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So finally we reach this years ” Christmas Story” I hope you all enjoy it.

The night was hot and steamy, too hot, too sticky and too not like Christmas for the soldier that lay trying to get some rest before going on duty, in the non air-conditioned barracks room.

Last Christmas had been so special, a family sharing their Christmas joy, watching children open presents, seeing the happiness on their smiling faces. Sharing a stolen kiss under the mistletoe with the one you loved.

The day had been even more special knowing that at any moment the deployment would happen and you’d have to leave the ones you love and head for a land far away where sand replaced snow, and the nearest thing to Christmas decorations were the socks somebody had hung on a small cut-down palm tree that stood forlornly in the corner of the barracks room.

It was strange to realize that the first Christmas had taken place in a land much like the one they were now stationed in. Despite the dangers that confronted them every day the country still had its beauty. You could almost imagine seeing three camels following one of the stars that twinkled in the clear black sky, which could just be made out through the slit, blast protecting windows.

Sighing, the soldier picked up a magazine carelessly dropped by one of the platoon members, and started to read how many years before a war had been briefly stopped by Christmas.

On Christmas Eve in December 1914 one of the most unusual events in military history took place on the Western front. On the night of Dec. 24 the weather abruptly became cold, freezing the water and slush of the trenches in which the men bunkered. On the German side, soldiers began lighting candles. British sentries reported to commanding officers there seemed to be small lights raised on poles or bayonets.

Although these lanterns clearly illuminated German troops, making them vulnerable to being shot, the British held their fire. Even more amazing, British officers saw through their binoculars that some enemy troops were holding Christmas trees over their heads with lighted candles in their branches. The message was clear: Germans, who celebrated Christmas on the eve of Dec. 24, were extending holiday greetings to their enemies.

Within moments of that sighting, the British began hearing a few German soldiers singing the Christmas carol “Silent Night”. It was soon picked up all along the German line as other soldiers joined in harmonizing.

One by one, British and German soldiers began laying down their weapons to venture into no-man’s-land, a small patch of bombed-out earth between the two sides. So many soldiers on both sides ventured out that superior officers were prevented from objecting. There was an undeclared truce and peace had broken out.

That night, former enemy soldiers sat around a common campfire. They exchanged small gifts from their meager belongings – chocolate bars, buttons, badges and small tins of processed beef. Men who only hours earlier had been shooting to kill were now sharing Christmas festivities and showing each other family snapshots

The soldier put down the magazine, and lay back on the bed, still thinking of the previous Christmas, until an order barked into the barracks told that it was time for the night patrol.

Taking out a slightly tattered picture from their fatigues pocket, a small tear crept into the eye of the soldier. It showed a smiling husband and wife and two young children, gathered around a Christmas tree, the lights reflecting in the eyes of each member of the family.

Sighing once more, the soldier carefully pushed the photo back into their pocket, before reaching into a bag under their bed. Looking once more at the discarded magazine, they pulled out a dozen bars of chocolate and stuffed them into a side trouser pocket.

Corporal Fanning might be many thousands of miles away from her family, but as a mother, she may still be able to bring a brief smile and moment of happiness to some children in a war torn country this special time of year.

Click the microphone to hear the story narrated by the author


You can always read or share the story at:

http://4tendereheart.com/xmas2009.html

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
“Across the Pond”

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For those of you who have not been reading my Christmas Story’s (normally on a Thursday) up to now, each year I write a special holiday story, and have done since 1999. I will share them each week until finally just before Christmas I will publish this seasons story.

Today’s is from 2007, and one of my own favourites a narrated version (will be added later) for those who like to listen rather than read.

SHADOWS ON THE WALL (2007)

He took the last photo frame from the wall, and added it to several others in a small box on the table. He looked around the room, then back at the box.

Was that it?

Three years of living with Jane, fitting into one small cardboard box, and a few shadows on the wall where the pictures had hung. His eyes wondered to a small dent in the wall near the kitchen door… No quite all!

He shook his hand remembering how in his rage he’d punched the wall.

It was three months ago, since that day he’d come home early to find the woman whom he had thought was the love of his life, in bed with a complete stranger. She had not even tried to disguise what she was doing, just laid there with a smirk on her face.

“Now you know.” Was all she’d said.

He’d turned and walked out, but not before hitting the wall so hard with his fist, he’d broken several bones in his hand.

After a night lost in various bars, he’d arrived home to find Jane gone.

Over the next few weeks several friends, or at least a people he’d thought as a being friends, had told him, that Jane had been “playing around” some time. Like a jigsaw puzzle, small items from the previous months had fallen into place, and he realized just what an idiot he’d been.

Weeks turned into months and the shops started to fill with the glittering sights and sounds that can only belong to Christmas. His house still remained empty, except for memories.

One night he was sitting in the chair sipping a drink, looking at the shadows left from where the pictures used to be.

Had he ever known love, true love?

His mind went back five years to the summer he’d spent in France after graduating from college. Yes he had known love, known it and lost it.

It had been a wonderful time, the cares of studying over, the pressure of a job not yet begun. Six months lazing about in the sun in the south of France. Then there had been Pascal.

