He poked his head in the workroom. “Morning, Peggy.”

“Good morning, Mr. H. Did you see my minivan?”

See it? He was nearly blinded by it. “I did,” he said. “That’s really something.” It wasn’t a lie. It wasn’t even a half-lie. It was the truth. Her minivan really was something.

“Isn’t it fun?” she said. “I got the idea when I was flipping channels between Christmas at the Biltmore and the Amy Grant and Vince Gill Christmas special! The idea hit me between the eyes.”

He weighed his words carefully. “And what an idea it was,” he said. He’d recently heard white lies described as “social tact.” He had contemplated the concept briefly and decided a lie was still a lie. That was Walter in a nutshell, heavy on the black and white, skimpy on the shades of gray.

“Actually,” she gushed, “what you saw is my plan B. My original plan was to write ‘Jesus, the reason for the season’ on the side windows with aerosol spray snow.” She thrust her hands in the air like a film director framing a scene. “I tried it on the passenger side, but the letters went downhill and I ran out of room before I finished ‘season.’ I thought of taking some of the vowels out of season to make it fit. You know, just spell it s-e-s-n. I mean, the kids would get it, that’s how they all do that instant messenger talk on the computers. No vowels, just a lot of consonants. But Carl said it was beginning to look more like a ransom note than a Christmas greeting.”

Walter offered a silent prayer of thanks for Carl. Every pot has a lid, as Walter’s mother would say, and thankfully Peggy found hers in Carl. Carl was the sensible voice of restraint to her often-unbridled enthusiasm.

Peggy continued chattering, “So I washed it off. Who knows, I still have some spray snow left. I may try some stenciling on the windows tonight. Anyway, I’ve got some garland left over if you’d like me to put a little holiday zip on your car.” She clucked her tongue, did a little cha-cha-cha action with her shoulders, and waited for Walter’s response.

“I don’t think so. I was thinking of taking it through the car wash later this afternoon, but thanks for the offer.” It was true. He had a mental picture of driving his car through the car wash the instant Peggy mentioned putting “zip” on his car.

“Oh, well that’s fine,” she said curtly, turning back to the copier. “I guess some have more spirit than others,” she muttered.

“Pardon?” Walter said.

“I said, you have some more messages on your desk from late yesterday afternoon. Some man called twice. Wouldn’t leave a name, but said he has something that belongs to you. Sounded gruff, if I might make an observation.”

Peggy was long on making observations. Sometimes her observations were mildly annoying, but more often than not they were spot on.

Walter strode down the hall and turned into the reception area of the main office. Peggy’s desk was the hub of the main office. During December, she always kept a holiday sweater either draped over her desk chair or draped over her shoulders. Today’s sweater, presently resting on the back of her chair, was dark blue with snowflakes covered in pearl white sequins. Peggy had more holiday sweaters than all the kindergarten teachers combined.

Red and white striped candy canes filled a big glass apothecary jar sitting on the corner of Peggy’s desk next to a small plastic crèche with glitter on the roof of the manger. All of the candy canes had been turned upside down to remind kids that they were “J” for Jesus. Peggy was also quick to point out that the cheap plastic nativity was made in China, although the Chinese had no real freedom to worship Christ. Though Peggy was not a certified teacher, she was of the firm belief that every moment  was a teachable moment.