Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Flash Fiction and Christmas Wishes

I was grumpy. Had been all day, because work hadn't gone well, I found out my boyfriend would be out of town for Christmas, and I spilled root beer on my winter white sweater during dinner. I was still feeling soggy. And I despise looking unkempt.

So I sat in the auditorium of my niece's high school, waiting impatiently for her concert to begin. Merry people talked in excited circles around me, trapping me in my stiff third-row seat. Who makes this kind of seating anyway? It's so uncomf--

I felt a dull jab in my side.

"Meggie, what's the deal?" my sister asked.

I shrugged but kept my mouth closed, knowing not to unleash a torrent of complaints.

"Well, perk up! It's a Christmas concert."

Right, I grumbled to myself. Don't get me wrong - I love the vocal concerts; hearing the holiday music, soaking up the youthful talent. It was just a really bad night for me. And I wasn't feeling much Christmas spirit.

I really was heartbroken that Jacob would be traveling to see his family. We'd had plans to be together Christmas Eve - and I'd been hoping, after eight years together, he'd finally propose - but he'd sprung the news he and his siblings were all going home. And no invitation had been extended to me. I had--

The house lights went black, a sure sign things were underway, and a chorus of oohs joined a smattering of gasps.

As all eyes focused on the dark stage, a small boy's voice called out. "Mama! There's somebody back there!"

Heads began to turn to the rear of the auditorium. Choir members, in black robes, were slipping through the doors, and goosebumps rose on my arms as I realized each one held a candlestick. The small dancing flames lit the carriers' faces, the sound of their a capella voices rising with the room's acoustics. As they progressed toward the stage, the pace of their single-file lines matched the unrushed tempo of the first song.

O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant...

I saw my niece, Jem, whose strong alto voice I heard melt into the hymn's harmony. The slightest of smiles appeared in the flicker from her candle, and my heart warmed.

O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem...

The rich voices - amazing, they were coming from teenagers - enveloped me, and I felt comforted by the lyrics.

Come and behold Him...

And suddenly my brain, that little part that affects my mood, flipped as a switch, and I felt full of love and contentment. In that small instance, gone were my grumpies. They were replaced by... by... the Spirit.

Who cared about a root beer stain, really? And work was work; I'd no reason to dwell on one day. Jacob? Well, I'd tell him I wanted to go on the trip with him. If he had some problem with that, well, then I'd stay with my own family, and reassess my relationship with him later.

Born the King of angels...

It was Christmas, after all. I should be happy, focused on my many God-given blessings.

I reached for my sister's hand and gave it a squeeze. She smiled and brushed a tear from her eye.

"I feel it, too," I whispered. "I feel it, too."

***

A post of Ang's got me thinking of my own high school choir experiences at Christmastime (which spawned this piece). Our A Capella Choir (juniors and seniors) did this very thing at winter concerts, encroaching upon the audience with candlelight, our unaccompanied voices filling the auditorium with the words from O Come All Ye Faithful. That was one of my favorite experiences, and I wish I could relive it.

***

I wish everyone the best of merry and blessed Christmases. May you be spoiled and cared for, with regard to presents and company and family, but yet with so much more. Merry Christmas!

27 comments:

Angie Ledbetter said...

Thank you for that. The true meaning, captured in a beautifully written vignette.

May you and the family enjoy the best of holiday "gifts" this year. Merry, merry, friend.

Turkey Lurkey said...

Great post! Have a wonderful Christmas!

blog said...

Love the post Janna. Have a happy one!

aaroncrocco said...

That was me in that last post. Sorry. I'm trying to update my OpenID so it shows my name again.

-Aaron

celestialwolf said...

Thanks Janna. Merry Christmas to you and yours :)

(and everyone else too!)

-Cel

Brian and Kelly said...

Beautiful!

I'm sorry I'm late on the encouragment (we've had our own sad event), but hugs to you.

Love ya.

Melissa Marsh said...

What a wonderful story, Janna.

Have a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year!

Janna Qualman said...

Angie - Aw, thank you so much. Blessings to you!

Turk - You too, lady. Hugs!

Aaron, you sneaky thing. ;) Thanks for letting me know.

Cel - Merry Christmas, fella. :)

Kelly - Thanks and big hugs to you guys!

Melissa - I so appreciate it. Thank you, and Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I've been working in the kitchen, getting ready for our family time tomorrow night. I finished the dishes and decided it was time for a break and checking email. How wonderful to find your newest story.

It took me back to your high school days, too, just for a minute I could hear the beautiful voices. Thanks! Mom

Janna Qualman said...

Mommy?! *grin* Thanks for leaving a comment. See you tomorrow!

Joanne said...

Janna, just as sweet as the story is your Mom's comment! You brought her a special moment.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, much peace & happiness. Enjoy!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Thank you again for reminding me how precious the gifts of family, music and love are!

Joy to you on Christmas and always!

thedomesticfringe said...

Thank you! I enjoyed your little story. Hope you have a Merry Christmas!
-FringeGirl

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful sweet story Janna. I love it and the real "Worth of What is Important" that came through your words.
Brought memories of by gone days back to me too. What a true Joy, you and your talent is to this Aunt. Sure am proud of you and love you much.
Have a great joyful Christmas and may you, Mike and the girls enjoy each other as well as being with the rest of the gang. Tell all HI !!
Thanks for the wonderful writing.
Aunt Bernia

Janna Qualman said...

Joanne - I think you're right! :) Thanks, and Merry Christmas.

Donna - Oh my goodness, what a compliment your words are. Thank you!

FringeGirl - I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Aunt Bernia! Hi! I'm so glad you came by, and that you left a comment. Love you! Pass hugs to everyone for me.

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, your family is so sweet! What a beautiful story. Your comment of wishing you could relive it made me think that you've made all of US relive it with you.

Merry Christmas. :)

Janna Qualman said...

Melanie, that's so great of you to say. Thank you!

WendyCinNYC said...

What a sweet story. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Janna, Thanks for sharing your story. I was feeling Bah Humbug today and you lifted my spirits, helped me remember the reason for the season and to be thankful for my many blessings. I hope your family has a great Christmas. See you Sunday. Love, Heather

Josh said...

great post, and Merry Christmas!

Janet said...

Nice. And she should dump Jacob.

My high school choir memories center around O come, o come, Emmanuel. The choir hummed the first verse in the dark while the only light in the auditorium fell on a girl reading from Isaiah 9. She finished, the lights came on, and the choir burst into "Rejoice!" all at the same instant. Loved it.

Janna Qualman said...

Wendy - Thank you so much!

Heather, that's awesome. And I can't wait until Sunday!

Josh - You too! Love to the family.

Janet - That sounds amazing. Wish I could see it.

colbymarshall said...

And a very very happy Christmas to you, too! My Christmas was filled with gifts, material and even more importantly, otherwise :-) Hope yours was as well!

Jen said...

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Janna!

Thanks for sharing that story with us...it was wonderful!

Jessica said...

So, I thought it was for real at first. And was feeling bad that you'd been dating the guy for eight years. LOL
GReat piece. I felt a goosebump or two when you wrote about the black robed figures and their candlesticks.
Merry Christmas!

Janna Qualman said...

It was great, Colby. :)

Jen - Yay! Thank you!

Jessica - I can't tell you how excited that makes me!

Rachel Burton said...

I hope you had a merry Christmas Janna! And lovely piece of writing as well. Enjoy your holidays1