Perhaps this may not be considered a story, it may be an event, a happening, a moment in time, it was however, something to treasure in my book of memories. I have decided however to tell this as a cherished Christmas story because it happened to me.
The year had not been a particularly good one, if I mentioned divorce that would fill in all the necessary questions, possibly the answers as well. Let’s say I found myself single, not of my choice. I had been left with the financial responsibility and the task of raising the last two of my four daughters.
The Christmas season was approaching and since this was my first without a real strong financial support besides me things were looking pretty gloomy. Even though I was working two jobs I really did not have the means or the nature to have a lot of Christmas Spirit. The girls and I had moved into a very small house in a medium neighborhood, not fancy or high end, but workable. The girls were both in their early teens and did not say too much about how things were; they just knew it was a rough time.
One particular night I had an occasion to go to a church house for Relief Society board meeting. I was picked up by the President and left my daughter at home with her friend, our Bishop’s son.
Those two had adventures written all over their faces. Mostly during that period of time in their lives it was watching scary movies, making munchies, eating an incredible amount of sunflowers seeds and just hanging out. I had left without any instructions or particular chores to be done just that I would be back in an hour or so.
Like all women that I know, I took the opportunity to visit while going to my meeting and I recall, had even talked about the lack of Christmas Spirit being a part of my home that year. I had always decorated a Christmas tree and we have never gone without some Christmas. However some years were better than others. There was always something under the tree. This was not really a test year to see how we were going to do as a family, just a year when I did not have a lot of hope or warm fuzzes about the meaning of the Christmas season and what it meant for me.
“Anyho” as my daughter likes to say, I was chatting and feeling rather down as we drove home from the meeting and knowing my house was around the corner I looked ahead as we turned down the street to a sight, that to this day, still, brings tears to my eyes when I recall the next precious moments when time stood still.
Ablaze in all of the possible glory that could be had, one house on our block was newly decorated with multi colored Christmas lights outlining the roof. There was no Santa or dancing reindeer, angels were not singing in a heavenly choir, just a beautiful simple strand of lights declaring to the world that Christmas was coming.
A hush fell over me as I marveled at the sight. My tears freely flowed trying to exclaim to my driver, joys of joys, wonder of wonder, that is was my house that was decorated. There was more excitement that I could express that night when I realized it was the two kids I had left watching movies who had dug out our Christmas lights, climbed up on the roof and strung them along the edge. How they ever did it without ladders and in the dark of night I will never know.
The lights gave to me that night the knowledge and hope that life goes on even during trials and tribulations. It was a message of the Christmas Spirit. Giving of oneself and time not necessarily material things but something else that can make a huge difference. It brought peace and comfort and assurance that life does go on.
Like the babe in the manger whose love brought awareness to the world, this also gave to me the knowledge that I too was loved and someone cared enough to give me this simple gift. I began that year a tradition that I have loved and kept every Christmas since. This included some decorations, simple as they might be, and putting Christmas lights on the OUTSIDE of my home. I also now take advantage of driving around the city finding homes and places that display the lights of the season. Finding time to enjoy and listen to Christmas harmonies which can bring thoughts of peace to the world to those who will listen. I enjoy finding places where I can sing along when possible. I have thoroughly enjoyed the songs of Christmas which tell of hope and the happiness of the Christmas Spirit that can be found.
Christmas had become a joy and not a burden to me.
Critique: What a wonderful experience! I’ve had one similar to that and it did, indeed, touch my heart, as it did yours. As for a short story, you’ve got a straightforward narrative here and there really needs to be more in the way of characterization, dialog, setting, sensory imagery, plot. It would need more work to be a true short story. But again, what a great experience and awesome memory for you.
What I liked best: The idea that God blesses us through the actions of others.
Publication ready: No. It needs more development.