Carolyn Johnson dropped her bags by the door and sank into her favorite chair. Its soft cushions billowed around her. Almost like a giant hug, she thought as she settled into its familiar, Carolyn-shaped folds. Too bad the best I can do in that department these days is a piece of furniture.
She kicked off her shoes and punched the button on the TV remote.
We Wish You a Merry Christmas…
Ugh! She jabbed her index finger toward the center of the O she formed with her mouth and made gagging noises. Fat chance of that wish coming true for me this year.
She shook her head. Well, that was mature, Carolyn. Can we say “stress-induced behavioral anomaly?“
Oh, to be able to just go to sleep, and wake up in January. Avoid all this holiday cheer garbage--and my birthday--in one swell foop. Hmm. -Hadn’t thought of that in a while. How I used to laugh when Dad would pull those silly word reversals!
And now…he was gone. So was her mom. Well, only to that “Fifty-Five Plus” community in Yuma. But still…
Carolyn reflected on the other ways her life had altered this year. The new--cranky--manager at work. The changes at church, where the burgeoning couples fellowship offset the incredible shrinking singles group.
Not exactly what I’d envisioned in my daydreams. -That one always included a tiny, velvet box. Nope. This was the good ‘ol “I just need a little space…a little time apart.” Of course, he threw in that it was so he could think and pray about where the Lord wanted our relationship to go. But I know. --That‘s just the polite way to say, “Sayonara, kiddo.“ No doubt about it. …I’ve been down that road before.
She burrowed deeper into her chair…and her personal pity pit.
Joy To the World…
Oh, great. I should have suspected something when Amy asked to borrow my phone. Now even my ring tone’s a lovely reminder of this “happy season”.
She glanced at the display and answered.
“Very funny. You know I’m trying to just avoid all this Christmas stuff this year.”
“I thought you could use a little reminder of the ‘reason for the season,’” Amy said. “Look, I know you’ve had a rough year, and it might seem easier to avoid Christmas, but it‘s not good to just sit at home. You need to get out. In fact, that’s why I called. I‘d like you to go out with Jeff and me tonight.”
Ooh! An invitation to tag along with the newlyweds. That sounds like fun! --Okay, I won’t do the gagging thing again…but I feel like it. Now, let’s see…which of my grand collection of will-never-wear-again bridesmaid’s dresses was courtesy of their wedding? Oh, yes. The mint green number with the bow the size of Cleveland.
“We need your help,“ Amy continued. “You know how we volunteer at the family shelter? Well they’re having a party tonight. You know, caroling…games…presents for the kids…refreshments. And we’re short on workers. What do you say?”
“Oh, come on.”
“All right. As long as this isn’t some sort of set-up introduce me to someone. I’m just not ready for any matchmaking stuff right now, okay?”
“No introductions, I promise. We’ll pick you up at six-thirty.”
Amy glanced at her watch and excused herself from her post beside Carolyn. “You can handle the cocoa alone, can’t you? I have to go check on something.“
“Uh, sure.” Carolyn bent down to hand a cup to a little redhead who stood in line beside her mom.
“Thanks! I’m Jenny. Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m going to be seven!” The girl’s wide grin revealed the absence of both front teeth.
“Well, Happy Birthday, Jenny! I’m Carolyn. “
She smiled; a genuine smile. Her first in weeks. It seemed that Amy…and her parents…and the Lord had been right all along about getting out and doing something for others.
“My birthday’s soon, too,” she continued, “…next Tuesday.”
The girl‘s mother raised her eyebrows. “Carolyn…next Tuesday. Why, wouldn’t that make you a…”
The phrase was completed by a deep voice. From right behind her.
“My Christmas Carol, if she’ll still have me.” A hand stretched out and opened to reveal a velvet-covered box.
Amy beamed from across the room.
I wonder what sort of matron of honor dress would look as good on her as the minty bow thing did on me? Maybe pink…with ruffles. Lots and lots of ruffles.
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