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Sunday, December 25, 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!

Guys guys guys!


MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





I am so excited!! I love Christmas so much! :D I pray you are all having a wonderful day so far!


I'm so happy and cheery, but at the same time, a little sad. The season always goes by way too fast! I had a wonderful time participating in this Twelve Days of Christmas linkup! A huge, well-deserved thank you goes out to Faith for arranging this! Love ya, girl! ;)


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Visit Faith’s blog for the last posts of this linkup! Hope you've all enjoyed so far!


Since it is Christmas, I won't be dragging this post out, but I wanted to add something in real quick…


Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season! As you celebrate with family and friends today, remind yourself the reason we are celebrating! Thank You Jesus for coming down to Earth to save us!


All right, today I have the conclusion to Home for Christmas. I very much hope you have all enjoyed reading it this far and enjoy the ending just as much. Thanks for all of your feedback; I appreciate it! (And I do have several more short stories I plan to post in the near-future!!)


Okay, okay, enough of my rambling. Here you are! And Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


***


I'm dreaming tonight of a place I love
Even more than I usually do
And although I know it's a long road back
I promise you…

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents by the tree

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have some snow and mistletoe
And presents by the tree

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
If only in my dreams


***

Christmas Day dawned bright and clear, as if the heavens were declaring the celebration of Christ’s birth.
Inside the Taylor home, however, things were not quite so cheery.
Although Alycia had managed to bring herself to set the girls’ presents underneath the tree, neither of them seemed particularly interested. They had called off all plans to celebrate the day with family, insisting on the fact that they'd rather be alone on this first Christmas without Brad.
Kat and Gracelyn eventually pulled themselves from their rooms and managed to eat a little bit of the pancakes their mom had made for them. She tried to encourage them, but the two girls saw through her fake smile, and the mood stayed somber, even as the girls were convinced to open their presents.
Alycia had to fight back tears when Kat pulled from her stocking her own dog tags. And when Gracelyn reached into a snowman-covered bag and slid out the Army sweatshirt she and Brad had picked out together on his last leave, she felt a salty tear roll down her cheek. She brushed it away and tried to smile when the girls handed her the gifts they bought for her with their own money.
“These are beautiful, Kat,” she said, holding up a pair of glistening earrings. “Thank you.”
A half-smile turned up the corners of the girl’s mouth. “You're welcome,” she offered in return.
“Here, Mom, open mine,” Grace begged.
Ding-dong.
Alycia frowned. Who was it this time? On Christmas Day, no less.
She silently prayed it wasn't more bad news–although what worse news could be brought than had only days before, she didn't know.
“I'll be right back,” she informed her daughters.
Pulling her cardigan tighter around herself, Alycia unlocked the door and pulled it open. She stood, staring confusedly at the man before her.
He was young, dressed in a soldier’s uniform. Short blond hair fluttered slightly in the cold, rough wind outside. His blue eyes were bloodshot, and dark bags underneath them indicated he hadn't slept much in recent days.
“Yes?” Alycia watched him.
He cleared his throat, intertwining his fingers timidly. “Sorry to bother you on Christmas, but are you Mrs. Alycia Taylor?”
“I am.” Alycia’s eyes stopped on the right side of the young man’s chest, where his last name was printed across.
Lorance. Her mind ran wild. That was the last name of the soldier Brad had given his ticket to, wasn't it?
“My name’s James Lorance, ma’am,” he continued, rocking back and forth on his heels like a nervous schoolboy. “I–I knew your husband.”
“Yes, it seems you did.” Alycia let her voice grow cold.
“I'm so sorry.” Jim’s voice caught, and he had to pause for a moment to regain his composure.
“I don't know if you were told, but your–Brad–had his earlier plane ticket transferred to me.”
“I was informed,” Alycia responded crisply, crossing her arms.
“Ma’am, I can't tell you how much I regret letting him–” Jim’s voice broke. “I'm so sorry,” he whispered again.
“Thank you, but I see no need for your apologies. My husband is dead, and nothing can bring him back.”
Jimmy’s lip trembled. “I know, ma’am. I know I probably don't deserve to be forgiven.” He hung his head.
Alycia felt herself soften. “Forgive me, Mr. Lorance. I–I haven't been quite myself these past few days.”
He nodded.
“I do want to know something.”
Jim slowly lifted his head to look at her.
“Why?” Alycia shifted, vaguely aware of Gracelyn and Kat sidling up behind her. She considered inviting the young soldier in to get herself out of the cold, but decided against it.
Jim cleared his throat. “He heard me crying the night before his plane was supposed to leave.”
She raised an eyebrow, waiting for him to continue his story.
“He asked me what was wrong, and eventually convinced me to tell him about how my three year old daughter had cancer–” he watched as Alycia’s expression changed ever so slightly, “–and she wasn't doing well. The doctors didn't know if she would make it another day. I hadn't been able to get a sooner flight, so your husband let me have his ticket.”
Jimmy stepped forward and placed large, gentle hands on either of Alycia’s shoulders, his tear-filled eyes staring into her cold blue ones. His voice trembled as he spoke.
“Because of Brad, I was able to see my daughter just a day before she passed.”
Alycia’s stone-hard expression faded into one of surprise, and then utter sadness and sympathy. “Oh, James, I'm so sorry.”
He could only nod.
A tiny noise from behind startled Alycia, and she turned.
Grace and Kat both had tears welling up in their eyes, and they moved up closer to the door.
“I–wanted to come and say how sorry I am,” Jim managed to say. “My wife also offers her condolences.”
Alycia swallowed. “Would you like to come in?” She stepped aside.
He shrugged, but accepted the offer, as he was shivering, and his cheeks and nose had taken on a reddish color.
They moved into the family room and Gracelyn and Kat were introduced. Jim immediately offered his sympathy to the girls.
“I'm sorry about your father.”
Gracelyn shook her head. “Thank you, sir. I'm sorry about your daughter, Mr. Lorance,” she replied, head tilted, trying to sound strong.
Kat nodded alongside her sister.
“You can just call me Jimmy,” he said with a small smile.
Turning his attention to Alycia, he shifted uncomfortably, unsure of what else to say.
“I'm sorry, ma’am,” he said for what was probably the hundredth time. “I wish I hadn't agreed to take Brad’s ticket.”
Alycia pursed her lips. She still felt a tiny thread of anger at this man, but it was quickly continuing to fade. “No,” she finally said. He looked at her in surprise.
“There was a reason that Brad decided to give you his ticket,” she said. “He wouldn't have done that for just anybody. And what happened–well, I suppose it was God’s will.”
Jim gaped at her. Her husband had died on his account. How could she be so forgiving?
“I'm not saying I am completely over my anger at his death,” she continued honestly, “but I do know that it was not in any way your fault. I hope you understand that.”
When Jim didn't answer, she searched his face. “Do you?”
He shrugged.
Alycia glanced at her daughters and decided to send them upstairs with their already-opened gifts. Once she watched them climb reluctantly up the carpeted stairs, she turned back to Jim. “Do you?” she asked again.
“I don't know, ma’am,” he said. “I tried to convince myself it wasn't, but if it hadn't been for me, he wouldn't have been on that plane.”
“You didn't know what would happen,” Alycia told him.
“I know,” Jim said. “But I feel so...guilty.”
Alycia sighed and gave a tiny smile.
“James–Jimmy, I might not understand God’s reasons for this. But I'm trying to trust Him through this situation. I must admit, when I first heard why Brad ended up on the later flight, I vowed to never forgive you.” She swallowed. “But now, hearing the whole story, I’m realizing I was wrong to think that.” She looked into his eyes. “I am very sorry I blamed you for Brad’s death in the first place. Can you forgive me?”
Jim stared. “Ma’am, I forgive you...but I don't quite see why you apologized. You have every right to blame me.” He ducked his head. “And forgive me if I say I don't see how a caring God would let my daughter die of cancer and then the man who made it possible for me to see her before she passed away.” His gentle voice wavered.
Alycia felt the hardness in her heart towards this young man melting away as he spoke.
“Jimmy, I can understand how you feel. But you see, things like this happen–sickness and death–because we live in a world full of sin. Each and every one of us is a sinner, condemned to an eternal death.”
“I’ve heard the stories in Sunday school, ma’am,” Jim spoke up. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
He swallowed, and Alycia quickly continued, “We’re all born sinners. The bible says, ‘through one man, Adam, sin entered the world’. We don’t deserve forgiveness. But you see, God sent His only Son down to earth to die for us–to take our place. He was the only perfect man to ever walk on this earth. And that's what Christmas is all about. Celebrating the fact that He was born, and because of that, there is a way for us to have a relationship with God. Jesus.”
Jim was silent for a moment, considering.
“What are you and your wife doing for Christmas today?” Alycia spoke.
He shrugged, caught off guard by the sudden change in subject. “I don’t know. She's at home with my parents. None of us felt much like celebrating.”
“Why don’t you have her come here?” Alycia asked. “We don’t have a big Christmas dinner or anything special planned, but I’m sure we’ll figure out something.”
“I don’t want to be an inconvenience, ma’am,” Jimmy said. “I’ve caused your family enough trouble.”
“James.” Alycia stood. “Please understand that I don’t hold anything against you. I believe Brad made the right decision when he gave you his ticket.”
Jim wasn’t used to being forgiven so readily. He felt emotions swelling up inside, and he had to work to keep his tears back.
“Thank–thank you,” he managed to whisper.
She smiled softly. “And why don’t you and your family join us tonight for the Christmas service our church is holding?”
“Maybe we will.” Jim rose. “Mrs. Taylor... Thank you.”
Alycia nodded. She knew the road ahead wouldn’t be easy. They all had a long way to go. But she knew one thing. God had these sudden changes occur for a bigger reason. He would guide them, and they would trust Him.
And although Brad might not have made it to his physical home for Christmas, Alycia rested assured that he had made it to his eternal home.

