Sixteen Days to Christmas

As we approach Christmas day, and the day when I will present my annual short Christmas story, I thought I’d link back to one each week. This week I’ll link to one of my personal favorites, And it Came To Pass. This one and the one I’ll link to next week are Christian based stories. And to be honest Christmas itself is a Christian holiday. Still each country has their own way of celebrating the season and as such the traditions and the way of celebrating this time of year will be different. So these short stories are based on the way it is celebrated here in the US.

Of course all the Christmas short stories up through 2017 are available in the short story novel, Words in the Wind. Available in paperback and the Ebook format. Enjoy! and may this time of year be memorable:

https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/and-it-came-to-pass/

https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/

 

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Published in: on December 9, 2018 at 10:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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Available Today!

I’ve released a new book, as of today, titled of all things, Words in the Wind. It’s available as a paperback, or in the popular EBook formats. I’ve titled it this way since all the short stories included in this novel came from this blog. So if you’ve loved and enjoyed the stories that I’ve presented over the years then they are now available in one place.

Eighteen short stories ranging from the contemporary to science fiction. And it includes all the holiday – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas – short stories. Personally I think the stories are great. Of course since I’m the writer it should be that way. I’m including an image of the cover, so no excuses if you really are interested.

God Bless, and have a great week – https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com

 

Published in: on September 11, 2018 at 6:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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Store Front

Recently I’ve been able to add a store to my website, https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/store/. For now it is limited to the US, and Canada. In the near future it will begin to expand to other countries. And as each one comes online I will inform the world through this blog as well as on the website.

Presently I have my novels listed as paperbacks. I, again, have plans in the near future of adding EBooks, specifically EPub to the mix. That way both hardcopy and electronic copy will be available. And while on the subject of novels, Words in the Wind is still on schedule for a September release. This is a novel of short stories. Again as time gets closer I’ll post the actual release date so you can know when it is actually available.

And yes, once the novel is available it will show up in my website store.

Published in: on July 14, 2018 at 6:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Coming in September

As time moves on for all of us I’m happy to announce that I’m on schedule for releasing a novel of short stories in the month of September. I believe the total count will be seventeen. As the time approaches I’ll post the release date so any who are interested will know when to look for the novel.

Whether you’re a longtime follower of this blog, rather new, or have just found this site, I want to let you know that the title of said novel will be, “Words in the Wind“. Funny thing since it’s the name of this blog. And the simple explanation for this is because what will be in that novel is the short stories I’ve presented here over the many years this blog has been in existence.

And while I do not, as of yet, have the cover for this novel it will be similar to the icon I use – namely a picture of a windmill. To me this represents this blog, the title of this site and the upcoming book, and writing in general. The book will be available as paperback, and in the two popular formats for EBooks – namely Epub, and Mobi. It should be available from your favorite retailer.

For each of the short stories I will provide an introduction that I’ve titled, Author’s Notes. The idea is to give some insight into the story, and possibly where I was and what I was thinking at the time I wrote the short story. The stories run the gambit from contemporary to science fiction, and includes a section where you’ll find all of my Christmas short stories by year of publication. In other-words from the earliest to the latest.  In this section I’ll also be including a couple of Thanksgiving short stories, and a couple that deal with a Halloween theme.

Overall it should be a fun read and novel that is perfect for those times when you don’t have a lot of time but still want to read something. And because of the varying lengths it means that it should fill any such time period no matter what you have available – God Bless! (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

Published in: on June 23, 2018 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Words in the Wind

Available now, three new novelsThe Ones Before, Discovery, and An Ancient Fire. All part of the Discovery Trilogy (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction). An adventure dealing with a time where mankind is finally recovering from a major apocalyptic event, and in the first two novels deal with a myth of a great people known as The Ones Before. Yet there is no proof they ever lived. It will be up to the present Head Keeper of the Past to either prove or disprove those myths.

Of Gods Strangers and Messengers, Science Fiction Adventure, ISBN: 978-1-946179-12-8 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction), and Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown, a Post-Apocalyptic episodic novel, ISBN: 978-1-946179-15-9 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Both are available as paperback and in the EBook format. They were released on July 14,2017.

The Harsh Lands, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) is available as a paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5, for Kindle, ASIN: B01N69YCCW, or in the EPub format ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9. This novel is the complete Survival trilogy in a single book with a length of over 1150 pages.

Time of Isolation: (link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction)  Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-06-1, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-07-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-08-1. Desperate to Survive: (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-09-8, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-10-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-11-1, are available for purchase as of April 21, 2017. These releases are second editions with the novels revised and updated. At this time A Taste of History Past, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) will remain as a first edition and EBook only with this being the final book in the Survival trilogy.

The Woman in the Snow 2nd edition, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/christian-fiction). Contemporary Christian Fiction available now: Paperback, ISBN 978-1-946179-03-6, Kindle, ISBN 978-1-946179-04-3, and Epub, 978-1-946179-05-0)

* * *

And with this ping back you will be reading the Christmas short story from 2016. I have to admit that at times I draw a blank as far as a specific subject and how I’m going to approach one of these short stories, so I asked my wife for some suggestions. I try to write the first drafts at least a couple of months ahead of when I plan to post. That way if the original story doesn’t work I have time to write another. And so, The Ornament, is based on her suggestions. https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/the-ornament/

Words in the Wind is number twelve. And by looking at the title one should be able to see that it’s the same as this blog. So this novel will be one of short stories I’ve written over the years, and then presented here on this blog. It appears to be roughly fifteen short stories Some were written to be submitted to writing contests, even though in the end most never made it, (costs involved), and others specifically to be presented here on this blog. Then there were some that I wrote because the idea was there leading to the story.

If things go to plan, then there will be an introduction to each of the short stories similar to the introduction to this series of posts, and for which this post is the final in this series. As it stands at this moment I have no plans to go beyond book twelve. Yet, the one thing I’ve learned over the years is that this isn’t written in stone and it’s clear as mud as far as my future as a writer. I’ve found that I really do enjoy creating these stories, and the fictitious characters that live in these imaginary worlds. (In fact as I write this I’ve had new images of a possible story begging me to write it before I lose it.)

I’ve found that I become as emotionally involved with them, (the characters) as if they were real breathing, living people. And I guess in a way they are. I see them in my mind’s eye as they live their lives. Still in the end their world only exists between the pages of that novel. They have their challenges to overcome, as any of us, and live their lives inside a complicated world, just as we do in ours. The only real problem is their lives are static. Once the story is complete nothing changes.

I guess, in a sense we can say the same thing about us. Once our lives are complete, for us nothing changes beyond that point. The difference lying in the fact that in our world time continues to move on well beyond our short time here. In those novels, once they are complete, everything stops, and ends . . . at least until a new reader picks up the novel and begins the adventure all over again.

I haven’t decided how I’ll be breaking down the way the stories will be presented. What I mean here is; will it be chronological, (meaning when I wrote it), by subject, or possibly by the season the story was written for. At this moment I’m leaning towards sections dealing with the seasons, although not all qualify, so in the end it may end up being a hybrid.

With this post we wrap up 2017, and move onto 2018 where I’ll be starting a new and final series for this blog. It will deal with my personal road to self-publishing and being an independent or indie author. Have a great week and God Bless! (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

Published in: on December 30, 2017 at 7:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Child

Every year since I began this blog I’ve written a short story for Christmas and this year is no different. I’m foregoing the list of my novels that usually precedes the “post for the week”. If you’ve read my past Christmas stories you know that I usually try to approach them from an alternate direction dealing with the human condition, showing that there are many who don’t have what we have, and as such this time of year isn’t necessarily one of joy and happiness.

This year I decided to give the story a definite science fiction twist, so it will, at first, appear to be something that doesn’t apply. Still, stay with it and as you read the story it will become clear. As in most short stories,  one must build a living breathing world and do it concisely, and yet give it depth so that the fictional world feels real. If we saw this in a book it would be roughly fourteen pages long.

