Sunday, December 6, 2009

2nd Sunday of Advent - ? I Hate Christmas ? - 12/6/2009

Today's Mental Image:

Christmas Memories

by Wayne Anson

WARNING: This is short unless you listen to all the songs.
If you listen to all the songs, it will take about 35 minutes.

Characters: Jessie - Younger sister, 76 years old
Bessie - Older sister, 98 years old                         
Narrator - Voice of Papa reading the story          
Music - Videos from YouTube

Scene: Set in a house of 50’s or 60’s decor. These old maids live a slow paced but not dead lifestyle. Each lady sits in a rocking chair. It is Christmas season.

 Bessie is knitting.             Jessie is reading.   

Jessie:  I hate Christmas.
(laying book in lap and looking up, but not at Bessie)

Bessie: My dear Jessie!
(glancing toward Jessie, but does not drop a stitch)

Jessie: I DO! It really is a lot of humbug.

Bessie: What DO you mean?

Jessie: Oh. I mean people in the shops. You know. All rushing, pushing, shoving, bickering ....

Bessie: (interrupting) Are you still in a tiff? That poor man apologized!

Jessie: O, Bess. I can’t help it. My hip hurts. I could have broken it and then whatever would we have done. (pause) But you’re right. He did apologize. He was really nice, but I was really just thinking of people in general.

Bessie: I suppose you’re right, but I’ve always enjoyed the holiday rush and a pleasant jostle or two. The air seems so alive.

Jessie: O, Bessie. Stop it! You dream away all the trouble. Why look at poor Sal’s family next door. They won’t have much a Christmas. With her salary there may not be more than hamburger and potatoes, some cheap trinkets, and that disgusting trash the Salvation Army brings by.

Bessie: (sadly) Yes.
(but still half smiles)

Jessie: When those rich ladies bump me around -- I know their arms are so full they can’t help it -- but when they bump me around with their bawling, squalling kids being pulled along yelling for some toy or gadget, I just want to grab a bag and say, “Here! I’ll take that to someone who cares.”
Bessie: Now Jessie ....

Jessie: (glaring and matter-of-factly) Well? (then frowning goes on sarcastically) “Now behave. Santa won’t bring you a walking robot!” Santa, santa, santa ... buy, buy, buy, buy ... push - shove, push - shove ... push, push, push ...

Bessie: (gently cuts her off) Now, now Jessie. You’ll get your heart he’t up and be sick!

Jessie: (tearfully) But Bess it breaks my heart. All this Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Coming, Chestnuts on an Open Fire ... What’s in it for an old lady” What’s in it for two old women with no family? Two old women all alone?

Bessie: (sincerely) But its a good time! When else do knitted mittens mean so much to poor children? When else do you read such pleasant stories and poems?

Jessie: That’s just it. We give and give and give and never receive. Not even a thank you! The Salvation Army gets even that. And the reading soon makes me long for memories I’ve never had and never will have. What has Christmas ever done for me?

Bessie: We, too, had a family. We can remember those times.

Jessie: Yes, but then I will miss Mama and Papa and my tears spoil it all. Even so what is that to remember? It’s so long ago. What good is it for today?

Bessie: (patiently) That’s not what I really meant. I meant there are things we learned then. Those we can remember. It’s those that aren’t sad. It's those that touch us yet today in this crazy Santa Claus giveaway!

Jessie: (interested) Whatever do you mean?

Bessie: I mean -- not remembering that Papa read to us -- but what he read? (pause) Here is one I remember. He read it when I was ten. It’s the reason I’ve knitted mittens for eighty-six Christmases.

Narrator: Gwenella sat looking out the frosty pane. Soon it would be Christmas - Christmas
number ten - Christmas once again. She’d never seen such a beautiful Christmas. Snow hung like white velvet on the charcoal trees and pin cushion evergreens ...

Bessie: It was such a sad story... You know ... no food and worse than that ...

Narrator: Gwenella had never wanted to play out in the snow so badly. She’d lost part of a finger to frost bite once and the family had eaten only potatoes for a whole month to be able to pay the doctor. She couldn't let that happen to the family again and there weren’t even rags to use for mittens and socks.

Usually she was very brave. But it was Christmas Eve and this time she couldn’t help it. With her nose pressed to the pane the tears quietly flowed. She mustn’t cry out loud. Since Daddy died Mamma cried enough already.

