Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)
- TITLE: A CHRISTMAS ENCOUNTER
By Emily Blakely
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Being a person of spontaneity, that morning I made quick phone calls to friends, hoping to find enough available to make up an unrehearsed caroling group. I was in luck and ended up with our friend, Dan, who could always be counted on to join with my husband and me, and a young girl who was bringing two more friends. It was a small group and none of the girls had gone caroling before. I loved the idea of giving these girls their first experience of the joy in telling the blessed Christmas story in song.
We mostly visited the elderly who were unable to get out on their own, and as we sang the familiar carols, a special connection between young and old became evident. The girls knew their presence was enjoyed by seeing faces in the audience reflecting bright smiles. Some of the listeners seemed taken back in memory to a time perhaps when they or their own children sang carols. There was laughter throughout the evening, exchanges of hugs and a few tears of gratitude.
After the last “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” we headed off to warm everyone with pizza. One of the girls, whom I met that evening for the first time, seemed a little shy and sat alone. Thinking to start a conversation, I asked about her family. She told me about her brothers and sisters and added, in a shaking voice, that her parents had divorced. I sensed the tenor of the night changing.
As if a floodgate had been opened, the eight or nine-year-old told me of her father’s remarriage and that he had moved to Tennessee to be closer to his new wife’s children. Her little face showed the pain she felt, and some tough questions followed. She wondered why her Daddy would leave his own child to be nearer someone else’s. She thought he must love them more. Her fear was palpable and though her voice remained quiet, its urgency cried out, I don’t understand, I feel hurt, I feel betrayed, abandoned. I told her I understood how hurt she must have felt because my own son had to live across the country from his Dad, and for this circumstance, special times can be made for them to be together. I only hoped it would be true for her, and wanted her to know she was not alone, there were others going through experiences similar to hers. I remembered being confronted by my son’s fears, and how very long a week, a month or a year seems to a child.
This unexpected encounter was all too brief for so serious a conversation, one that others of our group were oblivious to. I was struck by the girl’s openness, and sharing her vulnerability with a stranger caused me to wondered if her parents had discounted her as being "too young to understand", avoiding explanations. I felt unprepared and inadequate, but glad the little girl had come and shared what was on her mind and in her heart.
One evening, one moment in time when the lives of strangers touched. For some, old memories were renewed; for others, new memories were made from carol singing, laughter, hugs and friendship that I hope return, especially for a little girl growing up.
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