Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Enchanted Ferris Wheel: The Story of Amusement at a Delightful Pier

Once there was an Enchanted Ferris Wheel.
It rotated on steel, and you could make it a deal.
It sat by the ocean at the boardwalk pier,
Sparkled in lights and squeaked its gear.
When you got upon its passenger car,
You could ride to the sky and catch a star.
The conductor gave you a ticket for a dime,
And you promised to have a grand ole time.
By the time you landed, you could change,
If you wanted to change, although it felt strange.
Maybe your name, maybe your smile,
Maybe your hair, maybe your style.
Up in the air, you could see the moon,
Little Boy Blue, and his silver spoon.
Your perspective would never be the same,
And the ride would be your claim to fame.
You started out the old version of you,
But then you became everything new.
So, take a trip on the Enchanted Ferris Wheel,
Where all your goals will soon be real!

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

REMBRANDT synopsis

A world-famous painter reveals his methods and encourages artists to paint with truth and light and to value each individual with all their strengths and weaknesses.

Rembrandt, the preeminent Baroque Dutch painter, meets his students. As an artist, the painter understands the human condition and represents it in his work. Several critiques deemed Rembrandt a prophet of civilization for his genuine art. He painted with common grace for every human. Before Rembrandt leaves, he asks to paint his students’ portraits. He says every life matters and each person’s face is part of a larger design, capturing heaven on Earth.

Dutch painter Rembrandt introduces himself to his students, saying he wants to teach them everything he knows. As an artist, he understands the human condition which puts him in a unique position to represent it in his work. Rembrandt’s portraits are painted with truth and light, never minimizing a person’s strong points or flaws. When Rembrandt paints himself he shows all his bumps, lumps, imperfections, wrinkles, sags, and bags. Not only does Rembrandt show people’s humanness in his portraits, but he also focuses on the eyes of the subject because confronting the viewer in a portrait causes a stronger association with the onlooker.

His self-portraits over time are a visual diary and he picks costumes with flair, comparing his moods and expressions. He also created etchings and drawings. After the financial success in his early years, Rembrandt says he might have been too self-assured. Although many people romanticize his life, he says he suffered heartbreak when he lost his wife and had severe financial trouble in his later years. However, he still painted with common grace for every human.

Rembrandt says historians categorize him in the Golden Age when Baroque style was popular. Along with self-portraits, he tried to make his contemporaries look good in paint. Some of his works include: “Man in the Golden Helmet,” “The Music Party,” “Girl at a Window,” and “Old Man with a Gold Chain.” “The Night Watch” might be his most famous painting. In “The Artist in His Studio” Rembrandt is seen alone, much like how he created. Before Rembrandt leaves, he asks to paint his students’ portraits. He says every life matters, so smile, or have a private thought, but pose for his painting, please. Each person’s image is part of a bigger composition, on Earth as it is in heaven.

Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Heavenly Toy Soldier: The Story of a Peaceful Christmas

“Merry Christmas! I’m keeping the peace,” the Heavenly Toy Soldier said, standing in the doorway of the most famous toy store in New York City, the Toymaker’s Shop. As the children pulled at his wool coat and toy gun, he yawned. “I do such a good job that nothing dangerous ever happens in this store,” he said, as the customers poured in from Fifth Avenue. 

The Toymaker’s Shop three-story building had shelves of every kind of toy imaginable—stuffed bears and animals, dolls, dollhouses, model trains, blocks, musical instruments, kitchen play sets, blackboards, jungle gyms, swing sets, kaleidoscopes, tree houses, painting easels, puzzles, board games, picture books, sports equipment, skates, and toy cars. 

With advanced technology, some of the toys were quite pricey, not your average mom-and-pop shop, like the real-life fire engine that sat in the store’s entrance, which had a long hose connected to a hydrant in the store. A large yellow school bus stood next to it in the display. They might have seemed too big to be toys, but they were in fact only made for fun. 

“That will be $15,000,” the cashier said to the man in line with his two children, holding a mini gas-powered car. 

“That’s the Christmas spirit of giving!” the store manager said, shaking the hand of the father in line with his children. 

Then, he walked over to the Heavenly Toy Soldier and stood in front of him with a sigh, shaking his head.

“We’re letting you go,” Mr. Cartwright said to the solider. “This is a toy shop. It’s full of kids. No one ever steals anything. You’ve been standing here for years, and I’ve been paying you out of my pocket, and it’s a waste of money. You’ll have two weeks of severance pay, and I’m sure you’ll be able to find another job. Your last night will be Christmas Eve.”

As the Heavenly Toy Soldier fought back a tear, he found the courage to say, “Yes, sir. I understand.”

Then, he looked across the store full of strangers he was protecting. It was a cold day in the city, and many of the customers would leave with hundreds of dollars of toys. At least he could still defend them until Christmas. 

For the next two weeks, he was extra conscientious of everyone’s needs in the store, not letting one child go unattended.  

“Maybe I don’t do much,” he said, as his last days in the store passed by. “I’ve never once even used my gun. Of course, it only shoots toy pellets, but the pellets would hurt if I shot them and would give enough time for the police to come.”

As the Heavenly Toy Soldier pondered his current situation, he noticed that a little girl dropped her baby doll as the store door closed behind her. The Soldier ran into the street, stopping traffic to the give the girl her doll. In one of her hands, she held a cup of banana nut pudding. Being that it was too much to hold, she must have dropped her new toy doll. 

“Thank you so much,” the girl’s father said, taking the baby doll and shoving it under his arm, while holding other bags filled with Christmas packages. “Oh, and I heard that Christmas Eve will be your last day at the shop. We’ll miss you!”

“I appreciate your kind words, sir,” the Heavenly Toy Soldier said. “I’m grateful to have served you for the time I did.”

While the Solider walked back into the shop, he was unaware of the listening ears that had heard of his departure. 

Two of the worst hoodlums in the neighborhood happened to be crossing the street at the moment of the conversation.

“Did you hear that, Bubba Joe? The Heavenly Toy Soldier at the Toymaker’s Shop got the axe,” said Brother Jim. 

“Maybe we should just drop by on Christmas Eve after hours and do some shopping!” Bubba Joe said, scratching his chin.

“Too bad that he’s not already fired,” Brother Jim said. “We could really ruin Christmas for a bunch of bratty kids!”

“Well, this way we can ruin Christmas, Easter, and everybody’s birthday for years to come,” Bubba Joe said. “Why don’t we set the place on fire to teach everybody a lesson! It’ll definitely ruin Christmas and shut the place down for good.”

When Christmas Eve arrived, the Heavenly Toy Soldier felt sadder than he let the customers know. 

“I’m sure I’ll find another job,” the Soldier said to the families, many of them shaking his hand on the way out the door. 

However, the Soldier knew that his chances of finding another job anywhere were slim to none. If he did find another job, it would not give him the respect in the community that working at the Toymaker’s Shop had provided. Even still, he kept his chin up, trying to be thankful for the opportunities that he had for years in the heart of New York City. 

At least he didn’t have a wife and children to support, the Soldier thought. He was mostly alone in the world, sacrificing his life for others. 

“This is your Christmas bonus,” Mr. Cartwright said, giving the Heavenly Toy Soldier a golden medal for his heroic efforts. “I know today is your last day, but I wanted to give you something special. Have a Happy New Year!”

“Again, thank you, sir!” the Soldier said. As Mr. Cartwright walked away, he choked up, almost wanting to leave just then.

“Since I’m the last one in the store, I’m just going to spend the night,” he said to himself. “Then, I’ll leave in the morning when no one sees me. At least, I can spend one final night alone in the Toymaker’s Shop, thinking of the good times.”

While the last customers piled out of the shop on Christmas Eve, including Mr. Cartwright, the Heavenly Toy Soldier bided his time, shuffling toys back to their shelves. Then, he locked the front door behind everyone, sat down in Santa Claus’ armchair, and cried while watching the lights on the store Christmas tree flicker in the darkness. 

Before the Heavenly Toy Soldier had a chance to get a tissue, someone threw a rock through the front store window. 

“Ouch! What in the world?” the Soldier said, as the rock hit his leg. He stood up, grabbing his toy gun, and sounding the store alarm. Then, Bubba Joe and Big Jim jumped through the broken window, with giant, flaming torches. 

“Stop right there!” the Heavenly Toy Soldier said, aiming his gun. “I’m here to keep the peace. You’re disturbing it.”

“Are we? Gee! We didn’t know we were disturbing anything,” Bubba Joe said to Big Jim, waving his torch. 

“We were just going to light the place on fire for Christmas Eve,” Big Jim said, laughing like a snorting pig. 

“Not on my watch,” said the Soldier, firing his pellet gun. Then, he grabbed a water gun from the nearest shelf, filling it from the hose on the store fire engine, and doused the torches before Bubba Joe and Big Jim could burn anything.

With that, the New York City Police Department arrived and arrested Bubba Joe and Big Jim, who definitely had a memorable Christmas behind bars. A squad of police cars with loud sirens and K9 police dogs lined the streets. 

By morning, the Heavenly Toy Soldier was the Christmas hero of the nation, the defender of Fifth Avenue in New York City. Of course, he kept his job for years to come, keeping the peace for adults and children everywhere. 

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters

Christmas Frost King: The Story of the Nasty North Wind in Winter

“The Polar Forest is so beautiful,” the Nasty North Wind jeered the Christmas Frost King into a fierce argument. 

The Nasty North Wind blew against the Christmas Frost King’s Ice Palace in the tundra of the Arctic. He had been blowing so hard against the Palace that many in the King’s household thought it would soon topple.

“With one little icy breeze, your forest will never again serve you,” the Nasty North Wind taunted. “Let me test them!”

“Fine, you may test the trees of the Polar Forest to see who is full of love and compassion,” the Frost King decided. 

“None of the trees will care about the animals of the forest,” the Nasty North Wind ridiculed the King. 

“You have my permission to test the trees, but not to kill them, and only for the winter season,” the King reasoned. 

“If the trees of the Polar Forest love me, then they will also love my animals,” the King continued. “And I know they do.”

“I know you believe that your forest is good, but none of your trees are truly pure in heart,” the North Wind cackled.

“The Spruce Tree, the Pine Tree, and the Little Juniper Tree will stand tall against your wind,” the Frost King threatened, slamming his ice scepter again the palace wall, sending rays of light into the North Wind, causing him to shrink.

“Do not mock me,” the Frost King outraged, sitting on his throne. “I know my forest is fallen, but it still loves me. Be gone, and do not return until the test is complete. I already told you that I know which trees are upright. If I’m wrong, then you can have my throne. If you’re wrong, then you’ll be banished into the Antarctic never to return to the North.” 

“We shall see who is right and upright,” the Nasty North Wind roared. “And we shall see who is crooked and deceptive.”

The Nasty North Wind set out through the Polar Forest, sending the worst storms in years with sleet, rain, snow, and ice. Tree branches were freezing and snapping off the trees like twigs. Tree hollows were filling with snow and icicles. 

Of course, animals like the Gray Wolf and the Brown Grizzly Bear were able to hide in the mountains and caves. However, a creature like the Littlest of Little Birds could not even fly fast enough to escape the wind to shelter. 

“This is how I will win this battle against the Christmas Frost King,” the Nasty North Wind snapped through the air. 

“No one will even care what happens to the Littlest of Little Birds,” the Wind derided, trapping the Bird in a downward spiral.  

At first, the Birch Tree caught the Littlest of Little Birds in his arms, hiding the Bird for a few hours, until the Nasty North Wind laid bare its branches of leaves. With the Wind biting at the branches that held the Little Bird, the Birch Tree let the Bird go back into the winter storm. 

Within minutes, the Oak Tree took the Little Bird into his arms, but the same thing happened as with the Birch Tree. The Nasty North Wind plucked it branches of leaves and tormented the tree until it released the Littlest of Little Birds back into the freezing storm. By this point, the Little Bird was fearing death. 

“I can’t take anymore suffering,” the Bird cried. “What did I do to deserve this? Why will no one save me?”

Then, the Willow Tree, which was known to weep openly, grabbed the Bird and hid it until the Nasty Wind blasted its branches so hard that it could not keep the Bird in its shelter any longer. It ushered the Bird back into the forest with tears.

“Where are these grand trees that you mentioned Christmas Frost King?” the North Wind called, almost killing the Bird. 

The Little Bird had lost most of its feathers by now, had a hard time flying, and could no longer sing with its sore throat.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a spruce, pine, or little juniper tree,” the North Wind lied, almost crushing the Bird.

With that, the Spruce Tree, Pine Tree, and Little Juniper Tree picked their roots from the ground and walked forward through the Polar Forest, past the Birch Tree, Oak Tree, and Willow Tree, and shielded the Littlest of Little Birds. 

“I offer my thick branches to protect you, Little Bird,” the Spruce Tree affirmed, putting his roots down and refusing to move. 

“I will give my life for the smallest animal in the forest,” the Pine Tree vowed, standing between the Bird and the Wind.

“My needles will be your nest, and my berries your food, even if I am small,” the Little Juniper Tree proclaimed to the Bird. 

The Three Evergreen Trees, who are green in every season, spread kindness in the Polar Forest, causing all the other evergreen trees of the Polar Forest to defend every large and small animal throughout the wintertime storms. 

Although the Nasty North Wind blasted gales and gusts, which were deathly typhoons, the Evergreens stood tall. The harder the Wind blew against the Evergreens, the more resolute the Three Trees became to defeat him. 

“I lived to see the springtime,” the Little Bird cheered, singing a song in the sunshine. “I can sing again! Sing a love song!”

When the Nasty North Wind returned to the Christmas Frost King, the Wind could not believe that he had lost the wager. 

“For the rest of your days, you will not touch any spruce, pine, or little juniper trees on Earth,” the Christmas Frost King announced. 

“I banish you to the Arctic, except for the winter season,” he declared. “Each fall when the season turns to winter, you may wreak havoc on the other trees, especially the birch, oak, and willow trees. If you must, pluck their leaves and leave them naked. You will, however, never pluck a needle from the Evergreens of the Earth. You will also never attack my palace again. Be gone! Never return to me, foolish, arrogant tempest! I hope you get tired of freezing the world and bring warmth instead.”

“I bow to your greatness, Christmas Frost King,” the Nasty North Wind whimpered, departing for the Southern Hemisphere. 

“Find me the Littlest of Little Birds,” the Christmas Frost King charged his servant. “I need her song in my court.”

Just before the Little Bird was about to fly away into the spring sky, the servant found the Bird resting in the Spruce Tree.

“Your presence is requested by the Christmas Frost King,” the servant explained, gathering the Little Bird into his arms.

“Thank you, my lord,” the Littlest of Little Birds sang, singing a melody which humans called “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

For the rest of her days, the Little Bird sang in the court of the Christmas Frost King, winter, spring, summer, and fall. 

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters 

Holiday Gingerbread House: The Story of a Very Sweet Christmas Home

“Time for bed, Nicola,” her mother called from the top of the stairs decorated with garland. “Santa will be here soon.”

“Yes, I know, but I have to make my gingerbread house before I go to sleep,” 10-year-old Nicola Claire explained, opening the Gingerbread House Kit. 

The set included pre-baked gingerbread and icing to make a two-story home. Gingerbread men, shredded coconut, colorful beads, jelly hearts, mini jellies, spearmint leaves, candy canes, pinwheels, sugar wreaths, chocolate pretzels, gum balls, rock candy, peppermints, marshmallows, glazed nuts, chocolate bars, and spice drops.

“As long as you can finish the Gingerbread House without falling asleep,” Mrs. Claire insisted. “Tuck yourself in bed when you’re finished. We can take pictures of it in the morning. Maybe we can even eat it for breakfast! Merry Christmas!”

“Good night, Mom!” Nicola agreed, gluing the gingerbread pieces together with the icing. She placed candy pieces artistically on the house as a creative masterpiece. 

“I’d really like to live here,” Nicola imagined, yawning. She placed her head on the table for a moment’s rest, closing her eyes for a second, which then became minutes until she was asleep. In her dream, her stature shrank, and she stood as tall as the gingerbread men in the kit, which was much smaller than real life. 

“What happened?” she questioned. “I know I wanted to live in the house, but I didn’t know I would get my wish.”

She wandered through the rooms of the gingerbread home and holiday candies enjoying the sweet-smelling house. As she made her way to the kitchen with a peppermint fireplace, she met a gingerbread man hanging a sugar wreath. 

“My name Cinnamon,” the cookie announced, with a white icing body, red candy bow, and jelly heart eyes. “Welcome to the Holiday Gingerbread House. I hope you will be able to find your way home by Christmas morning.”

“I’m not even sure how I got here in the first place,” Nicola declared. “How do you expect me to find my way home?”

She sat down on the chocolate bar floor and shed tears, melting part of the ground. “I just said I’d like to live in the Gingerbread House. I never said I wanted to be stranded as a miniature person on Christmas Eve,” she lamented. 

“I’ll tell you a secret,” Cinnamon whispered. “If you eat the Gingerbread House, it won’t exist, and you’re sure to be home.”

“Eat it? The whole thing?” Nicola asked. “If I was as big as a real person, then it might not be so bad, but my stomach shrunk with the rest of my body. How am I going to be able to fit this entire house in my stomach? It will hurt!”

“Then maybe you need to make yourself bigger, and the house will become smaller and fit in your stomach,” he suggested, placing a jug of milk on the table. Of course, she wouldn’t be able to eat the Gingerbread House without milk. 

“Do you think I can swallow it whole?” Nicola wondered. “Maybe if I concentrate hard enough the house will even shrink.”

“It might be a little bit more than you can chew at once,” Cinnamon considered. “Take small bites. Enjoy the treat! And make sure you eat the house before any of the cats in the neighborhood find you. They would surely eat you and the house!”

“Cats? Oh, no!” Nicola bellowed. “I must eat the house and return home. What was I thinking when I built it?”

So Nicola set about eating the Gingerbread House one wall at a time, then the roof, the chimney, the floor, the door, the windows, and the front porch. As she ate the home, she grew in stature, and it became smaller, little by little. 

Although her stomach ached a bit, she mostly enjoyed the sugary house, eating it like a big birthday cake. 

When the cats circled, she tried to hide until they left. They most certainly could smell her little-girl scent and would be back. She must be gone before their return. So, she ate every last crumb of gingerbread, icing, and sugar. 

By the time she grew back into her real-life state, Cinnamon was very tiny, and she picked him up to look at him. 

“Should I eat you, too?” Nicola contemplated. “I can’t possibly eat you! You’re my friend. I should be able to make it home now.”

“You must eat me, too!” Cinnamon commanded Nicola. “I’m the last morsel to swallow before you return to your house.”

“But won’t it hurt you?” she worried. “I would never ever want to hurt you. In fact, you’re the one who helped me eat my way out of this mess. I would have never thought of eating the Gingerbread House as way of returning home.”

“Oh, my, I’m a gingerbread man,” Cinnamon mused. “I was made to be eaten by a lovely girl like you!”

“Well, if you insist,” Nicola hesitated, eating her gingerbread friend whole. She took a big drink of milk afterwards. 

Then, she awoke back at her kitchen table in her family’s home on Christmas Eve, far past midnight. Standing beside her was St. Nicholas, admiring the Gingerbread House that she built before dozing off into a dream. 

“This is Cinnamon,” St. Nicholas heartened to Nicola, handing her a stuffed gingerbread man as a Christmas gift. 

“I’ll love him forever,” she promised, holding him at her chest and kissing him. “We’ve been friends for quite some time now.”

In the morning, Nicola ate the Gingerbread House for breakfast with Cinnamon and the rest of her family as though she had made her holiday magic reality. Even her mother got an apricot cat from her father for Christmas. 

It was the happiest Christmas of all, and by far the sweetest. Sugar and spice and all things nice!

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters 

Hallelujah Angel Orchestra: The Story of Comfort and Joy

“We just got orders from the higher-ups that we’re performing a concert over Bethlehem tomorrow,” Comfort said to Joy. 

“How are we going to do that in time? It seems so last minute,” Joy said, fixing her angel wings and grabbing her trumpet.

“It’s not really last minute,” Comfort said, looking over his sheet music for “Glory to God in the Highest.” 

“We can sing a duet,” Joy said. “And we’ll lead the angel orchestra, just like we usually do . . .”

The two angels adorned themselves in pink and sky-blue robes, playing sparkling silver trumpets for heaven’s events. 

“What’s the occasion?” Joy said. “Gloria said God decided to send his Son to live on Earth, and this is his entrance.”

“His entrance?”  Gloria, the Hallelujah Angel Orchestra’s supervisor, said. “No, I said this is one of the most important evenings in history. I wasn’t able to tell the orchestra before now. You would’ve been too excited. The date was a secret!”

“Well, now that it’s not a secret, we better hold rehearsals all night long,” Comfort said, warming a mug of angel coffee.

“Any angel who sings off key can’t participate in this event,” Gloria said. “Only the best singers and instruments!”

“Yes, Gloria, the orchestra must be well-prepared,” Comfort said. “I’m sounding the bell for rehearsal now!”

The large, golden rehearsal bell rang all throughout the Hallelujah Angel Orchestra chamber, calling the angels to practice.

As the angels entered the hall, they whispered to one another, curious as to why they were called to practice in the middle of the night. Usually, they were given at least a few days’ notice for major events throughout the heavens. 

“Now every angel, listen up!” Gloria said, marching across the chamber with a clip board. “All your other duties are put on hold until we finish this concert. There will be shepherds out in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks at night. Comfort and Joy will appear to them, and the glory of the Lord will shine around them, and they will be terrified. We’re going to have to do our best to help them not to be afraid. Every one of your angel wings needs to be ironed and trumpets need to be polished! After the glory shines, I gave Comfort and Joy a script to read. Go ahead Comfort . . .”

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people,” Comfort said, trying to memorize it.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Joy said, flipping to page two.

“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger,” Comfort said, pausing. 

“Gloria, do you think we need that third section about the sign? It might be overdoing it a bit,” he said. 

“Would you stick to the script?” Gloria said. “God wrote it. I can’t change it. It is essential to the Messiah’s identity. After the script is finished, then suddenly our great company of heavenly host will appear with you and Joy, praising God and singing! Comfort and Joy, do you have down all the major instructions? If you do, then we can continue to the music.”

“Altos, sopranos, tenors, and basses! Every angel, focus!” Comfort directed the Hallelujah Angel Orchestra. 

“The musicians can join in during the second verse. The first time should be a cappella,” Joy instructed, handing out the music. 

After the angel orchestra had a minute to review the song, they stood at their tallest with instruments ready, mostly harps. 

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests,” the angel orchestra sang. 

“Wonderful!” Gloria announced. “Still needs a little work on phrasing and make sure to pronounce your consonants. After you are finished performing the song, ideally, the shepherds will hurry off and find Mary and Joseph, the baby’s parents, and the baby, who will be lying in the manger. When the shepherds see the baby, they should spread the word concerning what had been told to them about the child by us. Of course, all who hear what the shepherds say to them will be amazed. I’m hoping the child’s mother will treasure all these things and ponder them in her heart. The shepherds then must return to the fields, glorifying and praising God for what they have heard and seen. If they don’t, at least we tried. We did it for God.”

“Any questions?” Comfort said to the crowd of singers and musicians. “I will try to answer them for you!”

“Without answers, then there’s always the chance for a miracle,” Joy said, giggling into her trumpet.

As the Hallelujah Angel Orchestra practiced into the wee hours of the morning and into the next afternoon, “Glory to God in the Highest” sounded heavenly. By the midnight hour on Christmas Eve, the angels were in place over Bethlehem. 

“Everyone, remember your cues,” Comfort said, with Gloria watching on the side of the orchestra, floating in the sky. 

“Look! Shepherds! There really are shepherds in the field,” the alto section of the choir whispered to the tenors. 

“Ssh! We’re not supposed to be talking! Peace! Be still and know,” the sopranos said with the basses biting their lips.

When Comfort and Joy appeared in the sky with the glory of God, the shepherds stopped in place, shaking in fear. 

“Aaah! What’s in the sky? Attackers! They’re going to kill us!” the shepherds said, running for the hills. 

“No! They’re not supposed to be running for the hills! The script! Start now! Hurry!” Gloria yelled at Comfort and Joy.

At that, the sheep scattered, and the shepherds had dropped many of their crooks in the chaos of the event. 

By the time Comfort and Joy finished the script, some of the shepherds had stood still long enough to listen to the song. 

Then, the shepherds ran off as fast as they could, taking a few sheep with them, but losing the rest in the terror. 

“A complete failure,” Gloria said, sitting on a cloud in tears. “How could the shepherds be so afraid? The glory of God shone. We prepared the script. We practiced the song. What is wrong with them? We sacrificed so much for this! The shepherds have a distinct role to play in the baby’s birth. They are going to have to find him to tell others, or all is lost!”

Comfort and Joy flew across the sky to give Gloria a hug, and the rest of the angels stood in silence with disappointment. 

“Maybe next year will go better?” Comfort said. “Maybe the shepherds will have time to think about the script by then?”

“Tonight was a disaster!” Gloria said. “Why would God ever pick shepherds to help his son at a time like this?”

“We are angels,” Joy said. “The shepherds might have been a little bit excited and listened to what we were saying!”

“Let’s just pack it up and go back to heaven,” Gloria said. “There’s not much else that we can do for now down here!”

“You go ahead. Joy and I will fly to the manger to see if the shepherds made it,” Comfort said, nudging Joy.

“Of course, we’ll fly to the manger,” Joy said, trying to be hopeful after the shepherds’ unbelievable exit.  

By the time Comfort and Joy found Mary and Joseph in the manger with the baby, the shepherds had just arrived. 

“I can barely believe my eyes!” Comfort said, admiring the gifts of three very wealthy men that sat next to the shepherds.

“This is why you need to have faith!” Joy said. “Even when you think everything is a failure, somehow it works out.” 

“How do you think it worked out?” Comfort said. “They ran away so fast, like we were going to kill them.”

“The shepherds must’ve talked about it and decided to go see what we told them about,” Joy said, laughing out loud. 

Then, out of nowhere, Gloria landed in the middle of the manger, pulling the shepherds by the ears. 

“He who has ears to hear! Let him hear! Do not be afraid! Did you hear me?” Gloria said, yelling at the shepherds.

“Oh, no!” Comfort said, flying in her direction. “The world needs Comfort and Joy! It’s the only way it won’t be afraid.”

Every year from that year on, Gloria took her annual vacation at Christmas, and Comfort and Joy were put in charge to spread the Christmas spirit. 

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters 

Christmas Cookie: The Story of Sugar Plum Love

“Hey there, Christmas Cookie can I kiss you?” called one of the ice-skaters across the ice to a lovely young woman. 

“Sugar Plum, I am not your Christmas Cookie,” the woman replied to the man before he could say anything else. 

Defiantly, she landed a Salchow—an edge jump—right in his face, causing him to do a toe loop jump as a response.

Other skaters practiced on the ice in between their maneuvers, ignoring the banter between the two skaters. 

“Well, you sure are my Christmas Cookie!” he said, skating her direction and making an abrupt stop with his skates. He grabbed her hand and twirled her on the ice. “We have hours of practice to prepare for our Christmas Eve skate,” he said. 

“You might have hours, but I only have minutes,” the skater said, as she flipped her long chestnut hair in his direction.

Each Christmas Eve, the Rockefeller Center Skaters put on a spectacular ice show at the Rink at Rockefeller Center. 

Only steps from Times Square and the Broadway Theater District, visitors gathered all month long for skating lessons until the 24th of December. Then, everyone in New York City gathered on the plaza beside the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to enjoy the holiday event. This year, Cookie Roberts and Ernest Plum were the featured skaters in the festivities. However, the duo didn’t always get along as one might expect, mostly due to Ernest’s unrequited love for Cookie. 

“We can practice now, but you’re only allowed to touch me here and there,” Cookie said, putting his hands on her shoulders and back. “If you tell me you love me one more time, I’m getting the skating coach and finding a new partner.” 

“What’s wrong if I love you?” Ernest said. “You could have a skating partner that hates you and that would be horrible.”

“You’ve been sending postal packages to my apartment every month for years, and then twelve gifts each Christmas,” she said. “I gave you nothing. This is not exactly the way it is supposed to work. I never sent you one package ever.”

“Maybe it’s better if we don’t talk about this right now,” Ernest said to Cookie. “So much better to skate with you . . .”

“Oh, fine,” Cookie said. “We have to prepare for Christmas Eve. Everyone in New York City will be watching.”

Although there are six figure skating jumps, the most difficult is the Axel, an edge jump with its extra half rotation. 

“I have to get the Axel jump down,” Cookie said, doing a forward takeoff and barely landing backwards.

“Don’t fall, Christmas Cookie,” Ernest said, skating by her and taking her hand. “Let me catch you, darling.”

“I’m going to try again,” Cookie said. “And I’m going to get it perfect this time. Do not touch me. I can do it alone.”

With that, Cookie took off in the forward direction, spun in the air, and landed on her bum, instead of her skate. 

“Why? I think I broke my ankle,” she cried, as Ernest skated over to her. “I can’t believe this. We have to perform!”

“I’ll carry you to the emergency room,” Ernest said, scooping her up into his arms and skating across the ice. 

“Carry me to the emergency room?” she said. “I told you not to touch me. Now everyone will think I love you, too!”

“My darling, Christmas Cookie!” Ernest said, walking up the stairs at Rockefeller Center, carrying her in his skates. 

“Put me down!” Cookie yelled at Ernest. “Right now! I just cannot let you carry me all the way to the emergency room.”

“I’m so sorry, but I can’t put you down in the middle of the plaza when you’re injured!” he said, kissing her on the cheek.

“Kissing me in public is not part of the deal!” Cookie said, kicking her injured leg and flailing her arms. 

Ignoring her protest, Ernest caught a taxicab on Fifth Avenue to Rockefeller University Hospital in Manhattan. 

With exhaustion, Cookie fell asleep in the cab, and when she woke up, Ernest was singing “Auld Lang Syne” to her from the chair next to her bed in the emergency room. “What are you doing New Year’s Eve, darling?” Ernest said. 

“I’ll be taking a hot bath in my apartment with candles and a cup of tea,” she said, brushing her hair from her face. 

“What if I took you out dancing on New Year’s Eve instead?” Ernest said. “I’d love to ring in the New Year with you!”

“Are you ever going to give up?” Cookie said. “This latest stunt of carrying me to the emergency room during a crisis was sweet, but it doesn’t change much. We have a business relationship. You are my ice-skating partner. That’s it.”

More hurt than ever, Ernest stood up slowly and walked to the door of the hospital room, still in his ice skates.

“At this rate, I’m thinking you hurt your leg, so I couldn’t skate with you,” Ernest said. “I quit. Skate with someone else.” 

“Wait!” Cookie said, as Ernest walked out of the emergency room. “There’s not time to find someone to replace you.”

The next morning, Cookie returned to the Rink at Rockefeller Center, explaining to her coach that she injured her foot, but it would be better for the Christmas Eve performance. “The bad news is that Ernest quit being my partner,” she said. 

“What do you mean he quit?” Cookie’s coach said. “This is a nightmare. I guess you’ll have to skate with Roy.”

“Thank you so much,” Cookie said. “Roy and I can start practicing in a few days when my ankle is better. We’ll be ready.” 

By Christmas Eve, Cookie and Roy dazzled New York City in their white jump suits with silver sparkles on them. 

However, the performance had less heart and soul than when Cookie skated with Ernest. More than once, she almost fell. 

While Ernest would have supported her temperament, Roy made Cookie follow him as the center of attention. 

Relieved, Cookie barely landed the Axel jump, and when she looked up, she saw Ernest watching her from the plaza. 

“It would have been better if I had skated with Ernest,” Cookie whispered to herself amidst the applause. 

“Our performance was robotic and not at all emotional,” she said to herself while bowing. “What did I do?”

Before leaving the ice rink, Roy shook Cookie’s hand and ran to meet his wife, giving her a hug with their son. 

“I took Ernest for granted,” Cookie said, looking at her skates. “I should have appreciated him more . . .”

After spending Christmas Day with her parents in Upper Manhattan, she spent the rest of the holiday week shopping.

This year, unlike the past several years, she received no gifts from Ernest, so there was nothing piled underneath her tree.

By New Year’s Eve, she plunged into a bubble bath of hot water with her turn table on the bathroom counter, playing Ella Fitzgerald. She closed her eyes and relaxed, waiting for New Year’s Day. Drinking a cup of tea with extra honey, she had almost forgotten about losing Ernest, but it was hard to forget about him when she was all alone in the candlelight.

“Christmas Cookie!” she heard someone say, knocking on her apartment door. “Are you there? Happy New Year!”

Cookie grabbed the robe beside the bathtub, swung it around her, and ran to the door to see who was visiting her. 

“Who would be visiting me on New Year’s Eve at this time?” she said to herself, looking through the peep hole.

“Ernest!” she said, opening the door wide enough to see his face. “Will you ever forgive me? I’m so sorry!”

“I forgive you, Cookie,” Ernest said. “Will you be my partner? I can’t bear to be without you. I miss you so much.”

“Yes, Ernest,” she said. “I’ll be your partner. I didn’t know how special you were until you were gone.”

Ernest grabbed Cookie and kissed her. Then, she quickly got dressed, so the duo could head out to watch the ball drop in Times Square. While counting down the minutes until the New Year, Ernest grabbed a bag of leftover Christmas cookies from his jacket and handed them to Cookie. She smiled eating a chocolate chip cookie from the batch.

“You’ll always be my Christmas Cookie,” he said, pulling a wedding ring from the bag. “Will you marry me?”

“Yes, Sugar Plum,” Cookie said. “I’ll marry you! As long as you don’t stop sending me gifts and telling me you love me.”

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters