Category Archives: History of Us

Some Other Beginning’s End

Oct

13

2016

We’re closing a chapter on our lives – and I’m not ignorant of the fact that it may have been the most beautiful chapter of our entire lives.

Tomorrow we’ll start moving to our new house. Tomorrow night Wyatt is going to take Olivia to the cabin for a daddy-daughter and the boys and I will stay home for one last night in our house at Meadow Downs – on Saturday we plan to sleep and be in at Somerdowns.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me want to cry. This house . . . this beautiful, wonderful, cozy, frustrating house. This is the house I brought each of my boys home to. The home I rocked them in, and held them as wee little babies. This is where we’ve laughed (so, so much) and cried (way too much) and fought and made up and lived all the boring beautiful moments of my children’s early childhoods.

One time I fed the missionaries. I don’t remember how the comment came about, but one of them said: “Your home has the Spirit so strong. You can feel it when you come through the door.”

(And even if it makes my non-mormon friends/readers think my house is haunted) That was the SWEETEST compliment I’ve ever been given. Ever. I’ve held onto that for all these years. I’ve thought about it so often. I’ve hoped it was true, and not just something the missionary says to all his dinner appointments. I think it’s true.

I’m not the sentimental type that can’t bear change. If I was I would never move. (Obvs.) I believe in change. I believe in growth. But this change is the strangest mix of aching longing for the beautiful past and sheer excitement for the unwritten future! The last time I felt this way was when I graduated High School. And I still feel gentle loving feelings towards the experience High School was for me, but I recognize the glorious joy that awaited me in college. I had to leave one to find the other. And now I am leaving Meadow Downs for Somerdowns. I hope who ever comes into this home next will feel the Spirit and the goodness that is embedded into these walls. I hope they find as much joy here as I did.

 

Here is a quick, and probably not comprehensive list of things we’ve done to this house:

  • Painted the front door
  • Opened the entry way, tore out the floor to ceiling railing wall thing between the entry and stairs, tore out the coat closet that made the entry impractically small and claustrophobic
  • Put in new drywall/lighting/flooring and railing in the entryway.
  • Rewired (electric) the whole house, redid the lighting in each room.
  • Rewired house for entertainment – added coaxel cabel and hardwired ethernet ports to each room, all descending to one “smart” area of home where routers, servers and drives are all located.
  • Re-sheetrocked the whole house (went right over the lath and plaster that was severly damaged).
  • Put in AC and redid/reworked/reducted the heating system.
  • Put in new flooring throughout the house (tile in kitchen, baths, entry and laundry; carpet in all bedrooms, hallways, stairs and family room in basement) except the front room where we refinished the existing hardwood floor.
  • Cut off the old metal railing to the front porch, opening the porch to the yard.
  • Repainted the whole house (multiple times over the years as tastes and needs have changed).
  • Put on new/updated trim work through out house including casing for doors and windows, window sills, base and crown, plinth blocks, etc.
  • Painted existing kitchen cabinets to update and brighten
  • Reconfigure upstairs bathrooms, remodel those baths completely
  • Installed new appliances
  • Dug hole and cut in entrance into basement for a walkout basement lined with boulders
  • Cut all basement windows to enlarge for safety. Added lots of natural light
  • Installed new cabinetry in the laundry room and basement kitchenette
  • Designed, framed, wired, ducted, rocked, painted, trimmed (basically finished) the entire basement including built in book shelves, display shelves, photo niches, and entertainment center.
  • Redid the fireplace in the upstairs living room. Pulled off the old fireplace (weird 60’s rock) and put on new tile surround and built a custom mantel.
  • Put in whole yard sprinkler system.
  • Planted trees along back fence
  • Built shed, finished inside with insulation and rock, also wired it for electric with interior light and outlets
  • Fenced entire yard, including man gates on two sides of home, and car gate on one side
  • Put in curbing around beds
  • Planted and sodded grass
  • Planted beds with various trees and perrenials
  • Built garden boxes
  • Added/installed playground
  • Built deck with scissor trussed roof
  • Installed outdoor lighting including two ceiling fans in deck and two additional zones of dimmer-lights.
  • Installed decking with trex-material, added catwalk across walkout area, and installed railing around the whole thing.
  • Installed industrial shelving in garage floor to ceiling (those shelves are coming with us though!)
  • Remodeled upstairs bathroom entirely just before we move. :D

Here’s a little peak at some of the projects we’ve done over the years. I realized as I went through photos that there are lots of projects I just didn’t take pictures of. But you can see the final effects at the end.

