Where Angels Walk - Story of the Week, December 18, 2009

Writer Author  Joan Wester Anderson
Christian Column : Angels  - Fiction  No

Christian Author Writer Hello, angel lovers. This is the last of our stories for 2009. Is it my imagination, or did this year fly by? We have a serious prayer need this year: our friends, the Cayces---who we help support in Thornton, Arkansas---have a son Daniel, who is himself an earth angel. Many of us have watched him grow up, and develop ministries there, collecting blankets, baby food and toothbrushes as his special projects. He is now a junior in college, looking forward to starting pre-med.

Recently Daniel had what the family thought was flu, but it got worse and when he was taken to the hospital, a smart doctor in the emergency room did a CT scan, which showed that Daniel had fluid around his heart, which was making it beat 200 times per minute. They airlifted him to another hospital, where a heart team waited for him. No heart surgery but he was in Intensive Care for five days. When he did finally get back to school, he had another bout and had to return to the emergency room.

Needless to say, the family was not able to get the news around to everyone, but they are convinced it was prayer power that kept Daniel from dying. In fact, they have been told that the e.r. doctor probably saved his life. He is back at college (probably finishing his finals) and is okay but very tired. How the family will bring Christmas to the people there this year is anyone's guess. Obviously we need prayers for this fine young man and his wonderful family, as well as prayers for those who depend on the Cayces. Let's send some extra angels to Thornton this year. And here's our story:

"When you were a little girl, Grandma, was there a Christmas?" my granddaughter asked one December day as, heads together, we read a book about the season.

"Why of course!" I laughed. "There's always been Christmas, honey, ever since Baby Jesus was born."

"What was it like--your Christmas?" she wanted to know. And I set the book down for a moment as the sounds and scents and the magic of long ago crept into the room.

Christmas started back then, oddly enough, with the aroma of wet wool. Scarves and mittens dampened by the first snowfall and hung to dry over steamy school radiators somehow signaled the beginning of the season. As the scent stole across the classroom, we children would catch each other's eyes, unspoken understanding passing among us. It was the beginning.

From wool, we progressed to boots, not the sturdy leather footwear that today's children use, but floppy rubber overshoes clanking with metal buckles, fitting snugly over oxfords or saddle shoes---if one tugged hard enough. In every home in mid-November, the same scenario ensued: locate the stored-away boot box, drag it to the drafty back hallway, measure which child would be promoted to which pair---and caution children to wear the contents Every Day. We didn't mind. It was another ritual, another step in the dance.

Then slowly, almost without notice, the trappings of Christmas began to appear. Store windows took on a dusting of artificial snow, an occasional red ribbon or evergreen bough, very often, the beloved manger scene itself. Lights sparkled over the front door of the village hall while local firemen hung stockings from the mantelpiece behind their engines. Wreaths, hand-drawn in colored chalk, festooned the school blackboards, and the faint sound of carols drifted across the snowy landscape. No raucous commercialism, no hucksters exhorting us to "Buy, buy!" ---just a simple but growing awareness of the time that was to come. And we children watched, and held our breath and waited.

Christmas came in bits and pieces in those days, changes in our routines that whispered rather than shouted. An extra delivery of coal to ensure a warm house for guests who would share the day. Sledding on the big hill, then coming home in the late-afternoon dusk for warm soup, and hearing the rustle of tissue paper behind Mother's closed bedroom door. The soft aroma of sugar cookies unexpectedly mingling with breakfast oatmeal and toast. In the Chicago area, the radio program "The Cinnamon Bear," faithfully reviewed each day on our walks to school. Being asked to accompany Dad on an evening shopping trip, the sound of our boots squeaking on the packed snow, the thrill of being out after dark with the most important man in our lives. Those pleasures were as much a part of the awareness of Christmas as bells and candles and holly.

And then one day, at last, the tree. Pine-scented needles scattering across the kitchen floor, Dad carried it to its place of honor in front of the window so we could share its beauty with all who passed. First, the lights, then the delicate colored balls, and the tinsel which we hung one strand at a time in a shimmering waterfall. The angel at the very top and finally the crèche in the place of honor, its chipped statues heralding memories of Christmases past. "And it came to pass..." someone would read the comforting words that gave the season its true meaning.

The countdown began in earnest now. Five days...four days.. Hurriedly we completed our own shopping--a comb for a favorite aunt, a candle for Grandpa---and stored our wrapped cache under our beds, understanding again the joy of giving. Three days..two..the turkey on the cold back porch. Quick errands, candles, stockings that didn't have holes (my brother hanging a kneesock), cookies for Santa, and the feeling that one's heart would burst...

And finally, on a cold dark morning, my siblings, wrapped in flannel bathrobes, bouncing on my bed in excitement. "It's Christmas!" they were shouting. "It's here!"

The remembered wonder gripped me again as I sat in my own living room, my own grandchild listening in delight. "It came!"she exclaimed. "Your Christmas always came!"

And yours will too, I told her silently. Oh, the trappings will be different from the slower days of my childhood. You will have frozen turkey breasts, TV commercials, a wrapping service at the local mall---by-products of a more modern age. But beneath the gadgetry and clamor will be the same holy Child, the joy at his arrival shared by millions, past, present and yet to come.

For Christmas is excitement and anticipation and wonder, the secrets, the smiles, the sharing. It's the message of the little King repeated down through the ages, the message of hope and peace, renewed again in a troubled world. The message that keeps us believing in the magic of love.

"Yes,," I told my granddaughter, "Christmas will always come. For what would we do without it?"

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About the Writer Author
State: Illinois
Country: United States
Email: Joan@JoanWAnderson.com
Website: www.joanwanderson.com
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