Something New

The house had been cleaned from top to bottom. Candy canes hung in ribbon above the windows and the tree was resplendent with ornaments of sentimental value. The scent of gingerbread filled the kitchen as she began rolling out sugar cookies while she thought about it all. If only everything could be washed clean and made new. If only . . .

For, you see, something new crossed her path every day. Normally that would be a good thing. Something new meant something fresh and exciting! But now the something new was stomach-churning. Every day. And the season which had before brought beauty and sweetness, sparkle and peace had been tarnished with unrelenting tales of deception, perversion, and anger. It was as though a spider of darkness was determinedly spreading its sticky web over the season of light.

But people’s hearts seemed impossibly hard and the enormous amount of disgusting behavior seemed darker than a black hole. How could such contempt for what was right be turned around? How could those who allowed themselves to wallow in a gutter mindlessly covered by glamour and status or blame and suspicion be redeemed? How could both accused and accuser find peace? It was hopeless! What was needed was a miracle. An unconscious sigh escaped her lips.

 

And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them,and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Gory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

In evil times to desperate people comes One who makes everything new and redeems those willing to be saved. It is an astounding miracle that crosses time and space to every culture and generation. It is offered to a multitude and available for a single soul. And that is the best miracle of all.

Luke 2:7-14; Softly Now He Comes by Connie Miller Pease, https://www.jwpepper.com/Softly-Now-He-Comes/10686074.item#/submit, Image: pexels-photo-713494.jpeg; christmas-935456_960_720-CC0-Public-Domain.jpg

Lights Out

“The important thing is that we focus on the diversity this campus is known for.”

“Right.” He paused. “Everything gets equal attention.”

“A..a..a”

“Well of course I don’t mean Christmas. It’s had too much preference for far too long in this country. Besides, it’s passe.

“Right. Twinkly lights are fine as long as they don’t mean anything. And Christmas carols . . .”

“Ach! Don’t even mention them. I can’t stand them.”

“I hated to see the Santa display go, but it was for the best.”

“Haha! I’d forgotten about that one!”

“What in the world? Did you see that?”

“I think it’s the Fine Arts Building. I’d think they’ll be on it before too long. Painting in the  dark would be a challenge, eh?”

“Of course, red and green were fine for awhile, but – I don’t know – do you think it’s associated too closely with Christmas?”

“Let’s just go with white and gold. No reason to ruffle any feathers.”

The two men stopped and peered down the street for a moment.

“The English department will howl, for sure.”

“Oop! And Languages. Ah! And a few of the street lights! I wonder if it’s something with the electrical system?”

“Ooo, watch out there. Are you okay?”

“Just a minor stumble. It’s a bit hard to see without those lights.”

“Did you see the creche in front of the gas station down on 7th?”

“I can let the student group know. They love a good protest.”

A loud buzz echoed through the evening air.

“Look! The History department! They’ve probably all fallen asleep anyway.”

The two men chuckled.

“Science and technology will feel that.”

“I wonder how it will affect research?”

“But to the main point. This time of year shouldn’t be any different than any other time. I think we’ve done a fine job of cleaning up the campus. I don’t see evidence of the C word anywhere, do you?”

“How much better our campus is without Christmas!”

The other man nodded. “Nothing to take offense at here.”

And the campus went dark.

Image: Pexels.com; John 1:5; I Peter 2:8; https://www.dangerous.com/38838/christmas-not-appropriate-according-university-minnesota-memo/

White and Red Christmas Eve

Wind whipped the branches and slammed snow pellets against the brick until red became white. City dwellers had heeded the forecasters’ warnings and had stocked up on necessities including rock salt, sand, and kitty litter. Shovels were sold out. Streets had emptied. Here and there a window blinked a hint of brave light otherwise muted by the blizzard.

She’d heard the warnings just as everyone else had, but how often were forecasters right, really? When she’d started out, it had been simply cold and windy. But the forecasters had been right, and she had gotten it very wrong.

She wanted to make it home for Christmas – surprise everyone for once in her life. Oh, they’d planned on her coming, but with this weather, had urged her to stay put. They’d get together another time. Still, it had been too long.

Last Christmas she’d been invited to Aspen and you’d have to be crazy to turn down an invitation like that. The Christmas before that she’d worked because, well because she needed the money, and at the time money seemed more important than going home. It wasn’t the same. Working made the day seem like just another day. She’d gone back to a quiet apartment and ate leftover quiche that had lost some of its texture and toast that tasted like sawdust. Aspen had been exciting and beautiful, but . . .

