I’m on the train coming back from therapy.
The car is snailing back uptown with very little chatter. It’s Christmas Eve, so the solemnity seems apt, like everybody’s waiting for a savior to be born.
That damned Catholicism of mine kicks up like the Santa Ana winds, so I too feel something is coming.
A little girl gets on at Fulton, with angel wings pinned to her jacket. Her hair is braided with silver ribbons, while a halo of Aluminum foil graces her head.
There are plenty of seats, but she and her mom prefer to stand looking out as the train turtles along.
She whispers something to her mother before taking out a Tupperware container from her Hello Kitty backpack, she expertly flips open, proceeding to offer cookies to everyone on the car.
People are saying no thanks thinking they’re for sale. However, when she gets to me I take one, after seeing that they’re angels with pink wings, just like hers.
“Did you bake these?” I ask her.
“Yes, me and my mommy did,” she says, looking over her shoulder at her, with a 5 year-old’s undiluted love and affection.
As I take the cookie I hold in a napkin the mom hands me, the little girl says, “Don’t you know me?”
Taken slightly aback, I say, “Have we met before?” Pretty sure we hadn’t.
“Look at me again.”
She is now in the center of the car staring at me, waiting for a response.
Then she starts to cry.
I panic at the sudden outburst.
“Please don’t cry. Did you change your hair maybe, since the last time we met?”
“NO,” she mewls. I keep looking over at the mother who’s calmly watching.
Now she’s got everyone’s attention since she’s wailing like a wounded calf.
“I’m the Christmas angel. Don’t you remember me?”
So we now know we have a special little girl who needs something more than a cookie.
There’s an older black woman seated to my right who catches my eye. She smiles and says, “Yes, I thought that’s who you were. I wasn’t sure.”
“Oh of course,” I say, getting with the program.
This little kid blooms as the whole car chimes in.
“Yeah, I know you,” one guy said. “Me too,” said another.
She beams with what I can’t help calling, an angelic smile, as the train pulls into Union Square.
As the doors fly open, and she and her mother get off, she suddenly spins in a perfect pirouette before hollering…
“I’m the Christmas Angel…see ya next year.”
New Yorkers, at their crazy, Christmas best.