Christmas Cheer

In the spirit of Christmas I offer you short pieces by my fellow writers in the Whidbey Writers Group. This is the oldest writers group on Whidbey Island, over twenty years young. I was very honored to be invited to join. These Christmas stories and poems bring you humor and poignancy about these holidays. I hope you enjoy them.

Sandra Ortgies

“Crap!” mutters the Christmas angel as her cowboy-booted toe catches the hem of her long wind-whipped gown, sending her careening into her companion. Angel One recovers her balance, bending her head to the task of righting her halo atop long blond hair.

“Watch where you’re going,” snaps Angel Two as she raises her own gown to clear a furrow, exposing striped leg warmers.

“We’re already supposed to be at the manger,” whines the third angel, adjusting Angel One’s tilted wings. “I can’t believe I said I’d do this.” The angel trio trudges on across the rough field under the starry brilliance of a Christmas Eve sky.

The Christmas pageant begins; stillness settles over the crowd ringed around sets of the outdoor nativity scene in this south Texas climate so similar to that of Bethlehem.

Chapel teens organize this three part drama that plays each Christmas Eve; taking the roles, acquiring an infant and persuading local farmers to provide friendly animals.

In the first scene, Joseph and Mary are still at home in Nazareth contemplating their trip to Bethlehem. Joseph assists Mary onto the back of a rambunctious little donkey and they fast-forward in time to the second scene, the Inn-keeper’s entrance, where accommodation in the stable is arranged.

The manger set is in darkness. Sheep, calves and non-recruited squirrels are all in position. “Baby Jesus,” in his Texan dad’s arms, is waiting in the wings while the rest of the cast in varying degrees of readiness step into roles and places.

The angels glide in behind Mary after initially flirting with shepherds and wise men along the way. Something is happening here, a shift in angel attitude? We now have a trio of Christmas card angels, silent and sweetly serene as they gaze at the star high on the Spanish-style chapel wall. Mary sits beside the manger and is handed the baby while Joseph leads the donkey to join the other animals.

All is calm; all is suddenly bright as the main spot-light sweeps the traditional scene. Families draw closer together as we sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” the busyness of our holiday preparations and Christmas Day plans seem momentarily forgotten in this moment.

This young Mary, much the same age as the mother of Jesus when he was born, cradles her borrowed baby, pulling her cloak more tightly around him while Joseph stands close by, slipping treats to sheep and calves.

This is what it’s all about; as close an enactment as we can have, and the wonder of this gift encircles us all…especially the angels.

Copyright 2014 by Sandra Ortgies

A Holiday By Any Other Name
by Miko Johnston

Harken back to the days when political correctness gripped the throats of businesses throughout the nation, choking off enough oxygen to deprive corporate brains of common sense, the ability to separate what’s truly offensive from what’s overly sensitive.
I’d gotten used to co-workers going out of their way to wish me a happy Hanukah and refrain from mentioning Christmas to me, as if wishing me a merry Christmas was an insult. After all, why wouldn’t I want December 25th to be merry; sure beats the alternative. I stopped explaining that traditionally, Hanukah had been a relatively minor holiday that was elevated in status as a counterweight to Christmas.
One year shortly before Christmas, a co-worker who shared an office with another woman and me brought in a Christian-themed drawing her six-year-old granddaughter had made in Sunday school. The proud grandma wanted to post the drawing on our bulletin board, but after seeing it, several other women didn’t think it appropriate for display. Somehow the incident got reported to management.
My supervisor called me into her office. It was the policy of the company to keep all mention of religious holidays generic, she said, and therefore, the drawing would not be posted. I refrained from laughing, for I knew her reason for telling me this was to insure I would not be offended by my co-worker’s intent.
I asked to see the picture.
The little girl had made a drawing of the manger, with Mary and Joseph standing over the baby Jesus, nestled into his car seat, clad in his disposable diaper with its adjustable tape closures. I took the picture and brought it into my work area, pinned it on the bulletin board, and went back to work.

Copyright 2014 by Miko Johnston

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