Monday, December 21, 2015

12 Days of Christmas--Day 8--"I'll Be Home for Christmas"--Part 1

Hi everyone! Okay, here's the first part of my story "I'll be Home for Christmas". Also, at the end of each part I'll add a Christmas song that I think most goes with each part of the story. Enjoy! :)

This is just a fun "Cover" I designed for the story. ;) 



December 22nd, 1943 Goodland, Kansas

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten and the children listen to hear the sleigh-bells in the snow.” The song playing on the radio drifted into the small living room. Mary sat on the floor in front of the fireplace, a book in her hands. Aunt Josie was sitting and knitting something or other for one of the cousins and Uncle Mark sat on a chair, the newspaper open on his lap.
After a while, Mary glanced up and her eyes traveled to the window. Outside the streetlights shone brightly through the small town, and a few small flakes of snow had started drifting down from the sky.
Everything looked to beautiful, so perfect. But it was deceiving. Everything was wrong.
She looked back at her book, but her eyes couldn’t seem to make out the words. Not that she wanted to. How can everything look so peaceful when everything is so wrong? The whole world seemed to be putting on a facade, doing their best to make everything look normal, but under the surface, everything had changed.
She glanced above the fireplace to where Nate’s picture hung. Nate, her strong confident older brother. He had looked so handsome in his uniform.
The song changed and I’ll be home for Christmas began playing. That was too much for Mary.
She stood and placed the book on the table and walked toward the door, taking her jacket off the hook.
“Going somewhere, Mary?” Aunt Josie looked up from her knitting.
Mary nodded. “Not far, I promise. I just thought it would be nice to get outside for  a little while.”
“Alright. Just remember, Christmas eve is tomorrow and we have some more things that will need done before we go to bed tonight.”
Mary grinned, “how could I forget? I’ll be back soon.”
She stepped out into the brisk, wintry air and took a deep breath. The snow was coming down a little faster as she made her way past the rest of the houses on their street.  The town seemed to be lit up for Christmas, despite the fact that there was a war on. Mary made her way past the storefronts. With the rationing on, the mothers were doing their best to make a Christmas feast regardless of the fact that there wasn’t much to celebrate. As she left the town, she made her way along the old wooden fence. Why doesn’t it feel like Christmas?
“Can I help you, miss Mary?”
The voice startled her and she turned. “Oh, no. I’m alright, Mr. Jeffries. I was just taking a walk.”
Mr. Jeffries smiled softly, the smile lighting up his wrinkled face. “Somethin’s botherin’ you, isn’t it, Mary?”
“No. ..well yes. But I don’t want to trouble you about it. Everyone has their problems these days I guess.”
Mr. Jeffries walked over and stood beside her at the fence. “You know, sometimes it helps to talk about our troubles. And you’re too young to be worryin’.”
That brought a smile to Mary’s face. “I am seventeen, sir. Old enough to understand what’s going on. Guess that makes me old enough to worry also.”
“Ain’t nobody ever old enough to worry. Never.”
Mary glanced at him in surprise, “don’t you worry about everything that’s going on, Mr. Jeffries? I mean, the war and all. Aren’t you worried even a little bit about your son who’s fighting? Aren’t you upset that he won’t be here for Christmas?”
Mr. Jeffries sighed. “If I let myself think only about the war, then yes. But I chose to keep my eyes on God. That way, everything else falls into it’s proper place. And it also does help to obey what her says in his word. He tells us to cast our worries on him.”
“That’s easy for you to say. You at least know where your son is.” Mary instantly regretted her harsh tone, but Mr. Jeffries didn’t seem to notice.
“Is that what’s bothering you then? Your brother?”
“Of course it’s bothering me! All that we know is that he’s MIA, missing in action. And we don’t even know where. He might be dead, he might be wounded. But I can’t see him. I can go and help him. I can’t do anything. He’s always been there, ever since mom and dad died and we moved in with our Aunt and Uncle.” she wiped the tears that were running down her cheeks. “Now I guess you must see me as crazy. Everyone is affected by the war. I don’t think there’s a family in town that doesn’t have someone overseas and here I am feeling sorry for myself.”