One of the times I completely and utterly failed at life

Feb

23

2016
IMG_8927

Sunrise light on the Nauvoo temple. I took this picture when I was back there in 2010


We went to the Provo temple open house and there were beautiful murals on the walls in the rooms. And it reminded me of this story.

When I was at BYU I worked at the Mechanical shop. Lest you’re like me and think the mechanical shop means I worked on cars, let me correct you. The mechanical shop was the term for the HVAC department. I fixed, installed, and worked on the heating and cooling units in the buildings on campus.

Because of that I was in the most random parts of the most random buildings. Nothing was off limits – from the most gaurded chemistry labs to the highest administrators offices – I saw it all.

One building I went to was this random ware house. We had to fix some duct work in the ceiling. I don’t even remember where this building was – it wasn’t part of the main campus. And it was a top secret building – you had to have permission – like high level permission – and a temple recommend – to even enter it.

After we were done with our work, my boss (not a student, but a career-level middle-older gentleman whose name I can’t even remember now), told me he’d show me what was going on in the building below the rafters.

So we went downstairs to the floor of the warehouse – where panel after panel was set up. The most esteemed BYU professors/artists were working on the murals for the Nauvoo temple that was being built at the time.

My boss introduced me as “artsy” and one of the artist’s stopped and took me on a tour, showing me the beautiful paintings that would soon paper the walls of the historically significant Nauvoo temple.

“You know, if you want, you could come and help us with these paintings. You can work on them with us” the artist invited.

 

Um, I don’t have a car, and I’m really busy,
and um . . . I don’t think it would really work.

And so I never returned to that secret warehouse. I never saw those murals again until they were installed and Wyatt drove across the country to attend the dedication of that temple.

I told Wyatt that story last week after the Provo open house.

“What?!” he almost yelled at me. He was absolutely incredulous that I passed up the opportunity to have my brush strokes on a painting in the Nauvoo temple. “You may not have done much, but you could have at least painted a leaf. And then you could say – see that leaf? That leaf, right there. I painted that!”

Instead, all I have is this LAME tale-for-tuesday to share with you.

I was telling this story to my real-artist-friend, Brittany Scott and she told me she had the exact same experience – she was invited as a student by one of the professors to work on the murals for the Sacramento temple. But she felt so intimidated and overwhelmed by the prospect that she too, passed it up. And now she feels that regret as well. See, I’m not the only one. And if she, who actually took art classes, and grew up to be this amazing artist, felt overwhelmed by it, then maybe I’m not so far off center after all. ;)

The Books We Read

May

26

2014

I thought I should start a list of all the books I’ve read to the kids over the years (chapter books) – but then I realized I couldn’t remember them all. But I’m going to start a list anyway, and if I remember more, I will add to it. It may never be complete.

  • Shadow Castle
  • My Father’s Dragon
  • Elmer and the Dragon
  • The Dragons of Blueland
  • Shadow Castle
  • The Little Prince
  • The Boxcar Children (read twice)
  • The BFG
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • The Trumpet of the Swan
  • Abe Lincoln at Last
  • How to Eat Fried Worms
  • Dear Mr. Henshaw (read about half way before I decided it was too mature for my littles)
  • Emily’s Runaway Imagination
  • Super Fudge
  • The Secret Garden
  • The Last Slice of Rainbow
  • Mandy
  • The Great Brain

My Own Miracle of Healing

Sep

3

2013
Big Trip Estonia Group on the ocean copy

On the coast of the Baltic Sea in Estonia, the semester I lived in Russia

I went to see “Ephraim’s Rescue” at the theaters tonight with Wyatt.