Please enjoy, The Child, and have a great Christmas season – F. D. Brant (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/):

She is my sister, the youngest of the family. She’s known as En to us, but to the community, the place where we live, she’s known as the child. I guess a little background here would let you know what this is all about. First off the one telling this story is obviously me. And my name is Fe. I’ve been told that it means iron, and because of the fact that only half of my siblings survived I was given that name in hope that it meant I would survive. I’m one of three surviving children of my parents and being the oldest put more responsibility on me. But to be honest it wasn’t a position by birth, as I was the second born.

My oldest brother only lived days before succumbing to what I’ve never known. I just know that whatever it was, in the end it took two others. Had we all lived then I would have been part of a family of eight – my sires or parents, me, three brothers and two sisters. Instead there was just my younger brother, and then the youngest being En. And because of the tragedy of family we’ve always been close.

I remember the day my sister came into the world and we, my brother and I heard the cry of a newborn coming from the room where mom had just birthed her. And shortly we were invited in to meet her. It was there for the first time that we learned some of the differences between females and males. Of course there’s much more to this, but at our age such was of no importance. Both my brother, and me thought that there had to be something wrong with this baby as she lay naked on mom’s chest. She was missing something between her legs and it was such a surprise. I mean I remember when my brother came into the world and he had what I had. So I thought that this was how every baby was.

Mom called both of us over – dad was there next to her and smiling – and we were shy about it. With the tragedies that had happened we really didn’t want to mention this obvious defect. But I guess moms can read their children because it seemed like she knew what we were thinking and smiled as she said, “Meet your new sister. We have named her En.” There was a pause and I could see she was trying hard not to laugh. Then she said, “This is the way girls are. It is one of the differences between you and her.” Mom did laugh lightly, although we saw that it hurt. “Later . . . much later you will see other changes that make girls different, but for now this will be the only one.”

Well, I had to admit, at that moment, it was a big difference. But after a short time it was something we didn’t even notice. Only that as she got older, began to walk, and get into our personal stuff, we had the normal arguments, small fights, and complaints that all children have. Still, there was something different about her. She was always smaller, well no surprise here since she is the youngest. But even here it seemed as if she would remain small. Then there were her eyes – always large, deep, and bottomless, as if she might see forever. She had a beautiful face that at times looked like mom, and other times reflected some of dad.

It was as she approached her fourth year that the reason for this other difference arrived. She had been given the gift. Yet for many who had received this in the past it had been anything but a gift. In fact it was more of a curse. It was when this gift manifested itself and was learned by the rest that she became to be known to our small village as the child.

Oh, I believe that it’s important that I break here and tell you a bit about our village – if one can call it such. Small is just about all one can say. And we are surrounded by desert. From what we’ve heard this world is almost completely desert. But for me personally I have no way of knowing or confirming this as I’ve lived here in this village, with the isolation, for my entire life. If we didn’t have visitors, now and then, coming from other areas that are protected from this great desert, then it would be easy to assume that we were the only survivors.

Don’t ask me why I use that word – survivor, because I don’t know. I can only say is that the word seems to fit. Maybe a remnant of a greater time in the past, honestly I don’t know. All I know is that this line of reasoning seemed right. Did I have any facts to back this up, or was there anything written in our history to support such a thought, no. It was just a feeling that I had. And I guarantee that there will be no way for me to travel beyond our lands. I do not have the time, the resources, or the need to leave and explore the vast desert.

Where we live is in a series of canyons – not large, but for whatever the reason they prevent the desert from encroaching here. To reach our lands, and the precious waters, required one to enter through a narrow passage that led downward into a series of narrow trails which were always shadowed because of the walls that rose to the sky. I suspect it was because of these features that kept the desert out.

Winds always howled down those narrow passageways. And sand would often pile near the entrances to the trails, but for whatever the reason would become less and less as one hiked through. Eventually they would open into the canyons where we lived. There was a small lake fed by a small stream that came from the living rock. And for as long as we had been here it had never failed. We prayed that it would always be that way. And when on those canyon trails leading to our village it was always cooler. In fact because of the small lake even with the full sun during the zenith it remained cooler than the surrounding desert.

It is here where we have our small herd, and where we grow our crops. And yes we even have a few trees, most bearing fruit of one kind or another. So we’ve never lacked for sustenance. While we’ve never had a lot, overall what we had met our needs. And in one of the side canyons we had a few mines. It was what we pulled from the ground that we traded with others. Still the traders only arrived once a year, and when it’s more often, which is rare, they would only show maybe twice more.

Why is this important to know? It is because the gift arrived after the departure of the traders, meaning that it would be at least another year before word got out that the gift had manifested itself once again. And to be truthful it was much longer than that before it became known. I’d like to say that this was something exclusive to our village but that wouldn’t be true. And once it arrived then many would travel to the village to seek out the one. But one of the issues lay in the fact that when the gift arrived it presented a different power to each that had received it. So in many cases once others had come to see the one they left disappointed because what had manifested would be of no use.

I suspect that in my sister’s case it would be the same. Still, at the same time what she had was really strong . . . So strong indeed that if she touched you during one of her visions, then you’d see the same vision. And you would find yourself standing beside her inside of those images. You knew it was her, but here she appeared to be different. As I’ve said I felt she would be small, and when she had attained her full measure she came only to my shoulders, and I am of average height. Yet, in those visions she is tall, taller than any.

I remember the first time I became aware of her ability. Like I said she was almost four when it first happened, and to her she thought that what she did was something everybody did. And being her older brother I thought that all of it was just her imagination. Then one day she happily pointed out towards the lake and said, “Do you see them? They’re beautiful!” (Beautiful was a word she was proud of, and always had carefully pronounced it.)

I looked and saw a few birds in the trees that were close to the lake and replied, “Yes, the birds are pretty.”

She looked at me as if I was crazy. She put her hands on her hips in an almost perfect imitation of mother when she wasn’t happy, which made me laugh. Then somewhat irritated she said, “I think they are horses.”

“Horses?” I know of horses, but the only time we’ve ever seen any was when the traders came. And I know that she had probably seen them at that time, but we had none and could afford none. I looked really hard and only saw the birds in the trees. It was then she pointed, followed by grabbing my arm.

I stood frozen because the moment she grabbed my arm the whole scene in front of me changed. We were standing on a large plain that seemed to go on forever. Catching my breath I saw, in the distance, large herds of wild horses wheeling and dancing, running and forming patterns as the colors shifted and changed. There seemed so many that it was impossible to know the size in numbers. Then she let go and the world returned to what I knew. I found I’d been holding my breath and had to let it out and begin to breathe again. I asked, “How’d you do that?” I was incredulous.

She shrugged and asked, “Do what?”

I guess to her it was a normal thing. I thought a moment, still shaken from what I had seen, and made a decision. Our sires needed to know about this. So I tentatively took her hand expecting the images to return but they were gone. I saw disappointment on her face saying to me that for her they were gone also. And so hand in hand we went back to our shelter. It was nearing the zenith meal anyway and both of them would be there.

When we entered En, seeing mom, screamed a scream of happiness and ran to her wrapping her arms around her legs, looking up into mom’s eyes saying, “I love you mommy!”

Smiling and looking down at her one and only daughter mom laughed and said, “And I love you too.” She looked up at me and said, “You’re back early. It will be a few before the food will be on our table. So take your sister outside and wash.”

I nodded and pried her off mom’s legs and we went to the trough outside and cleaned up and headed back inside. At this point I didn’t know how to tell them, so I waited while the five of us ate. Then I simply blurted out, “I think En has the gift.”

There had been some conversation going on between my sires, and suddenly it got quiet. My, well our father, looked at me and asked, “What did you say?”

I repeated what I said, and then explained what had happened, followed by the fact that her vision had only lasted a short time. They both looked at me and then at En, and then back at me. He asked, “Are you sure? Are you sure it wasn’t your imagination, or some game the two of you were playing?”