He’d been sitting in a bar next to the beach when she’d walked in, the sun had been setting seemingly surrounding her with a red glow, that matched the copper tinge of her hair, making her look almost on fire. Like in all good romance movies there eyes had met across the crowded floor… But in his case, she’d looked at him, then turned and walked back out the bar.

That brief moment of eye contact had though, left a message written across his heart, setting him a challenge, which over the next couple weeks he’d taken up.

Ten days from the moment their eyes first met, they’d laid in each others arms, bodies, hearts and minds joined as one.

For the rest of the summer they had been together, until he’d had to leave, even then phone calls and emails had kept their romance alive.

Then one day she’d told him on the phone that she would not be contacting him any more, she did not give her reasons, and her last words of “I will always love you.” had just left him confused, as well as heart broken.

Yes he thought, his eyes once more straying to the shadows on the wall, he had known love.

His thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the front door bell. When he opened the door, there stood a woman perhaps a little younger than him, with dark hair. She handed him a letter, written on the top envelope was his name.

“Please,” the woman said, with a slight hint of a French accent “you have to read the letter.”

He went to open the letter then noticed a small face peering from behind the woman, her curly red hair only half hidden by her hat. Something about her seemed familiar.

“Please,” he said opening the door, “come inside.”

He led the pair into the living room, where they sat while he opened the letter.

“Peter,” he read “if you receive this letter, I will no longer be with you. I have been very ill, and I know my time in this world is not much longer.”

He looked up at the woman, and noticed the dark rings under her eyes.

He read on.

“My love, I have never forgotten you, and saying goodbye to you over the phone like I did was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say.”

A shock of reality hit him. He looked up at the woman, his lips mouthing one word… “Pascal?”

The woman nodded.

“Oui… I mean yes she sadly passed away two weeks ago, but made me promise to bring you the letter before she died. I am Joelle, Pascal’s sister.” He could see the tears starting to swell in Joelle’s eyes. Not knowing what to say he want back to the letter.

“I had to say what I did, I know now perhaps it was wrong, but at the time, I did not want you to hate me.”

How could he ever have hated her?

“I was confused, embarrassed and scared.
Later I realized that I’d done was wrong and that you, of all people would have understood, but by then it was too late. The words had been said, the deed had been done. Peter, a few months after you left I found I was pregnant.”

The room seemed to spin, a myriad of emotions swept through him like a tidal wave. The rest of the words seemed to swim before his eyes until he got to the last line.

“Please don’t be mad at me, and remember I will always love you.”

He put down the letter his hands trembling, a thousand questions springing to his lips each remaining un-asked.

Joelle, ushered the small girl towards him, a package clasped in her hands.

“This,” she said, her eyes now filled with tears. “Is Pascal’s daughter, her name is Angela. She has a gift for you.”

“Me.r..r..y Christ..mas..” Angela said, her face breaking into a smile of pleasure that she had managed to say the words correctly.

“Thank you, Angela. Bonne Noelle to you” he said taking the package from the small hands, now noticing how much she looked like her mother.

The child gave him a small smile, her fingers just touching his for a moment.

Slowly he opened the package; there were two pictures, one of Pascal and one of Angela. Written on the bottom of Pascal’s picture were the words.
“To the Man I will always love.”
He looked up at Joelle a film of tears across his own eyes.

“She made me promise to bring you the pictures,” Joelle said, a small smile touching her lips.

She reached across and took the pictures from his shaking hands, moving across the room, she hung them over the shadows left by the images of a previous life.

“And every father should have a picture of their daughter on display…”

Click the microphone to hear the story narrated by the author

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
“Across the Pond”

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At this time of year when people will be eating way more than is good for them, and those surviving Turkeys give a sigh of relief that they might have survived another year.

In England except for those Americans living in the UK, we do not celebrate Thanks Giving, Turkey tends to be the main food eaten at Christmas.

When you remeber that in just over three weeks time it will be Christmas, perhaps my statement about the relief of Turkeys is not quite so true. The English Christmas dinner of perhaps Prawn Cocktail or melon to start, followed by roast Turkey, roast potatoes, parsnips, Brussel sprouts, stuffing and maybe a piece of Yorkshire pudding. And of course Christmas pudding as a desert, along of course with the must have Christmas crackers (you pull them and the go bang) complete with silly jokes and the “must ware” paper hats.

So on this day I thought I’d share with you something less savory and perhaps a warning to those who are flying somewhere this holiday.

Toilet mystery on Cathay Pacific flights to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific says its fleet of Airbus planes has been hit by a spate of mysterious toilet blockages.

The problem has been so serious that one flight from Riyadh had to land in Mumbai when the crew discovered none of the plane’s 10 toilets were working.

In other cases, the number of passengers boarding flights had to be restricted because of toilet problems. Any blockage usually affects all the toilets on one side of an aircraft.

Airbus engineers are now fitting new toilet pipes to the airline’s fleet and carrying out deep cleaning.

Cathay spokeswoman said “Although the exact cause of the blockages was unclear, passengers themselves may be partly to blame.”

“You would be amazed what we find in the pipes when we clean the system – not just face towels but medicine bottles, socks, items of clothing and even children’s stuffed toys,” she said.

The toilets use high-speed vacuum pipes to take waste at up to 68mph into a holding tank, which is then emptied between flights.

Barry

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