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The Magic of Christmas Past (standard:Creative non-fiction, 854 words)
Author: kathygAdded: Dec 01 2008Views/Reads: 3907/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
a sample chapter of my story Rose Cottage.

The Magic of Christmas Past Christmas 1918 Aboard the Boston and Maine

As I look out the train window, I feel the train move forward.  I must
not look back, for if I do, I won't be able to go on.  Mama is back 
there at the hospital; Papa, overseas in that awful war! 

“Papa!  Where are you when we need you?” 

Only Pierre and I left.  Riding north to a dim memory called Rose
Cottage.  I was very young the last time I was there.  I recall Marie 
and I playing in the rose mazes and trying to find one another.  It was 
great fun!  I fear that I won't be able to smile or be a child again.  
Not after all that has happened here. 

As I look around this train car, I see many people.   All  from 
different places.   Many are sick, trying to pretend everything will be 
better tomorrow, but who knows?  I can hear children coughing, lots of 
worried faces and again the masks.  Pierre and I are wearing a mask.  
Is this a good idea?  Will traveling north save Pierre from an 
invisible enemy?  Will this deadly influenza follow us up to Maine, to 
Rose Cottage?  It seems a race against time and even taking a breath of 
air seems dangerous! 

Pierre is holding my hand tightly.  He is very frightened.  He senses
that something is very wrong.  How can I comfort a child that only 
wants his Mama?  What can I say to make things right for him? 

“Where is Mama?  Why didn't she come with us? ,”  Pierre cries out. 

“Pierre, try not to worry so.  Everything will be better when we get to
Rose Cottage.  You will see!  Try to get some sleep now.” 

My words seem to calm Pierre and he soon fell asleep. As I watch him
sleep, so innocent and trusting, I tried to push back the few doubts I 
had myself.  Fear crept up my spine.  I closed my eyes and tried to 
relax. I start to fall asleep but the train jolts me awake and I am 
once again drawn to look out my little train window into the darkness 
of this snowy night.  I try to look up, but tonight the clouds hide the 
stars above. 

Time seems to hang in this darkness but in the distance I see something
curious.  I see sparkly Christmas lights!  With all that has been 
happening to us lately, I completely forgot about Christmas!  I used to 
get excited about decorating for Christmas with all the pretty 
decorations, lights and singing Christmas carols. 

A  special time.  I hope I can make it a special time for Pierre, too,
despite all of this horror around us.  I will do my best. 

Seeing the sparkly Christmas lights in the distance, a memory flashes in
my mind.  A sweet memory of Papa and the very first Christmas at our 
home in Boston.  Little Pierre was so tiny, he would not remember, but 
I do. 

It's my best treasure, memories of Christmas Past with Papa. 

Papa loved to carry the illusion of Christmas as far as possible,
believing from his own experience as a child that “disillusionment is a 
myth, providing the parents can always enter into the fairy spirit of 
Christmas traditions and become, for a while, children themselves.” 

He would straddle the roof in the dark morning hours, thumping and
stamping, ringing a great loop of bells down the bedroom fireplace 
chimney and calling out in a rumbling voice, and then quickly sliding 
down the ladder to take his next position inside the house by the 
fireplace in the big room, and delighting in our dazzled faces as he 
pretended to be Santa. 

Papa's great overdoing of Christmas.  It is the one time of year when we
don't have to hide the child, hide our unbounded joy and we can go 
screeching around, putting holly everywhere and hanging spiders, lots 
of little animals on windowsills, little men, little scenes, toys 
everywhere, creating this whole different world within our own room. 

I remember Papa always singing and remarking, “Christmas is to have
something to celebrate.” 

A favorite plaything of Pierre was a simple toy castle made by Papa. 
This castle and accompanying toy soldiers inspired an imaginary village 
and a mythical population.  Solitary figures go quietly about the 
motions of simple preparations for the holidays, arranging a bow, a 
sprig of holly, lighting a chandelier. 

Papa painted a perfect Christmas Star.  Christmas was always a magical
time at our home, until the Great War took Papa away from us and now 
Pierre and I have to keep the magic of Christmas alive. 

Pierre is asleep now.  I can see the shoreline and the lighthouse
shining its light over the ocean warning the ships to take caution.  
The ocean seems quiet, but hides its secrets with each passing tide. 

The train conductor announced that the next stop is Portland, Maine.  We
are very close to Rose Cottage and another Christmas is here. 

May this Christmas bring peace to the world and bring Papa back home


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