December 8, 2004 - "A Story Book Christmas" by Mary-Ellen Grisham
Welcome to 2TheHeart!
"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love." --Hamilton Wright Mabi
Mary-Ellen's writing is always so picturesque - this one painted an old-fashioned Thomas Kinkade Christmas house in my mind. What a beautiful Christmas memory to share - thank you Meg!
"A Story Book Christmas"
By Mary-Ellen Grisham
Like many children, I yearned for an old-fashioned storybook Christmas. While every child has a different idea of that holiday, mine was comprised of fuzzy notions of snow, huge Christmas trees in warm two-story Victorian houses with fireplaces, sleigh rides, colorful presents with large bows, iced cookies, and other Christmas goodies. It also included children, many children, to play with during the day and a gathering in which "the welkin rang"--whatever a welkin was.
My mom and dad were wonderful about preparations for Christmas, and our holiday time was very special. The day itself was usually celebrated at a large family gathering at one of the relatives. The year we were to go to one of my well-to-do Aunt's I was less than enchanted. My Aunt and Uncle lived in a gentile apartment in a ritzy neighborhood in accommodations that were as large as a small house. There were four such small "houses" in their apartment building, but the whole notion gave me the presentiment of crowded, hot, boring and long.
After a too-big dinner, as the only child in the family, I was more or less relegated to a back room where I was dozing off when I heard one of my Aunt's say, "Where's Mary-Ellen?" I was summoned to the front door where Susan the girl from the apartment upstairs stood wondering if there was a child who would like to come upstairs to play games. My mouth dropped open. I could not believe my good fortune.
And play we did--in one of the most special days of my childhood. I was introduced to her pretty, gentle mother and her younger brother, John. Her father was away in the Army. Susan, John, and I played board games and pretend games and even hide n' seek, making use of the huge closets and nooks in the large apartment.
When we needed a rest, her mother had us come to the kitchen where we were served hot cocoa with tiny marshmallows. A large tray of the most beautiful cookies I had ever seen was placed on the kitchen table, and we were allowed to choose two. The sugar cookies were decorated with red and green icing; the peanut butter cookies had chocolate kisses at the center; the molasses cookies were bright with sugared cherries in the middle; and the chocolate chip variety had tiny pieces of pecan and white chocolate along with the usual chips. After wrestling with my decision, I finally chose a sugar and a molasses cookie. We made the cookies last as long as possible, drinking down the cooling cocoa as if kids in a dream.
I dimly knew even then that this afternoon was the mother's gift of love to her lonely children, and I will always be thankful that I was on my best behavior. I even sang songs so that "the welkin would ring." When we left the cozy kitchen, we circled around the old piano and sang Christmas carols while their mom played wonderful arrangements, with "fancy stuff" (embellishments) included. We smiled and sang for all we were worth.
Soon my mom was at the door to collect me to start home. Reluctant to leave, I thanked them all and hugged Susan, giving "manly" John a friendly pat. Susan's mother gave me a small pouch of cookies and candies to take with me. Then we were out in the old black Plymouth riding in the dark and falling snow. I smiled with glowing pleasure as I sat quietly in the back seat savoring the day the Lord had sent just for me--my storybook Christmas. I knew I would remember Susan and John and their gentle mother for so long as I celebrated Christmas--and even beyond.
Mary-Ellen is a Christian writer living in Godfrey, Illinois. She especially enjoys the relationship with 2theHeart, the writers and readers, and the fellowship of Angels2theHeart, through which she has met some of the earth's loveliest people. Published in the 2the Heart story anthology, winner of various awards in multiple 2theHeart poetry contests, she is also the author of many daily stories, among them "A Furry Friend for All Seasons" and "Mrs. Willingham's Pinks."
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The Letter Box:
Dear Sooz :>)
As a typical bloke who so often forgets and gets caught up in task orientated 'to do' stuff, Sue's mail-a-prayer is an excellent refocus. Instead of being so busy in the doing, praying for each addressee brings meaning back to Christmas ... relationship meaning.
I think we forget that when Jesus came, He came to a hostile world out of relationship with God and in enmity with its fellow man. As Christians, we need to have a God focus and follow His lead, even in doing the things others do, but with a different attitude. I pray every day that my attitude will be one similar to Sue's ... transforming the task from doing a 'thing' into being a blessing.
God bless you and all your readers this Christmas, Robert White, Australia
Whoa~ what a day to read your story! Itold my husband, not a half an hour ago, that i was not going to send out the usual amount Cristmas cards this year. The days left til Christmas are flying by and I have so much to do......but.... I am totally rethinking what i said a little while ago, in light of what of what you wrote~ thank you so much and a very Merry Christmas to you! Susan Turner , Oregon
My Christmas cards will be a joy to write this weekend as I sign my cards and seal them with a prayer for each special person in our lives. Thank You ...
Carol & Dennis
Dear Sue Ellen,
I loved your story! What an inspiration for me. I needed your story to nudge me to the task of making out my Christmas cards! Oh, what a gift you have given all us by sharing such a BLESSED story. Thank you from my heart for such a great prayer tool for all those I love. God Bless you and your family. love, Melodie Lynn Tilander, Oregon
Making a difference, one story at a time!