Bessie: We weren’t rich, but poor Gwenella who couldn’t play outside broke my heart. But just as I burst into tears Papa read:

Narrator: Gwenella cried herself to sleep Christmas Eve. There were no stockings on the fire place. There were no stockings to hang or wear. She knew Christmas would be little more that a saying, “Merry Christmas. God Bless You.” She prayed, “Dear Jesus, please bless us.”

Slowly Gwenella came down the stairs Christmas Morning. It was more that she could do to look at the fireplace. She knew it would be bare and her heart was broken.
But, just then little Eric let out a scream of joy from behind her and slid quickly past her on the stairs.

“Mitten! Mittens!” he cried.

Gwenella stared at the fireplace. There hung a pair of mittens for each child. In each mitten they found a pair of socks, an apple or some nuts, and even a sugar candy! It was a miracle. How could it be?

Bessie: And it was all because a ten year old girl and her grandmother had knit them as their gift of love to boys and girls at Christmas.

Jessie: You never told me that before. No wonder your Christmases are special. You knit mittens.

Bessie: But there are other things, too! Don’t you remember? We used to always sing. Not Rudolph or Santa Claus, but of Shepherds and Kings and the First Gift of Love on the First Christmas. Can’t you hear us now?

Choir: “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks”

(Jessie wipes her eyes and weeps through the whole song)
Jessie:  I remember Papa would read about the Annunciation when the angel Gabriel talked to Mary. He’d sing the beautiful song, the Ave Maria - “Hail Mary full of grace, blessed art thou among women.” Even though it was in Latin, I always loved it.

Soloist 1: “Ave Maria.”

Bessie: Remember how Mamma would play the piano. Papa would lead us singing.

Choir: “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

Bessie: During that song we set out the stable. Next came putting in Mary and Joseph and the Baby and singing “Away in a Manager.”

Choir: “Away in a Manger.”

Bessie: On the right verse we'd put in the cow and donkey. Remember how you'd feel when we sang, “Bless all the dear children in thy tender care?”

Jessie: Yes. (sob) Yes. And Papa would put his hand on my head and pray a Christmas blessing for me.
(inspired by the memory)

Bessie: Oh yes!  (pause) Then it was sheep and shepherds while singing the “Shepherds Carol” and -- ahh -- the angel on top to my favorite, “Angels We have Hear on High.”

Jessie: I love that one, but Papa always sang in Latin first, “Adestes Fideles.”

Soloist 2: “Adestes Fideles.”

Choir: “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

Bessie: I used to swear I could hear the angels singing with us. (pauses and looks toward
Jessie who is crying again) Oh, my dear Jessie. They are such happy thoughts. How can you still cry?”

Jessie: But I miss Papa and Mamma ...

Bessie: It’s been years since we had them.

Jessie: I know. But, I can’t help it. I miss them.

Bessie: Yes, Jessie dear. You miss them, but I think you’ve missed something else, too.

Jessie: (puzzled) W-what?

Bessie: After all these years I think you’ve missed the whole meaning of Christmas. The whole reason for our singing. I wonder if .... (notices Jessie is far off in thought)  Jessie?

Soloist 3: “I Wonder as I Wander.”

(Jessie, her crying stopped and thoughtful)
Jessie:  Remember that song, “I Wonder as I Wander?” I haven’t thought of it for years. I remember I didn’t like it. I didn’t understand it.

Bessie: I remember.

Jessie: It says, “Jesus came for to die people like you and I.” Papa said he had to so we could live. I never could understand.

Bessie: If Jesus wasn’t born he couldn’t die. But, if he hadn’t died he couldn’t be born
again in our hearts.

Bessie: (compassionate) Oh, my dear Jessie. Has he never been born in your heart!

Jessie: Dearest Bessie! What are you saying?

Bessie: When Jesus is asked into your heart, it’s kind of like he is born all over again just for you. But this time he’s one with your spirit, not just a teacher, or a baby in a manger. This time he will not die and you - being one heart with him - you will live forever, too.

Jessie: Oh, Bess. You are right. He never has been born in my heart. HE is what’s missing in my Christmas -- in my memories -- (solemnly) yes, in my life.

Bessie: And do you remember what Papa said?

(Jessie looking away in thought)
Jessie: Just open the door and let Him come in.

Choir: “Silent Night.”

1 comment:

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