A Christmas Story
The church bells had just finished chiming the midnight hour across the valley. It was Christmas. Snow had been falling all evening and now as Elizabeth walked down the church steps she gripped the railing and carefully placed her foot on each step making sure not to slip. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day and she could not afford to slip and bruise herself, or something worse.
Pastor John’s homily kept running through her mind as she walked the few blocks to her home. He’d said Christ came as a babe and lived among us so that we’d feel he was our friend as well as our Savior. Elizabeth desperately needed a friend. She was getting on in years and much of her family was gone now. She’d never married. It was just her and her dog and cat in the little cottage. But tomorrow she’d have a house-full. It was the day she opened her home to the people in the Shelter—those who were temporarily without a home for one reason or another. The Shelter cared for them well enough, but Elizabeth couldn’t bear to think anyone might spend Christmas anywhere but in a real home and so offered hers for the day.
Turning the key in her front door she turned her face to the sky for a few moments to take in the night sky. It was then she noticed the North Star. It seemed brighter tonight and she thought about that night long ago in Bethlehem. How Mary must have felt giving birth in such humble surroundings…away from home. Elizabeth’s house was humble, but she’d made it into a home and hoped those who came tomorrow—no it was today now—would find comfort and hope to meet the challenges that lay ahead for them.
AS Elizabeth lay down in her bed to sleep the few remaining hours of the night she thought about her hopes and dreams. As a little girl she’d looked forward to growing up and having a family of her own. Marrying a good man and having as many children as she could were at the base of her dream. From there she imagined how her life would go with her little family around her….grandchildren eventually as she grew into old age with her husband…..
She awoke with a start! Elizabeth lay there waiting for her head to clear. Had she heard a noise? Is that what woke her? The curtain was slightly parted and a stream of light found its way across her quilt. She hadn’t noticed a full moon earlier, so she went to the window to see where the light was coming from. It was the North Star. It was much brighter now. The snow that graced the landscape shimmered in the light. Bare branches cast long shadows across the back garden. Elizabeth’s eyes were drawn to an outline of a child standing there. Who could be out at this time of night?!
Before she could move from the window the small figure dissolved before her eyes. Was she just dreaming? Dreaming….dreams. She was reminded of her childhood dream and tears welled up in her eyes. She blinked causing them to spill out and as one lone tear landed on the sill Elizabeth began to feel a certain hope warm her heart. She thought about the people who would be arriving in just a few hours. Some would be children. They wouldn’t be her children, but she could love them all the same, just as much.