In the movie there is a touching scene where a young man in the Martin Handcart Company was given a blessing of healing by Ephraim Hanks. Despite his severely frost bitten feet, he was blessed that his limbs would be saved. That same night he got up and danced for the company to lift their spirits. He continued to walk to the Salt Lake valley another 350 miles in severe weather with only rags to cover his feet, still, he never had trouble with them again.

It made me remember an experience of my own healing through the priesthood of my feet (or foot, I should say). When I was nineteen I spent a semester living abroad in Moscow, Russia. As a student determined to explore all that the country had to offer, I certainly did a lot of walking.

But the summer before I came to Russia I broke my foot. I only got my cast off a few weeks before I got on the plane.

And so the constant walking and adventuring made my still-healing foot incredibly sore most of the time. I remember hobbling along, trying to keep up with the group in spite of constant pain.

Finally after about six weeks I decided to ask for a blessing. My foot was sore, and I was discouraged.

But after the blessing my foot no longer hurt. And it has never hurt in the fourteen years since. I walked all around Russia and Eastern Europe. I have since walked around China and a plethora of other countries. My foot has never bothered me in the least.

It was miraculous to me that one day my foot could be so sore, and the very next it was just fine, and never ached again.

But I remember as I was thinking about asking for a blessing, I decided that I needed to believe that the Lord could heal me. I considered it for some time before concluding that I did have that faith, and it wasn’t just lip service. The decision I made to believe, and the miracle that followed was a testimony to me of Heavenly Father’s care for me.

It is certainly not as dramatic a tale as in Ephraim’s Rescue, but it was no less needed, and no less an evidence of God’s power to me.

This post was written on August 29th, but is only being published now (on Tuesday) as a Tale for Tuesday.

I’m going to try and write down memories I have – for my little lovelies who always ask “Tell me a story of when you were a kid . . .”

I’m going to call them “Tales for Tuesdays” – and will try to write one a week . . . unless of course something else happens. In which case I won’t.

 

Scatter the Sunshine

Apr

10

2013

IMG_1247

Grandma Brock passed away last night.

It was both expected and sudden. She has been struggling with Alzheimers for almost ten years. Three weeks ago when I was in Arizona I received an email from my parents about another thing entirely, but as a post script they mentioned that Grandma had been put on hospice. I planned to go down this very weekend to see her. I was too late.

 

How do you write about Grandma Brock? She was a woman of strong conviction with little patience for those who didn’t see the magnitude of our every day lives. I am too much like her in this way . . . my patience can run thin with the frailty of souls I’m afraid.

She was a woman of great adventure. The tales of her life as a spy for the FBI, her desire to serve in the peace core, and even her missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the stuff of legends.

But she also lived a life that was so . . . ordinary. A school teacher in LA, she raised seven children and lived to see 45 grandchildren come into the world. She served in the Church, she served her family, she served her community.

She loved politics to a fault – I think she gave us all lifetime memberships to the NRA one year for Christmas. And in college I remember being asked to proof read letters intended for senators.

She loved books. I have an old leather bound book sitting on my dresser – “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man” with an inscription on the coverpage, and a typed out note- faded now, with an admonishment to be a “reader” in my life. The book was set aside for me years . . . years before I was old enough to read it.

And Grandma loved sunflowers.

In her kitchen she had an old stool, painted green with a sunflower on the seat. And on the wall of the kitchen a painting of a sunflower field. It made my heart sigh when I saw the same painting above her bed at the nursing home. I remember sitting on the stool in her kitchen, munching on chips and home-made salsa, talking about family, our history. They were stories that balmed my soul and made me feel connected to something so much bigger than myself, at times when I felt so small. The sunflowers that I grow every year in my garden are more than just a colorful dash to my backyard, they are a gentle reminder of my past and a gift I give to my children to connect them to that which goes before.