“Everybody feels sorry for themselves once in awhile. Here,” he handed her a handkerchief.
She took it, but only balled it up and clenched it in her fist. “How do we celebrate Christmas when the world is like this? How can we celebrate peace on earth when there is no peace anywhere? And how can we celebrate it without the people we love around?” she couldn't stop the questions she had kept inside for so long, she paused, half expecting him to give her a surprised, reprimanding look.
Instead, Mr Jeffries seemed to consider the questions for a moment. “Mary, can you tell me why we celebrate Christmas?”
“Well, to celebrate Jesus coming to earth of course.”
“Exactly.” Mr. Jeffries looked as though he had just given her the answer to her problem. “You see, we aren’t celebrating peace on earth or people we love. Not really. Now, family is certainly a gift from God, but that’s not why we celebrate Christmas. The reason we celebrate Christmas is to celebrate Jesus and how he laid aside all he had up in heaven to come and be born as a little baby. He was born as a sacrifice. You know, in a way your brothers done sorta the same thing. He’s willing to sacrifice himself for your freedom. Just like all the other men that are out there fighting are. We should remember them, but don’t let your focus get off the real reason we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate the most precious and costly gift in the world. God’s son was a gift of love to us, even though we don’t deserve it. So when we celebrate Christmas, we don’t celebrate family, although they are dear to us. And peace on earth? Well, in all honesty, there won’t be any peace on earth until Jesus comes back. We celebrate Jesus, God’s gift to us. Remember that and everything else will fall into it’s proper place. And you know what? I bet, no, I know God is watching over a very special young man right now. Remember, Nate is where God wants him to be. That’s the safest place he can be, even if he’s in the middle of a battlefield.”
A silence settled over them. A silence so deep it seemed you could almost hear the snow hit the ground. Mary looked up, her green eyes filled with tears. “Thank you, Mr. Jeffries. Thank you for talking to me and helping me.”
“Oh, lassie.” he engulfed her in a hug. “It wasn’t me who did the helping, it was God. He just used me is all.”
“Well, I’m glad he did. I needed it.”
“”Aye, we all need remindin’ every once in awhile. Now, shouldn’t you be headin’ home? Wouldn't want your aunt and uncle to be worryin’.”
Mary laughed, “yeah, and there’s quite  bit of family coming tomorrow, so I’d better help Auntie get the house cleaned.”
“Then you get back there and help her clean. And remember, even though I know this war seems to have taken the Christmas spirit from us all, it’s still there. Because the true spirit of Christmas is gratitude to our Lord.”
Mary nodded. “Thank you again.” She wiped her eyes and turned to walk away, but then turned back. “Merry Christmas, Mr. Jeffries.”
Mr. Jeffries smiled and waved, “and a Merry Christmas to you, Mary.”
Mary hurried back toward the house and arrived breathlessly inside.
Aunt Josie came out of the kitchen and looked at her quizzically. “are you alright, Mary?”
Mary laughed. “Yes, auntie. I’m perfectly alright.”
Her Aunt gave her a long look. "You're different. You look. . .happy. I haven’t seen you like this since we got the telegram.”
Mary’s eyes clouded for a second, but then she smiled. “I know, I’ve been so worried. And Christmas this year seems so different without Nate here and we don't even know where he is. But Mr. Jeffries talked to me. He showed me that Christmas isn’t about family, but about the gift God gave to us in his son.”
Aunt Josie nodded in agreement. “It  sure is. And I’m glad he was able to cheer you up. I know it’s so hard for you right now, Mary.”
“Things are hard for everyone, Auntie. But what can I do to help you get ready? And who all is coming, again?”
Aunt Josie gave her a hug before leading her into the kitchen. “Well to help me you can start on the pies. We don’t have a lot of sugar or butter, not that anyone does, but I’ve been saving for a while so we should be able to make something that tastes decent. As for everyone who’s coming,” she handed Mary an apron. “We have your Aunt Nettie and Sadie and Joseph, Aunt Ellie and Uncle Baker will be here as well as--”
“Oh, how is Uncle Baker doing? How is he managing?”
“He’s doing as well as can be expected. They all have a lot of adjusting to do. With the loss of his leg, he can’t get around like he used to. But they’re doing alright and the whole family is just thankful that he’s back here and he’s safe.”
