HAPPY HOLY DAYS
Since I am Christian and most of my family and friends are, too, I thought I would lead with that holiday wish, and include the other for the people who celebrate Hanukkah, or any of the other winter solstice holidays. May we all be holy these days and into the future. And being holy doesn’t mean being pious or holier-than-thou. It means being mindful of something, or someone, greater than ourselves, as well as treating all people with dignity, love and respect. As Kate says in this excerpt from The Last Dollar, it means loving and giving until it hurts.
This will be my last post for a while, definitely until after Christmas Day, so I would like to gift you all with an excerpt from my other Holiday story, The Last Dollar. This is a short story, available for a number of electronic reading devices from Untreed Reads. At only .99, it would make a good last-minute gift for some of the people on your list.
Kate pulled her coat tight against the cold wind that pierced the thin fabric like fingers of ice. Last minute shoppers carrying gaily-wrapped packages crowded the streets, their breath little puffs of fog that caught the twinkle of Holiday lights. Despite the cold, people smiled and greeted each other, and for a moment Kate let herself believe the magic of Christmas could make a difference.
Earlier, even her children had been caught up in some unnamed excitement as they searched the house for pennies and nickels -anything they could find to contribute toward buying something special for the holiday. The boys turned it into a treasure hunt, and each discovery of one more coin brought whoops of joy.
The fruit of their labors was tucked deep in the folds of her pocket. She touched the coins, picturing her four children waiting at home with great expectation.
Ella, the oldest, had barely resigned herself to a wardrobe from the thrift store. Ginger, the baby, couldn’t become accustomed to starvation. And Fifi, the cat, had come down with a rare case of facial cat-measles. Well, they looked like measles, Kate had agreed with the children, but in reality, she knew Fifi must have had a run in with an old car battery.
Thank God Jake and Edger were in perfect health. The only thing Kate worried about in their regard was whether they’d ever learn to share. She recalled how often, as they huddled together in sleep on the hardwood floor, Edger would be shivering. He’d miss the blanket and pillow by two feet, while Jake was wrapped as snug as a caterpillar in a cocoon.
She tried to teach them about sharing. “The greatest gift,” she often told them, “is the gift of giving. Doing for others and doing until it hurts.”
Maybe the nightly blanket routine was Edger’s way of giving. But more likely, it was Jake’s way of taking.
Kate stepped aside for a mother with an infant snuggled in a stroller and for a moment envied the woman’s fur coat and leather boots. How warm they must be. If only… If only nothing. Accept your fate. Isn’t that what Mama always said?
Touching the coins in her pocket again, Kate lifted her chin and walked toward the entrance to the grocery store. That would be the best place to start. They would have slashed their prices on holiday items this late on Christmas Eve.
Nearing the automatic doors, Kate’s attention was caught by the tinny clang of a bell. She followed the sound to its source, a Salvation Army volunteer standing inside a ring of illumination from strings of white and blue lights looped around the front window. A tin bucket was suspended from a hook in a metal tripod next to him. Few people paused before the old man, whose cold-reddened cheeks matched his uniform, but the negligence didn’t appear to daunt him. He greeted everyone with a bright smile and a booming, “Merry Christmas.”
Despite her initial inclination to avoid the man, there was something compelling in the cheerfulness he radiated. Kate paused, noting how even his thick, white mustache turned itself into a comical grin.
“Merry Christmas,” he called again, rolling his r’s and ending the last syllable with a crisp bite. He smiled at her and something in his eyes made Kate wish… But that was silly. She was in no position to help the needy.
She was the needy.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt. I also hope that you have a wonderful holiday, whichever one you celebrate, and a New Year filled with many good things. This is it for me until closer to New Year’s Eve when we can have some New Year’s fun.