Monday, December 8, 2014


The month of December has traditionally been a month I've used as a break. I usually don't do much beyond holiday stories. This year it's been a bit different, I've not published my blog on it's regular schedule for several months. I've desperately needed the extra time to just be, healing time in mind and body with no deadlines. This year I've also been working and while it's a blessing to work from home rather than go out to a job, still, it more hours than I've been used to working and it takes its toll. But, my blog should be back on it's normal schedule in January.
I'll be mostly offline today and tomorrow as my office computer will be in the shop getting updated and programs revamped. My poor laptop is down and hopefully we'll have it resurrected soon. 
I thought I'd reprise a Christmas story written by a friend. It's one I really like because it's one about finding faith again. White Christmas, by Simon Garte, tells the story of a soldier at war, raised an atheist and what changed it all for him.

It was not a white Christmas that year. At least not for him. He was in a land that had never seen snow. Rain, yes - lots of rain. But no snow. In fact it was raining that Christmas morning. He was sitting by himself in the rain. Alone. The camp was almost empty. He had volunteered to stay since he wasn't a Christian.
Not then.
And also Snake eyes had asked him to stay. That weird thing had happened two days earlier, when he had been sitting alone in the rain, just like now. Snake eyes had come up to him and started talking. Snake eyes hated him, so that was already weird.
“Hey man” Snake eyes said.
“I need a stabber for Christmas.”
He looked up at Snake eyes dark, inscrutable face.
“Me?” He asked.
“Yeah you. Abdul can’t make it and all the other brothers and crackers are going to that thing down river. But I figgered, you bein a atheist or a Jew, or whatever the f-ck you are, maybe you want to do it.”
He thought about it. He had never done this before, never been asked to.
“OK” he said.
Now he was waiting in the rain for Snake eyes. “It’s Christmas” he thought to himself. His father, a committed atheist, refused to have a tree or any decorations in the house. The family had always exchanged presents on New Year’s day. Christmas meant nothing to him.
Nothing good.
An hour later, he and Snake eyes were walking north on the trail. They were soldiers, and there was a war, but they were not fighting. They hadn't been fighting for months. There was no point to it.
When they got to a place that Snake eyes recognized, he pointed into the jungle, and the white boy left the trail. He found himself a position with a good sight of the trail and Snake eyes. He rested the M1 on a branch, and settled down to wait. The rain stopped and then started again. Snake eyes was sitting in the mud of the trail.

The two kids in black pajamas came down the trail smiling and laughing. They were the “enemy”, but had been doing business with the platoon for a long time. One of them carried a large sack, the other an old rifle of some kind. The kid with the rifle went into the jungle on the opposite side of the trail from where the white soldier was crouched, and that left Snake eyes and the kid with the sack standing on the trail. Snake eyes started talking to the kid. They were smiling and laughing. At first. But then the kid started saying something that Snake eyes didn't seem to like. Snake eyes began raising his voice, and the words came through the thick jungle to him sitting with his M1.

“That’s bulls-it, man. That is bulls-it. What the fu-k are you saying?”

The kid answered, but too quietly to be heard. Finally he shook his head, and put down the sack. Snake eyes reached behind him and took out a small stack of bills from his rucksack. The kid took the money and then grabbed the bag and began running.

“Fu-k”, shouted Snake eyes, “shoot the mother.”

He raised the M1 and fired a round which went wild, and then he saw that Snake eyes was down.

“Snake eyes”. He yelled. No response. Except for the rain it was quiet. He scanned the jungle on the opposite side of the trail, and saw nothing, but lay down a lot of fire. Then he ran to the trail. Snake eyes was alive, but there was a hole in his chest and blood was mixing with mud all over.

“Fu-k it man. Its Christmas, I don wanna die on Christmas.”

And then he did.
The white soldier tried carrying the body back, but only got a few yards. He dragged the body into the jungle a couple of feet, and then headed down the trail. His mind was blank. At the camp, he went into his tent and lay down. The chopper had not returned from the party yet, and he still had a couple of hours of solitude left.

The angel appeared as a dark haired, blue eyed young girl of about fifteen. She was dressed in pure white, and she stood in the center of the tent. He knew it was a dream. The angel spoke in a foreign language, but he understood it, as if he were reading the subtitles at a foreign movie. She said this to him,

“Your sufferings will be intense, but the Lord loves you. Never forget this.”

Many decades later, he had forgotten those intense sufferings, but he never forgot the dream of the angel standing in white in his tent on that Christmas day.

His white Christmas.

Dr.Simon Garte has published non-fiction and also writes fiction. He's a marvelous storyteller. Simon is a New Yorker currently living on the East Coast. 


L. Diane Wolfe said...

That was both sad and beautiful.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad that angel came to him and changed his mind about Christmas.

shelly said...

Cool short story!

Anonymous said...

A real tear jerker but beautifully written.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome story. And I can totally relate to the struggles to work and squeeze in writing and blogging. Awesome you can work from home.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I can't image going to war as an atheist.
Glad to hear you'll be back on schedule soon.

Kat Sheridan said...

Pardon me while I wipe a tear away. Simon always was a very good writer. And hope all is right in your world again soon.

cleemckenzie said...

I read it and loved it.

Jemi Fraser said...

Nicely written.

Jo said...

I will have to come back and read that story. No time right now I'm afraid. All the best to you Sia.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Sia,

What a beautiful and sad story....

Thanks for sharing it with us...

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia ... you've had a lot happen this year - but it's good to see you around ... and this short story is wonderful to read. Christmas angels remind us of the season, as well as being there for us all year round .. with thoughts -Hilary

Yolanda Renee said...

Beautiful story!

Hope you holidays were filled with family, love, and happiness!

Wishing you a most wonderful New Year!