Hi everyone –
Another week has flown by and suddenly Christmas is right around the corner. This is the time of year that family traditions come alive!
Even though my kids are now 19 and 16, we still fill up their advent Santa pockets with goodies, building the anticipation to Christmas Day. We also got our Christmas tree this week.
It’s a tradition for my kids to choose the ugliest living tree at the tree farm to give it a home so it’s not left alone to watch Christmas pass it by. My daughter names the tree instantly and proudly follows her brother as he carries our very happy tree to the truck. You can almost hear it telling the other trees, “Look! A family chose me!”
So I’m happy to introduce you to Josiah…
Isn’t he cute? 🙂 I swear he was beaming when we brought him inside Friday night! LOL I’ll have to post another picture once he’s decorated…
So with Christmas on the brain, I thought I would go for it and use the story I started last week. I reined it in a bit and I’m happy with how it turned out. I was researching Weihnachtsmann, also known as Santa Claus, and found it interesting that most cultures have a version of Santa Claus. His origins seem to start up in the Netherlands. He was de Kerstman, and still to this day people travel to this cabin in Greenland to leave their letters to de Kerstman. This is recognized as the original home of Santa.
No matter what your spiritual beliefs may be, this time of year usually leads to a feeling of peace, love and charity. To me that’s worth celebrating… 🙂
Thanks for all your encouragement this year!!! I hope you enjoy the seasonal tale…
A Miraculous Burden – By Lisa Kessler
The cold night wind stung her skin. Tugging her wrap tighter, Tera squinted as she followed the wise-woman through the icy snow flurries. She kept the worn recipe book clutched against her chest. Gradually she could make out the shape of the modest cabin and followed her mentor inside.
Ivy moved right to the hearth and stoked the fire, sending sparks dancing up through her crooked chimney. “Close the door, Child, before we lose all the heat.”
Tera shoved the heavy oak door closed with one hand, still grasping the book with the other. The wind howled outside, clearly offended by the barrier. Tera carefully placed the book on the butcher block and approached the fire where Ivy was already free of her woolen shawl.
“Will you cook up magic tonight?” Tera removed her wrap without taking her eyes off of Ivy.
She turned, and Tera did her best not to fidget under the weight of her gaze. Her lips curved at the corners, exposing well-worn lines of past smiles around her bright green eyes.
“Magic?” Her eyes sparkled as she feigned innocence and freed her long hair from her mahogany hair sticks. “Really Tera, where do you dream up such things?”
But Ivy was already reaching up to free some of the hanging herbs from the ceiling. Tera couldn’t hide her smile. Ivy was an elder in their village, and although streaks of silver marked her hair, and her fair skin bore faint lines of age, her spirit remained untouched.
She would never forget the day Ivy selected her as an apprentice. For years she had dreamed of cooking, not only food for her future family, but magic for her village. During the past year she shadowed the wise-woman’s work, cooking up everything from cold remedies to cakes celebrating new life in their community. The cycle of seasons passed her by in a blur of activity.
And tomorrow they would celebrate another Feast of Lights. Young ones would play with bunnies made of wool and stuffed with dried straw. Nervous young men would ask girls to dance, and candlelight would remind them of the Star.
Had it been a year already?
The door flew open. Tera jumped before she recognized the hulking figure stepping over the threshold.
“Husband!” Ivy rested her spoon against the rim of her mixing bowl and rushed to embrace him.
His deep laughter filled the small space as he kicked the door closed with his boot and kissed Ivy’s forehead. “Woman you nearly knocked me back out into the cold.”
The biting wind left his cheeks flushed with color, but it was Ivy’s kiss that made his blue eyes light up.
She took a step back with her hands on her hips. “I did no such thing. If my eagerness to kiss you is a bother, I will control myself next time.”
“That was no complaint, Love.” He grinned. “More like a boast.”
She laughed and returned to her mixing bowl while Kerst made his way into the back room. The more she got to know them both, the more Tera thought they would have made great parents. But after many years together, they never conceived any babes. Tera often wondered if they had shed tears over their childless lot, but if they had, no lingering bitterness gathered within these walls.
Truth be told, she’d never seen a happier couple.
Ivy squinted down at the page, bringing her candle closer. “Child read the last ingredient for me.”
