J&P Revisits ‘A Christmas Visit’
December 22, 2010 | By: Scott Holton
There aren’t a whole lot of biker Christmas stories out there, so I was pleasantly surprised to read the following holiday fiction that first appeared 22 years ago in the Motorcyclist’s Post. We’re reprinting it here with permission from the publisher.
The story, called “A Christmas Visit,” was well received by the biking public when it appeared in the November issue of the Post back in 1988. It has since been reprinted in many publications around the world including in several foreign languages. J&P Cycles would like to share this wonderful story with our friends.
It’s got a white-bearded dude named Nick, riding a Harley Dresser that appears black at a distance, but close up, turns out to be the deepest, shiniest maroon you ever saw. The conversation that takes place between Nick and the author in a near-empty diner on Christmas Day might just remain with you forever. It’s a keeper, and one that I’m going to share with my child this holiday season.
Maybe you’ll feel the same, and share it with your loved ones. Enjoy the read:
A Christmas Visit first appeared in the December 1988 edition of The Motorcyclist’s Post. It was my first attempt at Holiday Fiction. At that time this story was very well-received and was reprinted in publications around the world in a few different languages—but it was always a Post story. I’m very proud of it. So many riders I met told me how they read this story to their children on Christmas Eve.
Every year, I have met some of those children, all grown up now, and they have expressed an interest in seeing this story again so they may read it to their children. Of course now it is an outdated piece. Motorcycling current events from that time are now forgotten history. Much has changed in motorcycling and politics in 20 years—yet the sentiments of Love Peace and Happiness hopefully remain the same in all of our lives. So, twenty years later, I am pleased to again share with you A Christmas Visit along with my genuine wishes to you all for a happy and healthy Holiday Season.
A CHRISTMAS VISIT
By Bill Gannon
The loud bleeping from the alarm clock woke me with a start. It’s 6:30 already?!?!! I’m not used to getting up this early. It seems like it was only two hours ago when I went to sleep. In fact it was. I hopped into the shower to shake off the effects of last night’s long Christmas Party. I partied hearty, now I’m beat. But I had lots to do today. It was Christmas Morning!
The sun was shining bright on this crisp clear December morning. It seemed a bit cold, but I could dress for that. If I hustle, I can get over to my Ex’s house in time to see the kids get up and discover the joys of another Christmas. Then we can all go to visit my folk’s for a great holiday feast. I had lots of gifts for my nieces and nephews also.
I grabbed the mail sack that I had filled with presents and threw it over my shoulder. I must look like Santa I thought as I headed to the garage. The Superglide blasted to life with one press on the starter button. I let it idle a bit as I strapped on the mailbag.
There was no other traffic out there as I rode towards Route 1. Stopped at a red light in Dedham was when I first saw it. A solo rider on a Dresser flashed past me as a blur. Wow, what the hell does he have in that motor?!! It was fast. I made the left on to Route 1 and opened up the throttle trying to catch him. My bike wasn’t half as fast as his, and mine is fast. At the third red light I finally caught up to him. Pulling alongside I said, “Not a bad day for it.” He just looked at me.
He was an interesting looking older dude. Long white hair flowed out from his red fur-lined helmet. A white beard matched his scarf and fur collar. It was a great beard, split-blown from the wind, but thick enough to provide warmth. His leathers appeared black from a distance, but close up I realized were actually a deep maroon. They were old and wind battered, but still sturdy enough to take the beating December’s weather can give. He was a stoneface, his face bright red from windburn. His bike was the most beautiful I’d ever seen. A late model Harley Dresser with lots of chrome. The paintjob was beautiful. From the fairing to the bulging tourpack was painted in a continuous winter scene. I never saw a motorcycle shine like his did.
I spoke up again. “Not too bad for this time of the year.” This time I got a response. “Yeah, it’s getting warmer”, was all he said. I asked him how long he’d been on the road for. He replied, “All night, The Diner’s open, wanna stop for coffee?” The light turned green and off we rode into the parking lot.
Shaking off a slight chill we strolled in the door and up to the counter. We ordered cups of hot tea. “I’m Billy,” I said giving him my hand. “Nick”, he said giving me a firm handshake.
Since he said he’d been riding all night, I asked him if he was headed someplace special. “I’m headed home now”, he said, “Just have a few more deliveries to make”. “You’re working?” I asked, “It must be lousy to have to work on Christmas.”
He glared at me, and then his stone face cracked a little smile. “I love working today, it’s the only day of the year that I work this hard. But I do get in a lot of riding today too, it’s a special day for me”, he said.
I told him I thought Christmas day was special to everyone. “My son was born on this day”, he explained. “Well then”, I said, “You must be anxious to get home for the double celebration”.
“He’s not there”, Nick replied, “He died a long time ago, when he was only thirty years old he was murdered by a mob”. I didn’t know what to say.
Nick continued, “that’s way I work so hard today, his memory is very special.”
The waitress brought the tea. She also had to work on Christmas and my heart went out to both of them. I wanted to change the subject so I asked Nick what line of work he was in.
“Christmas,” he replied.
“Huh,” I asked.
Again he repeated, “Christmas. I deliver Christmas to the whole world.”
Okay. Boy do I seem to find them; a certified crackpot.
“Hey Nick, if ya want we can go back to my place and I’ll help ya smoke up some of that pipe cause it’s gotta be some good stuff”, I told him.
“I don’t expect you to understand just yet”, he began, “but after today you will have a better understanding of who I am and what I’m about.” He seemed neither drunk nor drugged, in face he seemed genuine and sincere.