I received word just twenty minutes after her passing. I sat on the couch, Oaklee in my arms, my own boys clamoring for my attention, and wondered at the eternal moments taking place beyond: my grandma reunited with her own loved ones, the ones I never knew. I wondered about the “paperwork” so to speak. The waiting at the gates for St. Peter to find your name in his Eternal Book. And I have no real suspicion that that is how it goes. But I wondered at the awe my grandmother must be feeling as all things are revealed to her.

And I had a very distinct feeling that she felt it was even more magnificent than she had supposed.

Read another post I wrote about Grandma and Grandpa Brock here.

I Love to See the Temple

Feb

19

2013

If I back-date it to Tuesday, then it count’s as a Tale for Tuesday, right?

 

tamie

Tamie Shakespeare

kami

Kamie White, who later married my cousin from California, Zack Beitler.

 

 

When I was sixteen I spent one wild adventurous semester living with my aunt in St. George. Activities included Saturdays spent branding cattle at the Esplin family ranch, working on my ever-popular cousin’s student body election (win), going on some of the most disastrous dates, and this little story . . . this week’s Tale for Tuesday.

Tamie lived on the left, and Kami on the right. And the three of us were the exact same age. So naturally, our friendship was fast.

And what do sixteen year old girls like to do best of all? Daydream about super-romantic-super-hero-husband-to-be’s that would someday come into our lives . . . someday.

And go on walks.

Well, I’m not actually sure if Tamie or Kami enjoyed the walking so much. I tell myself that all the blessed souls I’ve met in my life all happened to enjoy walking as a legitimate pass-time as much as me.

But it could be they just humored me.

But anyway, take the two aforementioned activities, throw in a Temple as the closest public location, and what do you have? An adventure waiting to happen of course.

We would walk – all around St. George actually. Up the road, past the boulevard and further on to the post office (to mail letters to Andi of course), or sometimes down the way, around to the high school for a baseball game. Every once in a while we’d even bypass the Temple and keep going on to the park. But usually our rounds took us to the grounds of the St. George temple.

There we would sit in desert gardens alive with color like a Monet. We’d lounge on the bench beneath the lilac trellis, along the rose walk, and bear our souls to each other in the way that only young girls do.

And of course, there was laughter.

A lot of laughter.

I wouldn’t say I’m prone to “loud laughter,” but one more serious than I (yes, I’ve met some. Can you believe it?) might disagree. For more than intellectualizing the gospel, or projecting theoretical politics, or even crafting the afternoon away, I love to laugh.

And so we often would find ourselves embracing the silliness that was the birthright of our age. And sometimes we just wouldn’t pay attention.

Now, it must be said, on this particular evening, as we sat on the bench in the far corner of the Temple grounds, I do not remember if we were laughing, or if we were being serious. I don’t remember what we were talking about. I do remember a lot of laughter with those two. And I remember our fair share of serious discussion. But on this evening nothing comes to memory until the moment we all looked up, and saw the lights that lit up the glow of the alabaster temple turn off.

That’s odd, we all thought. They usually kicked us out long before the temple lights went off – the grounds closed before then . . .

We got up to leave. Only to find that the green iron gate – 8 feet tall at it’s shortest point, was firmly locked shut. We made our way around each plane of the fence, checking each gate, finding each locked.

We looked for someone to let us out, peered, faces pressed against the glass of the visitor’s center. No one was coming to help us.

Finally we back around to the gate at first, the one closest to home, the one that bordered the back side of the temple.

(And now, it must be said, there was a great deal of laughing going on as we contemplated our predicament).

And there by the dumpster, behind the temple, we found a wooden palette, surely used for some food supplies or something delivered.

We dragged it over to the gate, leaned it up, and used it like a ladder, it hoisting us just high enough that we could use our own body strength to climb the rest and throw ourselves over.

We ran . . . ran, all the way home, giggling all the way, mortified of the trouble we’d be in if we were caught.

I remember I did tell Aunt Draza this story when I found the courage a few days later. She gave me her famous “you are a total idiot, but you don’t need me to tell you that” look that I always loved her for.

A Christmas Tale for Tuesday

Dec

25

2012

Since Christmas is falling on a Tuesday this year, I thought it befitting to have a “Tale for Tuesday” be a Christmas story . . .