Tera came closer. “Nutmeg.” She glanced over at Ivy as she searched the hanging herbs. “Do you want me to get your spectacles?”
Ivy stopped her searching and shook her head. “Goodness, no.”
“There is no shame in a woman wearing spectacles.”
The wise-woman pulled a dried herb down, and shook her head. “Oh it’s not shame that keeps me from the spectacles.”
“What then?” Tera took over mixing while Ivy crushed the herbs into the dough.
Ivy smiled and shook her head. “I am happy with my view of the world.”
“But the blurring–”
She reached over to stop Tera’s stirring. “When I look at my husband, I see the man who chose me to be his all those years ago. When I spy my reflection in the cooking pot, I see the girl who once dreamed of her first kiss.” Her gaze moved toward the fire. “When I wear the spectacles, my vision clears and the years are blatant.” She shook her head, and her warm smile returned. “My spirit is still young, Child. The world changes, age colors our hair and lines our faces, but our souls are still bright. I have no need for spectacles to convince me of anything different. I see the world just fine.”
Kerst came out of the back room wearing his tall black boots. His white beard was in stark contrast to his red jacket. Tera’s brow furrowed. “Are you leaving us again, Sir?”
His blue eyes cut across the room to his wife. “You did not tell her?”
Ivy smiled as she rolled balls of dough in her hands. “She came to us just after the Feast of Lights last year, remember?”
His deep throaty laugh filled the room. “Of course I remember. I told you she wanted to cook after she asked for a mixing bowl and wooden spoon.”
“I never asked a soul.” Tera’s jaw went slack. “I burned a letter for de Kerstman…”
He nodded and gave his wife a wink. “Best you tell her everything, Love.” He bent to kiss her and straightened with a jolly smile. “Tera you have been a blessing to my sweet wife. Thank you.”
He stepped to the door. “Keep the fire warm for me, my Love.”
Ivy smiled. “Be safe, Husband.”
The snow was still falling as he went out the door to his sled. Tera whispered, “Your husband is de Kerstman.”
Ivy nodded with a wistful sigh. “That is what they call him now. And every year the fabric of time stretches for him as more of the world’s children believe.”
“De Kerstman is real.” Tera struggled to remain calm, forcing a slow breath into her lungs.
Ivy nodded. “He is real because we make him so. He lives in all of us.”
“You really are magic. You both are.”
“The faith and hope of the season is the magic, Child. We only try to bring joy to the little ones and keep their hope alive.” She met Tera’s eyes. “And if you are willing, the task will fall to you and your husband one day.”
“To me?” Her head was spinning at the thought.
“Of course.” A conspiratorial smile warmed Ivy’s features. “No one lives forever, but it is our obligation to keep the stories alive for the children. I will teach you all that I know so that when the time comes, you and your future husband will be ready to carry the most miraculous burden you could ever imagine. The choice is yours.”
Someone pounded on the door before she could make a sound. Tera opened the door and her breath caught in her throat when she found Wolter smiling down at her. “Good eve, Tera. May I come inside?”
She stepped aside and closed the door behind him. He tugged his fur cap free, revealing his thick mane of golden hair as he nodded toward Ivy. “Good eve to you.”
“And to you Wolter,” Ivy replied with a knowing smile.
“Might I have a word with Tera?”
“Of course.” Ivy moved to the fire to place her cookies in her Dutch oven, providing them with a modicum of privacy.
Tera held her breath as he pulled off one glove and took her hand in his. “I have grown fond of your smile and the sound of your laughter.” She felt her cheeks flush with color as he stammered, “If you would honor me, I would like nothing more than to dance with you at the Feast tomorrow.”
Her heart fluttered in her chest. Tera bit her lower lip to keep from blurting out her answer. She glanced over to the fire only to find Ivy, grinning with tears in her eyes. She nodded, gesturing for Tera to answer him.
She looked up at Wolter, trying not to look to the future. Would he be willing to make and deliver toys to the village children? Would he understand the magic?
He lifted her hand and kissed her knuckles. “Say yes,” he whispered.
Tera nodded. “Yes.”
His face lit up with a grin. “Thank you!” He slipped his glove back on and pulled the cap back into place before bending to kiss her cheek. “Dancing with you at the Feast of Lights was all I wrote in the burnt letter to de Kerstman this year.”
Tera couldn’t help but smile.