* * *
The two kids flew by me, running through the Pirates of the Caribbean turnstiles, moments after seven in the morning.
Dad, with his newly-bought coffee in hand, lingered in the plaza. The morning air felt bitterly cold, after the snow earlier that week.
"Merry Christmas," I told him, the first of many such greetings I'd be offering that day.
"Merry Christmas," he replied, stamping his feet. Few tourists had brought the right clothes for the cold snap. "Wow, it must be tough working Christmas morning."
"Actually," I said, "several of us were just wondering if we'd find anyone out here coming to Disney World first thing on Christmas morning."
To be honest, I think the actual words another Pirates cast member had used moments before the park opened were something like, "I cannot believe that anyone in their right mind would come to Disney World instead of spending Christmas morning opening presents." But I didn't tell the Dad that.
"Yeah, you'd think that we'd be opening presents somewhere, right?"
The guy reads minds, I guessed. Another family walked into the plaza, shivering as they pushed through the turnstiles.
"Well, obviously I'm skipping that, too," I said with a grin. Of course, I'd be opening presents with my family before Christmas dinner that afternoon, after my shift, so it wasn't like I wasn't going to be celebrating the day. I wondered if they'd be doing something similar, too, later in the day at whatever hotel where they were staying.
The Dad's focus shifted; he turned his eyes from me toward the passageway his kids had run into.
"The kids said they really wanted to go to Disney World for Christmas," he said. "Their mom and I told them that we couldn't afford that, with other presents, too."
He sipped his coffee.
"So the kids said, 'Fine, let's skip the other presents and all give each other a trip to Disney World, instead,'" he continued.
The Dad brought his eyes back to me, and I could see a misty look in them, one that had nothing to do with the cold.
"So I guess they're opening their presents now, after all."
He stood, silently now, with a silly grin on his face, his eyes drifting back down the passageway.
I let him have the moment, then spoke.
"They'll be exiting through the shops over to your right, sir," I said.
"Oh... yes. Thanks."
He looked back at me, as he walked across the plaza.
"Merry Christmas," I said.
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