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Jules, Ellie, and the Gray Girl


One beautiful, wind-swept afternoon, Jules and Ellie met a little girl going gray. Not a comfy, rainy day gray, nor a strong uniform gray, but a sickly-yellow gray.

The going-gray-girl sat boringly on a swing just barely swinging. She didn’t reach for the sky with her toes. She didn’t imagine she flew. See, this was the problem: the going-gray-girl lacked imagination and imaginary friends to share her daydreams with.

Quite differently, completely opposite, Jules bounded around the playground full of energy from the five mini-cupcakes her auntie had bought her for her birthday. Up the slide she went. Or, in her imagination up from the bottom of the ocean (which was the ground) she swam until she burst out into the air (the top of the slide) with a flick of her pinky-diamondy tail. Fellow mermaids, Zalina and Aloha, swam at her side.

(Jules had twenty-one other imaginary mermaid friends, all their names ending in –ina: Tina, Zina, Nina, Bina, Cina, Dina, Fina…etc.)

At the top of the slide, Jules’ tail disappeared and fairy wings (pink-diamondy-sparkly) grew from her back. Jules grasped the hand of Jacey and Lina, her imaginary fairy friends, and flitted about the fairy forest sprinkling fairy dust. Once the dust had been liberally shared, Jules left her fairy friends and rejoined all her mermaid friends with her three human imaginary friends in tow, Joelle, Lunia, and Sally. Jules lived a rich imaginary life. She practically glowed with all the imaging going on.

Ellie, fueled by several cupcakes herself, swung from bar to bar of the jungle gym, rushed up the stairs, two fingers pointing out and the rest wrapped around each other. She made shooting noises before diving down the slide. Or, in her imagination, she infiltrated the base of the evil fairies that only wore black. She aimed her imaginary gun, ready to capture their Queen. No! They spotted Ellie and now millions of evil black fairies were after her. Quick! Down the garbage chute. Ellie escaped only to realize she’d left Ellie, her imaginary fairy friend, behind in the castle.

(Yes, it’s confusing having the same name sometimes, but they don’t mind. Usually Ellie and Ellie just yell their location, instead of their names.)

Rushing around to the start of the jungle gym, Ellie made her way back inside the evil Queen’s lair. Imaginary-Ellie had to be saved.

While Ellie didn’t have the plethora of imaginary friends which Jules did, she did create very elaborate rescue plans every time Imaginary-Ellie was captured, which was often. Her imagination-fed glow equaled her sister’s easily.

While wonderful adventures were being enjoyed by Jules and company, and Ellie and Imaginary-Ellie, the going-gray-girl just sat. She didn’t even push with her feet to swing a little higher. A squeal of laughter from Jules and Ellie as their two imaginary worlds collided in a shower of glitter and explosions didn’t even raise the going-gray-girl’s hanging head. It hung lower and lower with no imagination to lift it up.

It was after they separated their two imaginary worlds and Jules helped Ellie rescue Imaginary-Ellie, that the sisters noticed the going-gray-girl for the first time.

“Oh! Look everyone, that little girl looks so sad.” Jules pointed across the playground. “Let’s invite her to play.”

Down the slide and to the swings everyone slid, swam, or flew.

“Hi!” Jules and Ellie said together, all smiles.

“We’re playing with our imaginary friends,” Jules explained and then proceeded to introduce and describe each of the mermaids, fairies, and just humans gathered around her. As she talked the going-gray-girl only went grayer and droopier. Finished, Jules asked, “Would you like to play with us?”

The going-gray-girl slipped from the swing. “No thank you.” Her shoulders slumped, her head dipped, and her feet shuffled.

“Do you have any imaginary friends?” Ellie bent over trying to look the going-gray-girl in the eyes.

“No,” she whispered.

Jules and Ellie gasped.

“Everyone needs imaginary friends!” Jules exclaimed. “Otherwise, who do you play with when your real friends are gone?”

“Who do you tell stories to at night when you can’t sleep or you’re scared?” Ellie asked.

“I don’t need imaginary friends,” the gone-gray-girl said softly. “They don’t exist. I don’t need them.”

The two sisters glanced back at the tangle of slides, stairs, platforms, poles, tubes, and tunnels. To them, the bright plastic had been the ocean filled with glittering fish, sea turtles, and twenty-three giggling mermaids. To them, it had been a forest filled with butterflies, mushroom circles, and fairies. It had transformed to a frightening castle all in black which required a complicated rescue mission to traverse. The playground became so much more than just a playground, they became so much more than just little girls.

