Christmas

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:10-14 (NIV)

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The Nut-Cracked Nutcracker

I am sorry.  Despite the fact that it is Christmas Eve, I cannot refain from writing  tragedy.  I hope you can forgive me.

Once there was a nutcracker who came out of a box from under a tree.

Two children, one boy and one girl, both shouted and clapped with glee.

They played games to cuddle him, they played games to send him to war,

With their new nutcracker they played games they never thought of before.

The relatives smiled while the boy and girl played with their new doll

Until the children hatched a terrible naughty plan which was no good at all.

When their parents weren’t looking, they took the nutcracker to the kitchen.

They climbed the counter to find a nut, opened their friends’ mouth, and slipped it in.

Then the girl pushed on the lever until she heard a terrible crack.

Screaming, she pulled the nutcracker to her, and its mouth went slack.

The boy pulled her arm, handed her a nut, and begged her to try once more.

Because if not to crack nuts, then what is a nutcracker for?

So she tried the trick again, only to make the nutcracker’s mouth break in two.

When the nutcracker’s mouth fell, the children filled the kitchen with sounds of boo hoo.

Huddling in the corner, they made such a ruckus all the relatives came.

With horror they gaped at the once beautiful nutcracker.  They knew who to blame.

So then the children received a scolding to last them a lifetime.

By the end they felt as if they had committed the worst most awful crime.

And every Christmas thereafter, a broken nutcracker sat in the windowsill,

Presiding over every Christmas season, despite the regret he would instill

In the two young children who learned a valuable lesson that fateful day:

That you cannot crack nuts with a wooden nutcracker, try as you may.

As the years went on, regret gave way.  The humor and folly of the story began to blur,

Thus it became a family legend: the tale of the nut-cracked nutcracker.

Yes, I know.  Tragic.  Please forgive me for the ridiculousness of this poem.  Merry Christmas!!!

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The Violin

IT’S CHRISTMAS EVE!!!  And it also happens to be Wednesday.  Since we don’t have Creative Writing class today, I took it upon myself to give myself an assignment and wrote another sappy Christmas story.  Merry Christmas!

His fingers turned stiff and white in the cold, yet he kept playing.  The violinist diligently tried to ignore the puffy white snowflakes dusting his thin clothes and the frigid air nipping at every exposed area of skin.  He tried instead to concentrate on the rich sounds emanating from his instrument.  Tried to let the rest of the world fade away until nothing remained but him and his violin.

Christmas usually proved the best time to earn some extra change.  The spirit of joy and giving made people more generous, slightly more willing to part with their prized, coveted coins to drop them in the hat of a talented lad with his violin.  Although not tonight.

On Christmas Eve, all bustled about their own business, rushing to finish last minute shopping, not giving the violinist a second glance.  None of them seemed to care that he had his own troubles, too.  None of them knew how hard he’d worked the last few months to give his family a happier Christmas tomorrow.  That only a few coins could give him just enough to buy their presents.

After finishing a particularly difficult piece, the violist hopefully looked around.  Lights twinkled over the Christmas market, where people crowded around kiosks and waited in line for warm sweets.  A steady flow moved in and out of the entrance, walking past the street corner where the violinist stood.  He looked down at his hat.  No more coins.  With a sigh, he lifted the violin to his cheek again, playing a cheery Christmas tune.

The girl pulled part of her scarf over her face to shelter herself from the frigid breeze, ignoring the sights around her.  Yes, the market looked beautiful, with the twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments.  Enchanting even.  Almost enough to put her in the Christmas spirit.  Almost.  With a sigh, the girl opened her small gloved hand and viewed its contents.  Just a few coins she received as an early Christmas present– her grandfather’s poor attempt at compensating for how miserable she felt spending this Christmas without her friends and most of her family.

She didn’t even want to shop, yet she didn’t have the heart to refuse her Grandfather’s gift.  He tried so hard.  Sullenly she contemplated her options.  Grandfather probably expected her to get toys, since he still viewed her as very young, although she felt much too old to buy herself a new doll.  And after all the gingerbread he stuffed down her throat in an attempt to cheer her up, the girl nearly gagged at the sight of sweets.  A new scarf and hat?  Totally impractical, considering how many she already had, but why not?

With an indifferent shrug, the girl meandered towards the kiosk at the exit, the one with the blue hat that caught her eye.  As she shuffled into line she heard something that inexplicably made her stop in her tracks.  Curious, she wandered over to the street corner where a boy played the violin.  She closed her eyes and allowed the instrument’s rich tones to carry her away to years gone by.  Years when she felt happy at Christmas instead of lonely.  Years when she had so much more… and gave more.

When the song ended, a few tears sprung to her eyes, even though she didn’t normally show much emotion.  Oh, how she wished she could go back in time to when she felt happy…  Then she saw the violinist forlornly looking at his cap, which didn’t fill with any more money, and noticed he didn’t have any gloves or a scarf.  Not like her.  His hands shook so much she didn’t understand how he could play so expertly.

She fingered the fringe of her scarf, remembering that only a moment ago she had contemplated buying another.  The girl knew what she should do.  Stepping forward, she emptied her coins into the violinist’s hat, offering a shy smile.  As he took a bow, his face broke into a grin so wide his rosy cheeks could have cracked.  He could hardly believe he finally earned enough to make his family a little warmer and a little fuller this Christmas.  The girl smiled and clapped, realizing she did feel happy, right there in the present.

And as the two parted ways that night, neither felt the cold anymore.

J13: What We Need For Christmas This Year

J13: Describe your favorite Christmas memory. What do you like about the holiday? Does your family have any special traditions? Anything you don’t like?

Well, call me Ebenezer Scrooge because out of all these lovely Christmas prompts, I’m going to write about my least favorite part of Christmas.  Bah Humbug to you too.  It might surprise you, but my least favorite part of Christmas is this question:

“What do you want?”

I actually dread this question every year.  There’s just nothing I want, and it completely stresses me out to find something to tell desperate relatives.  Okay, so there are things I want, just that they can’t be bought and wrapped up.  What I really want is a merry Christmas.  Truly.

I want a few weeks of peace.  I want to feel ridiculously happy for no reason.  I want a meaningful time with family and friends.  I want to feel a child-like joy at the birth of my savior.  Because that—the peace and the joy—is my favorite part of Christmas.  Only with the craziness and stress, it gets harder and harder to find.

Now I’m not trying to sound all saint-like here.  There actually are some material things I want.  (Namely, books and tea.)  Though really, the more I think about it, the only Christmas gift I—or anyone else—will ever need came in a manger two thousand years ago.  Which is exactly what Christmas is about.

Well look at that.  I admitted to liking Christmas cheer and even ended up telling my favorite part of Christmas.  Perhaps I’m not Scrooge after all.  All that to say, I wish each and every one of you the merriest of Christmases!

Cw13: The Snow Globe

Ah, Christmas.  The time of year we gather around our families, stuff ourselves with foods, and listen to sappy stories we wouldn’t tolerate at any other time of year.  This is one of those stories, told in the form of poetry.

Note: to focus on the story, I kept rhymes simple and didn’t really do meter.

Gather ‘round boys and girls, I’ll tell you a tale

Of a young child so cheerful and sweet

It was only fitting they called her Joy,

With her smile that could light a dimly lit street.

At Christmas her charm only grew

Indeed her very heart seemed to glow,

Lighting even the darkest of souls.

No sorrow did she seem to know.

She’d skate and romp around with glee

Enchanted by each falling snowflake

“At Christmas,” she thought, “all are merry.

With loved ones ‘round, there’s no heartache.”

Though as the years went by and by

The light in her eyes slowly snuffed out

As she saw the cruelty of the world

And wondered what all its hate could be about

Further down and down she fell, into

Her own dark pit of fear and dread

Loneliness became all she knew

Dark thoughts running ‘round her head

A mere shell of the girl she once was

Joy hoped Christmastime would bring

A light to guide her through her pain

To hear just one angel sing

Yet when Christmas came, nothing did change

Sugar plums and sweets all lost their taste

Snowmen became but things that melted

The sound of bells was erased

And all this made her start to wonder

If there was nothing to Christmas after all

If the bliss she once felt was but naive

Never to return, only a melted snowball

“Alas there’s nothing left,” said she,

Growing ever closer to breakdown

Only one thing she still held dear,

A snow globe holding an enchanted town

For hours she gazed at its snow-laden streets

And its inhabitants always filled with cheer

With a soft sigh Joy said to herself,

“If I could be anywhere, it’d be here.”

On one bleak Christmas Eve she did wish,

“Please let this peaceful town be my home.”

Then slept in her bed and in the morning found

herself confined within the glass dome

At first she let out a great shout of glee

Thrilled to leave her own world of drear

for the charming little cottages,

deciding, “I think I could belong here.”

Yet upon meeting the little townsfolk

Her heart overflowed with dismay

For not a one was happier than she.

No hope in their world, only decay

Yay, each person was lonelier than the next,

Although they celebrated Christmas year round.

Nothing more did Joy want than to leave,

Yet no way out was to be found.

So she spent her days wandering about

Hoping for any means of escape

From her unbreakable prison of glass

And from her world in such a dismal shape

Hundreds of times she passed the manger scene

Sitting unmoved in the town’s square

And wondered, “Why would God send His son

to a world like this?  Why would he care?”

And in that town where the same snow fell each day

Joy kept returning to the lonely scene

Never knowing why she did, only

Wondering what such a thing could mean

After a time, she knew not how long,

Joy lost hope, letting her life ebb away

‘Till she found herself at the manger

And thought, “Perhaps I should stay.”

She wondered how there could be such a gift

And decided if there was, some hope remained.

“If God hasn’t yet given up on the world,

Then neither shall I,” was her refrain.

Joy prayed the way she did as a child

And when her eyes opened they had back their light.

She spent the day spreading mirth all around

Helping and giving with all her might

Indeed when the day came to an end

The whole town had more cheer than before

That night Joy went to sleep with more peace

And awoke back at home once more

But no, her story was not yet over,

For she found her own world a little too blue

Yet instead of withering in grief

She spread her gladness to them too

From that day forward her determination

Never wavered, even on doleful days

Joy gave hope to all, at every time of year

As proof one could survive the darkest of haze

Up upon her shelf she kept a snow globe,

Hoping she’d never forget what she learned

in that little town about the manger’s gift

Something given that could never be earned

Now if you don’t believe I speak for true

Let me say, Joy is I and I am she

Yes, dear friends, the tale I have recounted

Is in fact the story of me

An Unexpected Return

Since many of my classmates are writing Christmas themed posts, I was inspired to give this Monday’s Minute Challenge a Christmas spin.  I wish I could have edited this more, but it happened to fit exactly in the 300 word limit.  I used the word prompt. (meaning I had to incorporate the words old house, winter hat, and skeleton key).

There are words left better unsaid, secrets that should remain hidden, and ghosts of the past that should not be revisited.  Those were the rules which governed Holly’s entire life, although she was coming dangerously close to breaking the third one.

“Just a short trip,” she muttered to herself, approaching the old house where she had spent her childhood.  “Go up, hide it, and leave.  That’s all.”

It was nothing but a remote wooden cabin laden with snow and twinkling Christmas lights.  Nothing that would intimidate anyone, especially someone like her.  So why was she nervous?  Taking a deep breath, she scaled the side of the cabin, easily finding every familiar foothold until she reached the attic window.  With nimble fingers, she picked the lock and slipped inside.  No one had noticed her yet.  Good.

Using the light of her flashlight, she tiptoed over to the closet and pulled out the long skeleton key.  There are ghosts of the past that should not be revisited.  No.  This was necessary.  Ignoring her urge to run away, she turned the key.  Click.  The closet door swung open, revealing a small collection of memories.  Dusty supplies, Rudy’s kite, even her old winter hat…

Swallowing the lump in her throat, Holly grabbed a small box in the corner and hid an object inside.  There.  No one would find it now.

“Holly?” a voice asked from behind.  Oh, no.  She turned to find Rudy standing in the doorway, a look of disbelief on his face.  “What are you doing here?”

Holly desperately tried to think of a response, something that would explain why she couldn’t stay.  “I…”

“You came home!”  He rushed forward to give her a hug.

“Yes,” she finally answered.  Because there are words left better unsaid and secrets that should remain hidden.