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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Great (07/06/06)

TITLE: How Great My Joy!
By Ann Grover


Something woke me up.

The silence?

As I lay there wondering, I saw the reflected light on the ceiling that meant newly fallen snow. I got up and stood at the window, the pearl-tinted night calm and still.

I might as well have a cup of coffee, since I wasn’t likely to go back to sleep. While waiting for the kettle to boil, I quietly set out a mug and spooned in some instant coffee. Looking into the dark recesses of the cupboard, I found a tin of evaporated milk.

The kettle bubbled. I made slits in the tin of milk and poured it into my coffee, but instead of a white stream, there flowed clear syrup. I peered at the tin. Sliced peaches.

Oh, great!

I found the milk. There weren’t that many tins to choose from in the cupboard, so it was unfortunate that I had opened the peaches for no reason.

Before sitting down in my worn-out easy chair, I plugged in the lights on my small Christmas tree. Lopsided, missing needles, and leaning sideways, it was a sorry excuse for a tree, but in the mysterious dark before dawn, it shimmered, like a merry song.

How great our joy!

Now I knew what had awakened me. Remnants of a Christmas song I had heard at the choir presentation the night before.

Men in heavy suits and women with shiny hair and perfect lips had given me a hearty welcome at the church doors. They’d ushered me to a padded pew to sit with others who nodded and smiled before resuming their conversations.

“And I told her not to bother coming to me with her problems. I don’t have time for such things.”

“I should say not.”

“Some people assume you want to hear all about their troubles.”

How great our joy!

The woman sitting in front of me was telling her neighbour about her new Christmas dress, and her New Year’s dress, and the Christmas turkey, and how one can’t find a reliable caterer these days, but finally, thank the Lord and Mrs. Chervelli, she had found one to hire.

Her neighbour wrote down the name of the responsible caterer with great relief and gratitude.

How great our joy!

The singing had been impressive, filling the church with resonating sound, harmonies building upon each other; the orchestra was beyond excellent. All the adored and cherished sounds of Christmas, the beloved hymns, and sacred psalms were lifted in jubilant celebration.

Magnificent! Glorious!

How great our joy!

Afterwards, an announcement was made that there were to be refreshments served in the fellowship room, and I was invited to stay. Coffee and pie was pressed into my hands. Would I like a piece of shortbread? A tart, perhaps?

It had been difficult listening to the discussion about a single mom. It is Christmas, after all, and maybe some of the ladies should put together a hamper and take it to her. On the other hand, what one has sown, one shall reap. Oh, but let’s be kind, sister, and bestow a little Christmas charity.

And then there was the discussion about a Christmas bonus, and what will the kids say when they find out that they’re going to Hawaii on the day after Christmas.

How great our joy!

I sighed and took another sip of my peach flavoured coffee.


Rubbing her eyes, my tousled haired angel was wobbling towards me on unsteady feet, and I reached out to catch her before she tumbled over.

“What’s the matter?”

“I saw the fairy lights.” She curled up in my lap and snuggled her head into my shoulder. I tucked her flannel nightie down around her feet.

“You saw the lights from the tree?”

“Mmmm. What’s for breakfast?”

“I think we’ll have peaches.”

Fairy lights danced in her hair, and as the opal hued dawn edged its way in through the window, I breathed in the warm scent of innocence and a remarkable treasure.

How great my joy!

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This article has been read 1105 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Melanie Kerr 07/15/06
A well written scene. I find myself wanting to know more about the main character.
Pat Guy 07/17/06
Aaaah I know that scent well - it's my favorite, and one not ever forgotten - truly a treasure.

Thank you for the memory. And yes - a beautiful scene that outshines all the rest.
Brenda Craig07/17/06
What a bittersweet story, so very well told. I loved it.
Jan Ross07/17/06
Very descriptive scene. I could just imagine the peach juice in the coffee! Oh great! LOL Very enjoyable reading. Great work! :)
Edy T Johnson 07/17/06
This is such a lovely reverie. You know how to bring your reader into the middle of your experience, tasting, hearing, smelling, and feeling the pictures your words create. Was the "single mom" in the women's conversation the same as the POV woman? This deserves a re-reading, so I don't miss anything!
Edy T Johnson 07/17/06
Oops! I meant to add how I relish your choice of words, such as the "pearl-tinted night" and the "opal hued dawn." Simply beautiful.
Linda Watson Owen07/17/06
All of my favorite things are in this poignant story...the scent and sparkle of snow, the warmth of the (peach) coffee, the tiny moonlit sparkles in a child's curls, a mother's lap...yes, and even the special closeness of a single mother and child that is birthed from daily trials. This scene could have come straight from my own childhood with my widowed mother.
Rita Garcia07/17/06
"How Great My Joy" Indeed!

Story telling at its finest!

Delightful story, embracing all the senses.
Jan Ackerson 07/18/06
This piece has great serenity--and I laughed out loud at the peachy coffee. Lovely.
Suzanne R07/19/06
Beautiful! Beautifully written and beautiful sentiments. Well done.