“How boring.” Jules shook her head.

Ellie turned. “Ellie’s in trouble again.” She made her hands a gun and took off for the playground, which had reverted back to an evil castle.

“She’s not real,” The gone-gray-girl said flatly, eyes on the ground. “None of its real.”

Ellie stopped. She looked from the playground to the girl and back, frowning.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re real or not.” Jules said. “They’re our friends.”

“That’s just stupid,” The gone-gray-girl said.

Jules and Ellie’s mouths fell open.

“That’s not a nice word.” Jules put her hands on her hips, her eyebrows raised.

“And it’s not stupid.”

“Ellie!”

Ellie clapped her hand over her mouth, awed at her own audacity.

“It is stupid. Only babies play with things that aren’t real.”

“You’re a sad little girl and I’m sorry for you,” Jules said. She took Ellie’s hand and returned to the playground. Through fits and starts they rebuilt their imaginary world. Soon, they were squealing, screaming, and racing around the playground.

Ellie had just completed a daring rescue of the fairy Jacey with the help of Imaginary-Ellie and Jules, who was now a pirate, when she looked out at the swings. The gone-gray-girl still swung like a limp dishrag, but an older girl with a mean smirk headed for her.

As the two girls watched surrounded by imaginary friends holding their breath in horrified fascination, the mean girl pushed gone-gray-girl right out of her swing. Plop! She landed in the sand. The mean girl towered over her waving a fist under her nose.

“To the rescue!” Jules raised her fist to the sky pretending it was a sharp hook.

“Arg!” Ellie agreed in her best pirate growl.

They took the fastest slides to the ground and bounded to the swings.

“Leave her alone, you big meany!” Jules bent down beside the gone-gray-girl.

“Yeah. You go away and leave us all alone, meany!” Ellie, eyes bright, got right in the mean girl’s face.

“Why should I?” The mean girl glared at Ellie.

Ellie made a little fist. “If you don’t, I’ll bop you on the nose.”

“I’d like to see you—”

Ellie bopped her on the nose.

The mean girl gasped and clamped her hand over her nose. Ellie stepped closer. The mean girl roared and ran away.

Jules whooped. The going-gray-girl smiled.

Ellie and Jules helped her to her feet. Jules wrapped her arms around the going-gray-girl. Holding her in a tight hug, she whispered, “I’m sorry. Are you okay?”

“I’m okay,” the going-gray-girl said. “Why did you come save me?”

“Well, we’ve saved Imaginary-Ellie several times today,” Jules explained, “so it was nice to save someone else.”

“But you were so brave. What made you be so brave?”

Ellie smiled. “We have imaginary friends and imaginary stories that we play. We’re brave all the time.”

“You should try it,” Jules said.

The going-gray-girl squinted. She screwed up her face and held her breath. She puffed out her cheeks and her ears turned red.

“Oh,” she whispered. A smile spread across her face. “Oh.”

“What? What is it?” Jules and Ellie said.

“This is my imaginary puppy. Her name is Imagine. She is brown.”

“Nope.” Jules said. “Not brown. Use your imagination on Imagine.”

The grayish-girl sighed and closed her eyes.

“This is Imagine, my white puppy. She has silver wings.”

Ellie cheered.

“Nice to meet you, Imagine,” Jules bent down and held out her hand.

“What’s your name?” Ellie asked.

“I’m Emma. Does Imaginary-Ellie need rescuing again?”

The three girls raced to the playground, swam through the ocean, flew through the fairy forest, and arrived at the Evil Queen’s black castle where all the mermaids and Imaginary-Ellie were suffering in captivity. Emma, with Imagine at her side, preformed some very heroic acts which Jules and Ellie loudly applauded. The last little bits of Emma’s grayness floated away as little by little she imagined more and more.

 

The End.

Christmas Traditions 

The Joneses/Planers have lovely Christmas Traditions that are expected to be followed to the letter. 

The morning starts bright and early with Price and I opening a few gifts we got for each other, then it’s over to Dad and Mom’s for the unwrapping of presents. (Yes. We’re all adults now, but we still love presents.) 

Then! Breakfast! Sausage patties, eggs, cinnamon rolls, coffee, eggnog, and orange juice. It’s a beautiful thing.  

Once that’s all been cleared away, we head out to Glen Rose and spend the rest of the day grazing until we sit down to a dinner of brisket and sides. Somewhere in there we usually open gifts with the girls, go shooting, and loudly vent about politics. (We’re a loud family. )

Late in the evening, we head home, full and happy.

