I offer you a little Christmas cookie of a story; a bit of fiction that I hope leaves you with a happy feeling. Merry Christmas, one and all!
MADRIGAL’S FIRST CHRISTMAS
by Caroline J.M. Gregan
Ever since Madrig moved into her new apartment, she’d been imagining how she would decorate her two rooms for Christmas. It was her first Christmas away from home. She didn’t have much space, and she didn’t have much budget, but not decorating was not an option.
Laying on her bed that very first night, she began to envision glittery swags of tinsel garland. She immediately recognized the image from her childhood: it was Gram’s house, in the great room. Tinsel garland was Gram’s favorite, and at Christmas-time she would weave it through the rails on the stairway banister, swirl it around the Christmas tree, and drape it from every window to display her many Christmas cards.
Then, in the great room, where she set-up her tree and everyone gathered for a boisterous, Christmas dinner, Gram would hang the sparkly, tinsel garland in cheerful swags across the room. She said there was no rhyme or reason to it, but Madrig thought the seemingly endless length of spun gold was graceful and perfect. No matter how it was arranged, she never wearied of tracing its course through the room—from the upright piano, to the corner of the china cupboard, then sailing through the air, where it might be tacked to a door frame, or tucked behind a picture on the wall.
The finishing touches were the shiny, glass balls and tiny candy canes Gram would dangle wherever she thought they “looked right.” It made the whole effect even more tantalizing for youthful eyes. In the flickering light from the tree, any childish heart could easily imagine the stars in the heavens had come in from the cold.
Now, all grown-up and standing on a chair—on her very tippy toes—Madrig pounded nails into crown molding with the heel of her shoe. Gold garland was more pricy than she’d expected, so there was only one strand to hang. She had to make the most of every precious inch. I hope it’s long enough!
Carefully, she measured and plotted. The drape must be just right: not too high, not too low. Securing the end of the garland with an extra twist around the last nail, she descended and took a step back to admire her work. Three gentle swags of golden tinsel presented themselves for her inspection. She had hoped for at least five, for greatest impact, but looking now she realized three was more than enough. She gazed up with awe and appreciation. She felt sure that Gram would be pleased.
Eventually, she would finish it off with bows. There was no budget for glass bulbs or candy canes this year, but she had scads of ribbon scraps from work that would do nicely. Between each bow she would display a Christmas card. It will be beautiful!
In fact, it was all ready beautiful, and she was delighted. The swags were pleasing to her eye and comforting to her soul, a little reminder of home and love and that feeling of security she always felt when Pop went around the house to check the doors and windows at the end of the day.
Madrig sighed. She remembered she had an early shift. Time for merry-making to stop.
She checked the clock on her bookshelf and peeked out her front door, looking across the courtyard to Lenny’s apartment. His lights were out. She would have to return his chair tomorrow.
Madrig packed tomorow’s lunch, tucked the extra nails into her sewing box for safe-keeping, and made sure she had clean socks for the morning. She double-checked the deadbolt and chain on her door, and made sure the stick was in her window. Pop said a solid piece of wood was the best window security around.
Floating on the happy memories that flooded her sleepy head, Madrig was in no hurry to end the day. Yet, it occurred to her, as she finally did close her eyes, that her happiest thought tonight would not be from Christmas past, but from Christmas future. Tonight, she had made a new memory.