Friday, September 22, 2017

🎄 Gonna Be a Mighty Fine Christmas

December 22, 2016 by  
Filed under 2016 Christmas, Monthly Articles

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Gonna Be a Mighty Fine Christmas
by Dee Yoder

The boy trudges through the snow pulling a makeshift sled behind him. Darkness is minutes away, but his merry-sounding whistles cheat the night of its shadows. He has no boots and wears a pair of threadbare socks in place of mittens, but he notices no deprivations on his errand this Christmas Eve.

He spots the yellow glow of light spilling from the windows of Mac Sam’s General Store and aims himself and his sled accordingly. He pushes open the door and begins to unload crates of empty bottles.

“Almost didn’t make it, Mac! Mr. Dietz told me to come by there ‘cause he had a whole pile of bottles saved for me, and it was worth the extra mile.”  He laughs as he helps Mr. Sams count the empties.

“Well, C.R., it looks like $3.50 tonight. That sound right to you?”

“Yessir! And mighty happy to have it, Mac.” The boy jingles the coins and rolls the dollar bills up in his fist as he orders food from a list in his head.

“Tomorrow being Christmas, I figure on scrambling eggs for supper and for breakfast, so how’s about a whole dozen eggs. Maybe two slices of bacon apiece for each of us, lessee, that’d be eight slices. And uh…better give me a sack of flour, that way, we can eat biscuits and gravy, too.”

The boy briskly rubs his hands together in excitement. “Gonna be a mighty fine Christmas, Mac. Mighty fine!”

Mac Sams gathers the boy’s items and leans on the counter to watch as the lad wanders through the store, looking at the Christmas toys and brightly wrapped candies and confections. Finally, C.R. comes back to the counter with six penny-stick candies, three brightly colored pencils, and a glittery box of Christmas cards.

“These here cards, they look so cheery, I wonder how much they are, Mac?”

The boy’s eyes gleam as he stares at the nativity images printed on the box, and Mac steals a look at the price written on the bottom. $1.15. The proprietor puts the box on top of the flour and tells the boy all Christmas items are on sale: two for a quarter.

“Hot diggity! Good enough. I’ll take ‘em.”

The two load the items on the sled, and calling out a Merry Christmas to Mac, the boy sets off in the dark, the soft slush of the sled lingering in Mr. Sams’ hearing long after the young man disappears into the night.

Mr. Sams shakes his head and mutters, “His no’count Daddy ain’t coming home again this year. What gets into a man, leavin’ a twelve-year-old in charge of three little kids?” He sighs and flips the CLOSED sign over.

The boy makes good time and enters the cabin where his siblings have been lined up at the window, watching for him. He grins as they dance around, waiting to see what goodies he’s brought home. Their eyes grow big at the sight of the eggs and bacon, and they smack their lips in anticipation.

“All righty, you get crackin’ on some of these eggs, Josey, and I’ll get the woodstove hot and the iron skillet sizzlin’. We’re gonna have some good eatin’ tonight!”           He chuckles at their eager participation—the way they scurry back and forth helping him prepare the Christmas feast. He hides the penny-sticks and pencils away.          Before long, the smells of frying bacon and savory scrambled eggs fill the cabin. As he cooks, the boy merrily whistles Christmas songs.

After supper, they sit in front of the fireplace, warm and sated. A few minutes past nine, he shoos his young sister and two little brothers off to bed, and gets the small gifts from their hiding place. He secures three battered socks with nails to the old mantel and fills the toes with the penny-sticks, the bright-colored pencils, and hickory nuts he’d gathered earlier from under the snow.

From the cupboard, he unwinds a length of string and stretches it from one side of the mantle to the other, looping the ends securely around the nails. Then he opens the box of Christmas cards and carefully places as many as can fit along the string between the socks.

Their sparkling glitter catches the fire’s glow, and he lies down with his head on his arms. He looks at each far-away vignette wistfully. His gaze hones in on the three Kings. He conjures up a purple silky robe caressing his shoulders, and the heft of a thick gold crown that bows his head under the weight of its metal. He imagines his life lived in sand and heat. Imagines a lanky camel carrying him across lonely dunes. A wonderous life. An exotic adventure.  A life fit for a King.

His eyes blur with sleep. His lashes flit up and down against his cheeks as his thoughts revive a memory. His mom is well, her move to heaven not yet accomplished.  Her words whisper the promise, “Someday, boy, someday—heaven!” And she throws her arms wide and laughs with the good news.

He dreams of a baby, born like him into a rough world, the crown and robe put away among the wealth of His Kingdom, to be worn again when His time is come.

The boy stirs, the smoke from the faltering fire shifting him back to the cabin. He stokes the flames that sear the logs before he settles in to rest. He whistles a Christmas tune softly and closes his eyes with a sigh.

“It’s gonna be a mighty fine Christmas.”

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