to think about this for a moment, and then said, “I’ve spent all of my Christmas money ‘cept for this dollar. I guess I’ll take one of these crummy goldfish.”


“Have you owned a goldfish before? They require care to thrive, clean water and of course fish food.”


The boy rolled his eyes. “My sister got one for her birthday but a couple of days later it was dead. She said I could have the fishbowl and what’s left of the food.”


“I see,” the man said. “Do you know anything about goldfish?”


“I know they’re pretty darn cheap if you can buy ‘em for a buck.”


The salesclerk smiled. “Goldfish originated in China about a thousand years ago.”


The boy didn’t look as disinterested as he had a moment earlier.


“Can you imagine how long a thousand years is?”


“King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table lived a long time ago. Was it around then?”


The man nodded, oblivious to others impatient to be waited on. “Back then someone spotted a little grey fish in a creek with a fleck of gold on it. The fish was scooped up and placed in a pond with another fish with a single golden fleck and before long babies were born with two spots of gold. The process continued until, after much careful breeding, a fish was created that was completely gold in color. So you see it took ages to create the first of these tiny miracles. It’s true that today they aren’t expensive, but they certainly aren’t cheap.”


The man carefully netted one of the fish and placed it in a plastic bag with water. Before handing over the fish he leaned toward the boy and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper. “You might want to keep it a secret, but these fish are special in another way. They possess the magic of good luck. Take care of it; feed it properly and keep its bowl clean. The longer this fish lives the stronger the magic.”


“What happens if it dies?”


He pretended to shudder. “Let’s not think about that. Besides, I have a feeling you’re going to take good care of this fish. Aren’t you?”


The boy nodded. After visiting the cash register, he left, carefully cradling the bag containing his new pet.


I smiled at the salesman and searched for a nametag. He wasn’t wearing one. “That was clever of you,” I said. “That fish didn’t stand a chance until you fibbed and told him it was magical.”


“I didn’t fib,” he explained. “That little fish is going to teach our young man responsibility, patience and kindness. What’s more magical than that?”


A few weeks later I again found myself in the mall. The post Christmas crowds were gone. I remembered the man in the pet store and decided to pay him a visit. I passed by the yapping puppies and meowing kittens, grumpy parrots and disinterested rodents until I came to the fish tank, still advertising goldfish for a dollar apiece. The clerk without the nametag was nowhere in sight. When another salesman approached I said, “I’m looking for an older Asian fellow who was working here a few days after Christmas.”


“I’m the manager,” he said, “and no one on our payroll meets that description.”


“What about seasonal help?”


“Sorry. Maybe you’re confusing ours with another store.”


“Is there another pet store in the mall?”


“No. Maybe you were at a different mall. But since you’re here, is there any way I can help you?”


I shook my head and turned to go, but I was halted by an impulse fluttering through my mind. “Yes, there is something you can do for me. I need a goldfish.”




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Now that was a great story! Who really was being taught an important magical lesson? Thanks for this!
By: Kathe W. on December 26, 2014
Terrific story!!
By: fishducky on December 26, 2014
i remember this one. :)
By: TexWisGirl on December 26, 2014
Baa-humbug! (LOL?)
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on December 26, 2014
A lovely story, and i thank you!
By: mimi on December 26, 2014
Nice story illustrating the magic of Christmas.
By: Catalyst on December 26, 2014
Well done. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on December 26, 2014
By: v on December 26, 2014
Wow! Just Wow!! What an amazing story!! You NEVER disappoint!!! Happy New Year, Stephen!!! ~shoes~
By: Redshoes51 on December 26, 2014
Magical story. :)
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 26, 2014
A fine story. Thank you for that.
By: Tom Cochrun on December 26, 2014
Thanks for sharing your magical perspective ... and imagination.
By: Mitchell is Moving on December 27, 2014
A great story worthy of the great moral fable tellers of old.
By: John on December 27, 2014
Hope you and Mrs. Chubby had a great Christmas. Thanks for the goldfish story. I don't think the Asian man was magic, just a passer-by with magical thinking. Have a great New Year.
By: Madeleine McLaughlin on December 27, 2014
Great story, Stephen! I wish you a wonderful 2015!!
By: Lexa Cain on December 27, 2014
That was a lovely parable(?) Since I am married to someone who knows a lot about fish, the goldfish in those pet stores are usually raised as food for large aquarium owners and sell even cheaper. They are so abused by the time they reach the store that only a few have any long life left. I know you did not need to learn that, but thought I would share. ;-)
By: Tabor on December 28, 2014
I'm always a sucker for a "magical" story. Thanks
By: Oma Linda on December 28, 2014
Love it!
By: Cranky on December 28, 2014
Wonderful story. Thanks to my grandchildren I have learned to See Magic. It's all around us.
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on December 28, 2014
Great story. Here's wishing you a magical 2015.
By: Botanist on December 28, 2014
Lovely story! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on December 28, 2014
One of life's little lessons... Hope you had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year to the Chatterboxes!
By: Pixel Peeper on December 30, 2014
New to me. Great story! Happy New Year!
By: Al Penwasser on January 3, 2015

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