Monday, December 22

My Second Favorite Christmas Story 12/22/14

     In keeping with our countdown for Christmas, I present this story.  If you missed the previous season-related tale, my third favorite, you can find it here.  

     I wrote this in 2011, presenting it on Christmas Eve, here.  I'm making it
a tradition, bringing it out the last two years.  Many of you may not be familiar with it, not being guests back then.  The story calls to mind the meaning of this season.  If you have kids, you might be fun sharing it with them.

    Wishing you a peaceful and loving Christmas,  ThInnkeeper

     Please gather round the fireplace that warms this inn.  You've been frazzled by the siren call of Madison Avenue, QVC, the Home Shopping Network, Radio Shack, Best Buy and commercials about Macy's special Christmas sales.  You may be overwhelmed
by the cacophony of noise while enduring the whirly burly of frenzied shopping.  Please take time to slow down. The innkeeper would like to share with you a story that places this season in perspective.
      My favorite Christmas Story is, well, the Christmas Story The following tale is second.  I heard it first when fourteen, years ago.  This is my version.   I’d love hearing your response. 

      A pleasant, reasonable man named James didn't care for Christmas.  He was not a Grinch nor a Scrooge.  He just didn't want to have any-thing to do with Christ.  A hard heart, he didn't have.  He was kind towards others, well-liked by his neighbors and co-workers.   

     It was the concept that an "all-mighty, all-powerful" God that sent His Son to earth, as a man, that didn't make sense to James.  If God existed, he reasoned, the Almighty could open up the heavens and speak with mankind directly, telling us what we needed to know.  The whole “Jesus thing” he considered ridiculous.  Jesus was a well-meant fantasy. For this educated man of the 21st century it was nonsense. 

     As Christmas Eve approached.  James followed his holiday routine.  He partied at a friend’s house, enjoying good company along with holiday cheer of the liquid kind.  At 11:15 p.m. that night, he arrived at home.  Before walking in he brushed off snow from his coat, which had begun to softly blanket his lawn, home and neighborhood.

    Once inside, James prepared a fire in the living room fireplace.  He looked forward to reading a book while taking the chill off of his home, before calling it a night.  Thirty minutes into his reading, he heard a loud thump!  His curiosity peaked when he heard it again: thump!  He couldn't figure out the source for this irregular percussive noise.  He heard it a third time: thump!  Something was hitting his large living room window that faced the front yard.

     Thinking there were teenagers throwing snowballs at his home, James rushed outside. There were no kids in his front yard.  As he encircled his house, still looking for the cause of this peculiar noise, the snowfall descended heavily.  The icy wind bit into his cheeks. He looked forward to the fire awaiting him, when he re-entered his suburban home.  

     Returning to the front yard, James saw them for the first time.  A flock of birds.  Just then, James witnessed two birds dart away from the others. They slammed into the plate-glass living room window.  Thump, thump!  These feathered creatures hit the window violently, their bodies falling dead to the ground below.

     The birds, confused and frightened by the heavy, swirling snow--– flew in despair.  They saw inside James house, seeking shelter from the bitter cold of this Christmas Eve evening.  No matter how hard they tried, they could not succeed.

     Thump! Thump! Thump!  Three more of the birds dove into the glass, falling lifeless to the snowy ground.  A good heart, James had.  It troubled him, seeing the plight of the birds.  He ran to his home.  Inside, all of the lights in his living room, he turned off.  He thought, if the birds couldn't see inside, they might stop their attempts at getting in.  

      Even though the birds no longer saw inside his house, the now darkened window held the appearance of shelter – a cave opening, perhaps. The birds continued smashing into the glass, their small, feathered bodies piled up beneath the living room window.

     The man ran to his garage 30 feet away.  He threw open its wide door to give the birds shelter.  But the birds persisted in slamming themselves against the window, desperate for a haven from the sub-freezing weather, they were.  James rushed inside the garage and turned on the lights.  Now, he thought, they’ll be able to see that the refuge they need is right over here. But the birds’ focus on getting through the window prevented that possibility.

      Thump! Thump! Other frantic birds crashed into the window, in their attempt at finding warmth.  James called out to the birds. “Hey! Over here! Over here!”  The birds could not be beckoned to the protection of the garage.

       Finally, he rushed into
 the remaining flock.  He yelled, waving his arms.  If earlier the birds had been confused and frightened, they were now startled.  A wild man ran among them, scaring them.   

       James realized the futility.  The birds could not be herded towards the garage.  The sickening sound of Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump!  echoed their stubborn efforts at entering his home. 

       Not knowing what to do, James stood there in the darkness, snow falling all around.  He watched the birds die one by one.  He thought, “If only I could be a bird for just a few minutes. . . I could talk to them in their language – they wouldn't be afraid of me; they would understand what they needed to do to save themselves.”

       As he thought, church bells from the town began pealing.  It was midnight; the rings ushered in Christmas morning, the day set aside to celebrate Christ's birth.  The snow continued falling everywhere, upon the fences, upon the rooftops of the homes in the community, upon the nearby hills, blanketing the landscape.  As it did, James crumpled to his knees. 

      “Now I understand why you became man, I understand.” he whispered, his head bowed, chin touching chest.  He felt the warmth of tears flowing down his icy cheeks.  “I now understand the Gift celebrated by many on this day.”

         May you have a great and gratefuChristmas!

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