This year, with the Lord’s Day and Christmas coinciding, we won’t make it out to Glen Rose or have breakfast. We’ll all have our own quiet separate mornings and then go to Dad and Mom’s after church for feasting and merry making. Granddad and Wanda will join us along with Aunt Sheila. It will be a busy, wonderful day! 

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Traditions (Part 24): How Christmas Traditions are Born

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We’re happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland. – Diana Krall

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Once upon a time, in a small mobile home, on a small bit of land up in the Ozarks, in the early winter, five brothers and sisters eyed the overflowing pile of presents under their humble Christmas tree. The tumultuous anticipation of opening all the bright paper to discover the toys within trembled through them almost constantly.

Each gift had been mapped out.

Each sibling knew in exact detail which gifts were theirs, what shape they took, and what noise they did or did not make when shook.

The high-hopes they had for that pile had been gnawing away at them for several days. Never had then been so many presents. The older three assured the younger two that they’d never seen the presents spill out to this point of the living room. The sat in a comfortable clump of arms and legs discussing and comparing previous Christmases with the loot gleaming before them.

See, these five children and their two dear parents had very little. The children had no allowances. There was no extra spending money. Many birthdays consisted of one small toy and necessary things like socks. The children, being children didn’t notice these things. They had goats, chickens, ducks, rubber boots, friends nearby, and lots of exciting places to explore. The lack of money went unnoticed even when they had to hike their Grandma’s land to chop down a cedar tree to bring home and decorate, with gloves, for Christmas. For the five siblings, all was right in the world because they were together.

But the gifts? The overflowing pile of gifts, you ask? If the parents bought socks for birthdays and stuffed underwear in stockings for Christmas, where did the gifts come from?

I will tell you. The gifts came from a very loving and very dear Auntie and Uncle, with no children of their own just yet, who thought it best to lavish their five nieces and nephews with every cool thing they could find. This left only the burden of the stockings for the children’s parents, so all was right with the world as far as the children were concerned.

Now! On this particular Christmas, the Auntie and Uncle had outdone themselves. The gifts swept out into the living room. The children were overcome with excitement.

One more day.

It was Christmas Eve.

Tomorrow all the gifts could be opened and the anticipation relieved.

One more day.

The sun shone brightly across the table as they gathered for a lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup, unaware of the fact that their family would never be the same after this Christmas Eve.

“I have an announcement,” Daddy said. He liked to make announcements. “But there will be no noises made after I make my announcement. Not a scream. Not a peep. Nothing. Not a sound.”

The five children shared a glance. No noise? That was an odd requirement. What could Daddy possible have to say that made it necessary to demand their silence? Where they moving? Where they having another baby? Was it going to be a good announcement? Or a bad one?

“Agreed?” Daddy asked. “Not a sound?”

“Yes. Okay.” The five agreed. How could they not? They wanted to know what Daddy was going to say.

“After lunch, your Mother and I will go take a nap while you do the dishes, and afterwards we will open the presents.”

Open presents? Those presents? The ones spilling out under the tree?

Five mouths opened.

Five sets of lungs expanded, taking in air for a most joyous shout.

“Not a sound,” Daddy said.

Five mouths snapped shut.

Oh the delicious horror of attempting to hold back the scream of delight that so wanted an opportunity to express itself. It waited through the rest of a very quiet lunch. It waited through Daddy and Mommy slowly slowly retreating to their room for a mid-afternoon nap.

The door shut.

A tremendous shout went up.

Dancing and singing ensued.

Hushing from the three older kids. Hush. Hush. They’ll hear us and make us wait. Hush.

Never before, nor after, was the table cleared, the food put away, and the dishes done in such a magnanimous manner. Everyone wanted to help. The more who helped, the quicker things would be done. And the quicker things were done, the sooner they could open presents.

The joy and fun of that surprise change to the normal holiday schedule changed Christmas forever. Daddy changed Christmas forever. From that day forward, all Vincents, and the men who married the Vincent girls, and the women who married Vincent boys, and all the little children that came from those marriages, celebrate Christmas together on Christmas Eve. And it is never, ever, a quiet affair. Daddy only got quiet for a few minutes after his announcement and never again after that.

