Sharing another heart-warming story in
A Stone Mountain Christmas
from Gilded Dragonfly Books.
If you can relate to teen angst, read on!
hristmas is light.
Christmas glows, shines, glistens, shimmers, and twinkles. Only fitting, some would say, for a festival meant to celebrate the birthday of the Light of the World. But even those who never darken the door of a church may be dazzled by Christmas light – the light that blazes in a profusion of colors, a light that can pass through the grayest soul and turn it into a rainbow.
Christmas light is the one thing I’m sentimental about. I say “thing” deliberately, because I make a point of not feeling overly warm and fuzzy about things. People are another matter. I can get very sentimental about people. Not many people, just a few. A handful. And they’re all bound up somehow with Christmas light.
This is about one of them.
All the Christmases of my childhood can be boiled down to one. I was eight years old, and my dad decided the time had come to replace our artificial tree with a real one. Dad was the light master. He would string and re-string lights onto that fake tree in his quest for the perfect configuration of colors. I could barely see the tree for all the lights he draped over and around it. But at last the scraggly four-footer proved too small for his ambitions, and he came home with a lush six-foot-plus Virginia pine, a scented green canvas with sufficient breadth to suit the artist in him. My dad turned that tree into a blazing miracle.
Every morning those three weeks before Christmas, I would pull myself out of bed before sunrise, before my parents woke up, and creep into the living room where the tree stood. I’d plug in the electric cord and hold my breath a half-second as I watched that brilliance of color burst out to repaint the room. Light would flood every corner, so that nothing in my sight range was commonplace. I’d stand over the heat vent and stare at the tree and dream strange dreams, not about presents or about anything material and tangible, but about thoughts and feelings that existed only in that Christmas radiance. Of course an eight-year-old couldn’t make sense of it. Even today I struggle to find the words for it when I remember. But I know I’d never felt anything quite like it before and have seldom felt it since.
Another little thing about that Christmas that has stuck in my memory is an angel I made of cardboard and construction paper and glitter and glue, a school crafts project. It was the sort of cheesy ornament a kid can hand to her parents with a proud, toothy grin – well, maybe, if that kid is better at drawing straight lines and circles and figuring out how to get mileage out of a pair of blunt elementary-school scissors than I was. My angel looked like a refugee from Halloween Town in The Nightmare Before Christmas. My parents did what parents of third-graders do and posted it on the fridge and called it lovely. But even my eight-year-old mind could grasp the difference between my effort and the other kids’. My teacher called it avant garde, not a very fair phrase for a third grade teacher to use. I managed to look it up, so I knew she’d been fumbling for a compliment to pay me. It didn’t bother me much, for I didn’t aspire to an artist’s life. I was still in my wanna-be-an-astronaut phase.
I probably wouldn’t think much about that angel now if I hadn’t met Rose Coleman much later.
My childhood rolled on, with every Christmas much the same – the big Virginia pine, the blaze of light and color, the standing over the heat vent in the darkness before dawn to admire the way the tree glimmered when all other light was turned off, the swell of emotion I could only describe as “Christmas.” Then came the year things changed, the year of “your mom and dad can’t live together anymore but we both love you.” I was fifteen.
If you want to learn how Rose deals, read the rest at Amazon.com