Monday, December 30, 2013

The Christmas Stocking

It was a dark and stormy night, paralleling the dark storms that were raging inside of me.  The sleet rattled at the windows like the tapping of boney fingers of death. I was facing my first Christmas alone.
I had given birth to a beautiful little girl who had passed away at the age of five. Her rosy cheeks and coppery hued hair would be forever etched on my heart. Memories of her patting my face with her small, chubby hands lingered. Even though her death had happened nearly forty-five years ago, that was a wound that had never fully healed. The scars from my dear Leah’s demise had again burst wide open and were weeping heavily. Wade’s death earlier in the year reopened those wounds and had added many more.
Wade and I had bought a small farmhouse that was to be our retirement nest. We remodeled and updated only the kitchen and the bathrooms, allowing the rest of the house to retain its unique and quirky charm.
The highly waxed wooden floors were original and beautiful. They reflected the warmth of the blaze in the fireplace. It had all felt so warm and cozy, but no longer. It would be a cold and lonely holiday for me and I was chilled through and through.
I sat staring into the fire, wrapped in a thickly crocheted throw. Its somber hues of gray and brown yarns matched my mood.
I allowed my mind to wander. My thoughts flickered like the flames of the fire. From somewhere in the recesses of my memory, I recalled that there was a small wooden box in the attic when we bought the house. We were much too busy then to deal with it when we moved in. A voice seemed to be speaking to me now. It seemed to call from far away, “Fetch me down. You need what is inside.”
The voice seemed real. I actually looked around, but no one was here. Although I felt oddly foolish, I did as I was asked. I had nothing else to do. Amid a lot of bumping and banging, I drug the old chest into the living room to a spot beside the fireplace. I lifted the lid and set it aside. Covering the contents was a frayed and much used quilt. The once bright colors were faded and torn. I ran my hand over the surface feeling each small hand stitch. Moving it aside, I saw the box was filled with old Christmas decorations; blown glass, beaded ones, folded foil, and fabric ornaments.
Standing, I went into the kitchen and brought out a large cut glass punch bowl. I carried it to the hearth and began to fill it with the antique ornaments. When it was full I centered it in the middle of the dining room table, it seemed as if unseen hands were guiding me. The storm outside and inside seemed to be less dark and less severe.
I folded the quilt intending to return it to the box. As I placed it inside, the old newspaper on the bottom slid to the side and a saw a scrap of red material. I lifted the paper and found a small Christmas stocking.
A small voice said, “Hang it up on the mantle. Santa’s coming.”
With trembling fingers, I picked it up. As I started to hang it up, I felt and heard something crackle down near the toe. Reaching inside, I found a folded piece of paper. It was a note written in green crayon. “I LOVE YOU MOMMY…LEE.”

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