Thursday, March 22, 2018

Honorable Mention 2014 Christmas Contest: Christmas Angel

December 29, 2014 by  
Filed under 2014 Christmas, Contests

by Debbie Roome

Debbie-RoomeDebbie Roome was raised in Zimbabwe and later spent fifteen years in South Africa. In 2006 she moved to New Zealand with her husband and five children. She loves to write stories that touch people’s lives and turn them towards God. She has won many awards for her work, including twice placing first in the Rose & Crown Novel Writing Competition. Debbie is often asked to share her life story and her experiences as a writer.


Christmas Angel

The air was frigid and her breath hung like misty ribbons against the velvet spread of dusk. On the street, lamps spilled golden puddles of light onto soft mounds of snow. “Please let him be there,” Janie whispered as she turned the corner and headed towards number 231. The neighborhood was quiet, and the house welcoming, with warm light overflowing window ledges. It seemed forever since she had moved around that kitchen, baking cookies, and serving hot drinks. The woman she watched tonight was a stranger.

If Mack was there, she knew he’d be around the back. The cobbled footpath that circled the garden was clear of snow and she followed it, eyes darting to the house every few steps. The tool shed nestled under some pine trees, and behind it the pond was a block of ice. She slunk over to the naked window, pressing her nose against the frozen glass. No one was inside.

Where else might he be this Christmas Eve?

It was snowing again, feathery flakes drifting through gilded haloes around street lamps. Maybe she’d find him at the church – but maybe not. It was a year tonight since Celine had left them, her tiny body cocooned in Mack’s arms, and apart from the funeral, he’d not set foot in a church since.

Frantic now, she ran through the streets, slipping here and there, boots crunching on mounds of snow. The church was on a corner, an A frame building with a stained-glass window blazing colour to passers-by. Strains of Hark the Heralds Angels filtered out and she clumped into the foyer, scanning the congregation from the back. He wasn’t there.

Why am I even doing this? Her breath came in heaves as she headed back onto the street, swiveling this way and that. It’s not as though I can change anything. The night we lost Celine was the beginning of losing Mack, our home, our possessions, everything. It would have been hard enough anyway but why can’t he stop blaming himself?

Janie stood still for a moment. “But I need to find him, Lord. Please show me where to look next.”

Just then a woman with a brood of children hustled past. “Come on,” she called, shooing them in front of her. “The nativity play’s about to start.”

That’s right. One of the neighborhood churches was doing a performance in the park. Janie turned to follow and five minutes later shook snow from her hat as she slid into a bench in the covered amphitheater. She saw him a few seconds later: her husband, a broken man in wrinkled pants and crumpled jacket, eyes red-rimmed and hair mussed up. His elbows rested on his knees and he hunched forward like a cripple.

The ER doctors had said it was a clear cut case of SIDS but Mack could not forgive himself. Left to babysit for two hours while Janie went shopping, he found Celine blue and limp in her cot.

On the stage, a group of six angels clad in white snowsuits with sparkling halos and wings sang loudly, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Mary and Joseph sat nearby, baby Jesus lying in a manger, wrapped in calico strips. A lump came into Janie’s throat and she looked upwards to try and stop the tears overflowing. “I miss her terribly, God, but I know she’s safe with you. Please don’t let me lose my husband as well.”

As the performance drew to a close, Mack wiped his eyes and blew his nose. Janie was about to move towards him when she spotted the children from the play walking along the rows, handing out small Christmas gifts. A wee angel was standing in front of Mack, her silky curls tumbling from under her halo, a gentle smile on her lips. “This is for you,” she said, handing him a small parcel.

Janie slid into the bench next to him as he picked at the wrapping, barely acknowledging that she was there. Inside the package was a bookmark, a small Bible and a child’s drawing of Jesus. Mack held it up and Jamie read the words written below in uneven childish print. “Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Luke 18:16.” The name in the top right-hand corner was Celine.

Janie felt Mack stiffen and then they both looked across the amphitheater. There were angels here and there but they all appeared bigger and with slightly different costumes. Maybe Celine was a younger sister who wanted to be included. Maybe she was dressed up so she wouldn’t feel left out. Maybe her parents had already taken her home. Then Janie looked at Mack, his shoulders shaking, lips moving in prayer and she knew. Even if the little angel did belong to someone in the play, she was still a miracle child, sent by God to heal the heart of a broken father.

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2 Responses to “Honorable Mention 2014 Christmas Contest: Christmas Angel”
  1. beautifully written. I felt I was right there in the midst of the miracle


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