The first 3 installments of this story were published: Nov. 30; Dec 7; Dec 14.  Today is the conclusion.

The days slowly drug by in a flurry of assignments and tests as teachers purposefully piled on the work the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.  The teachers all insisted they were on a time schedule for completing assignments, but everyone knew it was a thinly disguised attempt at keeping the level of excitement down.  Holidays brought exuberant spirits and rowdy students and teachers with short tempers.  It was a fine line between excitement and out of control, but with years of experience, the teachers rallied to snap the students back into line.

        All of Emma’s friends spent all of their recess time talking over the coming Christmas holidays and the wonderful plans their families had.  Many of her friends had huge families, all in the local area, and their stories of everyone gathering to feast and celebrate sounded like heaven.  Farm families were often huge families, which led to more aunts and uncles and cousins than she could even imagine.  You had to be very careful what you said about anyone, there was always a a good chance they might be related.  Emma’s family was small.  The few local cousins were grown and gone from home and the cousins from her Mama’s side lived far away.

        School was out for two weeks starting just a little less than a week before Christmas.  With the last day of school came the annual school party.  Emma had drawn the name of a friend and kept her drawing a secret.  She had the perfect gift selected at the local five and dime and could not wait for her friend to discover what Emma had picked out.  Christmas cookies, drinks, candy, singing and fun Christmas games filled the day with very little school work happening. Mr. Bill, her bus driver gave each rider an orange or apple, you got to pick which you preferred.  Her teacher gave each student a candy cane.  The celebration day passed quickly and it was time to ride the bus home and start the two weeks of Christmas vacation.

        Emma and her brothers went home to a quiet, still house with only the tree that Emma had put up.  No wonderful smells from the kitchen in preparation for a huge feast and no gifts under the tree.  The twinkle of the lights as she plugged in the tree was the only brief nod to the magical day.  The days passed slowly as her mother left early for work with a long list on the table of chores to be done.  Emma’s mama believed in keeping everyone busy and out of trouble.  With a long face, Emma tackled the long list and wondered where the was magic?

        The days continued to be cloudy and dreary with a cold wind from the north and an occasional drizzle.  It was too cold to play outside and Emma’s neighborhood friends were all too busy with family celebrations to play.  Curled by the blazing hot fire, Emma read yet another book to pass the time.  Everyday seemed the same as the day before; it could have been June except for the cold of the day.

        Christmas Eve finally arrived and Emma’s thoughts replayed the Christmas memories from years before.  All good memories to be sure, but still left with a hole with the sad realization of what this Christmas without her daddy had ended up being.  There was no going back and the memories would have to fill the void that was huge.  Silent tears fell that bleak Christmas Eve day as Emma prayed for a glimpse of the Christmas miracle of long ago.  The house was silent as they went to bed that Christmas Eve-no chatter, no laughter, and no smells from the kitchen.  It was a Christmas with no magic, only the stillness of the deep dark night surrounded them as their eyes closed in sleep.

        Emma’s eyes slowly opened as Christmas dawned dark and silent.  She pulled on her slippers and robe to run build a fire to ward off the cold.  As she stepped out the door in the frigid of the morn, a miracle---snow covered the ground.  Snow as white as the robes of the angels several inches deep  filled the trees, and blanketed the road.  A beautiful white wonderland of Christmas shown all around with bushes of holly berries adding bright red in the midst of the world in white and the sweet song of birds of many colors flying all around were as sweet as carols sung by angels.   The snow was still falling and as it slowly –silently fell there was a hush of wonder in the early Christmas day.

        As she brought the wood, all covered with snow, back into the house, she looked at the pond down the hill next to the house.  It was frozen with a thick coat of ice.  It was pure white as far as the eye could see—a glorious white Christmas had happened that night.  Running back into the house heading to change into warm clothes, Emma was filled with joyful anticipation of the day  playing in the snow.

        As she rounded the corner and peered at the tree, there were gifts rounding the bottom, under the lights.  What a surprise!  It seems someone mysteriously had dropped off gifts for her family late last night without a word.  Her Mama had heard a knock on the door and opened it to find no one there—only boxes of gifts to place under the tree.  Excited to open any present at all, Emma and her brothers tore into them all.  Games, books and gloves for them all and even a scarf for Mama appeared that day.

        They played in the snow the entire day, running in and out to get warm.  It was a wonderful day filled with fun as they slid down the hill on their improvised sled of cardboard and made a huge snowman –carrot, hat and all.  How strange and unusual to have snow in Louisiana at Christmas, but no one would question how this could be—instead just enjoyed the blessing of the day.

        A warm supper of chili waited as they finally came in at dark.  The aroma from the kitchen reminding them of their hunger as they traipsed in at the end of the day.  A warm fire blazing and hot chocolate before bed after a long exhausting-fun filled day, ended that first Christmas without their sweet Daddy.

        As Emma snuggled under the covers that night and began to say her prayers, it finally occurred to her what had happened.  God had heard her prayers and knew her sorrow.  He gave them the magic of Christmas as only He could.  He reminded her of His great gift long ago of a small sweet baby, while giving her one of the best Christmases ever.  Christmas magic had once again appeared as He answered her prayers and loved her so well while reminding her of His great and deep love for her—with a perfect Christmas day.

1 comment

  1. Wonderful . Just . Wonderful!

    May this be a sweet advent weekend for you and the ones you love, Lulu ...


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