Part 1 of 4--Published Each Saturday

Since before Thanksgiving Day the weather had been dismal-gray-wet-filled with clouds hanging so low you only had to reach up to touch their water drenched cotton.  Each day dawned with the slow creep from the deepest dark that comes in the middle of the night to the emerging muted tones from the sun rising far behind the deep bank of clouds.  A day in a long succession of days that all blended together into one long symphony of the same note played over and over.

        The streets of the small town were narrow and lined with parking that you slid into-at an angle all along the street.  The sidewalks along those streets were cracked and sometimes broken-starting and stopping with empty lots.  Each business owner along the street was responsible for the walk in front of their building.  The condition of the walk clearly denoted the success of the business, which all the town knew anyway, without any need for the gauge of the state of repair of the walk. The little town could ill afford to fill the gaps in the sidewalk and so you had to come prepared for mud in the midst of the concrete as you walked the streets of the small Southern town.  Such was life in a small town, everyone knowing, and no ability to hide nor keep secret any aspect of your life.

        The days were simple—simple and slow—from the outward appearance an Eden caught in a time warp of the world flying by.  A carbon copy of Mayberry with a similar list of characters some sweet-others with sharp edges-some with wagging tongues-and many-many with strong backs-good character-compassionate hearts.  Good citizens who looked past the human flaw and weaknesses of their neighbors and instead chose to focus on the good sometimes buried deep under the rubble of the pain and struggle of life.

        Being a young girl in this close small world, Emma clung to the goodness of what seemed a long ago past.  Emma was small, almost frail, girl with long gangly legs like a colt who dreams of the big pasture.  The past year had been a bad dream that never seemed to end and now the holidays were here.  The questions were buried deep inside: Why was she the girl without a father?  Why did her world get turned upside down?  What had she done to deserve this?  Never accepting the world she lived in, and always dreaming for something better, Emma lived in the present but yearned for the past.
Any thoughts of the warmth and beauty of a holiday filled with family, fun, and food were quickly dashed with the arrival of Thanksgiving.  As the world around celebrated and enjoyed the warm embrace of family and friends, Emma’s family spent a solitary day surrounded by grief and wrapped in loss.  With curtains pulled and lights down low, there was no glimmer of celebration.  A mother so wrapped in her own grief, lost in memories of better days, and fighting the struggle of survival with three children to support, she was unable and unwilling to acknowledge any celebration.  Instead without any explanation she chose to ignore and gave no acknowledgement to the day.  A day filled with silence, sorrow, and memories of a much better time.

 Emma clung to the hope—the hope of the days to come—Christmas was coming—surely things would be better with it drawing near.  A magical time of the year—perhaps this magic would surround her mother—and the glory and wonder—the invisible mystery would once again appear.  The town would be filled with the beauty of the season – even in Mayberry they celebrate Christmas.  She looked to the future in bright anticipation of a time filled with hope and love as they celebrated that very special birthday in a manger of long ago.  Yes—Emma would cling tenaciously to her hope and count the days until her dream came true.

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