***
There you have it! What did y'all think of the story overall?

I gotta scoot; I'm writing this Christmas Eve, and we're about to head out to the bonfires! I'm SO excited! Y'all have a very Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!

~Livi Jane (Ollie)

8 comments:

  1. Merry Christmas! Well done. I enjoyed this story.

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    1. Thank you, Rebekah! I know it was more of a sad story, but I'm glad you enjoyed it!! Merry Christmas!

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  2. Merry Christmas, Livi! I hope you had a great day! :D

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    1. Thank you, Rebekah Ashleigh! We did! I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas as well! :)

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  3. Aw such a heart-tugging story. Well done! :)

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  4. Oh my goodness, what an amazing story!! I was hugged from the beginning!

    So, I'm Ashleigh, the gal behind the blog, Prairie Gal Cookin'. I recently started a new post series and link-up: The Writer's Corner on the Block. I would love if you could drop by and link-up, as well as read some of the post and leave a comment with your thoughts! I'll be featuring story snippets in every post, so if you have any interest in submitting a story to be featured, you can also find more info in the post! :)

    Again, loved your story!

    http://www.prairiegalcookin.com/the-writers-corner-of-the-block-1st-link-up/

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  5. *happy tears galore* LIVI THIS IS AMAZING!!! Like, seriously. I knew you were a writer, but I didn't realize you're SUCH AN AMAZING writer!!! :D Bravo! This story was absolutely amazing. <3

    Aww, thank YOU! *hugs Livi* So glad you could participate!! :)

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  6. THERE! I KNEW there was something missing that I had forgotten! I was scrolling through my emails when I suddenly realized I had never read this part yet!! I feel more complete now ;)

    Positively lovely story, Livi! Really enjoyed it, even though ... poor Brad *wipes away tears* Great job! :D

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