“Yes, safe.” Mary murmured. “That word means so much. But who else is coming?” She smiled sheepishly. “I think I interrupted you.”
Aunt Josie chuckled. “Yeah, I think you did. But that’s all. I was just going to say that their three children will be coming as well. The twins Levi and Brian, and Esther.”
Mary nodded and carefully measured the amount of sugar she needed. “It’s always fun when the twins come.”
Aunt Josie glanced at her with a twinkle in her eyes. “Did you mean that sarcastically or genuinely?”
Mary chuckled, “both. They’re nine and they get into more trouble than any other children I know.”
“That’s true, but they can be sweet.” Aunt Josie placed the rolling pin into the sink. “My, they do like playing this song, don’t they?” she remarked as the lively strains of Bing Crosby's I’ll be home for Christmas once again filled the small house.
“I’ve heard it’s supposed to be a tribute to all the soldier who aren’t able to make it home this Christmas." Mary said as she whipped the Ingredients. " And it has a catchy tune. I think Nate would agree with it. If he’s still alive, he’ll be here with us for Christmas. Even if it’s only in his dreams.”
A fond smile covered Aunt Josie's face. “That’s true. He knows he’s in our hearts. Hand me the pie plate, will you? I have this crust all ready to go.”
Mary handed her the plate. “And I’ve got the filling just about ready. I’ve got everything except the pumpkin. Where is it?”
“Top of the icebox. It’s in a bowl.”
Mary found it and added it to the bowl. “alright, here it is. Already to cook.”
Aunt Josie poured the filling into the two pie crusts, then handed the bowl to Mary who placed it in the sink and licked the batter that had dripped onto her fingers. “Anything else you need help with?”
Aunt Josie glanced around the kitchen, “I don’t think so. Why don’t you head up to bed? We’re going to be up early tomorrow.”
Mary smiled softly, “I can’t believe tomorrow is Christmas eve already.” She walked over and leaned against the kitchen window, “This year has been so different.”
Aunt Josie came over and stood beside her, placing an arm around her shoulders. “That it has. But isn’t it comforting to know that even though things in our lives may have changed, God is still the same loving, all powerful God he always has been?”
“Yeah. And I’m glad he can watch over Nate too, even when we can’t.”
Aunt Josie nodded, “yes, that true.”
Mary turned, “isn’t there anything else I can do?”
Aunt Josie raised her eyebrows, “are you avoiding going to bed?”
“Well, it’s not that. . .exactly. I’m avoiding tomorrow. But I guess it isn't working.”
“Dear, whether you go to bed or not, tomorrow will come at exactly the same time it always does.” Aunt Josie walked to the sink and began cleaning the few dishes they had used to make the pies.
“I know,” Mary picked up a towel and began to dry, “ but it seems to go faster when you're sleeping.”
“What exactly is it about tomorrow that you are avoiding?”
“Just. . .tomorrow. It’s Christmas eve.”
“Oh,” a look of understanding came into Aunt Josie’s eyes. “And Nate won’t be here to take you wake you and take you up the mountain for a day together like he normally would.”
Mary nodded as she bit her lip, “I know Christmas is about celebrating Jesus, and I can do that on Christmas day, but on Christmas eve. . .” her voice trailed off. “I know it sounds silly,” she finished.
“No, not silly." Aunt Josie said with a stern look. "Don't let me hear you call it that again. I know it’s something your father used to do and when he and your mother died, Nate took up the tradition. But we’ll make it through. God is with us and Nate. I know, why don’t you go and wrap up the gifts we’ve made for everyone and get them arranged beneath the tree. Then maybe when you’re finished you’ll feel more like heading to bed.”
Mary smiled gratefully as she dried the last dish and hung the damp towel over one of the chairs. “Okay, I’ll go and do that. Oh, and I’d better tell you goodnight now, Auntie.”
Aunt Josie wrapped an arm around her shoulders and squeezed her gently before placing a kiss on her head. “have a goodnight now. And try to leave Nate in God’s hands.”
Mary returned the hug and nodded, “I’ll try.”
“Oh, and take another quilt up with you when you go,” Aunt Josie called as Mary opened the door. “It’ll get chilly tonight.”




2 comments:

  1. Awww! I'm loving this story! Thanks for sharing, Jesseca! :)

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    Replies
    1. Glad you like it!:) You're welcome and thanks for commenting!

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