Sleep in Heavenly Peace – A Christmas Story About Ends and New Beginnings

This is the time of the year which is happy for some of us and equally challenging and deeply sad for others. Some look forward to spending time with their families, others dread having to do that. Some wish they were alone, others dread the holidays because they are. Some might not be alone physically but feel so alone in their heart, as they have lost a loved one. Some might rush into a new relationship prematurely just to not feel alone at this time, to which we give so much significance. The holidays and the end of one year and the beginning of a new one seem to be overladen with meaning. Do we ever stop to think about how arbitrary it is?

I have experienced my share of beginnings and endings at this time of the year as well. My first marriage began with a December wedding and another significant relationship ended during a December. I have had an equal measure of joys and griefs at this time. For others, the wounds of Christmases past run so much deeper.

I am honoured to be able to share such a true Christmas story with you, written masterfully as always, by my amazing friend Susan Crossman, who I admire thoroughly for her talent, her vulnerability, her courage and her zest for life. Her holiday message, deeply touching, also says to me, if she can smile and see the potential of each new year clearly, perhaps so can others…

The presents were wrapped, the children were finally in bed and the stuffing was sitting in a bowl in the fridge, ready to be loaded into the turkey the next day. Outside, in the park across the street, the sheet of snow that blanketed the ground was sparkling in the glow of the streetlights. A fire burned steadily in the hearth. Our field-stone fireplace was 6-metres wide, and one of the many reasons we had fallen for this gorgeous house in Beaconsfield, Que. We had been so full of joy when we had moved in. We had been full of hope.

After more than 13 years together, my husband and I had also been full of love for each other and the wonderful family we had cobbled together out of the ashes of our previous marriages. Two new babies had been born, and they were young, and sweet and hoping Santa would drop by in the night. They had fallen asleep straining to hear the sounds of reindeer hooves on the roof. Wait – weren’t those sleigh bells they had just heard?! We had answered that question countless times before our kids had finally drifted off into Dreamland.

A decade ago, coloured lights danced around the living room that Christmas Eve and the tree stood in a corner, resplendent in its thick coat of coloured balls and lights, shimmery strands of tinsel and home-made decorations, lovingly crafted.

But I wasn’t feeling at all merry. In mid-December, my husband and I had been informed that he had fourth-stage stomach cancer and he was going to die…

TO CONTINUE READING please click on the The Globe and Mail Article

“For me, Christmas is both an ending and a beginning” 

Wishing you and your families a

HAPPY & SAFE HOLIDAY!

 

 

 

Della and Jim

Do you know the touching Christmas story “The Gift of the Magi”, written by O. Henry in 1905? It tells the story of Jim and Della Dillingham Young, a poor, young married couple. They both had two things they are really proud of and value. Della had long brown hair “rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her” (O Henry). Jim was really proud of his gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s and which was the only object of value he owed.

Della's beautiful hair

The short story begins on the day before Christmas with Della counting her meagre savings of one dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all she had to buy Jim a Christmas present, even though she had been saving every penny for months. An intoxicating idea came to her. Della decided to sell her hair to purchase a beautiful chain for Jim’s gold watch.

Gift_Of_The_Magi_2

Nervously, she waited for Jim to come home at night, worried he might be upset and be appalled at her hair cut short like a school boy’s. “Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for a moment… and now she whispered: ‘Please God, make him think I am still pretty’” (O. Henry).

When Jim entered through the door, Della did not know what to think. “His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face” (O. Henry).

After he had asked a few times incredulously, “Your hair is gone?”, Jim pulled out a packet, his Christmas gift for Della. Excitedly, she opened it. It was a set of beautiful tortoise shell combs, with jeweled rims, which she had longed for and never thought she would get. And now they were hers, but her hair was gone!

Then she remembered that she still had her gift for Jim, the chain to put on his gold watch. Expectantly waiting for Jim to pull out his watch to attach the new chain to it, she finds out that he has sold his pocket watch, his prized heir loom, to buy Della the set of combs.

Henry finishes saying “The magi… invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication” but no gift as valuable as the ones these two young people had given to each other was among them.

Magi invented

I have always really liked this short story and the message of two lovers having sacrificed the one thing which was precious to them in order to give the other what they most wished for. This year, when I re-read the story it struck me how it also is a story about embracing imperfections. How useless could one say is a set of decorative combs for short hair and how even more useless a chain when the watch is gone. Yet, both of them—after their initial shock—lovingly embrace each other, each others gifts and the imperfection of their situation.

Della responds to the set of combs by hugging them and saying with a smile, “’My hair grows so fast, Jim!’” (O. Henry) And Jim, when she give him the chain, “tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled. ‘Dell,’ he said, ’let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present…And now suppose you put the chops on’” (O. Henry).

Della & Jim Christmas wishes

Angelika

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