Nick spoke up again. “Meeting you is no accident, Billy, it was meant for us to have this discussion today.” He continued, “You will bring my thoughts, works, and deeds to other Riders out there that are worthy.”
I humored him a bit asked, “Why me?”
“Oh, it’s not only you, I come to many throughout the year to bring hope and caring to all different cultures”, he said. “The Motorcycling culture needs some of each and you’re gonna help me with it”, spoke the old-timer.
“Okay, now I get it,” I said, “The red leathers, the paint job, white hair and beard, and you call yourself Nick. You think you’re really Santa Claus!”
He looked at me and said, “I know who I am.”
Then he asked, “What do you really want for Christmas, Billy?”
What I thought I wanted was to get away from this poor old fruitcake before he decided he wanted to hang around with me all day.
“Nothing, nothing at all. I’m real comfortable with my life and by bike,” I answered him.
“Nothing for yourself, perhaps, but you want a lot”, he said.
He continued, “Think man think, you’re a parent first, but you’re capable of many other things too; a Motorcycle Safety Instructor, a writer, a Motorcyclist’s right lobbyist, a public speaker, and more.”
Hey, I never saw this guy before in my life. How does he know so much about me?
“I know all about you, Billy”, he said before I even asked. He again said, “So think about what you really would want for Christmas.”
I replied, “Don’t hand me that crap, you read that stuff about me, don’t play your crazy games with me.” He was silent. We drank our tea.
In the silence a strange wonderful feeling of warmth came over me. I looked at this stout kind old man realized that he was for real. The genuine article.
He told me, “I know who I am and now you also know, so tell me what you really want—say the words.” I looked at him quizzingly. If he is who he says he is, who I now believe he is, then he can help.
“Well”, I started, “I want the best for my kids, I always want them to be happy and comfortable. I want all my brothers and sisters on two wheels to always have safe rides. I also want the administration to give us back the Motorcycle Safety Fund and lower the inspection fees back to a fair rate. I want the insurance industry to stop trying to have motorcycling outlawed and instead help us to bring safe motorcycling programs to this state. And of course I want to see an end to helmet laws and other laws that discriminate against Bikers”, I told him.
“So is that what you’re gonna give me this Christmas”, I asked. Nick shook his head and replied, “No.”
“What do you mean no”, I yelled, “If you’re who you say you are then why can’t you answer my prayers?”
He looked at me long and hard. Then he said, “I always answer your prayers. Yours and everyone else’s. Sometimes the answer will be no.”
Then a real thoughtful look appeared on his face. He spoke the following works,
“You need to understand me better. I’m not a magician, I don’t perform tricks. My son, who was born on this day wasn’t a magician either and he was killed by a mob that expected him to be a magician. Like you, my son was a teacher. He came to this world to teach everyone how to be the best they can be. These things you want are mortal changes. You don’t want them for yourself, but for the good of your brethren. They must also want these changes as much as you do and be willing to work as hard as you do. When that happens, and only then, will your wishes come true. But I have answered your prayers with the tools I have given you. Tools you must share with fellow Riders so united you can bring change. I’ve given you the tools of knowledge, inspiration, spirit, and the will to fight hard for what is right. I don’t have to grant your wishes because you already have the abilities to attain them yourself with your fellow Riders.”
I was touched because I know he was right. I’ve said the same thing for years. His works were inspiring. I sat there quietly and sipped my tea.
Nick spoke up again. “The things you desire for yourself you don’t ask for. But I know what they are. You truly desire love, peace, and happiness. You have so little of that now. You aren’t happy, or at peace, and you’re yearning for love. By this day’s end you will find those desires have been met, you’ll realize it suddenly.”
I glanced at my watch and realized I had to get moving. I asked Nick to come with me and share Christmas with those I love. He told me, “I’m always with you, and those you love, but you’d never be able to keep up with me on mere mortal Harley. Besides, I’ve got others to visit, others to inspire. But I’m always here when you need me.”
We zipped up and went out to the bikes.
“Always remember, Billy, that this meeting was no accident, it was meant to be,” Nick told me offering me his hand. I took his hand and then hugged him hard.
He pressed the starter button and his heavenly scoot fired up. As he mounted his idling ride he yelled over to me, “You don’t realize some of your prayers that I have answered. All those lovely ladies you kissed under the mistletoe as last night’s party were no accidents, they were meant to be too,” he told me giving me a wink and broad smile.
He kicked into gear and rode off to Christmas’ destiny. By the end of the day I realized the words he spoke were true. The joy I felt on this Christmas day being with my family and those I love helped me to truly understand the meaning of this special day. I realized how lucky I was for love, peace, and happiness were mine for the asking.
When I arrived home that night, the house was quiet. I noticed a stocking was hung over the fireplace with my name on it. I never saw it before, but I was anxious to open it and find out where it came from. I pulled out a card that had a picture on the front just like the paintjob on Nick’s Dresser. Inside read the following words; “Billy, Thanks for the love and understanding—I’m always with you—Nick.”
Next I pulled out a T-shirt. The logo on the front was Santa Claus riding on a Dresser. The back had the Harley bar and shield surrounded by the words: Big Nicks H-D Sales and Service—North Pole.
For those who are reading this Christmas story, let my wishes to you remain genuine. May you have all the wonderful things that Nick shared with me. May you always understand the true meaning of Christmas and the gift that he gave us, his son, so that this day could always be special for all of you, for you are special people. May you always know love, peace, and happiness. And joy. I wish you and those you love the happiest and healthiest Holiday Season. Share the spirit, and have a very Merry Christmas.