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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 2006, and includes a narrated version for those who like to listen rather than read.

THE FINAL STAR (2006)

She stopped what she was doing and took a step back, looking at her handy work. The tree sparkled with multi-colored lights reflecting on the numerous ornaments that dotted around the tree. It would do.

She had only decided to put the tree up at the last moment, for her this Christmas was an empty shell of what it had been in the past. Her only daughter was three thousand miles across a stormy ocean with her family. Sure she would get the phone call, or if she remembered how to get the thing to work, a web cam session on the computer. The computer was something her husband had bought them so they would be able to keep in contact with their daughter.

Last Christmas he had spent hours teaching her how to use the computer to enable them to see and talk to their daughter and their grandchildren. It was almost like he was showing her because he knew… he knew that the next Christmas, he would not be there to create the link.

Just four months previous, she had suddenly found herself alone. One morning he had simply just not woken up. She never imagined life without her husband, but over the last months it was something she’d had to deal with.

Now being Christmas it was even harder.

She wiped away a tear that had leaked from her eye, and took a final look at the tree.

There was only one thing missing, the final star.

Every Christmas, the star had always been the final item on the tree, placed there by the two of them, as if to underline that they were ready for Christmas. This year when she had unpacked the Christmas decorations, she’d found the star broken, like her heart.

She sat sipping her coffee, looking at the tree; it looked so empty without the star. Just like her life was without her husband.

Sitting on the table beside her sat a pile of cards. She just had not been able to open the festive greetings when so many had been addressed to Mr and Mrs Johnstone. Picking the first one from the pile, she opened it and read the words inside. It was too much. Tears she’d held back for months streamed down her face. She dropped the letter and buried her face in her hands.

Why had he been taken away from her? What did she have to celebrate this Christmas?

Leaving the pile of letters unopened, she made her way to a lonely bed to cry herself to sleep.

It seemed she had only just gone to sleep when loud knocking on the front door woke her up. She looked across at the clock through heavy red rimmed eyes. It was ten past ten, who would be calling at this time of the night. The knocking came again.

“Hold on, I’m coming.” She shouted pulling her dressing gown round her as she descended the stairs to the front door. A small face was pressed up against the glass. Carol singers, this late at night???

She opened the door and was nearly bowled over as two young children jumped at her, wrapping their arms around her.

“Merry Christmas Grandma.”
“Merry Christmas Mum” came the voice of her daughter Rosemary and her husband, as they moved into the light from the hallway.

“What…. How… Why didn’t you tell me…?”

Words were lost as fresh tears spilled down her face as her daughter hugged her close.

“Mum, we sent a letter. In the Christmas card? ”

She looked back at the pile of cards, still unopened on the table.

Still in a state of shock, she led the family into the living room.

While her husband took the cases and the children up to the bedrooms, Rosemary sat with her Mom.

“You did know we were coming didn’t you Mom?”

“I did not get around… I could not…” tears once more. “Mom, we could not let you spend Christmas alone, or any other Christmas for that matter.”

“I don’t understand….”

“Mom… After Christmas, we’ll start planning for you to come back and stay with us.”

Further conversation was stopped by two children filled with the love of the excitement of the trip, the love of their grandmother and the joy of Christmas came running down the stairs.

“Grandma, Grandma” they both shouted. “We’ve brought you a special Christmas present. Dad says you can open it early.”

Eager little hands thrust a package at her.
“But… I can’t.”

Rosemary put her hand on her mother’s, as her husband came and stood behind the two children, eyes wide as saucers with excitement.

“Mom, please, the children bought this with their own money, it means a lot to them.”

Slowly she opened the package. Under the wrappings of tissue paper, she carefully removed a bright shining star.

Rosemary took the star, and with help from her husband placed it on the top of the Christmas tree.

Hugging her grandchildren to her, she looked at the star glittering at the top of tree. The final star was in place. Now she could celebrate Christmas.

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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I turned over the Calender this evening to find December is already upon us. A small amount of maths later and a check of where I was up to and I realized that I would not get all my Christmas Stories in before December 25th. So here’s a Thursday story on a Monday.

Today’s is from 2003, one of my favorites. I was also asked if I could add the narrated version, so if you want to hear that just click the microphone at the end of the story.