 

When I was in eleventh grade I wrote a short story for my Lit Mag class. I remember reading it to my mom from the back seat of our suburban as we drove home in the snow one evening. She cried.

Later, when I turned it in, Mr. Rosett’s praise was effusive. A great surprise since Mr. Rosett was never effusive, and certainly never praised anything I ever did.

And so, taking cue from my greatest fan and my greatest critic, I decided to submit the story (secretly) for publishing to Deseret Book. Not knowing the protocol for such things, I put it in a manilla envelope and simply labeled it “Publisher” – addressing it to the Deseret Book headquarters in downtown Salt Lake.

Now all I had to do was wait.

But why wait when you only live, seriously, like ten minutes away?

So one Thursday afternoon a few weeks after I mailed my package I “stopped in” just to check on my work. I remember a publisher (at least, I assume so) sat me down at his desk, fumbled around for a few minutes as if trying to find the status on my piece, and finally told me they couldn’t use my story.

 

I left, deflated, embarrassed, and determined that that was the end of my (presumably brilliant) career as a writer.

 

I’ve never ever told that story to anyone before. At first because I was embarrassed, and later because it fell into the forgotten memories of growing up.

But then I stumbled across the original story while flipping through my old notebook.

Ah, giggle.

 

And so an even bigger treat – I’m going to share it with you.

Let me warn you – this is unedited. As I type this, I haven’t even read it from fifteen years ago. I assume it is full of syrupy sentimentality and cliche writing (you know, much like you get on a regular basis here on this blog). Do your best to stomach it for me :D

 

Strobes of Christmas lights illuminated store windows, advertising the last of the Christmas sales. Shoppers rushed madly from store to store, clutching their precious packages to be wrapped and put beneath the tree that very eve. Carolers stood on the corner, singing in untrained voices of the good tidings of the season. And high above them all a large orange street lamp cast a hazy glow on the dark winters eve.

As night wore on, the shoppers thinned out until only one unusually late one would pass on the street, hailing a cab or running to his car. The carolers had all gone now, going to someone’s house for some hot cider and muffins. The shopkeepers began to close their stores, turning out the lights and taking down the sale signs, replacing them with new “After Christmas Sale” signs.

Snow began to fall, thick and wet on the abandoned street below. In a dark alley, where the light from the street post couldn’t reach, a man huddled, crumpled against the wall.

You wouldn’t even know it was a man unless you looked closely. His figure seemed broken and drowned in the old ratty coat which he wore. He leaned between the cold brick of the alley and an old shipping crate. Between the two he managed to escape the brunt of the whistling wind, yet still he could not escape the harsh coldness that cut into him. Futilely he pulled the torn coat tighter and tighter about him, rocking himself back and forward in a vain attempt to stay warm.

The man listened – an attempt to occupy his mind – as the town became more and more quiet. Finally there was complete silence. Even the wind had died down to a careless whisper, and the snow seemed to make everything stand still. For a moment the man looked out from the alley and wondered if he wasn’t the only one left on the earth.

And then he heard something. Quiet at first, muffled by the snow. He had to strain to hear it. And then it came louder – the crunch of shoes on the side walk, coming towards the alley. The man looked out to see who it could be. He saw a thing woman, well-dressed, struggling with her packages. He hesitated, but then called out.

“Ma’am”

The woman stopped, confused by his call.

“Ma’am”

She turned so she could look over her packages and down to where the voice was coming from.

“Ma’am,” the man continued, “I was just wondering if you could help me, you see, it’s awful cold out, and I don’t have anywhere to stay so I . . . “

The woman cut him off. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but I really can’t help you.” She looked across the street to where a taxi cab was approaching, and then back at the man. “I really wish I could, but I just can’t.”

With that the woman stepped towards the cab to hail it. The man looked after her, his face giving no evidence of disappointment or sorrow as he watched her climb into the car and drive away.

The wind picked up and the man wrapped his coat tighter around him, leaning against the brick. He closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep.

