Urged To Take A Christmas Break
“Okay, okay, I’ll come,” Alex Grater finally succumbed to his sister’s pleadings to return to West Coast to spend this Christmas with his parents. Although he had talked with them a good while on the telephone once a month, it had been six full years since his last visit. He knew that they always enjoy hearing from him, but as his sister urged, they still would have appreciated a personal visit more often.
As Alex considered it, however, audibly was good enough. He reasoned his work he had begun those eight years ago upon his move to Mid-Central took precedence over everything else. Especially his recent promotion brought him more security to stuff away in his nest egg, and more to consume upon his pleasures and pastimes; he was raking it all in, his goal for a life of good times as he sees it fulfilled. (That evil one so applauded Alex's earthly ambitions.) Alex figured he had little time for the remembrances of his past life; often, those monthly phone visits with his parents were on their initiative.
A Visit with Grammy
Outside, a blizzard was brewing. However, for the metropolis of Mid-Central, it may be considered a quite typical winter storm, the falling snow laying a thick white blanket over everything. (And yet, to that evil one’s glee, another wind is blowing through the land where good has become evil and evil good).
Inside, the crackling fire in the fireplace comforts eight-year-old Timothy James O’Brien and his grandmother, Maggie, with cozy warmth. Positioned on the floor in front of the TV, Timothy was enjoying Charlie Brown’s Christmas special with his best friend Jessica Lynne Whitcombe (Jessi). Seated there beside him, she felt quite well this day in spite of her illness. Nevertheless, unless apparent, her pleasant countenance would not emit any feeling of ill health. Just a few weeks difference in age, the two children are almost inseparable.
The credits were now rolling, marking the end of that well known Christmas program. Timothy’s grandmother relaxed in her wingback chair, her feet propped on the accompanying ottoman, enjoying a pre-bedtime snooze; her head tucked back in the corner of a wing. Her mouth open, occasionally a faint snore slipped out.
Timothy didn’t want to disturb her, but a question had been bothering him all day long. Rising to his feet, Jessi, with him, they both approached Grammy.
“Grammy,” Timothy said softly. Nudging her gently, he whispered, “Are you asleep?”
His Grammy uttered a loud snort; her head twitched. The children giggled softly, curling their shoulders upward as they clasped their hands over their mouths.
“What?” Grammy said, being startled from her sleep. “Oh, Timothy, my boy. And Jessi, my girl,” she beamed at them both. Jessi, too, flashed her dimpled grin and her sparkling blue eyes before them. She and Timothy being best of friends since infancy, she “adopted” Timothy’s grandmother as hers.
Grammy straightened up in her chair, removing her feet from the ottoman. The remote in her hand, she turned off the TV. Timothy and Jessi positioned themselves as usual on that ottoman. It was a welcome event that had become a regular expectation, one where they would always ready themselves for one of Grammy’s often-daily Bible stories.
“What is it?” Grammy asked.
“Grammy, is there a Christmas?” Timothy asked, startling his Grammy a bit. Jessi also gaped at the strange question from her friend.
“Now, whatever brought that on?” Grammy then asked. “Of course there is,” she continued, reaching for an old, worn, well-read Bible on the side table. “Your question was 'is there a Christmas?’ Patting the Bible, she declared to both the children, “Now you remember this.” The children listened up as Grammy continued, “If you see it here, then it is so.”
“Oh, I know that,” Timothy replied, Jessi, turning toward him to catch his response. “I learn about it in Sunday school, but in my third-grade class today, during our 'holiday' party, nothing was said about Christmas. I’d asked to sing ‘Away in the Manger,’ but the teacher said we couldn’t sing that song because it's ‘religious.’ We sang other songs, which I didn’t think had anything to do with Christmas. I didn’t like any of those songs or anything else about that party. I wanted to sing about Jesus. So, I’m wondering,” he concluded, his young brow sprouting a worrying concern, “Is there a Christmas?”
Jessi, too, entertained an anxious moment, noticing Grammy’s saddened expression at hearing what her grandson was learning in school, or perhaps instead not learning. Then, Grammy responded, “Now that sounds like a question for Pastor Jacobs. Why don’t you ask him tomorrow after church, when he with his family will be here for lunch. And remember, Jessi,” she turned toward Jessi, “I’m expecting you and your parents here tomorrow too.” Grammy observed Jessi’s big dimpled smile of gratitude.
“You just tell him what you told me, Timothy,” Grammy continued to her grandson. “In the meantime, let us think about the real meaning of Christmas this evening from here in the Bible.”
Grammy then opened her Bible and began reading in a manner that was her custom, stirring the children’s imagination.
Gifts for the Christ Child
Standing amidst the crowd in Jerusalem, young Timothy and Jessi gawked at the multitude ever so curiously. It was the time of the reign of Herod the Great as king of the Jews for the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. Evermore curious, they stared at some camels making their way through the crowd. There atop each camel, a man was seated grandly, adorned in fine apparel.
