12/12/07

Christmas 16: A Final Christmas

It is cold outside her home this Christmas season. Snow banks rest against the structure and icy white flakes build up multiple layers against the windowsills, blurring outward vision for one whose eyes are already dimmed by age.

An elderly lady sits within this humble place. She is pondering over Christmas’s past and events over the years she had witnessed. She feels somehow that this will be her final Christmas. She no longer cares for the material, but thinks instead on what she yet may have to offer her ever-changing world. [rework these to paragraphs into one. ]
A tear makes its out from the tear duct, crawling slowly down the wrinkled path of her cheek. She is remembering the one love of her life. He’s been gone a long time now. Her son was lost in a war. She thinks of her daughter who tries so hard to buffer her lonely hours, by calls and letters. She remembers the grandchildren so far away, some with babies of their own. [Show us; don't tell us.]

The old radiator shakes her thoughts away. She goes to check and all is well. She knows the friendlier sounds her home makes in its conversation with her, its only tenant. “Enough self-pity!” she tells herself and bundles up against the harsh weather to take her daily walk. Dusk is making its way across the sky. Carolers, even in these early hours are out. She hears and smiles over the words of “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and “Santa Claus is coming To Town”. The musical notes are welcoming and fall softly around her ears. They warm her and seem to bring lightness to her elderly shuffle.

Her thoughts return to the season and she thinks, “What gift can I give?” Christmas is fast approaching and only hours away. Chimes from a nearby church call out. She changes her usual direction to better hear them. On her way pass happy but weary shoppers. They surely have made that last minute purchase and are going home.

Nestled in an almost hidden corner near the church lays what appears to be a large pile of ragged clothing. A muffled cry of sleep, pain or near unconsciousness comes from it. Painfully the old woman bends down, brushing away bits of snow. She sees a face ravaged by time and life itself. At first glance she takes it to be a tramp. It doesn’t matter to her. She feels too old to be of a concern to this wearer of rags she has found. She encourages him to his feet with the promise of a warm home and meal. She is no longer alone.

[You jump POVs, from the woman to the man. Pick one and stick with it.] Time has passed. The man has warmed himself and shared a meal with this stranger. He tells her of how despair had overcome him. He had neither job, family nor home. In deep depression he had simply laid down and given up.

What a wonderful and inspirational gift this lady was to him. His soul seemed to glow. She recalled life to him with her memories of the yesterdays. She had done such good with her life. He sensed from her a new strength he could share, which he had not known before.

She had assured him that he would be welcome to share her home, as long as he truly needed it. When he left, he knew he too would survive all things. If she could, than so could he.

She had given the greatest gift of all. She had given the gift of herself.


I like what you're trying to do here, but I just don't believe that an elderly woman would go to church and invite a man she thinks is a tramp home with her. Perhaps she could go to the church for a Christmas dinner and invite him into the church with her.

We need more action, some dialog. Show, don't tell. Who is the main character in the story? The woman or the man? Pick one POV and stick with it. Show us how the main character was, what event happened, and how the main character is now different and better because of it. We need details and more character depth.

About the title—is this her last Christmas? Does she die? If yes, that needs to be part of the story; if no, change the title.

What I liked best: The idea of an older woman sharing her wisdom and strength of spirit with a younger man.

Magazine ready? No. This one needs rewriting, but when finished, it would fit the short story format very well.

2 comments:

Snowflake said...

What a beautiful story. No matter what our situation in life, the feeling of Christmas inspires us to do what is truly intended by God...to listen to our hearts. Thank you!

Emily M. said...

I like the character, the lonely old lady. For me, though, it was hard to get into her character as much as I wanted to. As I read the story over again, I think it's because the omniscient POV you use part of the time creates a distance between me and your main character. For example, the phrases "one whose eyes are already dimmed by age" and "elderly shuffle" are not something she herself would think--it's coming from outside her, and it's distancing me from her. I think if you went through and changed all the omniscient POV to a more limited POV, that would help me appreciate this great old lady more.

I like that she steps outside herself and her loneliness to help someone else.