A Christmas Story

                It was a wintery night, a holy night. All around were men with little and men with much celebrating a glorious event that transpired in ancient times. A night of full spirits and relaxed countenances. On this night the past coupled with the present as family and friends united with one another in cheer and truth. When cousins and uncles and grandmas and sisters found peace for a day, at least this one day.

The trees swayed slightly in the soft, chilling wind. The color of the world turned from white to grey and dreary, then from grey to black, the winter darkness invading quickly. But even the dark was beautiful on this night.

The mini lights displayed among bushes, in lawns, and attached to roofs shone brilliant in the neighborhoods and cities. Every street corner was fascinating. Silver and gold and white and red and green and blue, flashing before the eyes during this season of bustle and goodwill.

In the countryside, however, the night was not so dazzling. Many houses remained undecorated, many souls given to strain. The streets were dark, and hearts found warmth with difficulty. Cheer was not given place, it was allowed to be quenched by the struggles of life. A lonely road lay in that place. To which many events and memories were attached. This day it had been quite untouched, unadulterated by the swift, wheeled metal. Quietly, the speckled grey asphalt boxed in the sounds of the world on its solid surface. It stole from earth’s joy by its color and substance. Useful, but at what cost?

Now a car came around the corner, its headlights scarcely impacting the void of the night. The rubber wheels turned, directed toward that deserted street. The car was blue in the day, black in this night. Its design rose and fell, smoothly streamlined, small and compact. It seated five, and was comfortable. Smelled of freshness and perfume. Common shaped sunglasses lay on the dash, a phone stood in the cupholder, plugged into the car by a light cable. No music, only a slight noise from the engine’s fluctuations and the breath of the heater’s fan. The phone displayed a Christmas album recently paused.The vehicle rolled down the street at a medium pace, passing trees and fields and dark driveways. Soon the car turned left onto a gravel driveway uneven with bulges and potholes. Its undercarriage shook a good deal in attempt to absorb the jostling of the vehicle as it bumped along this particular lane. A hundred yards  it traveled, inching its way to and over a rusted cattle guard. Then to park in front of a long, low abode, with dark windows and brick and wood construct.

The roof was shingled with pale grey shingles, discernable in the night. A smokeless, brick chimney, fat and square, rose above, shadowed dark against the shingles’ color. The front lawn was unkempt, but not overgrown. Small bushes lined the exterior of the dwelling, a trellis stood tall at the sidewalk entrance leading to the door.

The automobile’s engine powered off gently. A woman stepped out onto the lawn from the driver’s side. Her long fingered hand rose up to her scalp as she brushed back the long, brown hair. She wore a black top, and black dress pants. The low rise heels which adorned her feet made her almost stumble as she shut the car door and stepped around the front of the vehicle. “Schiesse,” the woman whispered under her breath. She stared at the ground in front of her as she continued on up to the house, her brown eyes still becoming accustomed to the dark night. Upon reaching the front door of the house, she remembered that it would be locked. “Of course.” She turned, and proceeded cautiously around the abode until she reached the back door. It was a little brighter on this side, the light of a large, natural gas pumping station shone from not far away. Here she could see the walkway. Her hand reached for the door’s latch. Locked.

Undeterred, she lifted up on the window next to the entrance. It rose, squeaking, but effortlessly. Methodically, the woman squeezed through the opening, lifting her heeled feet one at a time. Now she moved through the house. Into the kitchen, into the dining room. It was empty, that house. Unadorned, and dark. She flipped a light switch, nothing happened. The breakers must be turned off. She moved straight away down the hall, past three doors on the right to a small bedroom. Her phone was out, lighting the way. In the closet now, there, the breaker box. A flick, and the hallway was illuminated. That should do it. Simone retraced her steps back down the hall and into the living room. Her heels echoed on the hallway tile and the wooden, living room floor. The only furniture in the room was a medium quality piano, and a matching, worn bench. Both were stained chocolate brown.

Simone sat down on the bench, shifting her weight to find a comfortable position. She opened the piano. Her back was straight, arms in, wrists extended. She breathed, closed her eyes, and played. Three notes at first, a chord. Her foot went to the pedal. Then her fingers moved more rapidly, the notes joining together in song. Ding dong, ding dong. Merry for a bit, then slow. Then the song played low and soft, etching the air with Simone’s emotion. Painting the picture of her heart.

“Slowly, deftly, music shall caress you. Hear it , feel it secretly possess you.”

Suddenly the music stopped. Simone sat motionless. The room instantaneously lost all that had filled it while she played. Her hands folded in her lap. No emotion, no thoughts, there was only emptiness. “Ugh,” she sighed. Her hand pounded one last time on the music piece before she rose and stepped away. She did not come here for this. Why had she come? Why did she drive all this way alone? She was in search. Of something she only knew in memory. So to the place of memory she had come. To stir her thoughts and awaken her mind to that which she once knew.

It was Christmas Eve, but she had no family to go to, they were scattered. Lewis was in Africa, John and his family were staying in California with his wife’s relatives. And Simone did not want anything to do with Mary. A pain shot through her brain at the thought of her younger sister. No, Simone was alone this Christmas. But did that mean Christmas could not be Christmas? Do the people of the holiday give the holiday meaning and substance? That is what Simone had come to her parent’s old, abandoned house for. To find Christmas.

She walked out the door to her car and grabbed her jacket. The chill was penetrating her skin, made obvious by the tiny goose bumps that had formed over her forearms. After slipping her arms through the warm sleeves, she zipped the jacket up close to her chin. The moon had risen by this time, and Simone determined to walk the grounds. After all, there were eleven acres of memories there by that old house. Memories of growing up,  memories that formed her very nature. Surely she would find Christmas here if she loitered long enough.

Christmas was memories. Of past years with family and friends, of past years of joyful reunions. Christmas was an amalgamation of all good things. Peace, Joy, Grace, Love, Goodness, Selflessness, Thankfulness. Christmas was where it all came together. In heart and mind. Over the course of Simone’s life, Christmases could be seen as points of contact with the Divine. On Christmas Days she was so close to real Love, could feel real Peace. Real Joy was tangible. On Christmas she was really Thankful.

Simone looked over at the pond beneath her, as she stood on height of its bank. The water that filled the bottom of the pond was dark and calm. The moon reflected lucidly on the black expanse. She viewed the land around her, the grassy fields, the leaf-stripped trees, the dark clump of evergreens by the road. Another pond just over the rise of that hill. She continued to walk, thinking still.

All of this, is Christmas. If that is so, then….Christmas is not dependent upon a family gathering. It is not restricted to a day and a feast. and a decorated tree in the living room. Not requiring the giving of presents, not incumbent upon seasonal songs and lights and candlelight church services. Christmas really is,  truly is, who Jesus is. And all that came together to bring Him here in human infant form should come together every Christmas Day. A grouping of Joy, Peace, Love, Thankfulness…all that exuded from the Divine. Christmas is, the mind and heart finally relating to that day, finally realizing what it all included.

Simone knelt in the field on the long, coarse grass, wet with the dew of winter. She bowed her head at the understanding. Sat on her knees, and thanked God for sending His son.

Christmas could be celebrated in any state, among anyone. It could be found anywhere. Christmas is a discovery of the heart. A moment of understanding. When the heart pulses to the beat of God’s own.

Simone shut the car door with a dull thud. She turned the key to start the engine, while simultaneously brightening the night with her headlights. She felt peace as she drove away. Content that she had found understanding. Even without traditions and family and gifts, she could celebrate the Eve with joy. Tonight, she made a memory. Tonight she made Christmas real.

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