THREE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS (2003)


I peered through the car window at the dark outline of the road ahead, trying to find my way through the shadows, with just the “swish, swish” of the wipers to keep me company. Once more I cursed the fact I was out on a night like this, when even the car radio had given up and decided enough was enough.

It had all started from the phone call that had come out of the blue, just as I was settling down with a film I had wanted to see for ages, a cozy log fire, and a glass of good whiskey. All of which now lay many miles behind me, film over, fire out, and whiskey left still in its glass.

When I answered the phone it was a voice I knew so well, yet was the voice of the last person I would have expected to call me.

“Hi Dad, it’s me Marie.”
I did not know what to say. Hearing the voice of my daughter brought so much flooding back to me. Like a cinema reel flicking through frame after frame, visions of the past few years filled my mind.

It had started with the death of my wife, trying to get over it and look after my family at the same time. The constant arguments with my daughter had driven her away, leaving me devastated, both of us vowing to never speak to the other again. So many harsh words had been said in the heat of the moment. So much hurt given and received from both sides.

After she had gone, my son David, had simply looked at me.
“You’ve done it now, Dad.” He had said.
Like a knife piercing my heart, the realization that I had lost another member of my family cut right through me.

Like the stubborn people we are, neither my daughter nor I had talked from that moment forward. David passed on the odd pieces of news from his random contact with Marie, how she had found a place to live with a group of friends, and how she was doing ok. But now David was away defending our country, and I was alone.

“Dad, are you there?” Marie’s voice brought me back from my memories.

“Hi Marie, I’m here. Sorry. I was miles away. What do you want”
Half of me was glad that my daughter had called; the other half wondered what she was after.

“Dad…” I thought I heard a sob.

“Dad, please Dad, I need your help.”
At once all the anger and doubt left me. My daughter needed me, she was in trouble.

“Marie love, what’s wrong?”
This time I know I heard sobs, and my heart lurched and all the pain came back to me.

“Dad,” she whispered through the tears I knew were falling. “Dad, I need you. Please Dad, I need you”

That had been several hours ago, and here I was traveling through the worst weather that this December night could throw at me to a place I only had a vague idea of its location, to a daughter whom I thought I had lost and who was in trouble.

The miles came and went, and signposts seemed to be as common as the other cars on the road, “namely none”. I came to a crossroads totally unsure of which direction to go, when suddenly a flash of something caught the corner of my eye. I looked up into the dark skies. I had forgotten the morning news’, reports of space debris entering the atmosphere this evening and burning up. As I looked, several more small sparks lit the night heavens. OK, I thought, follow the star. I turned towards the first light I had seen and started driving once more through the night.

After a few miles, out of nowhere a sign appeared at the side of the road, a sign naming the very town I was looking for, and it took little time after that find the café my daughter had called me from.

I walked into the smoky, warm room, and immediately saw my daughter sitting head bowed at a table. “Marie” I called softly. She looked up, tears still filling her eyes, dark rings from lack of sleep surrounding the red rimmed gaze that looked up at me.
“Dad, oh Dad, I am so glad to see you”

Without thinking I rushed to hug her, and as she stood up, I realized that my daughter was not as I had last seen her; she was in fact very, very pregnant.

She filled my arms, and I gently hugged her, so much going through my mind.
“Dad” she whispered in my ear “Dad, please take me home”

We drove back through the dark, neither of us saying much, until the soft sound of her sleeping left me alone in my thoughts as to what was going on, and what had happened to my little girl that now slept in the car seat next to me.

Many hours later we arrived home, and I helped her out the car and into the house. I made Marie comfortable, and made us both some tea, before sitting down with her, waiting for her to talk.

After a while she seemed ready, and started to tell me what had happened. She was, as I had thought, nine months pregnant, her boyfriend of some time, whom I had known nothing about, was away. I was going to ask where, but bit my tongue and let her carry on. She had been trying to make it to a friend’s house, when her car had broken down. She had been lost and alone, worried about the baby. Not knowing what else to do, she had called me. She tried to tell me how sorry she was and what an idiot she had been, but I did not hear the words as my own were tumbling from my lips until we both started crying and once more hugged each other.

I tucked my little girl into bed that night not knowing what I was to do, trying to get all that had gone on that night into some form of order.
About four in the morning, a tap on my shoulder woke me, my sleep filled eyes seeing the face of my daughter. “Dad,” she said, “The baby is coming. We need to get to the hospital”

I jumped out of bed, thinking about hot water and overnight bags and such.

