Saturday, December 24

My Second Favorite Christmas Story 12/24/16

       If you missed the previous season-related tale, my third favorite, you can find it here.  
      I wrote the follow-ing in 2011.  You may not be familiar with it. 
      Wishing you a peaceful and happy Christmas,                         ThInnkeeper

     Gather round the fireplace warming the inn.  You may be frazzled by the call of Madison Avenue.  QVC and the Home Shopping Network may be assaulting you with gifts options for loved ones.  Commercials from Radio
Shack, Best Buy, Macy's and Kohl's department stores bombard your sanity.  The craziness endured during the whirly burly of frenzied shopping may overwhelm. 

       Please slow down. 

      This post shares a story offering a different perspective.  One of the noncomercial kind.  My favorite Christmas Story is, well, the Christmas Story What follows is second.  I heard this story when I was fourteen.  This is my telling of it.

        A pleasant, reasonable man named James Olivus didn't care for Christmas.  

        He was not a Grinch nor a Scrooge.  He just didn't want to have anything to do with Christ.  A hard heart, he didn't have.  He was kind, well-liked by neighbors and co-workers.   James always had something kind to say.  He didn't care what the journal of the morning had to say of him. 

        The concept that an "all-mighty" God sent His Son to earth---as a man---he didn't buy.  

         If God existed, James reasoned, the Almighty could open up the heavens.  He could speak directly to mankind, as a celestial star, if He liked.  The whole “Jesus thing” was ridiculous.  A well-meant fantasy.  For this educated man of the 21st century, it was nonsense. 

       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., he arrived at home.  Before walk-ing in he brushed off snow from his coat.  It was gently beginning to blanket his lawn, home and neighborhood.

      Once inside, James created a blaze in the living room fireplace.  He looked forward to a midnight read.  The hearth would remove the chill from his home before he called it a night.  

      Thirty minutes into his reading, he heard a strong thump!  His curiosity peaked when he heard it again: thump!  

      His eyes widened.  Like an attentive dog, his ears attuned to the source of this irregular percussive noise.  It pounded louder than the crackling of the fire before him.  

      Mr. Olivus heard it a third time: thump!  Something was regularly hitting the ten foot wide living room window facing the front yard.  "Teenagers throwing snowballs at my home!" he thought.  

      He rushed outside.  No children in sight.  

      He encircled his house, looking for the cause of the mysterious noise.  The snow poured like a ticker-tape parade.  A forceful wind bit at his face.  He longed for the fire awaiting, when he returned to his suburban home.  

       Approaching the front yard, James saw them.  A flock of birds.  Just then, James witnessed two birds dart away from the group.  They slam-med into the plate-glass living room window.  Thump, thump!  

       These feathered creatures smashed into the window like the jet planes that flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on that fateful day.  Their bodies did not penetrate the home, but fell to the ground.

      The birds were confused.  The swirling snow frightened them.  The flock huddled on the lawn under the extended branches of an Ash tree. 

       They could still peer inside James' house.  Shelter from the bitter cold of this Christmas Eve evening they sought.  No success.

      Thump! Thump! Thump!  Three more birds dove into the glass, fall-ing to the white-covered ground.  A good heart, James had.  A frown contorted his face as he observed the plight of the birds. 

       He raced into his home.  Inside, all of the lights in his living room, he shut off.  

      He thought, "If they can't see inside, they will stop their attempts."  The birds no longer saw inside his house.  The darkened window created a cave-like appearance. The birds continued flying headlong into the glass. Small, winged bodies piled below.

       The man ran to the garage 30 feet away.  He threw open it the seventeen foot wide door to provide the birds shelter.  They continued slamming against the window.  The feathered creatures were desperate for a haven from the sub-freezing weather.  James rushed inside the garage, turning on the lights.  

       Now, he thought, they’ll see the refuge needed is here.  The birds’ focus on the window prevented that possibility.  Thump! Thump!  More birds crashed into the window.  James called out to the birds. “Hey! Over here! Over here!”  

       The birds could not be beckoned to the garage.

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

       James realized the futility of his efforts.  The birds could not be herded. They were blind to the sanctuary offered.  The sickening sound of Thump! Thump! Thump! echoed their efforts at entering his home. 

       Frustrated, he stood in the darkness of the yard.  

       Snow poured upon him as the birds died, one by one, diving into the window.  He thought, “If only I could be a bird for 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, he heard the church bells from the town pealing.  It was midnight.  The rings ushered in Christmas morning, the day cele-brating Christ's birth.  The snow continued falling. 

       It  drifted upon the fences.  It alighted upon the rooftops of the homes in the community.  It lay upon the nearby hills, frosting the landscape.  As it did, James crumpled to his knees. 

      “Now I understand why you became man, I understand.” he whis-pered, his head bowed, chin touching chest. The warmth of his tears were felt on 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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