“Look, Timothy,” Jessi pointed, “They are those Magi, I bet, as Grammy is reading to us. They’re following a star, I’m sure.”
“It must be that one, there,” Timothy pointed excitedly to the heavens at an unusually bright star. The two children turned their gaze toward the sky. Many others in the crowd, noticing the children’s stare, also looked upward.
“Yes,” one of the Magi spoke, answering the children from atop a camel.
At the Magi’s direction, the camels lowered themselves to the ground. The Magi dismounted from their position. Seeing the children clad in untypical attire, they inquired about learning more about them.
“Hello, there,” one said. “My name is Caspar. And what’s your name?”
“Casper?” Jessi asked, curious.
“Cas-PAR,” the magi repeated. “And these are my friends, Melchior and Balthasar. We’ve come from a great distance east of here following that star. And what about you?” he continued, he also curious. “You are not from here either, are you?
“No, we’re not,” Timothy spoke up. “We’ve come from a long way, too. A place so far from here, you probably have not heard of it. My name is Timothy. She is my best friend, Jessi.”
“You’ve come searching for baby Jesus, right?” Jessi asked.
At that, one of the Magi’ questioned, “Jesus? We’ve come looking for a child. We haven’t heard His name as of yet, but we believe He is an amazing child. Do you know where we can find Him?”
“Not exactly,” Timothy answered, "So if you don’t mind, we’ll follow you. We can discover Him together.
And along they went, continuing about the town inquiring as to the whereabouts of this child, who had been born King of the Jews.
The news was noised throughout King Herod’s court as well, and it aroused the king’s fury. “Who is this king of the Jews?” he mocked. Gathering his chief priests and scribes, he asked them, “Where can I find this “king?”
"In Bethlehem of Judea," they answered.
Later, standing before the king, Timothy and Jessi, there also, the Magi respond to Herod’s question: “I understand you have come to worship that child who is born to be king?”
“Yes, we have, your majesty,” the Magi answered calmly. “We have come a long way, from across the desert sand,” they said. “We're following a star, which we believe will lead us to this child.”
“A star? In the sky? Leading you to some child?” Herod asked, laughing.
It is so adorned by countless twinkling white lights, an awe-inspiring eight-pointed star, shining ever so brighter than the rest. In the center, there seemed to be a cross, as Jessi imagined, pointing it out to Timothy. It hovered over the place where the child lay.
Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, the Magi rejoiced that they had found Him, for whom they had longed searched, resting peacefully upon a bed of straw, his young mother, Mary, tenderly watching over Him. Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, looking on, so blessed by Elohim, to be considered worthy to care for the child’s earthly existence.
Bowing the knee to worship Him, the Magi opened their treasures and presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the child. (“How appropriate are those gifts,” Grammy interjects, “to be given to the child who was born to offer His blood for the healing of the nations.”)
“What a splendid sight,” Timothy observed. “What can I give Him?” he asked.
“Me too,” Jessi added.
Their hands then clasped together, young Timothy and Jessi drew near the child, as did the magi. Bowing down, they offered themselves as their gifts to Him.
Returning Home with a Prayer
The doorbell chimed, as Grammy finished the story. Anticipating the arrival of her parents, Jessi jumped off the ottoman and is the first to reach the door. Soon, Timothy and Grammy arrived, as well.
Sparkling with excitement at the entrance of her parents, Jessi jumped into her father’s arms. Embracing his daughter, D.L. said, “Hello, Sweetie. How’s my little bundle of joy?”
“Most wonderful, Daddy, and I had just a most wonderful time also here with Grammy and Timothy,” Jessi exclaimed.
“You certainly look very well, also, dear,” Jessi’s mother said, always concerned for her daughter’s health.
“Thank you for this time, Grammy,” Jessi said, encouraged by her father to thank Grammy. “And you too, Timothy.”
“It’s always good for me, too, Jessi, having you here,” Grammy responded, caressing Jessi’s long blonde hair. “And I’m looking forward to having all of you here for lunch tomorrow after church,” Grammy reminded.
“I can’t wait,” responded Jessi.
”Me neither,” Timothy chimed in. “And here you go, Grammy,” he continued, handing Jessi’s coat to his grandmother.
Grammy placed the wrap over Jessi, secure in her father’s arms. D.L. tucked in the coat all around his daughter. (As her custom, Grammy then sent the Whitcombe’s home with a brief prayer.)
(“Ooh,” that evil one grimaced, hearing such ‘prayer talk’ frustrates his evil scheme. Nevertheless, he continues plotting the undoing of it all.)
Go to Chapter Three
Or begin again at Premier Episode: Preface and Prologue
© 2017 Charles O Newcombe