As December 25th approached, she’d begun to think of the pine scent of the Christmas tree she knew stood in front of the window and the cookies her mom always made, the ginger ones with sugared orange rinds on top. Every time she heard a Christmas song on the radio or in a store, she thought of the little church down the block from their house that held Christmas Eve services no matter the weather.

Now her Christmas surprise had made an awful turn. God was in heaven, and Jesus wasn’t just a baby in a pretty story. She knew that. But she never prayed. Wasn’t sure she knew what to say even if she tried. How, after all, did one ask for Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer?

She pulled over as she approached the edge of town. Ten more miles on a blowing highway and she’d be home. Ten more miles might as well be ten hundred. She couldn’t even see where the road ended and the ditch began.

Squinting into the whiteout, suddenly she caught sight of a light up ahead! Not white light, but red and red enough to break through the blinding flakes. She pulled out and crept onto the highway, following it. A lone trucker needing to make it a few more miles would’ve laughed to think he was an answer to prayer. No matter. The driver of the car behind him was humming Rudolph.

 

Image: 800px-Blizzard_Mt_Keen-wikipedia.jpg; pexels.com; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: composer, Robert L. May; story idea based on a trip back to the cities from St. Cloud in blinding fog after a night class I took many years ago

Seven

She liked little things: the shape of bark on a tree, the tickity sound of that one machine she didn’t know the name of, Christmas, of course, and the smell of dirt just before anything sprouted in the spring. And she loved math. It was logical and dependable. It was actually beautiful in the way the same conclusion could be reached in a variety of ways. And the answers were never fuzzy, never tentative. They were solid.

One January day she felt a little dizzy. Maybe it was the flu. Then she fell during recess. And in one day a brain cancer diagnosis stole the little things, her favorite sights and sounds and scents. She was six.

She lost her hair overnight, and wondered if anyone’s hair could grow back overnight, too. When she lost her bowel control, her dad reminded her of all the things she could still control, and gave her some equations to work just for fun. Her appetite left her, and she didn’t wonder or think anything. She just felt weak. And then one day she sensed her math skills slowing; and it was on that day that hope became transparent. That day her world was no longer solid. That day was the worst day.

One night voices filled her dreams. She could hear bits and pieces here and there of what they were saying, of what they were praying. Sometimes she heard her name. She saw a man standing in front of her and liked him instantly. He told her the number sevenpixabay was one of his favorite numbers and asked her how old she would be on her next birthday. She laughed when he threw up his hands in surprise. He told her his birthday would be celebrated soon, and they talked about the sound of stars and the warm breath of sheep. He told her that miracles are as dependable as math if you know who to ask. The man seemed so real and his words so solid. She felt happy and, for the first time in a year, a weight lifted. But when she woke up, she was in her same bed with accustomed pain and saw the familiar troubled look in her mother’s eyes.

In one year things had grown so hard. Spring and summer had passed without tree bark or the smell of fresh dirt because tests and worry had taken their place. Her world had grown smaller and quieter in the hospital. Math ceased to bring the satisfaction it had one time brought. It hardly seemed possible her days could ever become better.

Christmas wasn’t far away now, but she would lose that favorite thing, too. How would she celebrate it with such a tired body?

And then it was Christmas Eve. Before she went to sleep, she thought again about the nice guy she’d seen in her dream. She could almost hear him telling her about how miracles really do exist, and she prayed for the miracle she wanted most of all. A small smile crossed her face as she thought about the sound of stars, the warm breath of sheep, and how he liked the number 7.

Christmas morning dawned cold and sharp, but bright and clear. She stretched and felt a tug. What in the world? She jumped out of bed and ran to the mirror. There – just touching her shoulders – was the hair she’d missed for too long. Her eyes grew wide. She breathed deeply.

“Mom! Dad! I feel good! I feel great! Nothing hurts! I! Have! Hair!”

She ran into the living room and jumped on the couch. Up and down, up and down. She couldn’t stop! She ran back into her room and grabbed a math worksheet. Ha! How could anyone not like math?! And the answer was seven! Seven! Seven! Seven! She ran back into the living room, plugged in the tree lights, and felt the glow of Christmas, itself: promise and hope. Today she would celebrate her friend’s birthday with all her might. It felt so right. So real. Solid. She was home. She was whole. And miracles? Miracles are as dependable as math if you know who to ask.

