Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)
TITLE: Christmas without Papa
By Verna Cole Mitchell
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“Oh, come on Gertrude, I know Papa always did make Christmas special, and I miss him, too, but we have so many wonderful memories of Christmas with Papa and with Mama, too. Let’s sit here and listen to these carols that have meant so much to us through the years."
Never were there two sisters more unlike than gently rounded Matilda, who saw sunshine peeking out from behind every cloud, and tall, angular Gertrude with her sharp tongue and prickly nature. The death of their beloved papa in August, after his long illness, had been difficult for both of them. He had lived with them since their mama had died ten years earlier.
Gertrude smoothed the doily on the back of the sofa with pale blooms that had faded through the years, just like the sisters had. Then she sat down, listening to the sound of a violinist playing ‘O Holy Night’ as she watched the twinkle of the lights on the little tree that Matilda had insisted on decorating.
“Do you remember, Matilda , when you were just a wee girl and were supposed to be singing ‘Away in a Manger’ at the Christmas program? You got right down next to the cradle where they’d laid a doll for Baby Jesus and tried to climb in. You said you were ‘seepy’ and didn’t want to sing.”
“I’m not sure if that’s really in my memory, or if I’ve heard about it so many times that I think it is. I do remember, though, when you were singing 'We Three Kings' with the children’s choir, and Mama had hemmed up Papa’s robe for you. You looked so funny.”
“How about those bags of treats we would get after we sang the last carol at church on Christmas morning! We’d be so excited when we’d open them up and plunder through them to find an apple, an orange, pecans, a candy cane, a little box of raisins, and some hard candies.”
“I recall that Papa said every year, ‘All I ever got for Christmas was an orange, and I was glad to get it.’ Also, I’ll never forget that time, Gertrude, you were acting out, and Mama told you to show your raisins. When you took that little box of raisins out of the bag and held it up, Mama couldn’t stop laughing.”
“One of my favorite memories is the way we used to sing ‘Silent Night! Holy Night!’ in our softest voices while Mama lit a candle, and Papa got the big Bible out to read the Christmas story to us on Christmas Eve.”
Just then the sisters heard the sound of carolers singing “O Come , All Ye Faithful.” Matilda went to the window and pulled the drapes back. “Look, Gertrude, it’s those precious young people from our church, out on this bitter cold Christmas Eve to sing for us. God is blessing us this Christmas, just like always.”
“I wish Papa were here, Matilda, but I guess he’s singing carols in heaven tonight. I suppose you and I could sing ‘Silent Night’ together. Then I’ll light a candle, and you can read the Christmas story for us.”
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