A while later he heard footsteps again. This time it was two people walking on the sidewalk toward the alley. He peered out to see two men, in tuxedos and overcoeats, coming toward him. They were talking and didn’t even notice the man until he called out them.

“Sir?” He was uncertain which one to address.

The taller of the two men looked down, seemingly annoyed that he had been interrupted.

Making eye contact, the man continued on, “Sir, I’m sorry to bother you, but you see, it’s cold, and I was wondering if you might have a place I could stay.”

The tall man looked the alley man over, and then turned to his friend. His friend shrugged, offering no advice. And the tall man looked back to the man sitting in the alley. “What would the neighbors think if I brought you home! No, I’ve paid my taxes, go to the shelter, they’ll help you there.” And with that the man turned back to his friend and the two continued on down the street. The man in the alley watched them go.

‘At least it’s stopped snowing’ he thought as he moved back into the alley against the crate and wall. He curled up again to try to sleep.

He didn’t know how long he had been asleep when he felt someone shaking him. At first he thought it was a dream, and he turned and moaned in an effort to dispel it. But the shaking persisted, and finally he opened his eyes to see a young woman standing above him. It took him a moment to orient himself, to remember the alley and the crate.

“Sir,” the woman was talking to him. He looked up at her and saw the she was carrying a large bundle, balancing it on her hip as she leaned over him.

“Sir,” she continued, “do you need a place to stay?”

“Huh?” he asked, still a little dazed.

“Do you need a place to stay?” she repeated, “I don’t have much, just an old worn couch and a blanket, but the apartment is warm, and you’re welcome to come if you would like.”

The man looked around, and then up at her. “Sure . . . yes, I would appreciate it.”

The woman helped the man to his feet. Together they walked on down the street in silence. The man noticed that the bundle he had previously thought to be Christmas presents was actually a basket of what appeared to be laundry. The woman herself was neat and clean, her hair was pulled up neatly away from her face, and her clothes, though a bit worn, were clean and pressed.

They walked on in silence for almost a mile before turning down another alley way, not too different from the one they had just left. But the woman pulled a key from around her neck, and stepped up to a door.

The two stepped inside the small apartment, and almost instantly two children nearly attacked the young woman.

“Mommy, mommy!” the two raced towards their mother and jumped on her, sending her sprawling into the orange vinyl sofa. The woman laughed and hugged each child in turn as they rambled off about everything that she simply must know.

“And then Kissy took us to the park and there was a puppy there,” a small girl of about five told her mom.

“And I held it,” the boy, a bit older than the girl, offered.

“I’m telling the story,” the girl whined before continuing. “And the puppy had a tail this big!” The girl stretched out her arms to make her point.

Another girl, this one about 16, entered the room. The woman looked up at her and smiled. “Hi Krissy, thanks for staying so late, especially on Christmas eve.”

“No problem.” The girl shrugged.

“Do you want me to walk you home?”

The girl smiled and shook her head. “No, that’s okay.”

And with that the girl let herself out of the apartment, and went home.

The man cleared his throat to try and remind the woman of his presence.

The woman looked up at him and smiled. “These are my kids” she explained. “That’s Jimmy” she pointed, “and that’s Melanie.”

Both children clung to their mother, shy at the stranger’s presence.

“Come on you two,” the mother urged, “time for bed. Go put on your pajamas and brush your teeth.”

“But mommy, we have to wait for Santa Claus” Melanie exclaimed.

The woman frowned at her daughter’s reference to Santa. “Honey, I’ve already explained that Santa won’t be able to find us this year, not after we moved.”

“Yes he will!” Melanie confirmed. “I sent two letters to him last week, one to tell him what I want, and the other in case he loses the first one.”

The woman hugged her daughter, at a loss for what to do.

Finally she managed to send the two to bed, and returned to the small room where the man remained. “Do you want something to drink? Some hot chocolate?”

He followed her to the kitchen. A dim 40 watt bulb hung from a cord on the ceiling, illuminating an avocado refrigerator, and an old stained sink surrounded by cabinetry that badly needed some paint. In the middle of the room an old round card table served as a dinner table, with orange crates turned over to use as stools.