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This story borrows from the story of a little girl I am praying for. Won’t you join me in asking for a Christmas miracle?

Images: tree-bark-en.wikipedia.jpg; fanpop.jpg; pixabay

One Gift

She’d turned it over in her mind for months. She was allowed to give one gift. Cost was no object, but it was the only gift she would be allowed to give ever again. Just one gift.

She’d gotten the message in her mailbox on a sweltering August day. The envelope was sealed with gold leaf and the writing was in excellent calligraphy. Choose a gift for the letter writer’s choice of recipient. She might never know who, might never meet the person, but would know he received the gift. At first, she’d dismissed it as someone’s effort to amuse himself. Maybe it was some sort of game show, and she was the only one not in on the joke. Why her? Why had she been singled out? She wasn’t anyone special. But as the days cooled and no other message arrived, she began to consider the project. If this was a real offer – responsibility, really – she shouldn’t pass on it. One gift. Any amount of money could be spent and would be made available as required.

Money no object? She could dismiss the usual gifts of clothing or nearly anything else found in the mall. Technology? Now there was an idea. A person could do things with the newest gadget. But technology was always changing. Who would want something that would be obsolete within a year or two? Ditto for vehicles of all kinds.

She didn’t dismiss books as readily as someone else might. A book – the right book – could elevate thinking. Why, it could change a life if a person took the author’s premise to heart. Maybe she could give a first edition. Hmm.

Real estate was a great alternative. You can’t go wrong with real estate despite market trends, because that was just it. If the price fell, it could as easily rise after enough time. A house? Maybe an estate. What was she thinking?! She could buy an entire island. Who wouldn’t want their own private island? No one she could think of.

She could arrange for tuition and room and board at a university. Of course, not knowing the recipient, she couldn’t be certain such a thing would be appreciated nor even useful.

Or a vacation somewhere! Really. Didn’t everyone need, or, at least, want a vacation? France, Greece, Paris in the spring . . .

She supposed she could buy stock. Didn’t rich people do that type of thing? Stock could make someone a millionaire. Or not.

Days and weeks passed. She researched. She wandered around the neighborhood wondering about the letter-writer and then thinking about the gift recipient. Leaves changed color and fell. Icy weather settled in. She sipped cocoa and looked out the window, thinking. Wondering. Turning it over in her mind. One gift. Only one and then, never again.

And it was Christmas Eve, the date given to reveal her choice. Despite the crunchy snow underfoot, she walked to the mailbox and deposited her choice within. It was a small manila envelope with two 2-inch symbols and a letter inside. It read:

Dear Gift Recipient:

I’ve spent a lot of time – make that an enormous amount of time – wondering what to give you. I finally concluded that, of all the things available the world over, my choice is the best one. It’s small and great at the same time.

I hope you like it. I hope you will accept it.

Cost: Me – nothing. Him – everything. You – pending.

 

baby-jesus-artinatal2012-04-httpbaltyra-com20121225apakah-arti-natal-bagi-kitacomment-page-4                                             german_-_crucifix_pendant_-_walters_44425httpscommons-wikimedia-orgwikifilegerman_-_crucifix_pendant_-_walters_44425-jpg

Images: baby-Jesus-artinatal2012-04-httpbaltyra.com20121225apakah-arti-natal-bagi-kitacomment-page-4.jpg; German_-_Crucifix_Pendant_-_Walters_44425httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFileGerman_-_Crucifix_Pendant_-_Walters_44425.jpg.jpg

The Midnight Promise

Snow fell outside as winter’s cold touch frosted the pane of glass next to her. She wrapped her hands more tightly around her coffee cup as she sipped and peered into the velvety dark of an empty street. Other than the cook and a waitress, she was alone in the all-night diner. She wished she wasn’t, but she was. Her mind drifted back to another night just like this one. Just like this one it had been close to midnight on Christmas Eve.

jpg: ifyouforgetme.wordpress.com

She’d been on top of the world then. After three years of hard work and loneliness, she’d been offered a promotion in an exciting city away from this bland town and she’d accepted it. Her things had been moved and she had just finished up final details on a day when everyone else was home or at church celebrating. She’d passed the little diner and decided to stop for a hot cup of coffee to warm her fingers, for though future’s promise held some light, the night was bitterly cold.

