Welcome to day 9 of the Advent Event! Please share this event with your friends. The more anthologies we can sell, the more money we can raise for the National Down Syndrome Society.
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Here’s a look at the next two stories:
"Angels We Have Heard on High" by Marta O. Smith
Ann carefully unwrapped the tissue paper cushioning a blown glass angel. She had been sorting through her mother's things for a few days now, but this was the first thing that brought tears to her eyes. The experts said there were several stages of grief: disbelief, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. She had been going through the grieving process for her mother for several years now, since Alzheimer's had effectively taken her away. To Ann, all that had died last week was the shell of a body where her mother used to live. The personality, the love, everything that had made her mother who she was, had been gone for a long time. A sort of numbness had carried her through the funeral, and up until now.
It had been worse when her father died 10 years ago. His death had been sudden and violent, the result of a drunk driver on an icy winter road. Ann and her mother had been able to support each other through their grief. Miraculously, the other driver had been fully insured and, also miraculously, one of her father's childhood friends, a lawyer, had contacted them and offered to take their case, pro bono. Between the large settlement he had negotiated and her father's life insurance, Ann had been able to quit her job and move back home to take care of her mother, who had already been showing early signs of dementia.
After her mother's funeral, Ann had begun sorting and cleaning and giving things away, mostly to keep herself occupied. Three green plastic storage bins full of Christmas decorations had been down in the basement, and on a whim she had lugged one up to the living room to look through it. She had pulled out a few of the ornaments, and while looking at them felt a flood of happy emotions from her childhood. Her mother, Miranda, and her father, Joe, had loved the holiday season. Christmas had always been a magical time in their home, until the last few years. But it was her mother's collection of angel ornaments that opened the floodgate of emotions. There were glass angels and ceramic angels, angels with wings made of hand-crocheted lace, some Styrofoam and felt creations Ann had crafted in grade school, and even several beautiful angels made of olive wood from her parents' trip to Israel.
"White Christmas" by Madonna D. Christensen
Wrapped in a drab woolen quilt and standing on the straw-filled mattress he shared with his brother, five-year-old Israel scraped frost from the window and peered out. That snow had fallen in the night did not surprise him. Winter in western Siberia lasted through most of the pages of the calendar Papa had made. There might be snowfall for days on end, or drifting snow, icy snow, howling cyclones of snow, snow by moonlight, snow by daylight, snow on rooftops, or snow glistening on scrawny tree limbs when the weak sun found it. The whitened tundra stretched as far as Israel’s eyes could see. This morning, a path of trampled snow offered solid footing to a woman shrouded in a knit babushka and balancing a marketing basket on her hip. Israel squinted at something moving in the distance. Was it a horse-drawn sleigh, its merry bells cracking the frigid silence? More likely it was his imagination; for who in this village owned a sleigh—or even a horse?
The three room house Israel shared with seven siblings and Papa and Mama was a crude wooden structure. Burlap sacks covered the dirt floor, which wouldn’t feel warm again until long after the ground thawed. To escape the confinement of close quarters and endless, dark days, Papa regularly escorted the family to synagogue. As cantor, he hoped his prayers and readings temporarily eased the isolation and poverty all the villagers endured.
On a spring morning in 1893, Israel awoke to thundering hooves, to glass breaking, and fiery torches cast through shattered windows. Years later, his only recollection of what Papa called a pogrom was of lying on a blanket by the side of the muddy road, watching his burning home dwindle to an ashen skeleton. After the riotous Cossacks departed, the family had skulked away, moving quickly from town to town. Eventually, they emigrated to New York City.
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