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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: It’s Christmas Day (in the present or living memory) (11/27/08)

TITLE: Give of Yourself
By Pamela Kliewer


Tendrils of loneliness wrapped around her heart, filling her mind with the thoughts of abandonment that often plagued her. Today, Christmas day, the thoughts bit deeper, the loneliness cutting tighter into her heart.

At fifty-four, Lucy was too young to be in a Nursing Home. She had been at this home five years. Her health had deteriorated rapidly since she first entered the doors. Her husband had left her; her brothers and their families lived too far away and were too financially strapped to come see her.

Hot cocoa and a warm blanket did nothing to alleviate the chill of bitterness that settled around her, a cold mist on a foggy day.

The room she sat in was beautifully decorated. The staff had taken great care to give the residents as pleasant a holiday as they could and this room had been the first step.

Lucy reflected back to that first day of December, seeing the nurses scurrying about, laughter echoing down the hallways as they put the tree up.

Looking at it now, Lucy shuddered. She wanted to enjoy it, but how could she when she was so alone? She glanced at the garlands draped around the room: red, gold, green and silver sparkling in the light. Her eyes were drawn back to the tree. A small smile tugged at one corner of her mouth. It couldn’t be helped, really. The tree was gorgeous. White lights gleamed on the white flocked tree. Mauve bows placed just right here and there added a Victorian flare. Simple, yet oh so elegant, just the kind of tree Lucy might have done were she at home.

Home. This was her home now, and she still hadn’t gotten used to it. How could one room amongst hundreds be considered home? She absolutely despised this place and being here, especially on Christmas day. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she spun her wheel chair quickly around, leaving the room as quickly as possible.

Lucy was able to avoid a full scale melt down as she made her way back to her room, but once in the door, she gave way to the torrent inside her, tears flowing unabated down her cheeks, her body aching with the intensity of her emotions. Hunched over, she wrapped her arms around herself, continuing to weep.

When the storm of agony had passed, something had broken inside her and she knew with certainty set in steel that she didn’t want to live with this bitterness any more. As she calmed down she heard sweet singing just outside her door. Children stood in the hall, their voices filling the Nursing Home with joy. Fresh tears began to drop from Lucy’s eyes as the impact of the words they were singing hit her full force.

What will you give to Jesus?
He who gave so much for you.
Give someone a smile,
Give of yourself,
For in giving to others
You’re giving to Jesus and
Your heart will be fulfilled…

The voices died away, but the words stayed with her. She knew what she had to do. For the first time in months, a sense of purpose filled her with delight and the tendrils of loneliness began to drop away one by one, bitterness falling off of her like leaves falling from a tree. She shot a quick prayer to God, asking Him to forgive her for her hard heart. She sensed His immediate love and forgiveness.

Wheeling over to her chest of drawers, Lucy pulled open the middle one, where she had supplies for making star ornaments. Gathering everything she needed, and piling it on her lap, she scooted over to the small table by her window and set to work. Every once in awhile her eyes darted outside, to watch the gently falling snow, a full smile now gracing her face.

When she was done a few hours later, she put the finished stars of various colors on her lap, went out the door, and down the hallways, distributing each star to anyone who looked lonely or downcast. Eyes brightened, smiles warmed faces, as she did so.

The song was right; as she gave of herself, her heart was joyously fulfilled. What a glorious Christmas day this had turned out to be.

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This article has been read 641 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laura Anne Harrison12/04/08
This is absolutely beautiful!A powerful winner!
Karlene Jacobsen12/08/08
Powerful entry. The imagery "tendrils of loneliness" shows clearly the captivity she must have felt.
Catrina Bradley 12/08/08
A very strong entry! Great word choices. I have no red ink, just a WELL DONE!
Jan Ackerson 12/09/08
Your first three paragraphs are exquisite!
Marijo Phelps12/09/08
I have worked in long term care - you are SO right on here. Loved the line "bitterness falling off of her like leaves falling from a tree" beautifully put. I remember the residents who know the Lord and reached out - even if they couldn't talk their love DID.
Dee Yoder 12/10/08
My dad's in a nursing home so this touched me very much. I know he feels lonely, and with his Alzheimer's, he doesn't know why he's there...it's the little things that bring him happiness...just seeing someone he still knows and getting out to visit us in our own homes. What a lovely story in that she learned to give away some happiness to replace the loneliness and tears.
Leah Nichols 12/10/08
I cried. A beautiful message. Well done!
Beth LaBuff 12/10/08
You have so much wisdom in this story! Wonderful writing!
Teresa Lee Rainey12/10/08
This was so very well done. Having volunteered a small amount of time in a nursing home, it is apparent who has peace with their surroundings and who doesn't. It was wonderful to read of this lady's realization of where her peace comes from. :)