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I wrote this several years ago for another website.
A WINTER'S TALE - THE FIRST, NOELLE
I am really rather confused. For a start, I don’t know what my name is. I think I understand that all people must have a name, because Brian/Dad and Sheena/Mum say these names when they speak to each other. And, according to Brian/Dad, I am going to grow up to be a person. He keeps saying he can’t wait to do this, that or the other with me. They keep asking me how I like this name, how I like that name, but it changes so often that I barely have time to get used to one, and besides which, they don’t listen when I try to answer. We’ve had Angela, Cassie, Elizabeth, Jade and Mary today. I can’t say I prefer any of them, but I do think it’s about time they decided; I have been around for a while now without that precious little word that defines me as me.
It doesn’t help that I really can’t get comfortable tonight. I’m all snuggled down as usual, tightly wrapped, warm and safe. Sheena/Mum softly strokes my legs and I can feel her love and warmth reach me despite the thick, comforting layers between us. But I just can’t keep still. Keep moving around, trying to find a good position. I’ve never been so unsettled before.
As if all that wasn’t enough to thoroughly upset my happy little routine, I am totally and utterly bewildered about what’s going on beyond my safe, warm little bed. Brian/Dad is extremely excitable tonight, I can hear it in his deep, booming voice. “It’s Christmas Eve,” he keeps saying, whatever that means. I’m still trying to piece together what this Christmas business is all about and nobody has bothered to explain. It’s been going on for about a week. It started when Sheena/Mum started singing special songs she calls carols to me. I must admit it sounds beautiful, she has such a sweet, wonderful, calming voice. It reminds me of angels singing. Anyway these carols have something to do with Christmas. I can’t make out all of the words but Jesus, Bethlehem, manger, angels and star seem to be in a lot of them. The next thing was mince pies. There is some delectable food called mince pie lurking around which is very sweet and squishy. Brian/Dad keeps laughing about what he calls ‘the mince pie situation’ – he has to keep going out and getting more of them for me and Sheena/Mum since we’re always eating them.
And then there’s all the fuss and excitement that was caused by the Christmas tree. I can’t see the Christmas tree from my cocooned crib, but Brian/Dad keeps telling me about its twinkling lights, decorations, crackers and the presents underneath it. From what I understand a tree is some kind of creature that grows outside (Sheena/Mum told me about them before when she was collecting apples from one of them) so why would one be in the house? I wish I could see this wondrous tree! Really, I do feel like I’m being left out of all the celebrations somehow. And all Sheena/Mum says about it is, “I know you won’t understand much about Christmas yet, little one, but you will understand it and love it when you are older.”
I hear Brian/Dad’s voice coming closer as he sits beside Sheena/Mum and I for his usual chat to me at the end of the day. “I think your voice must be calming,” says Sheena/Mum, “she’s a little stiller. Why don’t you tell her a story?”
“How about the Christmas story?” asks Brian/Dad.
“I know you love Christmas, Brian,” says Sheena/Mum, “but she won’t understand. Dad is daft sometimes, isn’t he?” to me, with a twinkly little laugh. (A moment of anger – they have two names each, I don’t even have one yet!)
But I do want to know the Christmas story! I understand more than Sheena/Mum thinks; I think Brian/Dad knows that to some extent as he tells me about things that are happening, or stories, or rhymes, a lot. I don’t think Sheena/Mum even thinks I hear words properly, but I do.
Somehow with that magical way of knowing he has, Brian/Dad ploughs on with his tale. “Well, little one, Christmas is a special time because we celebrate the birth of a very special person, Jesus Christ. Long ago, in a town called Bethlehem the people were being counted. Amongst them were a carpenter, Joseph, and his wife, Mary. They looked just like ordinary people but God had blessed them, for he had given to Mary his son, the baby Jesus. He was to be born that night. There was no room in the hotels for Joseph and Mary to stay but a kind-hearted innkeeper let them stay in his stable, with straw bales for beds. When the baby Jesus came, Mary wrapped him in swaddling and laid him in the animals’ manger, as there was no real crib for a baby. They had many visitors that night, who knew that the baby was the Son of God; angels, who sang their praises to God…”
At this point Sheena/Mum puts in, “Brian, she won’t understand what angels are.”
She couldn’t be more wrong – of course I know what angels are, doesn’t she?
Brian/Dad goes on however, “Shepherds, who brought a lamb as a gift, and three wise men who had studied the stars and were guided by the Star of Bethlehem to worship the baby. They brought precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to give the baby. So today, at Christmas, people give presents to the people that they love. Jesus lived a very special life, a teacher and guide to all men, and became the Saviour of all mankind. He was gentle, kind and loving and showed humankind how God wanted them to live, in harmony with each other.”
“The carols I’ve been singing to you all tell the same story,” says Sheena/Mum.
“And the Christmas tree points up to heaven, where Jesus went to live with God and the angels,” adds Brian/Dad.
As it all drops into place I feel quite excited and I finally understand why Brian/Dad loves this special time so much! I squirm even more, feel something give underneath me and am filled with sudden panic. Am I all right? Sheena/Mum cries out, obviously worried too; I hear her say “Brian…” her normally soft voice piqued with anxiety. After a few moments’ worrying silence, as I try to keep completely still, she speaks again, “Oh Brian, I think she’s going to be born on Christmas Eve!”
