Laura  Goodman was feeling good walking  on her  way to 
school with her best  friend  Jan Parsons.  It was the last 
school  day  before their  Christmas holidays. She and Jan  
lived across the street from each other. They lived only  four  
blocks from  school  and  enjoyed their  walk  to school 
everyday.  Jan  wasn't feeling very good and was in a bad 

  "Jan what's wrong?"  Laura asked.

  "Ah, Dad got mad at us last night."

  Laura was thinking to herself  that  everytime she  had seen 
Mr. Parsons he had always  been in a good mood and very 
friendly. She  passed her friends dour mood off  to some 
minor family  quarrel. At school  Jan  got into a better mood for 
they both liked  their teacher,  Miss Johnson. She was  so  
friendly and  nice. They were studying  foreign  countries  and 
France was their country of  study that  day. 

  Miss Johnson was telling them  all about  the French wine 
country and was  about to  explain how wine was made when 
she asked the class, "Does anyone know how wine is made?" 

  No one raised their hand, just when she was about to 
explain to the class, Jan raised her hand and said.   "Miss  
Johnson, first you have to  squash  up the  grapes  to get the 
juice out,  next  you screen out the seeds and the skin leaving 
the juice." 

  Miss Johnson seemed surprised asking Jan,   "How  did  our  
little  resident  wine maker learn about wine making?"  

  Everyone  laughed  but Miss  Johnson  never made fun of 
anyone personally just the  funny situations  that happened, 
that's the  reason everyone liked Miss Johnson. 

Jan replied.  "My father makes his own wine at home."    

  The morning flashed like seconds, and at  lunch  both  Laura 
and Jan  had  more  than enough money so they pigged out 
and  literally stuffed  themselves. Jan had  busied  herself 
helping one of their classmates keep a  older girl  from 
picking on her. After helping  the girl Jan started looking for 
Laura and  found her  arguing with Nancy a girl that  wasn't  a 
member  of their group. Laura was yelling  at Nancy, for 
apparently no reason. Laura  raved on.  

  "You're not going to get away with this you ugly little bitch, 
you don't even wear  make-up."  

  Nancy  started crying and walked away.  Jan asked  Laura 
what the problem was. Laura   told her that Nancy didn't care 
about  anyone in their school and she would get her.  After  
school that afternoon  walking  home with  Laura, Jan didn't 
bring up  the  matter about  Laura's spat with Nancy. When 
they  reached the place to part, Laura said, "Remember, I've 
invited  you to spend Christmas Eve with  us, and I'll walk 
over to your house about 7  and get you, my dad doesn't want 
you to  walk over by yourself."  

  "O.K. I'll be ready on time,"  Jan promised. 

  Christmas Eve was always the most important holiday  of 
the year for Laura. Walking  over to Jan's house, thoughts of  
family, food, and gifts seem to all come together merging  into 
happy  and wonderful thoughts of  the  coming good  times.  
Walking up to Jan's  house  she could  hear  someone 
yelling. The  voice  was coming  from inside Jan's house.  
The  drapes were  parted  in the front window  and  Laura 
could  bearly  see through the  front  window into  the  living 
room. There she  saw  Jan's father staggering around yelling  
obscenities at  the  family.  Laura waited  a  couple  of 
moments then rang the door bell.      
  Jan's  mother grabbed her husband  by  the arm and said, 
"Damn it honey get into  the  bedroom,  that's  probably 
Laura."  Jan,  fuming said to her mother. "He's going to run all 
my friends off!"

  Jan then answered the door and said, " Hi  Laura I'm ready."

  They  started walking across the street  to Laura's house 
and Jan turned to Laura  said. "You heard that fight didn't 

  "Yes I did, does he drink like that all the time?"

  "Yeah and during the holidays he's especially bad."  Jan 
started crying, Laura put her arm around  her and  said,  "Jan, 
everything going  to  be  all right."

  They  kept walking to Laura's house and  by the time they 
reached Laura's house, Jan felt much  better. Laura did have 
a good side  and her kindness comforted her. During their 
walk across  the street Jan's whole  attitude  had changed.  
Now,  she was  looking  forward  to spending  Christmas  Eve 
with Laura  and  her family.     

  Laura's parents were such beautiful people. Laura's  father  
was  always  coming  up  and hugging  Laura and she could 
tell  that  they all  loved each other very much. 

  Mr.  Goodman said, "Laura it's almost ten o'clock, could you 
turn  the T.V. on, the news will be on  in  a second."  

  Mrs. Goodman responded,  "Oh  Honey could you leave it off 
just this once, it  is Christmas  Eve.

  "Come on Honey Bun,"  He  teasingly  begged, "just the 
news, O.K."  she  was always giving in to him, but he did a lot 
for her. 

  Laura  turned the set on and sat down  next to Jan on the 
floor.  The last news item  was a live report from Lummons 
Memorial  Hospital an  interview with someone who  did  
charity work. The reporter was so handsome and  said, 
"We're  talking to Nancy Porter  who  attends Martin  Middle 
School. Nancy  we  understand that  every Christmas Eve you 
come  down  and sing Christmas carols with the hospital staff 
at Lummons Memorial Hospital, tell the  viewing  audience  
about your work and  how  many Christmas Eves you've 
spent here."          

  Nancy  was a little nervous, no makeup, and in all her glory, 
stammered a little at first but got into it the spirit of the 
interview quickly. 

  "I've  been coming to Lummons Memorial  for the last five 
Christmas Eves." 

  "Nancy, do you get a lot of reward from this work?" 

  "Yes and especially in the children's ward, Usually  there's  
one or two  terminally  ill children and we spend more time 
with them." 

  "Thank you for your comments and thank  you for  watching 
KVEE-54 news, the  news  leader, goodnight."  

   Mrs. Goodman said, "Laura wasn't that  the new girl at 

   "Dropping her eyes, Laura replied,  "Yeah that's her." 

   Jan turned  and looked  at Laura. Laura was about to cry  for 
the  girl  on  the news  program  at  Lummons Memorial 
Hospital. She was the girl that just the day  before at school 
Laura had  bitched  out for no apparent reason and had made 
her  cry. Jan  put  her hand on  Laura's  shoulder  and 
whispered,  "It's alright. Your still  my  best friend."  Laura 
squeezed Jan's hand. She  was so  ashamed  of herself for 
the way  she  had treated Nancy. 

   Mrs. Goodman oblivious to  Jan and Laura's scene, walked 
into the kitchen and called out to Jan.  "Surprise, surprise Jan, 
you have to eat my special dessert. Laura come into the  
kitchen and get some for your dad first." Laura  went into the 
kitchen and got some dessert for her dad.  The dessert was in 
a wine glass and  it appeared  to be mainly whipped  cream.  
Laura brought  Jan  hers. For a  brief  moment  the image of 
her own dad drunk on wine staggering around  flashed 
through her head but  it  was quickly  forgotten because of the  
warmth  of the Goodman family. Jan scooped down into the 
wine glass with her spoon and started  eating her  dessert.  
She was trying to  figure  out what  was in it. To Jan's  
pleasant  surprise the  special dessert had fruit mixed-in  with 
whipped cream, but the most common fruit  was Jan's 
favorite, the bestest, goodest fruit in the  whole  world that she  
could  never  get enough of, 

                               Green Grapes.      

Ó 1989 George Butler