May All Your Christmases be Right
by lauren finchum
Not For Sale
Author requests article critique
Not For Sale
Author requests article critique
I’m riding to church with Lane.
It’s Thursday, and we’re headed for Christmas choir practice.
After hearing me belt out “Walk Like and Egyptian” at the fall party last month, Lane suggested I sign-up for the Christmas special.
I finally told him I would, but only if he did too.
So we have an odd form of date night every Thursday since the 1st of December. (In addition to Saturday, when we usually catch a movie at the theater or something.)
Lane and I have officially been a couple since the day after the fall party.
Anyway, we arrive at the church, and Lane goes to hang our coats in the cloakroom.
As I wait for him, Janice–a sweet elderly woman–smiles at me, “I see you’ve finally got a catch.” she smiles from her wheelchair.
“Yes,” I smile, “I do.”
I wanted to add that it’s a mazing that someone as hot as him would deal with my quirks, but I didn’t.
“Looks like a keeper.” she winks a blue-eye that’s seen many years.
I laugh, “I’m not throwing back this catch.” I promise the ninety-year-old.
“You’d have to be crazy.” she agrees.
“Hi, Janice.” Lane smiles that smile.
He sees our grins, “You talkin’ behind my back.” Lane looks at us suspiciously.
“No.” we both say.
Lane offers to wheel Janice into the sanctuary so she can listen to the practice as she does every year.
As I walk beside them, I thank God I’ve found such a wonderful guy.
After Lane parks Janice at the front of the pews, Lane and I head for the choir loft.
Jack, the choir director, starts off the practice with “Joy to the World”.
I have fun singing the song and remembering the birth of our Lord. If fills me with no end of joy to think of Jesus–the reason for the season. His birth, His death, His resurrection–they all go through my mind as I sing.
Every so often, I look back to the baritones, who flop from 2nd tenor to bass depending on the song. That’s where Lane is, and when I look back there, he gives me a little wink.
On the song “Jesus, Oh, What a Wonderful Child”, I belt out a note before I was suppose too.
Everyone chucks, and Lane hollers, “Ah, me thinks me hears an angel in the alto section!” he swaps his Southern accent for his best fake Irish one.
I blush, and Janice winks at me from her designated spot.
This is a great night.
After we pray at the end of the practice, I wait in the vestibule for Lane to get our coats.
That’s were I hear sixty-ish Bill–the locker upper, as Lane calls him–talking to Hank, the janitor. Bill’s waiting to lock up.
He’s grumbling about how Christmas in turning into one big month of greed.
Hank nods, but he’s staring into space as he empties the last trash can.
All the sudden my Christmas joy dissolves into a little ball–just like cheap ice cream when it melts.
I start thinking about what Bill said, and I am now getting depressed at the thought.
Wipe Jesus from Christmas and it one big mess.
“Here, baby.” Lane slips my faux rabbit fur jacket on my arms.
“Thanks.” I say, mindlessly.
I’m still thinking about that greed thing.
“I have a surprise for you,” Lane says, “I’m taking you out to a nice place to eat dinner.”
I look at my watch which reads six o’clock, “Oh, that’s nice.”
As we walk to the car, Lane asks, “Is something wrong?”
“Huh? Oh, no.” I brush off the question.
But as we ride in the car, all the lights on the houses seem fun no more.
“I need to stop at the ATM.” Lane says.
Lane parks in a strip mall and heads for the ATM.
I go with him cause I hate being in cars alone.
After the ATM spits out fifty of Lane’s dollars, we head to the car–and that’s when we see him. A older African American man, sitting on the curb.
I look at Lane, and he at me.
The man looks cold, and he has only a sweater on.
“Hey there, sir.” Lane says in an up-beat tone to spread some happiness to the man, “Do you need some help.”
The man looks up, “Oh, no, it’s alright,” he smiles.
“It’s awful cold to be out in just a sweater.” Lane take of his suede jacket, and wraps it around the man’s back.
The man declines, “Oh, no, son, you don’t–“
“No, I think you need it more than me.” Lane smiles.