The End

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Traditions 

The Grandparents Letter. Every year, I make sure I send a nice long letter to my Grammie and Grandpa. They don’t really do email or Facebook, so they don’t really have a way to keep up with every little thing in our lives.  I got this mailed this morning. I was cutting it a little close, but it’s on its way!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Traditions  

This Christmas season has been a bit of a doozy for my whole family.  One sister is pregnant and throwing up all the time, my other sister has her oldest in kindergarten for the first time, one brother is down to one vehicle, and the other lives a few hours away. I got a part time job and my husband is getting ready to go back to school. Mom doesn’t have her tree up yet, trying to help everyone.  On the other side of the family, my extra Dad is on dialysis three days a week, and we’re moving our traditional Christmas meal to their house this year cause of Christmas being on a Sunday, but skipping our normal Christmas morning.

We’re all out of sorts this year. 

There are some traditions that we just can’t do this year: spiced cherry bells, ginger snaps, Sister Baking Day, Christmas breakfast. 

And yet, we will all be together, Lord Willing. 

We’ll be home for Christmas.

That is really the only tradition that really matters. We’ll be together.

So, have yourself a merry, little Christmas!

Christmas Traditions: Christmas Carols and Two Kingdom Theology

A better translation.

A better translation.

“Glory to God in the Highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill towards men!”

 I love Christmas carols and Christmas songs. I love the very Americanized version of this Christmas holiday with songs about snow and Santa and presents. I love the Christian side that rejoices at Christ’s incarnation. What could be more wonderful than celebrating the first Eucatastrophe in human history: God became man and dwelt among us? We should be humbled and awed by this turning point in history.

And yet, as I grow in my doctrinal understanding, I often have to sing and enjoy these songs through heavily shielded Two Kingdom Theology Goggles. So many of them seem to think that the above passage means that at some point in our earthly history there will be no more war. Many Christmas songs seem to believe that God is in the business of saving this world.

steampunk

My response, as I hope to have a character in my story say, “The King isn’t in the business of saving this world. This world isn’t going to be saved. The King is in the business of saving his souls. That’s what he’s doing. He saving his souls out of this world. Not saving this world.”

There will never be peace here, on this earth, but that doesn’t mean God is dead. “God is not dead, nor does he sleep. The wrong shall fail, and right prevail, with peace on earth.” This line is true. Just not in the way intended in the context of the poem. God isn’t taking sides in man’s petty wars. (Though I believe in fighting for what’s right.) So that the good guys win. (Thought I’m thankful when they do.)

This is one of those cases where you have to understand and define what’s being said. And dear reader, if you do, the world makes more sense, and the Christmas Carols take on a whole new depth of joy!

Peace on Earth isn’t about a lack of bickering and fighting. It is about God himself breaking into time and into our hearts and ending the war between us. From birth, we have all in a bitter, violent war against God that we are going to lose. You can’t win a war against God, but we’re fighting it anyway. And we’re not fighting it in a valiant Ragnarok/300 way: fighting because it’s right even if there’s no hope of winning. This is outright rebellion against good, right, light, and hope. This is us clinging to small rebellions when better has been offered to us. This is your three year old throwing a fit over a small piece of trash when you’re trying to offer her a new toy. It’s mean, petty, and ridiculous. Honestly, it’s sad. And yet we keep proudly plodding along in our fight against God.

Who would save us? We wouldn’t, couldn’t stop. We are at constant war with God.

Eucatastrophe.

God came to us.

He didn’t come in pomp, or pride, or might…which he could have. He came in humility, born into this world like we are, born in a cold dirty place, and living a cold dirty life, and dying a tortured death. All this and more he endured for us! To bring peace. We couldn’t bring peace, so God himself brought peace.

“Peace on earth, goodwill towards men” is one of the greatest lines in all of history. For some of us, those called, chosen, elected, the war is over. Gently, God has taken the trash we so vainly screamed over and given us something better than a toy.

So, Joy to the World, the Lord has come! Good Christian men rejoice, with heart and soul and voice. God rest ye Merry Gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, remember Christ your Savior was born!

Could there be a more amazing, awesome, joyous event to celebrate than God ending the war that we started?

This earth will burn. It will be judged. God isn’t here to save this place, or make it a nice place to be, or make us nice to each other. God is here to gather His people home. The people He is now at peace with. Those who still fight this horrible war against Him aren’t at peace. There is no goodwill. They have refused to repent. They have not had their hearts broken by God.

But, for those of us who have had their hearts broken, who have agreed with God’s assessment of the vile wickedness of our sin, who have experienced an undeserved rescue:

“Glory to God in the Highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill towards men!”

are some of the most beautiful words in history.

 

Merry Christmas!!!