I feel reassured at the excitement in Brian/Dad’s voice. “Born on the same day as Jesus, well my little one, there couldn’t be a better person for you to follow in the footsteps of. Come on, love, let’s get you to the hospital.”
Another mystery to puzzle over, but still, the excitement is contagious!
“Sheena, I just thought of a really great name for our first baby,” Brian/Dad enthuses now, as Sheena/Mum begins to move, carrying me along with her. “Noelle. It’s the French word for Christmas.”
A name at last! And when Sheena/Mum breathlessly exclaims that it’s ‘just perfect’ I have to agree! Noelle – to be named after such an important thing as Christmas! And born on the same day as Jesus.
Well, I know all about Christmas. And I have my most beautiful name. But I’m still confused. Where is this ‘hospital’? And what’s ‘being born’? I guess I’m about to find out…
Ok, You ladies know I am full of stories. Well here is a Christmas story from me. It might not be exactly the kind of story you are expecting but it is what really happened.
I don’t remember what year I was in college, but it doesn’t really matter, what was important was that my classes had finished, my tiny Honda Civic was packed and I would soon be leaving North Carolina and heading home to Florida for Christmas break. I had been an exceptionally cold winter so far. We had seen snow in the mountain already and when I talked to my Mom a few days earlier it had actually snowed all the way into Florida.
Now it was late afternoon, my classes were done for the semester and I started on my eight hour journey. The weather forecast did not look good, snow and freezing rain was in my future. Driving was a lot slower than normal and knew I wouldn’t make it home even close to the estimated time I had told my parent. Traffic moved along at a safe but constant speed until I reached the Florida boarder. Florida, being unprepared for such conditions, had shut all major roads down going in, through or around Jacksonville and the North Florida area. Having grown up around the area, having a Florida map in the glove box and being dumb enough to give it a try, I turned off all the major roads onto small side roads that were left unattended by police or barricades. Everything was iced solid. Me and a small handful of car crept along these tiny back road for hours on end. Many of these roads were not on my map but I kept driving until I can across a larger one that was and would figure out where I was. I slid off the road 3 different times during this trek but managed to get the car back back on track each time.
In the wee hours of the morning, after many hours of this I was able to get past the barricades and icy conditions to continue my journey home. Now I was in central Florida on back roads I knew well. I was about 20 miles from home. There was no one else on the road. Aroused from my driving daze I noticed a person at an overturned tractor trailer and a smashed up car on the side of the road. My first thought was “what a shame”. My second thought was, ”There is no ambulance, no fire truck, no police car. That crash JUST happened.” I knew I should go back. I did not want to go back. I WANTED TO GO HOME! I went back. One elderly couple has already stopped and was trying to get a badly injured man out of the car. They asked if I had a cell or car phone. I did not. This was before the average person had a cell phones or GPS. I gave them directions to the nearest hospital, the best I knew it, about 30 miles away. They laid the man down in the back of their car and left. Just then the truck driver staggered out of the surrounding woods. I put him, shaking like a leaf and almost incoherent (not from any drugs or alcohol but from shock) into my car. I sat there with the truck driver, just me and him, at 3 in the morning, with heaters all blowing full blast, trying to warm him up. With him trying to talk and me trying to figure out what had just happened here. A while later the paramedics show up, followed by a fire truck then finally the police. They said a passing trucker, going the other direction, saw the crash site and radioed it in. I told them everything I knew and where the driver of the other car was taken to. Then finally I went on my way.
Now, home was not the home I grew up in, rather my parent’s lake place. Where my parents were in the midst of building their dream log home. They were only about half way finished with it at this time and living in a fishing cabin until it was done. My bedroom, while I was home for Christmas, was the unfinished, open raftered room in the top of the barn. When I finally make it home, I parked my car in the pine bark parking area. The barn was left unlocked for me. I made my way up the stairs in the back, sat down on the bed, turned on the space heater (the only heat in the barn) and looked around. Waiting for me was a big plate of homemade cookies, hot chocolate in a thermos and a note from Mom. At this point I crawled under the covers, ate most all the cookies, drank the hot chocolate and allowed myself to relax and I started to cry and shake, not necessarily from the cold but from the stress of the previous day and events. Because I knew I was finally safe and sound and I could let myself cry and react to all the events of the days and it all was going to be OK.
Not your typical Christmas story but one I will always remember.
I did not write this one. I got it online but when i was small i loved it.
It's the mexican version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas y por toda la casa,
Not a creature was stirring-Caramba! Que pasa?
Los ninos were tucked away in their camas,
Some in long underwear, some in pijamas,
While hanging the medias with mucho ciudado
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado
To bring all children, both buenos y malos,
A nice batch of dulces y otros regalos.
Outside in the yard there arose such a grito
That I jumped to my pies like a frightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think that it era?
Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero.
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados
Were eight little burros approaching volados.
I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre:
“Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Cuco, ay Berto,
Ay Chato, ay Chopo, Macuco, y Nieto!”
Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea,
Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his real suit de gala,
He filled all the medias with lovely regalos-
For none of the niĂ±os had been very malos.
Then chuckling aloud, seeming muy contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone como viento.
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad,