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i wrote this last year and thought id share as a Christmas present to all the ht'ers here. i hope you enjoy.

Uncle Jack and the Christmas stable.

All his life Uncle Jack was told not to go into the stable at midnight on Christmas Eve. No one could tell him why, just that one should never go into the stable at that time.

Uncle Jack had always followed this admonishment since a boy when his grand parents had told him. As the years passed he had always wondered but had faithfully seen that the animals were secured and provided for each night but especially on Christmas Eve.

As it came to pass that on this one particular Christmas Eve that when the bells rang out calling each and everyone who was able to come to the midnight service at the church on the other side of the village, Uncle Jack put on his coat and bundled up the children and his wife for the walk to the church a few minutes walk away across the frozen harbour ice. As he was passing the stable the low thud of a shutter drew his attention to the eastside of the stable. Sure enough, there was an open shutter to one of the stalls. In this cold he knew that some of the animals, the chickens in particular would freeze. It will only take a minute he thought and despite all that his elders had told him he told his family to hurry on to the church and that he would be right behind them as soon as he closed the shutter.

His wife and children hurried on in the artic blast to reach the warmth of the church and the midnight service.

Uncle Jack struggled to open the door to the stable that had frozen shut in the frigid temperatures. Finally levering the door open just enough to squeeze into the stable and entered just as the last bell tolled the midnight hour. His family found him there after the service kneeling in the middle of the stable with his hands open in offering staring at the empty manger before him. His wife and oldest son carried him across the yard to the warmth of the house fearing that he had frozen in the intense cold after so long in the stable, some hour or more. Uncle Jack recovered from the freezing that he had endured with the love and support of his family.

And as his son grew into a man he was the mirror reflection of the image that his father had been. For from that fateful night Jack’s raven black hair turned to snow white and the swarthy complexion gained from a lifetime of exposure to sun and wind while tending nets and lines on the bay as a fisherman, turned as pale as parchment that no amount of weathering could restore.

Uncle Jack wouldn’t talk about what he had seen that Christmas Eve or what had happened to him that changed him, if someone asked he would gently change the subject. It was only on his death bed many years later that he told his son, “James I have never told anyone not even your mother, but it is time that you knew. I went into the stable to close the shutter so that we wouldn’t lose any of the animals. I got in just as the bell tolled 12, I took a step forward and all at once each animal moved to the manger encircling it. Then as one they each bowed, paying homage to the empty manger. As I moved forward to see what was happening, the east window suddenly lit up with the purest white silver light I have ever seen, it was almost painful to look on it was so beautiful. I looked into the manger and before my eyes the image of a babe in swaddling clothes appeared. I fell to my knees for I knew that it was the face of our risen Lord that I had been so blessed to look upon. Now my son, listen to me and heed my words, never enter the stable at midnight on Christmas Eve but ensure that the east window is kept open so that each beast can pay homage to our Lord as they did on his birth and so have each year since.” And so it was that with these words that Uncle Jack slipped from this world and into the next, just as the bell on the old church across the harbour tolled the midnight hour calling all who are able to the midnight service and gentle thud of a loose shutter on the stable carried across the cold still night.


Dean Harnum
2007.12.19


Merry Christmas everybody.
 

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Thank you for sharing such a touchuing story.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.

tinda
 
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