Twas the Night Before Christmas
(inspired by a true event)
“It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old.
From angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold.
‘Peace on the earth, good will toward men’,
from heaven’s all gracious King!
The world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing.”“Twas the Night Before Christmas” 1 Carrie ©
Christmas music gently filled the little coffee house. Unlike the carol heralding a ‘midnight clear’, this night was everything but. Snow fell fast and thick.
In the corner, a young man sat alone. He looked out the window and watched as the last patron of the night plowed their way out of the parking lot.
“Young man, we’re closing.”
He nodded, put on his coat and made his way to the exit. He looked to be about fourteen, fifteen at the most.
As the door closed behind him, the cold quickly bit into his face and hands. He pulled his collar up close to his face.
“Do you have a ride?” a voice called to him.
The young man turned to see someone standing in the shadows of the building.
”No, I’m good,” he answered firmly.
The man persisted. “I’m not so sure about that. It’s Christmas eve. Shouldn’t you be home with your family, sitting by the fire and enjoying hot chocolate, or something?”
The lad shrugged his shoulders as if to say… yah, so what. Who cares anyway.
The man stepped out of the shadows.
The young man saw that he was an old man. Old enough to make him wonder what someone this old was doing out in a snow storm at this hour of the night.
The old man continued. “Where you’re headed… it is not worth it… You do have options you know.”
The young man was beginning to feel somewhat uncomfortable. He stared at the old man not sure what to make of the encounter.
“How do you know where I’m headed?” he finally asked.
“I know that place, under the bridge.” The old man continued. “You won’t find what you’re really looking for out there. Running away isn’t the answer.”
Now the young man paused.
How did this old man know that he was going to that “homeless place” where he might make it through the night?
Maybe if he was lucky someone would share their Christmas “Spirits” with him.
And how did this old man know that he was running away?
The old man smiled knowingly and said. “I’ve been young and now I am old…but I have never seen God’s children forsaken”… The old man talked so strange…and yet he was most compelling.
“I know a place. A place where you can get a hot bowl of homemade soup, and a good night’s sleep.”
“Follow me,” the old man continued.
The old man began to make his way through the deep drifts of snow. The young man hesitated but only for a second or two. “Man…what do I have to lose,” he mumbled.
He began to follow in the old man’s footsteps.
After some time, the old man stopped at a building with a sign that read, “The Welcome Home Centre”. He turned to the young man. “They will take care of you. You can stay as long as you wish.” Then he paused, looked the boy in the eyes and added, “God loves you, you know. He’s got plans for you”.
The young man did not know what to think. No one had ever talked to him like this before.
They stood in silence and waited.
Eventually a pleasant sort of man answered the knock on the door. The young man’s last bit of resistance melted away as he breathed in a blast of warm fragrant air. He smelled something wonderful.
“Come in… welcome,” the man said sincerely.
“I…ah..need a place to hang till this storm’s over,” the young man said, hesitantly.
“You’ve come to the right place then,” came the reassuring answer.
The young man sighed.
He turned and started to thank the old man but no one was there.
“That old man, who was here with me. He brought me here. He was just here,” the bewildered young man exclaimed .
“I didn’t see anybody but you, lad,” came the answer.
“But he was here, I followed him here. He told me about you…he knew stuff about me…he…”
Bewildered, the young man took one last look out into the white night. He saw only lonely empty streets and a fast disappearing, single set of footprints, that lead to The Welcome Home’s front porch.
Putting a kind hand on the young man’s shoulder the man at the door said, “It’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened son. “I do believe you. Come…I want to hear all about it.”
It’s now midnight and that brings our 2010 Christmas eve story to an end.
Yes, this young man’s life was changed forever that Christmas eve.
What will this Christmas bring you?
Will you let God’s love bring you a miracle this Christmas?
I wish for you, a life changing kind of Christmas.
One that you will remember forever because
A Painting Tells a Humorous Story
Last month the Central Fraser Valley Guild in Abbotsford held a show called REAR VIEW.
A rather interesting art piece came with a most interesting story.
- The story of a man, a boy, a horse and a lesson learned.
If you are familiar with Low German, this will be particularly enjoyable for you.
The story is told in Low German and translated into English –
Foarma Hein Schmedt.
Farmer Henry Schmedt.
Foarma Hein Schmedt haft twee Kjinta
Farmer Henry Schmidt has two children.
Daut Ellste es de Mejal, dee heet Marieche, un es achtieen Joah oolt.
The oldest is a girl and she is called Maria, and is 18 years old.
Daut Tweedees de junge Doft un dee es grod fief Joah old.
The second one is a boy Dave and he has just turned 5 years old.
Nu fählt Schmedt grod toofalig noch een Peat, un eenes Doages well he noh Staudt foahre, eent opp’em Peadmoakjt to kjeepe.
Now Schmidt as it happens, needs a horse, and one day he plans to travel to the city to buy one at the horse market.
He nemmt sien Doft met daut dee uk waut vom peadhaundel leahre kaun.
He takes along his son Dave so that he can learn something about horse trading.
Opp’em Moakjt bekjikt Schmedt sikj doa een schmocket peat.
At the market Schmidt spies a beautiful horse and checks it out.
He bekloppat daut von aule siede, kjikt daut en’e Frät un besitt sikj de Taehne,
He pats it from all sides, and looks into the horse’s mouth and examines the teeth,
häwt jieda Been aun un bekjikt sikj de Feet von unje un von bowe,
he lifts each leg and examines the feet both from underneath and from the top,
bestrichelt de Been un de Schullre un häwt däm Zoagel un bekjikt siku waut doarunja liggt.
He strokes the legs and the shoulders and even lifts up the tail to see what lays underneath.
He nemmt siene goode Tiet doatoo, oba aum Enj woat he sikj eenig, un kjaft daut Peat.
He takes his own good time and finally comes to a decision and buys the horse.
He bingt daut niee Peat hinjer’em Woage aun un dan foahre se auf noh Huus.
He ties the horse behind the wagon and then they travel home.
Opp’em Huuswaig kome se em Vetahle äwa däm Haundel
On the way home it came about that they began to talk about the transaction.
un dan well de Jung weete waurom de Voda daut Peat soo väl bekloppat un bekjikt haud ea he daut jekofft haud.
And then the boy wanted to know why his father had spent so much time patting the horse and looking at it before he bought it.
“Na,” saigt Schmedt to sien Jung,
“Well,” said Schmidt to his son,
“wan ekj mi een Peat kjeepe well, dan mott ekj daut doch dichtig bekjikje un befeehle von unje bat bowe,
“when I want to buy myself a horse, then I must examine it carefully, and feel it with my hands from the bottom to the top,
daut ekj kraikt weet auf aules en Ordnung es un auf et uk jesund es, ea eku doafia jeld utlaije doo.
so that I know exactly that everything is in order and if the horse is healthy, before I lay my money down for it.
De Jung bleef lang stell, oba met’e Tiet kaum et bi ahm doch ‘ruut,
The boy was silent for a long time, but after some time , he came out with
“Weetst uk waut, Pa? Ekj jleew ons Noba Peetasch sien Hauns well onse Marieche kjeepe!”
“Do you know what Dad? I think that our neighbour Peter’s son Hans wants to buy our Maria!”
Story # 1
Story Telling for the Young at Heart
A Fantasy Adventure You will Never Forget
by Carrie Wachsmann
With a satisfied sigh, Grandpa Hilton pushed himself away from the dinner table and leaned back against the sturdy old captain’s chair.
“Grandma dear, that was delicious.” he said, wiping the crumbs from his bushy, Fu Manchu mustache. Reaching across from the table, he helped himself to a toothpick and began to clean his teeth in a familiar and distinctive manner.
Dinner had been eaten in awkward silence. Jessica and David had arrived that afternoon and would be spending the following summer months in the Cariboo with their grandparents. Normally, the prospect of spending two months on the ranch would delight them, but this year was different. The previous week their father had left, (“a separation” they called it) and now they were sent to their grandparent’s , “to get away from it all,” as David put it. These unpleasant circumstances had left the children’s enthusiasm for the farm seriously wanting.
Grandma Hilton, a stout little woman, her handsome face softly lined with age, looked questioningly at her husband sitting at the far end of the table. Raising his bushy eyebrows, he responded by shrugging his huge shoulders as if to say, “and what do we do now?” and that’s when Grandma came right out with it.
Jessica looked down at her hands clasped tightly in her lap, and fiercely bit her bottom lip to keep it from trembling. She was determined not to cry. That would only make things worse. David would make fun of her and she couldn’t bear that right now. She snuck a glance at her older brother, slunk deep in his chair, feet thrust under the table, with both hands dug deep in the pockets of his faded blue denims.
Oh, she hated him right then. HE didn’t seem to care at all. He didn’t need mom and dad around any more, at least that was what he had said. After all he was thirteen and she was only just ten. But somehow, she couldn’t quite believe it didn’t matter to him that mom and dad didn’t live together any more.
“I know how difficult your parents’ separation is for you,” Grandma continued, her voice revealing that warmth and earnestness of her heart. “We love your mother and father too and it hurts us to see this happening to the family. Despite what is happening between them, you must remember that they both love you very much.”
Again Jessica fought back the tears that welled up in her big brown eyes. How she wanted to hear those words. If only she could be sure. David’s response was quite another matter. Tossing his dark head back in defiance, he merely mumbled under his breath, a disbelieving, grunting sound. Then he stared past them all, and out the large picture window.
That is when Grandpa Hilton stood up, cleared his throat and said in his most authoritative voice, “It’s time we all clear off the table. Then David and I are going to take a walk down to the stables to have a look at some of the new colts.”
Giving Grandma a reassuring wink, he began to gather up the dirty dishes.
“Now son,” he said encouragingly, placing a firm hand on David’s shoulder, “we’ve all got to pitch in. Only way to get things done around here, remember?”
In a few minutes, the dishes were piled high in the sink and Grandma and David were off to the stables. Jessica stood alone in the kitchen. She had always loved this cheerful room. The evening sun, still bright and warm, beamed thought the spacious windows and danced across the little kitchen. Grandma’s plants seemed to thrive in the cozy atmosphere, and Jessica thought it must be because Grandma always sang while she worked. She had read somewhere that plants like people to talk and sing to them. It was supposed to help them grow, they said.
“Do you really understand it when someone talks to you?” she asked a little ivy that was
reaching its way up the side of the sill, as if to get as close to the warm sunshine as possible. “Maybe you can just feel if I like you. I do like plants you know. Goodness, you look rather dry.”
“Yes, Ivy could use a nice glass of warm water Jessica,” Grandmas said as she walked into the kitchen, tying her crisp apron around her ample waist. “Then you can get the tea towel and we’ll work on these dishes.”
Jessica felt a little silly, realizing Grandma had heard her conversation with the plant. She was about to explain that she thought talking to plants was really quite silly, when Grandma said, “Plants like to be around people, you know, listen to them sing and talk. I think they like to be told they’re loved, just like humans.”
Jessica giggled. “I was just thinking about that,” she said. “You must love them a whole lot ‘cause they’re beautiful.
“Oh Grandma, I do love you so,” Jessica said, gratefully throwing her arms around her grandmother’s neck. “And Grandpa too, and the farm. It’s just that I’m so sad sometimes and afraid, and David, he’s being mean.”
“Well sweetheart,” Grandma said putting her hands into the soapy dish water, “that’s all going to change.”
“What makes you say that?” asked Jessica hopefully.
“Oh, it’s just a feeling that I have,” she said smiling. “I guess you could say I know something you
don’t know. I’m certain this summer is going to be very special for the both of you.”
And to be sure, a very special summer began for them that very night.
The Very Important Book
David and Jessica, curled up in the weathered chesterfield beside the warm crackling fire, were enjoying a hot cup of Grandma’s Chamomile tea, when Jessica, who loved warm fires and stories, piped, “Grandpa, please tell us a store before we go to bed.”
David’s face lit up just a little, for although he thought he was too old for bedtime stories, he couldn’t help but listen to one of Grandpa’s.
Now Grandpa Hilton was a very wise man, even if he was quite old, and he knew just what the children needed. Taking a rusty key from the pocket of his tire, but very comfortable housecoat, he pulled a large, ancient looking book from the top shelf of the bookcase. Carefully he unlocked the golden case.
“Ooooh,” gasped Jessica, her face eager with anticipation. “What a beautiful book!” she exclaimed, reaching out her little hand to caress the shiny cover.
“Why do you keep it looked up, Grandpa?” she questioned.
“Oh don’t ask such stupid questions,” chimed in David, giving his sister one of his ‘know it all’ looks. “I bet it’s a very important book, and you always lock up things that are very important, don’t you know!”
Jessica’s hand dropped to her lap. She screwed up her little freckled nose and stuck her tongue out at David in disdain.
Before it could develop into an argument, Grandpa sat down between the two and said, “Now, now lad, don’t be so hard on your sister. And watch your language. Stupid is not a word we want to use.” He looked into the boy’s handsome face, that so reminded him of himself so many years ago. “Actually, yes, this book is a very special book. You’re right David, and it has been in our family for years. The last time it was opened was when your mother was a child. In fact, it would do her good to open it’s cover for herself right now. Some day this book will be yours, when you’re old enough, and know how to care for it and use it properly. You see children, (and it was at this point that Grandpa got a very curious look in his eyes) the stories in this book are always different.” He went on, his voice barely audible. “It has a mystery about it that even I do not fully understand.”
After a long pause, which really wasn’t very long but just seemed that way, Grandpa said in his clear and normal voice, “I’m not going to say another word. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for you.” Carefully and with what Jessica thought was reverence, he opened the book.
The first page revealed a fascinating, full page picture of two children standing on a path in the middle of a dark and misty forest. They appeared rather frightened and lost, and it looked like they were wearing their pajamas! Underneath the picture were four lines, which David read aloud.
WHEN LOST IN THE MYSTERIOUS FOREST,
THROUGH ENEMYLAND HE RIDES
CALL FOR HIM AND HE WILL BE,
THE LIGHT WHERE DARKNESS HIDES.
Jessica read the words again and again, puzzling over their meaning. “This story sounds scary,” she said a little apprehensively. “It will turn out all right, won’t it?” she asked, looking up at her Grandfather questioningly.
“Yes, dear one, I’m certain it will,” he said, smiling reassuringly. Only then did they notice the picture on the opposite side. The page itself radiated light; pure, white and glowing. Soft, cotton like clouds, curled themselves gently around the edges of the picture. Then, in the center, a gloriously shining white horse appeared, his full mane, talk and hooves, sparkling like silver. Holding his majestic head high, he was truly a picture of beauty, grace, and elegance. David’s mouth dropped open, his eyes wide with delight. Jessica too stared in awe at the magnificent animal.
THE RYDER is available in both paperback and as an ebook.
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