The Magic of Christmas
The Magic of Christmas & a short story
For me, Christmas is a special time of year. Bushes adorned with Christmas lights illuminate the yard and give our homes a festive look. Inside, our homes are decorated for Christmas and the smell of Christmas comes out of our doors. I don’t eat so many biscuits once they are in the biscuit tin but I can’t stop myself from nibbling biscuit dough while baking;-)
There is magic in the air and people seem to be friendlier – let’s ignore for a moment the pre-Christmas shopping sprees for presents and stuff – especially on Christmas Day there is this excitement in the air and when you do your last-minute shopping for food on Christmas Day – people don’t just seem to be friendlier, they are friendlier, at least in our village:-)
This is for me the true meaning of Christmas: it’s about Love. Accepting one another the way we are and treating each other in a respectful & appreciative, if not even in a caring way. I know, this can be challenging at times, even overwhelming and we will reach our limits which is perfectly OK but we can give it a try, every day anew. Just trying, every day, shapes us and makes us a person more at peace with others, and most important, with ourselves. And, isn’t it something we are all in need of especially in these challenging times with the coronavirus pandemic? Only together can we beat the virus.
I know, I might sound like a dreamer but if you want this world to change, you have to change it and the change begins with a dream, your dream. What is yours?
In this sense I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy New Year. Have a peaceful time and enjoy the magic of this time. – I’ve written a short story for you. I wish you happy reading.
And now my short story:-)
Vera by Bettina Bonkas
It was going to be a crap Christmas. I pulled up the duvet over my head, I just wanted to be left alone. How much would I have loved to spend all day lon in bed, but I was at a convalescent care, so no chance to stay in bed. I got up very slowly and got ready in the bathroom equally slowly as if I could punish the staff by being slow. I just didn’t feel like doing the whole thing but when I was honest with myself I could feel that I was in desperate need of a timeout.
I had a look at the floor plan where therapeutic painting would take place. Was this another way of boycotting the success of my convalescent care? I just hated painting. Well, maybe I didn’t exactly hate it but I was simply talent-free. I walked along the labyrinthine corridors until I finally reached a big room directly under the roof. The wooden beams were exposed and the December sun shone through the window. A warm light lit the room.
“Hi. I’m Vera Belle. But we’re on first name terms here in the course.“ The therapist was holding her hand towards me in a welcoming gesture.
What a striking woman and how fitting her surname was: Belle, the French word for beautiful and beautiful she was. Vera Belle reminded me a lot of Iris Berben. Like her she had long dark brown wavy hair. She had an open smile, her dimples gave her a mischievous look and her eyes sparkled with joy, She was wearing big silver Creole earrings, a turquoise scarf thrown loosely around her neck and a colourful long dress in the same shade to which she was wearing dark blue boots which gave her a kind of independent look. I guessed Vera Belle was just over 60, her age was difficult to determine. She simply seemed so cool and independent.
“Hi, I’m Tegan.“ I took her outstretched hand and shook it. Her handshake was pleasantly strong.
“What a beautiful name. Very unusual. Where does the name Tegan originate from?“
That wasn’t a polite question, Very seemed truly interested.
“My mother was English, but the name is from Wales originally.“
“Welcome Tegan. The easel over there at the back of the wall, directly by the window, is yours for today.“
Vera said hello to everybody. I barely noticed what she was saying about the retreating plants and trees in autumn. My thoughts were drifting away. What would my colleagues be doing now? I was anxious, I hoped that I had thought of really everything when drafting the employer/works council agreement.
All of a sudden I noticed some moving in the room. Vera had stopped speaking . Only now did I see a basket in the middle of the room in which a candle was burning in a glass. Fir cones and fir branches with apples, cinnamon sticks and little wooden stars were decorated around the candle in the glass. On a small easel there was a painting of this motif. The other participants were copying the scene or something completely different, in any case everybody was busy. I felt some pressure building up inside me. I seemed to be the only one in the room who had really no interest in painting. But then I looked at Vera. She seemed to be watching the participants in the room with a mixture of caring interest and imperturbability. Vera gave me a feeling of being. „Whatever you’re doing is all right.“. I began to paint.