Her fingers had just begun to thaw when he walked in and cheerfulness suddenly filled the room, touching everyone including her. He hailed the cook and the cook waved back with his spatula. He got the waitress talking, and marveled at her two children’s accomplishments. He told a joke and the two workmen at the counter joked back, laughing.

As he was served his bacon and eggs, their eyes met; and he’d motioned her to join him. And in two hours that felt both like a lifetime and no time at all, she learned he was leaving – as she was – in the morning. Yet it wasn’t for an exciting city, but a dusty country where he would fight for someone else’s freedom and, perhaps, for a freedom she daily took for granted. And they had agreed that night, that, barring other relationships or death, they would meet here again in five years to the minute.

Those five years had been good. She’d met with success. She’d made some friends, friendly acquaintances really. But a life filled with trivial things holds little satisfaction, and she’d learned that, like everyone else, she was not without a yearning to go below surface amusements.

Oh, she’d made an effort to find him. She’d tracked his name down every possible avenue, but had come up empty. Maybe she’d been had. His easy manner invited trust, but perhaps it was a ruse. She’d chided herself, but she couldn’t forget that night five years ago nor their easy conversation nor the depth of his gray-green eyes nor the way his left eye squinted when he smiled. Nor their promise.

And here she was. Little had changed in this old town, but somehow it pulled her back. She’d even come a few days early and curiously perused real estate listings.

The dark night whispered doubt and tragedy. Minus the occasional clatter of dishes, it was too quiet. She had been foolish to think about it at all. She should have left it, as he most certainly had, in the booth as she walked out the door. She should have left the memory. She should have forgotten the promise.

She squinted again into the darkness, then down into her steaming coffee. She closed her eyes and held the cup to her cheek. Please. Life had to hold more than what she’d eye-195684_960_720-pixabayexperienced. Please, on this night when all the world somehow knew hope was real and love wasn’t just for the fortunate, let him remember. Let him care. Let him come.

The bell on the door jingled. She opened her eyes and they met his: gray and green and deep as the sea.

 

images: jpg: ifyouforgetme.wordpress.com, eye-195684_960_720-pixabay

After

It had been howling for, oh, two hours straight. The wind that had begun as a hesitant breeze had grown swiftly to unrelenting gusts. Hard pellets of icy snow filled the air, swirling and crashing on streets and cars and homes. No one in their right mind would be out in this weather. And no one in their right mind was.

“Jiffy!” His words were snatched by the wind and tossed into a sea of soundless air. Still, he persisted.

“Jiffy! Jiff, please! I’m here. Follow my voice!”

How had it even come to this? He’d been a slug for days on end after. That’s how he’d begun to think of it. After. After he’d lost his job due to cuts because of one more regulation the small company just couldn’t afford. After he’d discovered his girlfriend had been seeing another man on the side. Well, that was that. As they say, once trust is gone, what else is there? After he’d had to move from his apartment to a much smaller, less expensive place in another part of town.

The ‘after’ part of his life hadn’t been long – just the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas – but it had been brutal. The road ahead was dark and hopeless, the girl he’d once considered his best friend – wasn’t, and despite knowing it would just make things worse, he’d begun to allow himself to sink into the despair that knocked incessantly at his door.

The one thing that had kept him from crawling under the covers and checking out completely was his dog, Jiffy. He’d rescued Jiffy from the pound at a bargain price the day before he was scheduled to be put down. They were as close as it was possible for man and dog to be. When he went anywhere, Jiffy was right beside him. They ran together every morning and every evening. Before. Yet even when he’d begun his long slide, Jiffy hadn’t deserted him. He’d nudged him out of bed, snuggled next to him with camaraderie’s warmth, and made him keep going somehow.

And now, on a lonely Christmas Eve night, his one loyal friend was lost during a walk around a block of the new part of town; an impulse that, like everything else in his life of late, had gone horribly wrong.

Wasn’t Christmas, if not a time of joy and gladness or lights and presents, at least a time of hope?

He sank to his knees and the snow seeped through his jeans with its numbing cold.

“Jiiiiffyyy! Ji . . .”

He covered his face with his hands. There was no light for him. No joy. No warmth.

Something made him look up: A sound; small, but real, and getting louder. It was a sound he knew by heart. By heart.

pexels-photo-168082-by-lisa-fotios-no-attribution-requiredAnd his dog jumped up on him and licked him over and over, and he wrapped his arms around his wriggling, wet, cold, snowy, wonderful friend and kissed him back.

