Sylvia’s guardian angel, William, and the others were no busier these days just because of Christmas. Angels are always praising the Father, after all. There had not been a more special Christmas for the angels since the very first one, when the Lord Jesus, himself, came to earth! Actually, as far as the angels were concerned, things have gone quite down hill since then — and that included the town’s annual Christmas bash!
* * * *
“Sylvia,” said Grampa, rising slowly from the worn armchair. “It’s coffee time!”
“Yuck,” she said, making a face. With her nose pointed at the ceiling and her eyes smiling, she continued, “Young women like me require a more sophisticated beverage than that. I’ll have the usual.”
“Grape soda it is then!” He chuckled as he shuffled over to the oak table, enjoying their weekly coffee time game. “You know the big Christmas program at church is coming up in a couple days,” said the old man as he settled heavily onto the wooden chair.
“Yaaaah,” muttered Sylvia, her mood changing. She set Grampa’s cup on the saucer and poured the black brew into it.
Grampa Peterson spooned a small pile of sugar and dripped a little milk into his coffee. He slowly poured a bit of coffee into his saucer to cool. “The house looks good.” He sighed and sipped from the saucer. The snowflakes were slowly falling outside the window, peeking past the curtains at Grampa and Sylvia. The two of them talked like old friends, as he and Gramma had done before …
“I got it all started, you know, back then, this Christmas Festival thing. It wasn’t like it is now.” His grandfatherly voice strengthened as he continued. “We needed something to help us focus on the real meaning of Christmas. We needed something to get us back on the right track.” Sylvia sipped her drink and noticed the ring of white hair surrounding Grampa’s bald head. It reminded her of the halo around the heads of angels she saw on Christmas cards. She had heard this story before, but didn’t mind hearing it again.
“Was it such a big deal back then, Grampa?” she asked.
“There was just one church that did anything in it then. We just got together and worshiped. That’s all, no fuss, no dressed up angels, no sheep and cows in the parking lot to clean up after.”
“P-U!” Sylvia plugged her nose. She remembered the breeze spreading the scent of the cattle’s Christmas offerings around the church.
“Just plain and simple,” he reminisced. “That’s what is was back then.” Grampa’s eyes traveled from the Christmas tree, covered with ornaments like a blanket of memories, to the fireplace. The old ashes in it were as cold as his heart felt after Gramma died. “Nice work on the mantle, Sylv,” he complimented.
“Oh, it’s not the way Gramma did it,” she replied. “She could get those family pictures in just the right places with the candles and evergreens.”
“Your grandmother hated the rat race that Christmas had become, especially the last few Festivals.” Grampa nibbled on the wing of an angel cookie. “Why, when it first began, we would get together and have a simple service of praise to the Newborn King. Now, it’s turned into the town’s greatest gift to itself.”
Six weeks ago Sylvia would have had none of this talk from her grandfather. She heard the story told and retold. It was beginning to sink what Christmas is all about. She slowly realized that it’s an inside thing. The Savior, who usually gets pushed aside and forgotten at Christmas, needs to be number one inside. Sylvia interrupted Grampa’s reminiscing. “I’m singing for the Sunday evening service, Grampa. I’d like you to be there if you can.” Sylvia knew that Grampa Peterson, still affected by Gramma’s death, hadn’t been to church since the Christmas decorations went up.
* * * *
Angel William watched as Sylvia finished her coffee time conversation, cleaned up the dishes and left for home. He noticed that even though she missed the final rehearsal of the grand, extra special Christmas Festival, the beginnings of a small smile curled around the corners of the girl’s mouth.
[to be continued…]