Every year, a hopeful grandfather invites his beloved grandson to his home for a special Christmas dinner. The grandson anticipated the invitation every year but would decline it. To his surprise, one year, his grandfather didn't invite him over.
"Everything must be perfect for their visit," Anthony thought to himself as he arranged the dinner table with the best of his late wife's cutlery collection. He headed to the kitchen to check on the turkey and sweet potatoes he made himself.
When his grandson Jacob was a young boy, he'd excitedly gobble up the turkey and the sweet potatoes before helping himself with a huge cut of pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream. He longed to see that smile again, so he made sure to prepare dinner just the way Jacob liked it.
Anthony sat himself down on the dinner table, pouring himself a glass of wine. It's been 10 long years since Jacob visited him. It all stopped when he moved halfway across the country to pursue his dreams in Silicon Valley.
An old man waited for his family to visit him for Christmas every year. | Photo: Shutterstock
Being the old man that he is, Anthony would send an invitation through the mail, which he'd be sure to send over a month early just so he knew Jacob got it. Unfortunately, these letters never brought Jacob back to Boston.
While his parents, Erica and Grayson, would visit, he never went with them. His parents' excuse would always be that he was too busy with school, or once he graduated, too busy with work.
As Anthony enjoyed the glass of wine, he decided to reminisce about the days his family would come together for Christmas. They would spend the holidays together every year, and it remained that way until Jacob turned 20.
He remembered his grandson's compliment, something he would say every single year: "You make the best food ever, grandpa." That distant thought put a smile on Anthony's face.
"You really are a great cook, dad. Why didn't you pass that down to me? Now Anthony's stuck with takeout and mediocre food because Erica and I definitely can't cook," Grayson said, chiming into the conversation.
Anthony's thoughts were interrupted when the doorbell rang. He immediately got up, thinking it was finally Jacob coming to visit. He pinched himself to see whether or not he was just dreaming or if someone really rang the doorbell.
As he walked over to the door, he saw two figures on the doorstep. However, darkness suddenly surrounded him, and he fell to the ground. While he heard muffled voices trying to wake him up, he couldn't get himself to open his eyes and he fell into a deep sleep.
Anthony would prepare a delicious feast for them every year. | Photo: Unsplash
10 years ago...
When Grayson had his own family, they moved to a nearby Massachusetts town, where he had a stable job in tech. That year, it was Anthony who traveled to Grayson and Erica's home to spend the holidays with them.
It was the last Christmas they all spent together as a family, the year that Jacob accepted an internship at Google in California on his last year in university. He was 20 then, and all he could care about was achieving his dreams.
Anthony entered the house without letting them know, and he overheard a conversation that hurt him to the core.
"Jacob, you have to spend Christmas here. Your grandfather traveled two hours just to get here," Grayson said from upstairs.
"Dad, I don't care whether or not grandpa had to fly here, teleport here, or even walk here. I want to spend Christmas with my friends!" Jacob shot back.
Anthony was excited to be spending the holidays with his family, until he overheard their conversation. | Photo: Pexels
"You're being extremely rude, Jacob. Your grandfather loves you, he even prepared your favorite turkey dinner," Grayson said. At this point, Anthony was trying not to drop the tray of turkey he was holding.
"What am I, six? My taste has changed since then," Jacob said, slamming the door behind him. Anthony tried to fight back his tears, walking towards his son's dining area where he put the turkey platter in the center. He sat on one of the chairs, still sad about his grandson not wanting to see him.
That night, he cried himself to sleep. However, he told himself that his love for family was bigger than the pain he felt, so he continued to invite his family over for dinner, despite them not attending.
6 months after Anthony fainted at home...
Anthony opened his eyes and took a look around. He realized he was at the hospital, and right then and there, a nurse entered his room. When she saw he was awake, her eyes lit up.
"Doctor, Mr. Stiller is finally awake! He's wide awake," she yelled from the room. A doctor quickly entered to examine him.
Anthony continued to invite his family over for dinner. | Photo: Pexels
"Mr. Stiller, are you alright? We're glad you're awake. It's a miracle," the doctor said, checking his vitals.