After. After they’d gotten back to his apartment, after he’d rubbed Jiffy down with a thirsty towel, after he’d changed into warm, dry clothes, after he’d grilled a steak to split between the two of them, and after he’d turned on some Christmas music, he and Jiffy sat close together and watched the busy snow against a dark sky. He didn’t have a tree this year. There were no lights. Yet something he’d missed began rising up inside him.

And he and Jiffy celebrated like there was no tomorrow. But there was.

Image: pexels-photo-168082-by-Lisa-Fotios-no-attribution-required.jpeg

God Watched

Don’t read this Christmas miracle story. You won’t like it, and you won’t like me for writing it. Save yourself the stress, skip this story, and come back next week for something to give you the sense of warmth and Christmas joy we all love; unless, of course, you don’t mind the fact that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

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Semi-surrounded as it was by three oceans, the dear little country seemed to be encircled with the shelter of angel’s wings. It’s founders had, in fact, asked for wisdom from heaven, itself, in its structure, and for many years it seemed to be blessed because of it. Sure, it had its ups and downs. Every country swings between the forces of good and evil with the pendulum of history. It praised its heroes. It mourned its defeats. It witnessed its share of error as well as of greatness in the comings and goings of all that happens through the course of time’s river.

But of late the country had been badly beaten and bruised. Its recent rulers had done what damage they could by pitting its citizens against each other (skin, sex, culture, religion, language, you name it), by reducing its protections – both of individuals and as a whole, by abusing its sense of morality and common sense, by denigrating the church and even the country, itself, and by putting a stranglehold on those who attempted to use their nerve and smarts to make a go of it. The rulers held out the apple of benevolence injected with the poison of increased governmental control, and the people ate it.

How did it happen? It wasn’t as though its citizens were desiring their own country’s demise. They were, for the most part, very good people: People who loved what was right, or thought they did; who cared about their fellow-man; who honestly wanted good to prevail. But schools of thought differed about how to best help people and preserve a nation. Passions inflamed. Those who would use those passions to create destruction rather than discourse were loud and persistent. The gem of youth was accessed. Slowly and surely young children grew to believe things they were taught about history, economy, and morality regardless of the lessons’ veracity. They were young. They didn’t know differently, their teachers were both sincere and skillful, and their parents were oblivious of the intensity of indoctrination. The very definition of words was changed to influence thinking about right and wrong, good and evil. It became difficult to tell what was true and what was false, and voices from many sources created a cacophony of confusion.

For belief, as we all know, is a stubborn thing. It is strong and rarely yields. Why should it? The question, of course, is which belief is right? Which belief is true?

And now the country’s demise was nearly complete. In only a short time, its transformation from freedom to communism would take place. The powers and their followers were nearly ecstatic with the thought. And the people? Half of them were alarmed at the thought and half of them were at peace with it.

In just one election, it would be entirely possible to wrest what control a free citizenry maintained and implement their own philosophy: Marxism leading to socialism leading to communism. It was, according to everyone who knew anything, a sure thing.

praying-hands-1379173656p80-publicdomainpictures-netBut prayer can’t be outlawed, even when thought seemingly is controlled and speech surely is – if not by law, then by name-calling. Small utterances in quiet homes and loud pleas in large gatherings were offered to the God who had watched, as He watches all countries, with care and concern, and suddenly the little country found reason to hope.

That hope came, as hope often does, in an unexpected way. A blustery man of no political background challenged the plans so carefully laid. His language wasn’t skilled nor did it hold the smooth enticement of a politician, but he was brave and he was tenacious, whatever else people thought of him. Some said he thought one thing, some said he thought another. And said. And did. And his character was this. Or that. His election caused some to fear. They worried about the opinions others claimed he held and were concerned for the future. Some people rejoiced at the thought of the country being snatched from the precipice of Marxist policy and of the possibility of it returning to its origins; not the origins taught by the sincere and skillful teachers, but its true Constitutional origins that people needed to learn about; some, for the first time. And some people felt uncertain about who they should believe, sighing while they continued in their daily tasks.

And the country watched and waited to see what the blustery man of no political background would do. And as they waited, God watched them.

Image: praying-hands-1379173656p80-publicdomainpictures-net

The Gift

She couldn’t recall the last time she’d had a present. It may have been the necklace she’d received from her grandmother when she was twelve, or maybe it was some other little thing she’d received from one of the foster families in the years after that and before she’d run away. But it was all so very long ago now.