“No sir. To be honest I thought she was imagining something, but when I saw what she saw I knew better.”

He turned to En and asked, “What did you see down by the lake today?”

She really hadn’t been paying that much attention to what was being said as she was enjoying the food and was concentrating completely on the meal. She lifted one shoulder in a partial shrug and said, “Horses . . . lots of horses, and they were running and playing.”

“And where did you see them?” He asked quietly.

As if they were there all the time she replied saying, “Oh on the other side of the water. I couldn’t get to them because of that but they were having lots of fun and I really wanted to have fun with them.” At that point she went back to eating. We all knew that after the meal she’d be heading for a nap.

He turned back to me with questions in his eyes. “Okay son, did you see the horses?”

“Like I said dad, all I saw was the lake, the trees and the birds, nothing more. Then she grabbed my arm and all of it vanished and I saw great herds of wild horses.”

 

For the next few years we, as a family, tried to keep it quiet. Still we all had a chance to experience her visions, and I guess you can say that they did enrich our lives. Still, what she had been given wouldn’t help any so we felt that keeping it a family secret was the best. Then one day while she had been out with her friends she came home shaken and quiet. At that very moment we knew she had experienced one of her visions and from the look on her face, and the pallor of her skin, and the fact she had tear tracks on her face told us all we needed to know.

Mom, with concern showing in every part of her being asked, “En, are you all right?”

At that moment En broke out in a fresh bout of tears and ran to mom and clung to her. This was the first of many visions that followed that shook her, and to be honest, us. Up until that first one all of her visions had been pleasant, pleasing to our minds. None of us understood, at the time, what was happening or what these visions were. And we were sure that no one would be interested in the gift that only presented images that had no real purpose or use for the world as it was.

We were all together one evening when that first different one repeated. We saw the fear in her eyes as she stared sightlessly out into nothing. To see the rest of us gathered around and held onto her. What we saw shook us to our very core. When we had come together as a family we found ourselves standing on a mountain and we saw each of us next to each other. There was a strong wind blowing and while the air was warm, the breeze was cool. We sensed more than saw that something ominous was about to take place.

I stared out into the distance and saw what had to be what we knew as a city. Cities didn’t exist now, only in the past. We were too few, and the places where any might live and survive were even less. Suddenly the skies lit up with a blinding bright light right over that city, followed by a cloud of some kind climbing high into the sky. From this point of origin a large cloud layer rolled out in every direction hiding what was under it. And when we could see everything it had touched was gone.

Looking at the family and En I saw shocked disbelief. And then I, as I suspect they, realized that even here we wouldn’t be able to escape that cloud of death. Panic began to rise in all of us and we desperately looked for any way to escape, but there was none. Then as this cloud began to climb the mountain approaching us at a speed greater than any horse, or anything we ever saw moving, despair and dread filled us and as one we turned to run, and then we were back in our shelter.

We looked at each other surprised that we were back, and still alive. And then we all looked at En and saw that she was shaken and crying. These images were too much for one so young. How did one deal with such? How did one stay innocent? How could one not be destroyed from such images? We reached out and held her close. It was the only thing we could do.

It was later that I began to wonder what this image was all about, what did it represent? We hadn’t been there long enough to see what had actually happened to that city that was in the distance, and whether the visions she had meant anything at all. And the fact that she had no control over them, no way to suppress them meant that others like this one would arrive unbidden leaving her shaken, as well as any who happened to be in physical contact at that moment. And it was one of these incidents that finally revealed to the village that En had the gift. No it wasn’t one of the scary ones, thankfully.

It was a few years later during one of the celebrations that included dance, song, and fellowship. During one of the dances where the entire village would dance as one, with each holding on to each other’s hands, she had one of her visions. Suddenly, other than the ones playing the instruments everything went quiet. En who was in the middle with the other children, which included me of course, and all the grown ones on either side started having one of her visions, and fortunately it was one of the early ones she had many years in the past. It was of the vast herds of horses dancing and wheeling on the vast plains. And as quickly as it was there, it was gone, leaving the village breathless.

Fortunately nobody, other than the family knew who was responsible or what such a thing represented. For now it allowed, for a short time, En to remain anonymous since the whole village experienced the vision. It became the talk of the village for a long time. Eventually, as in most things, time and other incidents put it out of the memories of most. Still such cannot remain a secret forever. And in truth, this vision seen by all had leaked out beyond, and the rumors began saying that the whole village had been given a taste of the gift and that there would be a great chance that someone there would be the receiver.

Well, we knew that had already happened – we the family. We all wanted to protect En, but there wasn’t any way we could protect her from those visions. Visions that had to tear her apart inside as all that death and destruction came to her. Eventually, by the way she’d act and react, the ones around us began to suspect, and eventually know. We, the family knew that we wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret forever. Still, in a small part of our souls we hoped to.

One day we were called to the meeting area where the leaders came together. We were confronted with what had been observed, and asked to give answers to the questions. No it wasn’t put forth with suspicion or with fear. We were asked honest questions for which we knew we’d have to give honest answers. The one point we had to make, simply stated, was that the gift En was given would help no one. We guessed that what we saw when we were with her in those visions were images from the past. And as such would do no one in the present any good. And yes what she had was strong – strong enough that others, when in contact with En, would experience the same vision.

It didn’t take long for the word to spread beyond our village, and even though it had been stated that one here in this village had the gift this manifestation would benefit no one. Still it didn’t prevent many from making the trek from wherever they were to see and experience the gift firsthand. And it meant that somehow that our village would have to figure out how to support these additional ones putting a further strain on what we had.

Eventually the fervor died down. Since she, at this time, had no control over when these visions of hers would arrive, many would leave disappointed, and at times angry to have not experienced firsthand one of these visions. And this led to both doubt that she had the gift from some, and excitement from others because they had experienced and lived one of those visions. Eventually the archivists wanted to see, figuring that what she experienced might have truly been the past of this world. They wanted to write down what they saw.

In the end even they finally left. The problem, they learned, was there was no continuity, no way to tell what they saw through her visions was the past, and there was no timeline with those visions. So they had no way to know when or what happened. It was during this time that the visions became stronger, and when inside them one could use all one’s senses. Now they – these visions – were as real as looking out in the morning watching the sun rise above the horizon. Real as feeling the chill of the morning, and then the warmth as the heat drove that chill away.

Now you tasted the air, felt the humidity, sensed the subtle changes that happened when you hiked through an area. It was the smell of the greenery, the sounds of birds flying, the feel of the wind, and the moving of the grass in the grasslands as those winds created waves. And unlike before where you could only look where she was looking, one now could turn in any direction and see the whole world, and at times it would bring tears. Why tears you ask? Because what we’d see showed this world in all the beauty and variety that no longer existed. It made one want to spend all their time inside of these visions.

Yet, during all of this time, the visions covered large areas, great vistas, mountains, cities in the distance, and such – nothing up close and intimate. That would change later. Still, we appreciated what we saw. Unfortunately for her these stronger visions would wipe her out and she’d easily sleep two days before recovering. It was a worrisome thing. One so small had only so much energy to expend, and for whatever the reason, the visions seemed to require a lot.

Eventually the ones coming to see the gift trickled down to a few, only showing up with the traders, making it easier on everybody. And slowly as she grew up she began to gain control over the visions. No, she couldn’t manifest them on command, but she was able to shrink the areas down, make the scenes more intimate. And eventually we began to understand one of our yearly celebrations.

Here in this vast desert there are but two seasons and two major celebrations. And they, the celebrations, rotate around the growing and harvesting of our crops. The first celebration has to do with the plantings and the hope for a successful wet season – such as it is – to allow our crops to grow, and the last is after the harvest where we’d gather and give thanks for the bounty. Yet, here with this celebration another seemed to be a part of it, but had no direct connection to the harvest. It was the celebration of the birth of a male child.