Anthony slowly sat up, still disoriented. "What time is it? I invited my grandson over for dinner. He might have come! I need to get home."
"Mr. Stiller, you've been at the hospital for six months now. You suffered a stroke. We couldn't reach your family at the time, but your grandson came looking for you and he's here!" the doctor said.
"You mean Jacob? He's here?" Anthony asked in disbelief.
At that moment, Jacob was slowly entering the room, as if he was relieved. Anthony could barely recognize him now. The chubby white boy he once knew was now a grown handsome man who stood 6 feet tall.
He was accompanied by a blonde woman in a crisp white dress. "Is that really you, Jacob?" Anthony had to ask.
"I'm so sorry, grandpa," Jacob said, rushing to Anthony's side. Tears were falling from his eyes as they embraced.
Anthony stayed in the hospital for six months. | Photo: Unsplash
"We're glad you're feeling better, Mr. Stiller, we were really worried. Jacob here was worried sick," the woman said, chiming in.
That day, Anthony and Jacob caught up with one another. The woman revealed that she and her husband were actually Anthony's new neighbors who wanted to invite him over for Christmas after they saw him at the dinner table alone. However, he collapsed when he opened the door.
It was the couple that brought Anthony to the hospital where she met Jacob. "I expect a Christmas card from you every November. It didn't arrive last year, so I was curious," Jacob explained.
"I honestly completely forgot about it until I checked my mail a couple of weeks ago. I noticed I still didn't receive the Christmas card from you, so I decided to check up on you," he added.
Eventually, they found out that there was a problem with the post office, and Anthony's invitation never made it to Jacob. It was too late, though, as Jacob was already in Boston when he found out about the error. The woman, whose name was Cindy, let him know that his grandfather cooked dinner for him that year, and waited for him to arrive.
Anthony and Jacob reunited for good. | Photo: Pixabay
It all made sense to Jacob, as when he got to his grandfather's house, everything was neatly arranged at the table. There were Christmas decorations, cutlery on the table, and even an empty wine glass, all covered in dust. All that was missing was the food.
It turns out, Cindy didn't want any animals discovering uneaten food in Mr. Stiller's house, so after she brought Anthony to the hospital, she put away the food but kept the place the same way Anthony left it in case he wanted it that way.
Frantic, Jacob went door-to-door, inquiring about his grandfather's whereabouts. Nobody could tell him the story until he reached Cindy's place. She and her husband explained what had happened, and they took him to the hospital where Anthony was asleep.
"I'm so relieved that you're awake, grandpa. I'm sorry for not visiting you and for wasting ten whole years. I've been the worst grandson ever," he said, wiping his grandfather's tears away as they sat together on the hospital bed.
"Well, I'm glad you never got that invitation. It made you check up on me," Anthony said with a smile, trying to keep things light.
"I should have done that a long time ago, grandpa. I can't believe not receiving an invitation was what made me do it," Jacob said, squeezing his grandfather's hand.
"Well, will you be joining me for Christmas this year? I'm extending the invitation personally, and not through a letter that might never arrive," Anthony asked.
Jacob assured his grandfather that they would spend every holiday together. | Photo: Pexels
"Of course, grandpa. I'm celebrating every single holiday with you. You won't have to be alone ever again," Jacob said.
"You'll fly all the way here every time? Really?" Anthony lit up. Jacob shook his head as if he had a better idea.
"You're coming to live with me, grandpa. You don't need to be alone, I'll take care of you for the rest of your life and that's final," Jacob said.
Anthony couldn't stop the tears from falling. He thanked God for reuniting him with his grandson and improving their relationship.
When Anthony was discharged from the hospital, he flew to Silicon Valley with Jacob, where they lived in his two-story apartment. They spent a couple more years together before Anthony bid the earthly world goodbye.
Now, Jacob visits Anthony's grave every year with his own son, whom he also named Anthony. He shares stories about his late grandfather, so that little Anthony always remembers where he got his name from.
What can we learn from this story?
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