The woman opened a cupboard to reveal nothing more than half a loaf of bread, a box of Cheerios, a sticky jar of peanut butter, and an old can of hot chocolate.

Taking the can down, she put some water on the stove, and sat down across from the man to wait for the water to boil.

After a few moments of hesitation the man finally asked, “Why isn’t Santa coming this year?”

The woman got a pained look on her face and was silent for a moment in an effort to control her emotions.

Finally, in a quiet voice she explained, “Their dad died a year ago this January. He never was one to plan for the future. He left us with so many debts, and not enough money to cover them. So after the house was sold, and the debts were all paid off, we had just enough to pay the rent here. I’ve been doing laundry for some neighbors for the past months, but there just isn’t enough money for Santa to come.”

The woman paused, staring curiously at her hand. After a brief moment of silence she continued on. “Jimmy seems to understand. He’s grown up a lot these past months . . . more than he should have to. But Melanie . . .” the woman’s voice trailed off.

The whistle on the kettle blew, and the woman stood and mixed the hot chocolate. She placed his cup carefully on the table, and then without a word, went into the other room.

The man sipped his hot chocolate ab it uncomfortably for a few minutes before the woman returned. In her arms she carried a heavy  wool and leather overcoat. “Here she said, “I want you to have this.”

She handed him the coat. “It was James’. My husband.”

The man was about to refuse, but then he saw in the woman’s eyes what it meant to her that he take it. And so he took the heavy coat from her, and said in a quiet voice, “Thank you.”

The woman simply smiled. “I’m going to bed” she announced. “I’ve put some blankets and a pillow on the couch for you, and if you need more, they’re in the closet in there.”

And then the woman left. Disappearing behind a door, leaving the man alone in the dark kitchen with his cup of hot chocolate and a coat on his lap.

 

 

The next morning Melanie came bounding in, jumping right on top of her mother. “Mommy, Mommy, come see! Come see what Santa brought!”

The woman rolled over and moaned. “Mel, I’m sorry Santa couldn’t come this year . . .”

The little girl interrupted her. “No mommy, come see! Come see what he brought!”

Just them Jimmy jumped on her too. “He came mom! He came!” he exclaimed as he bounced on the bed.

The woman looked at her children. “All right” she sighed, and she let them pull her out of bed. She wrapped a bathrobe around her and stepped out into the hall, her children dragging her to what she was certain would be an empty living room.

But the room wasn’t empty. Christmas lights hung from the ceiling, casting red and green shadows everywhere. They seemed to melt off the wall and on to  the large green Christmas tree standing in the corner of the room. The tree was  wide and green, and was strung with tinsel and candy canes, and at the very top shone a bright yellow star.

Beneath the tree were piles of brightly wrapped packages. Yellow and white ribbons curled out as the children ran to open them. The woman looked around, seeming a bit confused. She went into the kitchen. The light bulb had been changed to new bright light, shining on the packages of food that overflowed from the cupboards and onto the counter and table. And there, in one corner of the counter, was enough money to last the woman and her children a very long time.

But where was the man? She remembered the night before, and the man who had come to stay. She went back into the front room, where her children were nearly drowned among the wrapping paper and toys. But the man wasn’t there.

She opened the door and looked down the alley way. She saw a familiar coat walking down toward the street. “Sir!” she called after him.

The man turned. “Sir . . . won’t you come back in?”

The man shook his head and turned back to the street.

“Sir,” she called again, “thank you.”

The man looked back to the woman in the doorway. “My dear woman, I have not nearly done for you what you have done for me.”

And then he walked out onto the street, and became lost in the morning traffic.

And the woman turned back into her house to enjoy the Christmas morning with her children.

 

 

 

Okay – so now that I’ve just typed that up, I see why it was rejected – the grammatical errors alone are enough to drive one crazy. Clearly proof reading has never been my strong suit. But the story is simplistic and idealistic, kinda Frank Capra-esque. It is kinda fun. Ah, me.