From this day on I felt a special connection to Vera. From all the activities the clinic had to offer the time with Vera helped me the most. Even when I was finished with my my convalescent care I stayed in contact with her, quite by chance, or was it rather destiny, we didn’t live far away from each other. I still wasn’t really good at painting but it didn’t matter. For the first time in my life I enjoyed doing something I was not gifted at. My painting was unintentional and without any purpose, just for fun. It felt good. In Vera’s presence I could have a feeling of being. I could just be me with my strengths and my weaknesses. The latter weren’t important.
That was healing for me. My mother died after giving birth to my brother, I can’t really remember her. My father tried hard to give us a good time and I’m ever so grateful to him as it must have been extremely hard for him. But it was always a bit too much. He wanted to do everything right, that could be exhausting. We shouldn’t lack anything – that was why he made sure that we learned to play at least one musical instrument, did different types of sport, explored other countries & cultures, were challenged at school and had nice birthday parties. In short we didn’t miss out on anything, but we lacked lightness. Vera became a motherly friend to me. From her I got the warmth I had been longing for and acceptance: She took me the way I was.
Unfortunately we didn’t even have 10 years together. Vera died all of a sudden. She was painting when she had a heart attack, she collapsed in front of her easel. Her neighbour found her there after Vera’s dog wouldn‘t stop barking. I knew that Vera had a heart defect but did she have to die so early? She was lying completely peaceful when I came later to her deathbed. Her mouth was slightly open, it seemed as if she was smiling. I didn’t notice anything, I just cried my heart out. I felt crushed by her death. I have no idea how long I was sitting beside her, all of a sudden I had the sensation of her hand on the back of my head and a piece of heaven opened up in front of my mind’s eye. The deep pain was still there but yet I also felt an inner peace. It was already dark when I finally drove home. I took her dog Timmy with me.
In the year of her death I spent Christmas only with Timmy. Shortly before I had met Thomas. He didn’t want to leave me alone but he was also aware that it was important to me. Thomas was a special person. He had both feet firmly on the ground, yet he was also very sensitive. Fort he first time in my life I had the impression this relationship could be something serious.
It’s been one year and not even ten months now that Vera died. I think about her every day. Thomas, Timmy and I have been living together for nine months. Leon, his son from his former relationship is four days with his mum and three days with us. This year we are going to celebrate Christmas with him. It was a strange pre-Christmas time this year, no Christmas markets but the corona time is a strange time altogether. Yesterday evening we decorated the Christmas tree together which was nice. Despite this year‘s pre-Christmas stress, I’m now the head of HR in a medium-sized company, I’m feeling relaxed. The new job has brought new responsibility but it’s something I’ve chosen. Unlike Vera, I wouldn’t have been able to quit my old job. She used to be a consultant. After she got divorced from her husband, she brought some colour into her life by doing something completely different: She became an art therapist. I lack Vera‘s courage but I feel well equipped for my new job. I’ve also become more relaxed. And, I’ve learned to take time for myself. I’m now part of an online storytelling community which is great fun. I just love telling stories. I’m still not keen on painting, probably will never be, not without Vera on my side.
I like the Christmas time. For me it’s the time for reflection, to connect with my inner being. Tonight is Christmas Eve. In the morning, when I was putting the presents under the Christmas tree, I had a sensation of Vera being behind me and I felt a wonderful wave of inner warmth and peace. She had come into my life like an angel and brought light into dark parts inside me. For that I will ever be so grateful to her. Vera would now say: „It’s all inside you. I just helped a bit to make your inner star shine out brightly.“
I wish every human their personal Vera.
Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year.
You can find further information on planned training courses on the German version of this article.