Now to be honest, we always feel great with the birth and survival of a child, as death seems to follow as often as life. Yet, for whatever the reason this had more significance than this. And with reverence we, the whole village, and as I understand it, the whole world, would honor this child. And maybe, in the end, this is why En had those visions, even though it took years for her to learn how to control them.

And we really never understood why or when this portion of the celebration had become part of us, but it had always been there, and important. We felt that what this part represented is the future, since a child coming into this world held its own promises for such. If one traveled, which I mentioned I didn’t, then one would most likely see this celebration in exactly the same way everywhere, and at the same time of the year.

We, the village, were sitting around the communal fire, quietly celebrating this portion of the annual harvest celebration when I noticed En smiling, having that distant stare saying she was having one of her visions. She reached out and touched the ones on either side of her, and they realized what was happening. Shortly we were all arm in arm and enjoying what she was seeing.

So different from those of the past, as this was up close and personal, an intimate view of this same celebration, but at the same time different. In fact it was two visions with a small break between. It explained everything to us – everything.

First we saw what might have been a desert, but in a way not really. Then we slowly got closer to what had to be a village. What and who we saw, well let’s say it was different. We saw what might have been a star shining bright overhead, and in a place reserved for the animals a young woman about to give birth. And with that birth the air filled with beings that seemed to hang in the sky proclaiming the birth of this child – the very one we celebrated. To say we were in awe is an understatement.

This scene faded, and before we broke contact the second began and it was obvious that some time had passed as we were inside a room, which had to be part of someone’s home or shelter. It was night, and when we looked outside it appeared to be lit up with some type of artificial light. Something we didn’t have now, but we’d seen something similar in other visions of hers.

In that room was a tree, but of a type we were unfamiliar, and that tree was decorated and lit with lights of many colors. The room was warm and inviting, and there was music in the background. We heard the words, “For unto us a child is born”, and we realized it had to be that child we’d seen in the previous vision. It was then as we listened in awe, that the words spoke of a Savior, and at that moment we realized that this is exactly what we celebrated now. Even after all the time from then to now, this was still with us.

Then that vision too faded away and we were back. Looking around I saw that everybody was quiet, introspective. Now we knew, now we understood. We had a rare opportunity to understand, to see, and to tie it all together. That child had come into the world to save us, to show us the light that lit the darkness. It was God providing a way to bring us back to Him.

Thanksgiving 2017

Consider this a bonus since it’s Thursday, late in November. Most likely most of us here in the USA are gathering with family and friends, and for others heading out for a long weekend away from that daily grind. It is a time to give thanks for what we have, and to appreciate our families and personal relationships.

We normally feel the warmth of the home where we are celebrating, and the smells that will be filling the rooms bring smiles of past times. Maybe the time when you personally sat at the “kids” table and looked longingly at the “adult” table and wondered when you’d be able to sit there yourself.

I’ve been writing this blog for seven years and in that time only wrote one short story for Thanksgiving. So I decided this year to link back to it. So if you have a spare moment and want to escape into a fictional world, seeing this time of year through another’s eyes then follow this link back and enjoy! https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/returning-home/

To you and yours may it be a great day, and God Bless!

Time of Isolation, Chapter 9, Part 7

The Harsh Lands is available as a paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5), for Kindle (ASIN: B01N69YCCW), or EPub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9). This is the complete Survival Trilogy in a single novel, with a page count over 1150.

Last week we left the team finding Saige still alive after his fall. In many ways this accident is fortuitous as he discovers a hidden facility buried deep inside the Sacred Mountains. Still who built it and why is an unknown. To add to this mystery it is abandoned, and with the maintenance bots still functioning it seems to be in perfect working order. As Saige leads them they all feel like they’ve come home, and they are with what is familiar and common. It is a strange and unexpected feeling. Here, once inside of what appears to be a lunch room or cafeteria, Shellian spies what must be public restrooms and with her urging she and Seirra head out to see if they are still functioning. After all, to have real restrooms after all this time in the wilderness would be a luxury. And with this we close out part 6. (The Survival trilogy – Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past, and with the release of The Harsh Lands, are available from your favorite EBook retailer, with the exception of the Harsh Lands which is as described above.):

Shaking his head Saar said. “Now that is something I will never understand.”

“What’s that Saar?” Stone asked.

“Why is it that any time a woman wants to use a public restroom that they always must go in packs, or at least two of them? After all when we use them we just go. Sometimes it’s with another guy, but most of the time it’s just us, one at a time. But if there are at least two women, then they always tag team it.”

“I’ve never thought about it”, Stone replied. “But you’re right. I’ve never seen any of them go to one of these things alone.”

They sat at one of the tables that were anchored to the floor waiting until the women made an appearance from their trip. With no one speaking initially and all just looking around. “I would say that this place could seat maybe fifty or sixty easily”, Saar said. “And I suspect that whoever was here probably worked in shifts, so that means that this place could have had at least one hundred to one hundred and fifty people, if not more. What’s off in the other direction from that administration area Saige?”

“Don’t know really, didn’t have time to explore it yet. But my guess is, that’s it is the main way through. It wouldn’t make sense for the main thoroughfare to go through a place where people eat. But to have a place to eat close to the working areas makes total sense.”

“True, but working areas for what?” Stone asked. “While I know that we more or less just walked through that cavern I didn’t see anything that would constitute work.”

About this time Shellian came out of the restroom and quickly joined them at the table. “Hey! Guess what we found?”

“I hope an operating restroom.” Saar answered

Laughing she said. “Yes, and so much more. Care to guess?”

“Well a working restroom is plenty for me.” Turning to the others he asked. “I wonder how they did it? This place hasn’t been used in what seems forever. Yet so much of it appears to be in working order.”

Placing her hands on her hips and shaking her head she said. “You men always are looking at how things work, instead of just appreciating that it just does. Okay since none of you want to guess I’ll tell you. These restrooms are equipped with showers. The real thing and like everything else they appear to work and there’s hot water also. So I don’t know about you but I am tired of smelling like smoke and I for one am tired of smelling dirty bodies. So I suggest that the three of you go check it out and if yours are so equipped go clean up. Oh by the way there seems to be supplies of towels and believe it or not some type of clothing that whoever worked here used. So we can also get out of these skins and into something a little more comfortable.” She then turned around and headed back into the restroom.

Looking at each other for a moment they then got up from the table and headed into their public restroom. Pushing through the door they found a large area with the standard urinals, toilets, and sinks. But further in there was a section that held supplies of toweling and clothing, and just beyond that there were showers. Not waiting they stripped down, looking in one of the cabinets they found something that could pass as soap and went into the open shower area. Later, with the clothes provided in the restrooms they emerged feeling clean for the first time in what seemed like forever. But even though they had started their showers later than the women, the ladies had yet to emerge. “Wonder what this material is?” Saar asked idly, as they waited for the women to make their appearance. “You know I’ve forgotten how good a shower feels.” The rest had to agree, and to be out of those skins, which had needed cleaning for a while, but with nothing to change in to, they had to make do. Looking at the clothes that they were in, they found that it changed their looks, now not appearing to be a part of the primitives. The items were one-piece coverall style – making it easy to get in and out of. The material could have been paper, so they were a one-time use and then probably recycled. In the supply lockers all of this clothing was a simple light blue. It appeared to use some type of magnetic closure so there were no buttons or other type of fasteners. “I don’t know about you . . .” Stone said. “But I think I want to go check out the kitchen area. If this place is similar to the cities then they probably have food processors in there. I really don’t think that this would be an easy place to grow food. Although I bet with something this size they probably have hydroponics somewhere.” Looking around they saw that the women still had not emerged and so agreed with Stone. They all got up and headed into the kitchen area. The first thing that hit them was that everything was spotless, and no dust lay anywhere. It was obvious that it had been shut down with the idea that it could be a long time before anybody returned. “This will take some time to figure out.” Saige said. “This was a careful shutdown and it appears that the equipment has been mothballed, but with the idea that it can be brought back quickly if needed – which makes sense, as this would be one of the first places I would reactivate after returning.”

