The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild
Published 9:48 pm Thursday, January 5, 2023
The Gift, the Promise
By Julie Terry Cartner
“May I sleep here on the couch instead of in my bed, Grandma, please?” Little Meg looked at her grandmother pleadingly. “I want to look at the Christmas tree until I fall asleep.”
Unable to deny her youngest grandchild much of anything, Martha agreed. “But you must stay on the couch…lying down,” she added when she saw the gleam in Meg’s eyes. “You may not get up and play with the ornaments,” she added sternly.
“O-kay,” Meg promised slowly. “I’ll stay right here, but I do love the donkey.” And with that, Meg lay down on the couch, pulling the warm, fuzzy blanket up to her chin. Then, destroying the innocent act, she winked at her grandmother and added, half under her breath, “probably.”
With a laugh and a kiss on Meg’s forehead, Martha left the room, heading into the kitchen to finish her chores. Velvety darkness sprinkled with stars covered the sky, and, other than the lights in the kitchen, the only other glow came from the Christmas tree in the den. Martha sang, “O Holy Night” to herself softly, not wanting to disturb her granddaughter.
So quietly at first, she almost missed it, Martha heard the words, “I love that song.”
Who said that, she wondered. Peering around the corner, she could see that Meg was sound asleep. Chuckling to herself, she thought, poor Meg, can’t ever keep her eyes open once she gets wrapped in a warm blanket. Nope, it wasn’t Meg. But who else? Then the voice continued, “It was a night, just like tonight. See how the stars are twinkling in the sky, just like they were that night.”
This time Martha was watching and clearly saw the angel on the top of the tree talking, her lips moving with her words. Scarcely believing her eyes, she watched as a shepherd figurine perched on the mantle responded, “Yes, a night just like this one, the world waiting for the birth of a savior. But no savior will be born tonight; it’s already happened. And look at the world, illnesses and wars, fighting and violence. The world itself is being destroyed.”
The angel shook her head and gently responded. “But look, there on the couch; look at the child.” She added, “You remember the words, don’t you? “Fear not. I bring you good news that will bring joy to all people. Today…you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8 – 12
“That’s not the Christ child,” the shepherd scoffed. “She’s just a kid.”
“You’re right, but you’re wrong,” the angel replied. “This child, like all children, represents what the world needs most: hope, faith, and joy. The child, each child, gives us hope for a better future. She gives us faith that we can create a better world, and who gives more joy than a child? You were here Christmas morning. You saw her. Have you forgotten the sheer joy she had in celebrating Christmas?
Seeing the shepherd scoffing, she quickly added, “Not just the joy of getting presents, she was filled with the joy, the innocent joy of Christmas and its promise. Each child, every child born, renews that promise, that beauty, that joy, and yes, absolutely, that innocence. Those things don’t end at midnight on December 25th; they last the entire year, and every year. It is our job, everyone’s job, to work to make that promise be fulfilled, to give hope, to nurture faith, and to embrace the joy of Christmas every day, for our children, and for ourselves.
Hearing the words, Martha nodded her head. Every child, every newborn baby is a promise, a gift. Certainly, Meg is a gift for me, she thought. Martha’s heart filled with love for the little girl, supposedly sleeping on the couch, even as she watched the child slide off the couch, slip over to the tree, pull down the donkey ornament and sit, watching entranced, as the angel and the shepherd continued to talk.
By Marie Craig
There are some wonderful gadgets and inventions that make life so much easier. My first nomination would be fleece. I still have a wool three-quarter length coat that is about 32 years old that I call my serious coat. It weighs three and a half pounds and has to be dry cleaned. I keep it mainly for the nostalgic value of previous cold weather and the sharing of winter experiences with my family members. I wore it during this recent Arctic weather. However, most of the time, I grab one of my fleece jackets to wear. They weigh zero, can be washed in the washing machine, air dry quickly and are handy for everyday use or for backpacking where every ounce matters.
Another thing I use every day is the small plastic item with little doors for arranging vitamins or medicine. A two-week version gives you the opportunity to spend a few minutes inserting pills and then have 14 days of not having to read labels and start from scratch each day. This is pragmatism in action leading to accuracy and wise use of time.
When I downsized, I realized I had to own fewer things. My home can’t be expanded horizontally, but vertical options are available. I bought several clear plastic shoe bags that are the size of doors. One, of course, holds shoes. Another is on the back of the bathroom door with cosmetics, cold medicine, aspirin, and first aid supplies. A third one is on the back of a closet door and holds charge cords and many attachments for smartphones and other electronic equipment. A card in the pocket describes the item and when I bought it.
Velcro, or hook and loop tape, is also included in my list. This is handy for everybody, and especially for handicapped people.
We all benefit from sticky notes. It’s amazing to think of all the uses.
In the last few years, the makers of gift wrap have started printing parallel lines on the back of gift paper. What a great help this is! I can remember trying to cut neat lines to create a piece of paper with opposite sides the same length. It was a challenge. Plywood now has premarked lines to guide accurate cutting. Wonder which came first?
Do you remember when you lugged a heavy suitcase around? I read a cryptic comment a few years ago: “We put a man on the moon before we put wheels on suitcases!” What took so long? I watch little children with big heavy backpacks weighing them down and wonder why they don’t have rolling containers for their many books.
In the past couple of years, I have discovered cargo pants. Those side pockets on the legs are wonderful for phones, small wallets, and keys.
I love seeing examples of multiple-use items such as couches that can become beds, vans with fold-down seats for camping, and the many inventions that save time and space. This is my list of special items. What is on your list?