“It’s ok Dad, breath deeply. You’ll be alright.” She smiled, and I knew how much I had missed my daughter.

That was the start of a hectic seven hours that saw me go into the hospital as a Dad, and come out a doting Grandfather of a beautiful baby boy.

I looked up, holding the baby in my arms, as the door bell rang a week later. My daughter went and answered the door, and I heard whoops of joy and laughter before bursting into the room came my son, David, with his arm around Marie.

“Hi Dad,” he said “Did you think we would miss this moment?”

I smiled, then realized he had said we, and for the first time I noticed another man next to David, his hand clasped around that of my daughter.

Marie smiled, she looked from the man and then at me.

“Dad, this is Andy, Andy Carpenter, my fiancé and the baby’s father.”

I must have looked shocked, because a worried look crossed Marie’s face.
“Dad, I told you Andy was away, but as he was on a secret assignment, I could not tell you where”

I sat down trying to work it all out; somehow what had gone on seemed to have a vague ring to it.

My daughter Marie being pregnant, alone with nowhere to go, a guiding star, the birth of a baby and now a Carpenter.

I smiled; it couldn’t be, could it?

No matter what, I had my daughter back. But more than that, I had a family, which now included my new son and grandson, and there were still three more days until Christmas.

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book

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

Today’s is from 2002, you might have heard me narrating it on a resent “”Book and a Chat” radio show, when a guest did not turn up.

THE DOLL (2002)

She stood in the street, soft snowflakes falling round her, as she gazed at the doll in the shop window. The bright lights of Christmas filled the night, casting shadows of all shapes and sizes across the white winter blanket that covered the streets. Sounds of music and laughter came from behind curtains, and the spirit of the Yuletide seemed to fill the air.

Children their faces lit with the joy of the season rushed through the streets, their garb of many colors making her drab dress look even duller.

She looked once more at the doll in the window a look of longing covering her face, as she wiped away a small teardrop that escaped the corner of one eye.

The shop door opened as a family, arms filled with gifts came laughing into the street, and without thinking she slipped past them into the shop. Her eyes opened wide as she gazed on the beauties in this Aladdin’s cave of a toyshop. Not knowing where to look first she slowly wondered through the store, each step revealing something even more fantastic, even more wonderful. Her eyes grew as big as saucers, and sparkled like the lights that lit the Christmas bedecked store.

At last she came to the dolls, and she knew at once the one she wanted, the one she had craved so very long. She was their her dark hair curled round her face, blue eyes, smiled at the girl, and hands were outstretched as if asking to be taken and held by the girl.

Tears sprang to the young girl’s eyes, slowly trickling down her cheek, as she knew she would never have the doll, never know the feel of her cuddled up in her arms.

Slowly she turned and walked back through the store. Nobody seemed to notice the girl, in her dull dress, tear smeared features and a heart so heavy one could almost feel the pain.

She reached the door as another family came rushing into the store, and for a moment the girl wanted to stay and join them, then as before she quietly moved through the door, until she stood once more on the street gazing at the doll in the shop window.

It was the same place she had been standing all those years ago, when the runaway coach and horses had plowed into her, sending her to the world where she now roamed.

With a sigh that if heard would have broken your heart, she reached towards the doll, her ghostly hands passing through the window, and also through the doll. With tears still falling from her deep rimmed eyes she turned and walked away disappearing into the growing darkness. She would be back next year, once more to see the doll and each year after that until she would finally rest in peace.

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 Thursday Story’s up to now, each year I write a special holiday story, and have done since 1999. I will share one each Thursday until finally just before Christmas I will publish this seasons story.

Today’s is from 2001 and is basically true, as you can read at the end.

THE GIFT (2001)

Driving to work on a Sunday morning, the roads fairly empty at the time of day I started work. Christmas lights still sparkled in the early morning light as I passed by the houses, reminding me it was only 3 days until Christmas day. This was my first day back at work after several days off, and with so little time before Christmas, most people would now be on holiday for the next few days.

When I arrived at work, far from being quiet major problems were waiting for me, and those few members of my shift not on vacation. The morning went by with many conference calls and problem resolving and around lunchtime finally I thought it had all settled down to a quieter day.