Shellian and Seirra finally emerged from the restroom and saw that the men were not around. “Now we couldn’t have beaten them out”, Shellian said. “After all I’ve never seen a man take a shower that he wasn’t out way before any of us. So I wonder where they went?”

“I think I hear voices over there towards the kitchen.” Seirra said as she pointed in the direction.

“I do think you’re right. Shall we go and join them?” They headed into the kitchen and found the men once again in deep discussion about something. “Okay guys what’s gong on?” Shellian asked.

“Wow! Look at you two.” Stone exclaimed. “Oh while we were waiting it was decided that we’d come in and check out the kitchen. After all we are just about out of what we brought with us. So it was a good time to check it out since we really didn’t know how long the two of you would be. But personally I can say the wait was worth it.”

Looking at Stone with askance Shellian asked. “Now what is that supposed to mean?”

Laughing at her look he said. “Now Shellian you have to admit that with the way we have had to live that none of us looked the best that we could. I am just saying that I appreciate the change. Besides it appears that you and Seirra had more choices in the one-piece outfits than we did. We had the choice of, oh let me see, one color, while I can tell there was a much greater selection for you – and I have to admit that they fit rather well also.”

Shellian had picked an outfit that was pale yellow and with her tanned skin it worked very well for her, while Seirra had found one that was a darker shade of green and again had done her justice. Stone continuing said. “It’s nice to be really clean again, and if I cannot appreciate what it does then . . .” He shrugged looking to the two other men for support.

Laughing Saige said. “Don’t look at us Stone. It looks like you’re doing a great job of digging your own grave right now, and besides I’ve never succeeded in winning when sparing with words with either Shellian or Seirra. So leave me out of it.”

Saar looking around at everyone just shook his head. “Okay guys not to change the subject, but to change the subject, we do need to figure out how to get this back on line so that we can use the facilities here.”

“Breathing out deeply Stone said, “Thank you Saar, and you’re right. But I think that Saige should continue to show us what he has found so far. Then we can come back and try and get this and anything else we need back on line. So Saige, if you would?” Stone then stepped back and gestured for Saige to continue.

Looking around at the other four Saige said. “Okay? If you are ready, let’s do this. Like I said before we were interrupted . . . not that it was a bad interruption.” He added hastily as he headed through them and led them out of the eating area through a set of double swinging doors and into a hallway. Looking down the hallway there were a number of closed doors on both sides. He turned left where there was only one door at the end. And like the one they had just gone through it was double swinging doors. Once through the door they found themselves in a large room with a single table and many chairs around it. There were some small cabinets around the perimeter and on the walls that the doors attached to. But the opposite side was all windows. But at the moment, with the soft light that was in the room, they could not see through them. It was now nighttime and completely dark out. So the only things visible were their reflections on the glass, or whatever the windows were constructed from. Glass first came to mind, but then they realized that unless it was tempered that regular glass would probably been destroyed by now. “Well I was going to show you the outside portion, but that looks like it will have to wait until the morning. I guess we should explore in the other direction from the cafeteria, dining area or whatever you want to call it, and see what exists in that direction. So far I haven’t found any living areas, but I suspect with the size of this place, there has to be.”

* * *

When the women return from the public restrooms the men are nowhere to be seen. And when the two groups come together Stone digs a hole for himself at which point Saar changes the subject, and saves him further embarrassment. And as the team continues their discoveries Saige tells the others what he has discovered so far. It is too late in the day to go back into the hidden valley, so the decision is to search another part of this facility. And with this we close out part 7. Have a great week and God Bless!

Time of Isolation, Chapter 9, Part 6

And with this post we close out 2016:

First and once again I’m announcing the release of my novel, The Harsh Lands – The Complete Survival Trilogy. It is presently available as either a paperback (ISBN:978-1-946179-00-5) or an EBook but only for Kindle (ASIN:B01N69YCCW). I’m still dealing with conversion problems transferring the manuscript to the EPub format. Once I’m successful then the novel will be available in all the popular formats.

And as I have been doing all month, I’m presenting links back to my previous Christmas short stories throughout the month of December. This one I wrote for 2015 and is titled, Time Shared, Time Lost, and this is seen through the eyes of a child.

https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/time-shared-time-lost/

Two weeks ago we left Shellian and the other three members of the team packing and heading in the direction where Saige fell. She has no idea if he survived the fall, or whether there’s even access to this hidden valley or canyon. And as they approach the area where the accident took place she sees Saige standing there. To see him fall and expect the worst and then find him apparently alive and walking is a shock. (The Survival trilogy, Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past, and now The Harsh Lands, are available as Ebooks, with the exception of The Harsh lines which is available as stated above.) And with this introduction is part 6:

Smiling although it hurt Saige said, “Now don’t just stand there with your mouth open say something.”

“Sorry. Ah, but, I saw you fall and from what I could see that valley was completely walled –especially on this side. There was no way out of there. So how’d . . ?

“How did I get out sis? Is that what you are asking?” He then turned slowly around and said to all of them. “Just follow me and all will become clear.” He then began to limp off in another direction beckoning them to follow. Shocked by seeing him it took a moment for the rest to react and begin to follow. Since he was moving slowly because of his injuries he was not that far ahead of them. Saar looked at Shellian and said. “He obviously has some injuries, but for someone who fell as far as you said he did, he seems to be in remarkable health.” Saige appeared to be heading straight for a rock wall. There appeared to be no reason for this action as there was no trail, and the area was somewhat exposed. Shrugging they tried to catch up only to watch him walk right up to the wall and then disappear from sight. It surprised them enough that they stopped in their tracks once again, and again stared. What was it that Saige had discovered? They quickened their pace and then when they approached the same area Saige made an appearance as if he had walked through solid rock and then asked. “Does something about this appear to be familiar?”

“Yes.” Saar stated. “Yes this appears to be something similar to what we are using in the cities to hide entrances. But why would such a thing be here?”

“A very good question and one I think will need some time to confirm. But my initial impression is that this, although obviously much older, is of the same technology that we use in the cities.”

“No. No can’t be. There’s no record of any of this here in these mountains. Yes I know I’m the doctor, but I always enjoyed history and it has been my hobby. Well, at least until our world fell apart.”

“Understood Saar, but before we really get cold let’s all step inside. I think that there are many surprises awaiting all of us.” He then turned and once again disappeared. This time they followed and found that they were standing on a large platform sitting above a large open cavern, and it was warm. When the warmth hit them they shivered a moment as the heat penetrated. “I haven’t had much time to do any real exploring here. And I know it is almost a miracle that I am even walking let alone standing before you. And I’ll explain my side of this adventure, but let’s take the ladder down to the floor. I can see by the size of your packs that you’ve brought everything with you. Would that be because someone lit the signal fire?” He saw them nod their heads. He then gingerly climbed down the ladder to another platform, and then continued the process through two other platforms before finally standing on the ground. Even though the light was dim, the whole cavern was bathed in the soft light. It was huge, and looking around there appeared to be many areas that had been modified for storage. One thing about it, whatever this was, it was not a small operation. It would have been easy to put their whole compound in here and still have room. Then it came to them that the volume of this area was enormous and yet the whole area was warm. That took some power and yet there was no sign of any. Looking down they could see Saige’s tracks from his earlier walk across the dirt floor. These tracks led away into the distance towards what they suspected were the valley that he had fallen into.

“Okay some explanations are necessary.” He said as he led them across the floor in the opposite direction of his previous tracks. “When I fell I thought I was dead. But after falling for about ten meters I was fortunate enough to fall into one of the many trees. The boughs of the tree broke my fall, and I broke many of the branches on the way to the ground. Then when I hit the ground it knocked me out. I don’t know how much time passed before I was conscious. But the first thing I noticed was the tree I had fallen through above me, and then realized that I had also fallen into a deep pile of needles which further broke my fall. No, as you can tell I did not come off unscathed. I have many cuts and contusions, with some of them deep, but at least none of them were close to a main artery so they scabbed over pretty quick. I have a large deep bruise on this leg and it’s why I am limping, and to be honest I hurt just about everywhere. Later Doc you can check me out to be sure nothing is worse, but overall I feel very lucky. I then searched this small valley for a way out. Found some things that just did not look quite natural and then found the corner of an ancient building, which led me to this huge cavern and then hearing all of you. I wasn’t sure of the way out so I climbed up and saw that there was an entrance there at the top. And for now you know the rest.”

They stopped briefly looking around the enormous cavern. Its height disappeared above them and it seemed that it went on forever around them although they knew it was an illusion. Near some of the walls there appeared to be small structures. Guessing, they felt that at one time these structures were probably a place where supplies had been stored. Again looking at them from a distance one had the impression that the owners had just temporarily stepped out and would be returning at any moment. Yet at the same time the place had the feel of age laying on it. “What is this place?” Saar asked to no one in particular. “And who used it and built those structures?”

“You got me Saar”, Saige replied. “As you know I have been here just a little longer than you, by no choice of my own I might add, so I truly know no more than you at this point.”

“Really just thinking out loud Saige,” Saar replied, “I’m sure that all of us are wondering the same thing. This building that you found, where is it from here?”

“Well before we stopped to admire the shear size of this place I was heading to it. Very little of it shows in the valley and I was surprised when I found the entrance to it. I expected it to be just a home, a place for a small group to live, but . . . well instead of just telling you, follow me and you can see for yourselves.” He then led them across the floor of the cavern to another wall that again appeared to be solid. Yet looking down they could see his tracks disappearing through the seemingly solid wall. Again another barrier like they were familiar with – identical in fact to the ones used in their cities.

Contemplating what little had been revealed so far Stone said. “I wonder . . .”

“Wonder what Stone?” Shellian asked.

“I know we have seen very little yet, but what we have appears to be very familiar. I don’t know or understand how all of this could still be functioning after all of this time, but it is. So there has to be some type of auto maintenance going on here. Otherwise it would have quit a long time ago. Still . . . still this feels like we are home, in one of our cities that are down below.”

“Yes, I think you are right Stone.” Shellian said. “It is, well it was like the moment we came inside that we immediately felt comfortable, safe, and yes like we were back in one of our cities.”

“That’s quite a conclusion being that we have seen so little of this place”, Saar replied. “But yes I can understand it and really have to agree. And truthfully, I cannot even tell you why.”

“Ready?” Saige asked. He could see that they were and so he went through the illusion and they then followed him. Before them was a set of double doors, which they went through. Once through they stopped again in awe with what was before them. Here they found a large area that could easily have been an administrative section. There were places to handle whatever supplies that would arrive in that cavern, and a section with cubicles for whatever business needed to be carried out. Behind the cubicles were a few rooms with standard doors identifying ones who were probably in charge of the operation. All of it laid out neatly making the different areas easily accessible for any that required the services provided.

“What is this place?” Seirra asked, “This is just huge. Why here in the mountains? There’s nothing here for something this size?”

“I can’t disagree. When I came into the building it stopped me in my tracks. I’ve really had very little time to explore it, but from what I have seen we are just touching the very beginnings of this place. Before coming into the building I realized that there was another problem and it was the trees. There was something very wrong with them. I don’t mean that they were damaged or dying or anything like that – well, other than the damage I did falling through one of them. But they are subtly different than any I remember seeing and are living around these mountains. That’s not to say that that they don’t belong here since plants and trees are not my specialty. Well, as we finally get back outside, inside that valley you’ll see what I mean.” He then led them down a hallway, which had a number of closed doors on either side. Finally ending at a set of double doors, which he opened, and walked into what looked to be a large dining area, and off to one side, an area that appeared to be a large kitchen. Then on the opposite wall a couple of doors that looked to be entrances into public bathrooms.

“You know what; I think I could use that.” Shellian said, pointing to the door for the woman’s restroom. “I wonder if it is still functional after all this time. And if it is it sure will beat using the bushes for our nature calls.” then turning to Seirra she said. “Shall we go find out?” They both left and entered the restroom leaving the men standing there.

* * *

Suddenly the mysteries deepen. What is this place Saige discovered? And why the abandonment? And what is it about this place that makes it feel like one of their cities, makes them feel safe? None have any answers. And as they begin to explore this vacant and abandoned facility they discover it has public restrooms. Shellian wonders if they are still functioning and suggests that she and Seirra go and check it out leaving the men standing there. And here we break.

And as a final bonus I’m providing a link to a MGM cartoon from 1939 titled: Peace on Earth.

May the new year be good for you and your family and have a great week, and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

The Ornament

Again I’m announcing the release of the novel, The Harsh Lands – The Complete Survival Trilogy. Available as either a paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5) or an EBook for the Kindle (ASIN: B01N69YCCW).

It is Christmas Eve day, and I am opening this post with two links. This first link is for a simple Christmas wish and a link to a YouTube video which represents the season, and one that I personally believe does a wonderful job.  https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/12/25/a-christmas-wish/

This second link refers back to the Christmas short story I wrote for 2014. And if this is the first time to this blog I need to warn you that these look more in the direction of the way others might experience this time of year. After all, not everybody is as blessed as we. So this story and the links I’ve provided to my past Christmas short stories all reflect this other side. Think of a recently released Disney animated short titled, The Match Girl, (And this short story that’s linked here is actually my personal favorite).

https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/and-it-came-to-pass/

This year my Christmas story is a bit different. Actually the subject was suggested by my wife, and I thought it was a great idea. Still if I was to go back many years to the small church we were members of, (long before I met my wife) for one Christmas we, (my family and I) wrote a play that would be presented to the congregation. The simple premise of the play had to deal with the idea of, What if someone never heard of Christmas, and why it is important. Now I could go into how we did this, but that’s unimportant. Because if we think about it, with the way the world presently is, the Christmas story would be known to most. And let’s just say that the play was well received and enjoyed. And before you ask, no we have no copies as they were lost along with everything to the wildfires of 2003.

So when I began this story it has much of the same ideas and direction. Now if we want to be honest, we have a tendency to attach personalities to inanimate objects all the time. And even, at times, have imaginary conversations with these things. So with the above thoughts, and our tendencies, I decided to write this from the perspective of an ornament. And through the eyes of this inanimate object we become privy to one family, and learn the true meaning of Christmas. And with this introduction, I present this year’s Christmas story, The Ornament:

She came running up to the display where I sat. And I could see the sparkle in her eyes, and a soul full of merriment and excitement for the time of year. She can’t be more than five, I thought, and probably a bit younger. In the distance I could see the one who had to be her father coming to collect her. It became obvious to me that somehow in the hustle and bustle that she had escaped his watchful eye. In the distance I could see the one who must have been her mother as she stayed with the shopping cart. In that cart sat an infant, plus one more that had to between this one standing before me and that baby in age.

If I could smile, I probably would have. But, I am of glass, made to look like a shining silver star with a slight gold tint. Like the one that could have been the one announcing the arrival of another child over two thousand years ago. With the bright lights I shown brightly, reflecting that light from the many facets that is a part of me . . . Just the thing to catch a child’s eyes, but much too delicate for them to handle. I heard him, the one who had to be her father, say, “Come on honey, mama’s waiting for the two of us and we still have much to do. Plus, you know, if we have time, we need to go over and see your grandmother today.”

She answered excitedly, “But daddy . . . look! Isn’t it pretty?”

He took a quick look that said to me that he really hadn’t, and nodded to her. “Yes, yes it is. Now please come back. There are lots of strangers in the store, and it would be easy for you to get lost.” With that he grabbed her hand and pulled her gently in the direction where the rest of the family awaited.

I could see that she resisted, reluctant to leave, but it was also obvious that she really wouldn’t disobey and with her head down, said quietly, “Yes daddy.” She quickly looked up at him and back at the display where I was and she said with hope, “Can we get one of the stars? Please?”

I could tell from his reaction that this wasn’t the first thing she had asked for in the shopping center, and it was also obvious that with the crowds that his nerves were on edge. He simply said, “Look, as I said, we have a lot more to do here today. And if we still have time, and you’re not tired, we can come back, okay?”

She stopped for a moment, and then looked back to me with a big smile and said, “We will be back, and then I can take you home with me and put you on our Christmas tree.”

I thought that it would be something which wouldn’t happen. With so many bright and shiny things to draw the attention of one so young, she would forget and it would simply be a brief memory for me . . . but I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, with as many who had looked and with the crowds there was a great possibility that some other person or child would pick me and I’d become part of their personal family and history. Yet, as the day moved on, and many of my brothers were chosen, I remained. Why, who knows, I surely didn’t. Still it must have been providence, or whatever word you like, for me to remain.

With the time of year all the stores remained open late, but even so eventually they would close down for the day. After all, the ones who worked here had families of their own, and they deserved to return to them at the day’s end. It was close to closing, and the crowds in the stores had thinned when suddenly in the distance I saw them. To be surprised was an understatement. I could see the weariness in the parents. I mean think about it. Running all day through the many stores with young children who would become overly tired and cranky as it is called, besides all the crowds. Well, I’d give it to them. I really felt they’d have gone home a long time ago, probably stopping off and picking up something to eat so nothing had to be prepared once they got home. And I honestly suspect the children – all three of them – would be fast asleep from that ride home.

With that big smile on her face she pulled a reluctant father back over to the display where I remained. I could see by his reaction that he was surprised that I was still here, and I suspect that he had promised his daughter that if I was still available that yes, they would buy it for her. So with care he lifted her up and she carefully picked me up and gently carried me back to their shopping cart where I became part of the many items. I guess I was to be a part of this family and only this family and thusly why I hadn’t been picked earlier in this day. As we wheeled out into the parking lot I could feel the fresh cold air as all the numerous bags of treasure were placed into the trunk of their car. But, she wanted to hold me and so her father carefully dug me out and had her sit in the car, followed by safely being strapped in before he handed me to her.

I looked up and saw the excitement in her eyes, but she yawned so I suspected she’d be asleep soon. Still before we really got on the road to where they lived they pulled into a drive-thru and ordered their dinner. She carefully placed me on the seat between her and the baby. She quietly admonished the baby to “not touch”, and happily grabbed the burger, fries, and drink, and began to eat them telling me all about her day. And as we headed down the road I could see that she was trying hard to stay awake. But the food, the excitement of the day, plus the quiet droning of the car was winning, and as hard as she tried, she lost the battle and soon was sound asleep as were her siblings. I saw the mother look back and smile a loving smile and say something to her husband, where he whispered something back. And by the lateness of the hour I felt they would be heading home instead of going over “to grandmother”.

I really couldn’t see out from where I sat but I could see that the side windows were frosted telling me it wasn’t warm and soon I heard a change as we pulled off the interstate and onto the side roads. I could hear the windshield wipers rhythmically slapping the car as they cycled trying to keep the windshield clean and clear. Eventually the car slowed even more and then pulled into a driveway where it stopped. They left the car running with the heater on and one of the parents left and I guess unlocked their door to the home where they lived. Then one by one they took the children inside. Yet before they could take the little girl she awakened slightly reached down and picked me up hugging me to her breast and then her father carried her inside with the mother locking up the car and following behind.

They took her to her room, got her into her night clothes – you know those pajamas with the footsies – had her take care of the bathroom routine and tucked her in her bed. Looking up she reached out and hugged her father saying, “I love you daddy.” For which he smiled a tired smile saying, “And I love you too sweetheart.” At this point he handed me to her since it was obvious she wasn’t going to let me go. At this point she snuggled down deeper under her covers, sighed a contented sigh, and was almost instantly asleep. I could see from where I was that he smiled a loving smile, making sure she was tucked in, and quietly left the room, turning out the light and closing the door. Still there was a nightlight so the room wasn’t dark. I knew they – the parents – still had to unload the car, plus all the other responsibilities they had to do before they would retire. I thought about this sleeping child where I remained. Yes to be young and innocent, to not understand what the world really is, to think what little I see and understand to be the real world, and feel safe knowing I’m loved, such a wonderful thing.

I knew as he put her daughter down for the night that she, her mother would be doing the same thing for the middle child and I suspect that together they’d get the baby to bed before heading out and finishing the night. Yet, for me it simply is a guess since here I am in this bedroom with the one who’d chosen me.

* * *

It was the next day and for a while I remained in her bedroom. It seemed she had much to do and at this time it didn’t involve me. I guess it is the standard stuff, but you must remember I hadn’t been around such before. I learned she had to go to the bathroom, take a quick bath after getting out of her pajamas, and from the laughter and splashing I could tell she, and later I learned her younger brother had a good time playing in the water. From where I was I heard screams of laughter as the sounds got closer to her bedroom and she ran into her room with her mom close on her heals. She jumped on the bed naked as a jay bird, as the saying goes, throwing the towel she had with her on the floor. I could see her mother shaking her head, even though she had a smile on her face. “Okay, little one, it’s time for you to get dressed and then we need to go downstairs and have breakfast.” It was quiet for a moment as the mother appeared to be listening and whatever she heard caused her to shake her head again.

At this point she turned around and went to the door and yelled down the hallway. “I have this one, you take care of your son, and then we can all head downstairs and get some food.” Whatever the answer brought laughter to the lips of the mother. She turned around and her daughter was still on the bed daring her to make her get dressed, but in a fun way as there was a sparkle and challenge in those eyes. I could see that this was a familiar game the two played and with much tickling of the daughter and laughter from both of them the mother finally got the girl dressed, had her sit on the bed as she brushed her damp hair, and again it was obvious this young one didn’t really like having her hair brushed.

Soon they disappeared downstairs and for the longest time I knew nothing and could hear nothing. Then she ran back into her room came over to where I was and carefully picked me up and said, “It’s time. I get to put you on our Christmas tree!” When we left her room I could hear, in the distance, what sounded like music – Christmas songs and such. And as we reached the stairs where I could look down I found a room transformed from what I remembered from the previous night. There was garland interwoven in the railing of the stairs, and a big green tree in the middle of what they call the living room. And it was obvious that much time and care had been given to decorating this Christmas tree with lights, bobbles, globes and so much more. But at this moment there wasn’t anything placed on the top, the place of honor.

It was at that moment I realized that this was to be my place. To be the one on top of the tree and to look down on all that existed here. If I were a living thing I probably would have glowed and been filled with pride for such an honored place. I watched as she handed me to her father who then carefully unpacked me from the packing that protected me from being broken. I could see the impatience on her face as he took his time. Looking up I could almost see a hidden smile saying to me that he was deliberately being slow, while watching her and her impatience. Finally when he could tell that she had almost reached her end he handed me over. She reverently took me in her two small hands as her father lifted her up and with care she placed me in this place of honor. She studied me for a few moments, made a slight adjustment and then told her daddy she was done. He carefully set her down and tickled her a little bit getting the expected giggle.

He looked down and asked. “So what do you think?”

“Oh I think the star is won-der-ful, and just right!”

I could tell that the big word was something she said with some difficulty, but I could also see that she was proud that she could say it. I watched from my high perch and he looked up and appeared to be studying me and where I was, paused, looked down, and I could see that she was waiting for his approval. At this point he crouched down so he could be eye to eye with her. He simply said, “Yes, I agree.” At this point they turned on the lights and the Christmas tree shown in its own splendor.

