~ Christmas on Ice—A short story in three parts ~
She looked out the window at the ice and snow covering the surrounding hills, shivering and smiling as at the same time. It was a beautiful sight that greeted her eyes through the frosted panes. Ice crystals reflected what small light made it through the clouds, and a sprinkling of snow, like sugar dusted the ground and the glittering trees.
Turning from the winter spectacle, she put another log on the fire and sank back into her chair, drawing a blanket woven with a wintry snowflake pattern over her. Christmas music played on the radio and the small two foot tree in her living room blinked on and off. She was glad that at the last minute she had draped a strand of colored lights around the bookcase as that corner was now a semblance of holiday joy. On another small table a tree made of red and green Christmas balls reflected the flickering candlelight as the dim light outside faded. Sprigs of greenery were tucked in a basket, and on the mantel a solitary Christmas stocking hung. Her house was not without small reminders of Christmas.
It had been a long time since she had enjoyed a real Christmas. Taking care of ailing parents for ten years had ensured those Christmases had been bitter-sweet as each one passed in a haze of sadness, forced cheer and approaching loss. Loosing them two years apart had sent her spiraling into a long period of grief from which she had only started to emerge. Emerging carried its own grief and bafflement. The world had changed much in twelve years. Friends had married, born children, moved away, but she was still single and alone…
The church she had attended every Sunday for years had become an unfamiliar place; for ten years she had not been able to attend regularly, then not at all. The world had changed much, yet she felt strangely unchanged, as if she had been stored on ice all those years and was only beginning to thaw into what she had been twelve years ago. “I am an anachronism,” she thought as an old carol finally sounded out of all the newer Christmas music on her radio. “I have become Rip Van Winkle.”
A man had flirted with her earlier in the year. Men had flirted numerous times during the cold days of her parents’ passing, but she had barely noticed their intrusion, lost in her shroud of grief. This time she had noticed. Nothing had come of it except a shifting inside her. Suddenly the isolation she had accepted, even embraced was not an escape but a bondage.
“Now is the winter of my discontent.” She said it out loud, startling the grey cat which had been curled up contentedly in her lap. Smiling wryly at the phrase and how it fit her life, she picked up the book she had been reading.
Snow fell. The wind blew. A small tree blinked madly as a grey cat with four white feet curled back into a warm ball. A woman sat alone in a chair reading Luke 2, contemplating the birth of a child long ago and all the promises that birth brought with it. Then she put another log on the fire and welcomed its warmth.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6
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To be continued…
From our archives 12/24/04
Related Articles & Links:
- Christmas on Ice — A Short Story, Part II
- Christmas on Ice — A Short Story, Part III
- Letter: Christmas on Ice