She’d never blamed anyone. She’d never known her parents, them both being the kind that disappeared when troubles arose – troubles such as a baby. Her grandmother had cared for her until she, herself, needed care. It had just seemed best to start out on her own. She’d done pretty well, too, if she did say so, herself. Never married. No, not that. Too much – trouble.

But she’d made a decent living and a few friends here and there, and had retired before they’d let her go, though no one would have said anything about age.

IMG_3916When December came, she had carefully lifted out cardboard boxes holding the treasures of her favorite time of year and had pulled each piece out to put in its proper place. She wasn’t certain why she felt compelled every year to do such a thing. There wasn’t anyone to make IMG_3920happy by little Christmassy touches, and she didn’t actually believe in the baby in the manger. Jesus was a word that slipped out when she was frustrated, though why she should use the name of the one she didn’t actually believe in mystified her if she thought about it, so she mostly didn’t.

Christmas Eve descended into a clear, dark sky sprinkled with stars. As she sipped some cocoa, she sat back and took in the sight of her house decorated for a day celebrating the birth of someone who she deemed unworthy of celebrating and wished this year would be different. She wasn’t one of those who believed something you bought for yourself could be called a gift, but she wished, this once, she might receive a gift.

The doorbell rang, and she jumped up. No one ever came to visit. Who would come now? She opened the door to nothing but cold air on a dark night. She leaned out and peered down the street. No one. Yet there, on the top step was a box with her name on it. She pulled it into the warmth of her home and slit the tape.

IMG_3925

And there,

 

 

 

nestled in strawIMG_3926was the best gift of all.IMG_3903

The Star

The house was a wonderland of tiny snowflakes and bells, of gingerbread men and spritz cookies and fudge, and of wreaths of every size in every room. Scents of cinnamon and orange peel lightly infused the air. Candy canes bunched together in a freechristmaswallpapers.netcut-glass jar. On the dining room table stood a gingerbread house, carefully baked and designed with loving hands. And on a bookcase shelf near the mantel, not too obvious, but fitting in just so, the crèche.

Her eyes roamed over each scene as she walked casually from room to room. She’d always loved Christmas and her habit of decorating for The Day was one of the few things that had outlasted her troubles. The only thing that was missing was the star. She had one at one time and not too long ago, either. A few Christmases ago, it had fallen from the top of the tree and broken beyond repair. That was the year she had retired. It was the year she had been diagnosed with something that sucked the life from her until modern medicine and sheer determination had killed it. And it was the year she had sat alone in silence just as the last minutes of the day had ticked away, and city dwellers were welcoming in the new year with little horns and midnight kisses.

Oh, she didn’t mind the silence. Before – before she’d battled death – she’d loved joining in life with those around her. But she’d changed. Since her illness, she’d become a bit of a loner and quietness soothed her more often than not. Still, at this time of year when families were traveling long distances just to spend the day together and friends gathered for dinners and teas and parties, her quiet life tweaked her. She thought maybe she should read again the Christmas cards sent to her and send her own in return. Perhaps she should join the coffee party announced for the next day by old friends, the annual event she had ignored during her silent years. Maybe she should go to church. An inaudible, dismissive laugh escaped her lips. No, of the many things she could think of only the loveliness around her merited her attention.

She looked at the beautiful tree placed in front of her window. She’d done at least that; a gesture to those passing by that someone in her house believed in the light of life. But it still bothered her that the topmost branch of the Christmas tree from where the little star had pronounced its benediction for over forty years was now bare. It troubled her that the tree’s top missed the star which most assuredly belonged there.

She turned off each light, sat for a time in the dark, then stretched out on the couch 1247049723_c54dbb2677_m starhttpswww.flickr.comphotostoasty1247049723thinking of better days and happier times. She must have drifted off, for it was two in the morning when she woke. She rubbed her eyes, then rubbed them again. There above the crèche was a little light. It wasn’t the shape of anything, but it made her happier than she recalled ever being. And she watched it as, in the stillness of the night, it glowed with a warmth she had forgotten. As she watched it in its tiny place above the Christ child, peace flooded her spirit. It was as though goodness, itself, was in the room with her, filling her up with hope and love.

She glanced at the clock. Who cared for sleep? If she hurried, she could address those unsent Christmas cards and still make it in time for the coffee party.

Images: freechristmaswallpapers.net ;1247049723_c54dbb2677_m https://www.flickr.com/photos-toasty1247049723 CC Attribution 2.0