“Thank you.” the man sounds so touched, I want to cry.
Lane takes my arm and we go to the car, “Here, go over to that Starbucks and get a hot tea.” Lane hands me a five, “Wait in there, I’ll be back.”
I go and order, then wait like Lane said.
Right when I wonder if he fell of the planet, my boyfriend arrives with a plastic bag from the super market.
I look inside and see a to-go container and plastic silverware. When I realized Lane got food at the hot food bar, I smile.
Arm in arm, Lane and I head off to the man again.
“Here you go, sir.” I hand him the warm drink.
“Why, thank you. You’re too kind.” he smiles.
“And here.” Lane gives the man the food.
He look at us, “Are you two angels?” he laughs.
I smile that he has a sense of humor.
“No, just God’s children.” Lane says compationatly.
“Merry Christmas to you.” he says a we walk away.
“And to you.” Lane and I say in unison.
The man eats a spoonful of mac and cheese, “It is now.”
I try to shove back tears as we get in Lane’s car.
There is silence as we both ponder.
It’s then I see. What we call the spirt of Christmas is really the Spirit of Jesus.
Yes, the world may see Christmas and Black Friday and all, but we as Christians don’t have to.
I celebrate my friend’s and my own birthday, why not Jesus’?!
He’s the best friend I’ve got!
I smile inwardly as I think of how giving is better then receiving. Then I laugh when I realize that it’s a circle. In order to give, some one has to receive.
So I guess when you get a gift form a loved ones, instead of saying “I don’t need it” you should say “thank you”, because you’re helping them give.
And vise versa.
If you see Christmas as a day of hoopla about Santa and greed, it will lose its appeal, but if you see it as a time to spend with family that is usually three states away, and as a time to celebrate Jesus it’s so very dear.
Lane breaks the silence, “You know, the spirit we call Christmas, is really Jesus.” he muses.
I chuckle, “I was just thinking that same thing.”
Hmmm, a soul mate thing I’m thinking?
My stomach grumbles.
“Oh, I can’t take you to that place after all.” Lane grins weakly, “I used some of the money for that guys food.” he pauses, “You mad?”
I look at him, “Mad? Why? I think what you did was the sweetest thing ever. It shows me I got a great guy.”
I look over to him and in the refection of his side mirror, moonlight is twinkling off the silver hoop earring in his ear. Said moonlight is also filtering in through the moon roof and makes his blonde hair glow a silver-ish tone.
“I have enough to take you to Popeye’s.” he laughs.
“Than Popeye’s it is!” I cheer.
Lane takes the long way so we can see the Christmas lights on the houses–they look happy and beautiful again.
I start to sing, “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. . .”
“It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. ..” Lane finishes the line from my favorite carol.
We sing the rest of the song as he drives to Popeye’s for our dinner for two.
(Author's note: this is based on a few events that really happened. I used my alreay exsisting characters to tell it. I also juiced it up a little for a story.)
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Thanks, Don for your critique. Your right the spell checker does miss a lot, I've even had it change words to something I didin't want and don't catch it till I submit it. I so nervous and excited when I submit them, I just miss the words when I proof-read. I need to work on that. As for the paragraphs, I find it easier to writing longer stories, and am working on writing shorter ones. I'm really glad you enjoyed it, though.
Effervescence, that's the word that came to mind while reading this and by the way that is not a word I use often. Stories like these are, well, they are effervescent and we need more of them. Okay, that's the fun part, now on with the other side of critiques: First of all, an easy fix-use your spell checker, but watch out, there are some words that are common and the spell checker will not catch them for you. I see here the potential for imagery; yet I think you were writing for someone else. Write for you first, then for your readers; we want to hear what you have to say. What you have said in this piece you said with energy, charisma and had me looking forward to the "what happened then?" of the moments. But, your transitions from one scene to the other were out of sync with the overall flow of the piece. There's a writer in there, I see her, but she needs to know that and begin to see that it is safe to write the words of that effervescent spirit that is within her.
Very thrilling story. Ah, the true spirit of Christmas!