* * *

The days flew by and I could see, as the days passed, the children, at the least the two older ones, were becoming more and more excited. As to the whys I really didn’t understand then. Still there was a routine to what happened in the house, and I fell into this feeling comfortable with the love I felt here. Then one night they left – all of them – and this was different. Yet it had become obvious that something important was about to happen. I heard something about going over to the children’s grandparents as it was a tradition they did every Christmas Eve.

Now I knew that I had been created for this time of the season, but really didn’t understand the significance of what it represented. In fact it took a few seasons for me to put it all together, and then it all made sense. It represented a time of giving. And while it appeared to be a magical time for the children, it really was much more serious than it appeared. It was a couple of conversations the parents had that finally put it all in perspective. This time of the year represented the ultimate gift – God bringing man back to Him through the gift of His Son. This led to the understanding of the gifts magically appearing under that tree. That same tree where I sat on top, but I’m getting ahead of myself since this is the first year or season I became a part of their tradition.

The house was quiet and seemed empty while all of them were gone. And while the lights that lit the tree were normally on at this time, they weren’t at this moment, and a soft glow from the hallway light was all that could be seen. It was hours later when I heard the car park in the driveway and the key open the lock. This was followed by the daughter being carried in by her father sort of half asleep. She looked over at the tree and me, and I could make out that huge smile of hers as I could see she was anticipating something. Again what this was all about I hadn’t a clue. Her father carried her up the stairs and I suspected to her room, then returned and with a practiced routine returned with the son with the mother carrying the baby.

The next hour or so seemed to be involved in getting the three to bed and tucked in for the night. Then they came downstairs and went into the kitchen where they turned on the light, made some coffee, and sat quietly and talked. It seemed, to me, that all was right with the world at this moment. I heard the chairs scrape the floor as they were pushed back and I watched the parents head upstairs. I thought they would go to bed also, but I was oh so wrong. I heard them whisper something and then, as if by magic, many wonderfully wrapped gifts appeared under the tree. I noticed, for the first time that a plate had been left out and there appeared to be some cookies on it with some kind of note propped up. And like the gifts appearing, the cookies magically disappeared, and a new note replaced the one that had been left. Then it was quiet, quiet until just before dawn.

I thought I heard a creaking of the floor, and I saw her quietly come down the stairs wide-eyed and full of wonder. She carefully looked at all that was there – all the brightly wrapped gifts and presents. She tentatively picked up a couple. If it had been lighter in that room I probably would have seen that huge smile, and probably impatience. I suspected that she had to wait until everybody was up, and right at this moment she knew she was the only one. So she went over and sat in one of the big chairs and tried to wait. Again, it was obvious she was too excited to be able to sit still. So she headed into the kitchen, and kind of walked around trying to make that old clock go faster, but nothing seemed to work.

I could see that she thought, a couple of times, that she heard someone moving upstairs, but each time it turned out to be nothing. Eventually, and it was still before dawn, she saw her brother at the top of the stairs rubbing his eyes and looking like he had just awakened. She looked up at him and whispered he needed to be quiet, and come down and see what Santa had left them. So, with care, taking one step at a time, he came down, and I saw that incredulous look that said he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Now taking on the role of her mom she told him he could look but that’s all, until momma and daddy came down to join them. Now I had two impatient kids waiting and it was obvious it seemed to be killing them.

Eventually I heard the coffee machine begin its daily ritual of making coffee. This only heightened the anticipation for the children as they knew their parents would put in an appearance shortly and then they could find out what awaited them behind all that beautiful wrapping paper. Yet, as I learned this day, they had a family tradition where fresh cinnamon rolls would be baked, and with coffee for the parents and milk for the children, they would gobble the food down before the father would become the official gift giver as he would look to each package, read the name on it and hand it to the new owner. And they had to wait until all of those wonderful gifts were piled in front of them. Then they’d each open one and show all what they got, and continue until all of them were open.

I could see from the squeals of excitement, and the joy that these items they received were loved things, and soon with Christmas music playing in the background, each child began playing with their new treasures, and quietly, since there had been gifts exchanged between the parents, it was time to clean up all the torn and beautiful wrapping paper, plus all the boxes these gifts came in. And as the morning progressed I began to see yawns on the young ones, and with urging from mom and dad, they took their gifts to their bedrooms and soon it was quiet. I saw the mother and father look at each other and smile. For a while it would be quiet and they could relax before working to put together that final Christmas meal that they all would share later that evening.

And then, it was over. As a new year dawned everything got packed away including me. So until it became that time of year once again, I would know nothing of what happened with the family. Again that is the way it should be since I am to shine during that special time of year. Still this isn’t the end of the story. I guess we could say so but that leaves so much out, and so much that is important. Still I have to admit that very first Christmas that I participated and remembered will always be special to me. But I digress and it’s time to continue . . .

Now I feel that it’s important that I cover that first Christmas season in much detail, but to continue to do so really would make no sense. Yet I remained an important part of the family for years to come. I watched the change in the little girl as she grew. And each year she became less and less of a child, until she became what her parents called a pre-teen. I began to notice a change and while she still placed me in the position of honor on the top of the tree, it seemed to be more of a chore instead of a privilege. Still all things change, and believe it or not even me. I now had a few scratches, nicks, and such even with the careful handling. Still I could feel the love in this house and the care they gave to everyone and everything.

Then one year a few after this one she was gone, and only her brothers were home. I found that the mother and father now placed me on top of the tree, and the two boys helped with the rest of the tree. Yet, once again, I could feel the changes that were in the air. I didn’t know what to attribute these changes to, but realized it had to be because the young ones were no longer young. And then all the children were gone and it was only the two. And while I could feel the love, it seemed the magic was gone.

It was during this time that the children would show up for an evening – not all, all of the time – before returning to wherever they lived. I realized that the ones who lived here, well, their hair had turned gray, and they seemed to move a bit slower. It surprised me that so much time had passed. Then in the middle of one of those years, where I normally remained packed safely away, a new change happened. Suddenly I, with everything in this house, was packed away and this house with so many happy memories became empty. The mom and dad moved away from this home and into something much smaller. I guess it made sense because they really had no need of all that space.

It felt strange that first Christmas in this new place. I knew nothing about or of it. It was then I realized that when the children came to visit, that they had children of their own, and of course soul mates – all beginning a new tradition for each new family. And it was then I found that I was removed from the tree top and given to the daughter, the one who originally spied and wanted me so long in the past. So I left this home and went to a new place. I saw, as I was carefully packed into the car that she rode while her husband drove. I heard the sounds of a baby, and knew I would be seeing another family grow.

* * *

And yes I did. I watched as the magic returned and her four children grow, and like when she left I saw her family leave. And on a sad note I also knew that her parents had passed making her the matriarch of her family, as well as her younger brother who became the patriarch. And, for whatever the reason, it seemed that none of her children were interested in me – those two girls, and two boys. Yet, as I had seen it happen to her parents, I saw the gray beginning, and suddenly she was alone as she lost her soul mate. It had been just before Christmas, and while I ended up on her small tree, I could tell it was a sad time for her.

* * *

And yes, life goes on, and I got to see it renewed as her children found loved ones and had children of their own. It meant that most likely that I would see an end to my beginning, to see the one who had chosen me so long ago join her parents, and her husband, but again that is life. Yet, before I witnessed any of this, one of her granddaughters fell in love with me, and I could see, while the one who had chosen me so long ago was reluctant, she passed me on to her granddaughter. Where I became special and once again held the place of honor . . .

Yes, I wondered what happened to my brothers who had become part of other families, but this is something I will never know. Still, I consider myself blessed with all I’ve seen in those snapshots each and every Christmas. I learned of love, and what it meant, and what it does. I learned the importance of family and the ties that keep them together. And I learned of the true reason for this time of year. So as an ornament what more could I ask, other than to continue being a part of something so great. God Bless, and Merry Christmas!

 

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