Suddenly my phone rang, it was my wife. The baby was sick, she had been crying for the last hour, and in pain. Not only that but when the baby had been sick she had traces of blood in the throw-up. She had phoned the Doctor who had thought it was because of a cold and congestion. Naturally I was worried, our daughter was only seven months old after all, and so very precious to us.

I was getting on with more work, thinking about what was going on, when the phone went again. The Doctor had second thoughts and wanted us to take the baby to the hospital. I would meet them the family there.

I drove not quite knowing where I was going or what I was doing, the area was strange and the worry about what was going on weighing heavy on my mind.

I found the children’s emergency area, arriving before my family. Soon we were all there. The baby was no her normal herself at all, she would not let you put her down, and was crying in pain, as well as constantly dribbling. We were quickly looked at and details taken, then started a long wait until we could be seen. Children and families came and went and still we waited. The our other children were starting to get fractious, we had by this time been waiting almost 3 hours.

At last we were called in, and shown to the smallest cubical out of the ones there were, this was for the two of us, the baby, 2 small children and all the bags and car seats that were needed to port the family around. The staff seeing the children with nothing to do brought them gifts from the hospital Christmas tree, and so we waited.

Another hour, and at last the doctor came to see us. The baby was checked out, and nothing could be found. People still came and went and time continued to pass. At last the doctor came back and advised that they were going to take x-rays of the baby. We talked about what to do, we had been at the hospital for over 4 hours, the children were tired and hungry, and we both knew how long x-rays could take. Neither of us wanted to leave, but though it best if my wife took the baby home, and I stayed.

Very quickly we went to the x-ray area, and after just 10 minutes were back with the plates. The doctor could see nothing on the x-rays, but wanted a second opinion. The Senior Doctor came and examined the baby, and suddenly reported to both myself and the other doctor that she could see something trapped at the back of the babies throat. This explained her pain, and the soaking shoulders I now had from her constant dribbling for the last several hours I had held her.

My heart jumped into my throat, what had she swallowed, what if it moved and lodged across her throat. The surgeon was paged, and I was taken with the baby into another area. I tried to keep her as quiet as possible, the Christmas angels pinned round the walls seemed to look down at her so small in my arms and in so much pain.We moved to behind a curtain, as a major case was coming in, all the time the doctors kept checking on us. Nurses peered in at the beautiful baby, who every now and then let out such a heart rending cry that all stopped to see what was wrong.

The surgeon came and explained what he was to do, it was thought better to operate on the baby to get rid of the obstruction, rather than cause her even more distress, and possible problems by fishing for it. The theater was ready, we went up and met the operating team, where I handed over my beloved daughter to them. I waited in and empty waiting area.

Christmas lights sparkled on windows, and seasons decorations were everywhere. I phoned my now tearful wife, and explained what was going on. Thoughts went to another baby all those years ago, and silent prayers were sent to him. The last words that the anesthetist had said to me as she took the baby , swirled round my head again, and again.

“You are very lucky, 80% of babies who swallow things like this do not even make the hospital”

What would we do if anything happened to her? After all that had happened to us this last year, this would be the end of all and everything if we lost her.

After what seemed an age, but was actually only 20 minutes the doctor returned, holding in his hand a container in which was a small frog foil sticker, as used on cards and presents at Christmas. This was the offending object. The baby was ok, and was waiting for me in the recovery area.

I sat by her bed, waiting for her to recover, trying to smile at the comments of the nurse taking care of her. She was alright, she was safe, a small tear trickled down my face, and my heart smiled at the beauty that was our daughter now safe and sound sleeping next to me.

A half hour later she was awake, and her smiling self, drinking a bottle of juice as if nothing had happened. Once we had been checked out, we left for our drive back home. The Christmas lights now matching the pair of sparkling eyes that sat in the car seat next to me.

We arrived home in the early hours of the morning, safe and sound, but still the words echoed round my mind. 80% of babies never make it to the hospital.

As we hugged each other and the baby, we both realized, never mind what was going to happen in two days time. We had already received the greatest Christmas present we would ever have. The safety and well being of our baby.

Normally I write a Christmas Story, and in fact this year I already had it written just waiting for my to type it out and up load it. That was until we had our own story, this time the story was for real. Victoria is fine now, and shows no ill effects from her operation. It just showed us how lucky we really are.

Barry



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

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