"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

12/19/08

Friday Fiction: "Much To Celebrate"


Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Fridays, hosted this week by Rhonda at Beach Reads. Be sure to stop by her blog and find links to more great fiction. Don't be afraid to post your own fiction on your blog and link up at the bottom of her post. Everyone is welcome!
I wrote this story for a Christmas story contest last year, hosted by Heart of God International. It actually took first place in 2007. I pray it blesses you.

Much To Celebrate

Alfred crouched in the corner, beneath the highway underpass. He grabbed an old blanket he’d stored there and covered his legs. Sitting with his back against the concrete, he stared out into the city.

It looked like the sun was about to appear over the horizon. Flurries had just begun and were peppering the Christmas wreaths hanging from lampposts with specks of white.

Normally, Alfred’s survey would be disturbed by the rumbling and honking of morning traffic. Today, however, the cars were almost nonexistent. Being in a primarily industrial area, few people had a reason to drive by on a Christmas morning.

Alfred smiled. He preferred the quiet to the normal din of rush hour. His vision always seemed to sharpen when his ears and eyes weren’t bombarded.

The light snowfall and dull noise of the occasional car reminded him of his very first Christmas with Sadie. They had been newlyweds, only nineteen. They’d been quite poor – not as bad off as Alfred was now, but not middle class by any means – and were renting the attic of her uncle’s hardware store.

There had been no money for Christmas. They had eaten pasta for dinner and had exchanged handmade gifts. Yet, it had been a wonderful Christmas. The time they’d spent together, meditating on the wonderful gifts they had received from their Savior, was precious.

“As long as Jesus is with us,” Sadie had said, “we have much to celebrate.”

The two had celebrated more than three dozen Christmases since. Most had been fairly traditional: midnight mass, a table full of turkey and the fixings, the joy of celebrating with their children and grandchildren, presents piled to the ceiling. Yet, none ever seemed as special as that very first one.

Alfred’s very last conversation with Sadie, just five months earlier, had been about Christmas memories. As she lay in her hospital bed, injured almost beyond recognition from the car crash, they’d reminisced about their many holiday celebrations

Sadie had always been the strong one, and she seemed to sense her time was running out. As she noticed Alfred’s sadness about his first Christmas alone, she reminded him of the words she’d said so many years ago.

“As long as Jesus is with you,” she’d croaked with her last bit of energy, “you have much to celebrate.”

She’d slipped into Jesus’ arms not two minutes later, a smile on her face and Alfred’s hand in hers. Those words had sustained him through the grieving process, not to mention the loss of his home to creditors because of Sadie’s hospital bills.

Oh, how he missed Sadie. A tear came to his eye as he thought back over their lives.“She may be gone and I may not have a home, but they can’t take away my memories.”

Alfred smiled. He opened his backpack and fished out his Bible, a muffin he’d picked up at the gas station the day before, and a hand-sewn billfold, worn with age. He turned to Luke 2 and read silently.

“You didn’t have a bed to sleep in either, did you?” Alfred pursed his lips and caressed the billfold, thinking of the first time he had seen it, when Sadie handed it to him that very first Christmas.

“As long as Jesus is with me, I have much to celebrate.”

**

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out Beach Reads for more great fiction!

11 comments:

  1. Ahhh... I like how you keep repeating "As long as Jesus is with us..." very effective and touching!

    Vonnie

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  2. I love the fact that he still has that first Christmas gift that she gave him. Thank you for this story.

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  3. It's no wonder this one won a contest, it really tugs at the heart strings! And isn't it something to think that every homeless person has a story...

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  4. Very nice, JJ. I love how this brings me straight into a story with more than just heart. Lovely. Especially the repeating line. I loved the character of Sadie, especially.

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  5. Thanks for reminding me that I have MUCH TO CELEBRATE because Jesus is with me. Immanuel. Bless you, Sister.

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  6. i can see why it won!
    goodness.

    that was good.

    dorinda

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  7. Your ending is perfect. What a message, and a bit of a tear-jerker too!

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  8. Oh, this is wonderful. Such a good reminder of what is most important.

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  9. I felt the cold as I sat with the man. To think that even the Son of God had no place to rest His head. Your ending summed up Christmas (and life) perfectly.

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  10. Very nice!! Happy New Year!!

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