November 29, 2009

A Christmas Carol

Today I am going to tell a Christmas story.
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It is very short, but nonetheless a story. You won't find in it the slightest hint of trains or railway life, and yet I am putting it here for us all to read. For Christmas is almost here, and we all look forward to having a great time ahead . . . . it is also a time for sharing our blessing, of caring and giving out love . . .

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To all those who have helped in making this website a success, I say a big THANK YOU, and to everyone who cares to drop in, a MERRY CHRISTMAS !
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. . . THE LIGHTS DANCED PLAYFULLY as Emma added the last finishing touches to her Christmas tree. This time it was going to be a genuine tree, she had decided, quite unlike the make-believe stuff to be found in the stores. She had spent the afternoon in the nearby woods looking for a bough that would look just right. And when she returned a quarter of an hour later she triumphantly held in her hand a pine branch with shoots that looked every way as though it were a tree in miniature.
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Back in the home she carefully set up her tree in a large sized flowerpot topped with sand. Now she could go on and add the decorations she had bought. There were tiny glittering globes and stars, a baby Santa Claus, coloured candles in decorative shapes, and a huge star which was really a specially shaped oil lantern that would glow in the dark when lit up.
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Evening came and Emma began to light the candles. She had set up her tree close to a large window so that people who passed by would take notice. Finally with the star shaped lantern at the top lit up, Emma stepped back to survey the tree, looking pleased. It wasn’t the best Christmas tree in town, but it sure looked great, the candles burning amidst the branches of pine creating a spectacular show of light and shade.
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Emma glanced out of the window of her home. Smoke could be seen curling from the chimneys of nearby homes. Voices came floating across the still air—men yelling, boys laughing as they carried about firewood, women murmuring. They were preparing for the night ahead. Emma wondered if any of them had noticed her decorated tree. They were nice folks who would smile pleasantly when you met them on the street; only they didn’t seem to give much thought to an elderly spinster living all by herself in a poorly home. But you can’t really blame them, Emma thought. That’s the way people are, and maybe she wasn’t of much use to them anyway....
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The evening slipped by till the hands of the clock showed that it was close to nine o’clock. There was nothing much left to do now. In a little while she would have dinner, read maybe for an hour and then retire to bed. She had begun to lay out the plates when the soft strains of Joy to the World came floating in through the night air. They were singing carols out there. Emma paused to gaze at her Christmas tree. The candles had burned halfway through, wax running down the sides in large ponderous globes. Who said Christmas wasn’t for her? Christmas was here as much as it was everywhere around. Her tree by the window was there to proclaim this to all the world.
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A gentle knock on the door startled the woman. Emma flung open the door to find a group of urchins, about six in number, assembled in her yard. Their eyes shone in the faint light and they had grubby faces and wore tattered clothes.
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A little girl stepped forward and spoke in a silvery voice: “We’ve come to see your Christmas tree. It looks kind of great with the shiny star up there!”
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“We’ll sing carols for you, if you please,” pleaded a boy who stood at the back.
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Emma stood still for a moment staring at the kids in amazement. “Come in!” she said, delighted. “Do come in. I’ve been waiting for you all along!”
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She led the children joyfully into her sitting room where they stood gazing at the glittering lights in wonder.
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Emma brought in a plate laden with doughnuts. She sat on a chair and drew the children around her. They immediately began to chatter excitedly, asking her all kinds of questions.
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The little girl who had spoken earlier snuggled up close and threw her arms around the lady. “Who gave you this tree?” she wanted to know. “Did Santa come with a sack of presents?”
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A burst of fireworks shot up in the air with a whoosh and spread across the night sky forming myriads of coloured twinkling specs. Then came another whoosh followed by bang-bang! Emma could feel her heart throbbing with joy. If others chose to keep aloof, let them do as they pleased. None of them would ever guess her little secret on this blessed Christmas day.
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“Where’s Santa?” the little girl spoke again, poking her finger gently against Emma’s wrinkled cheek.
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“Santa? Ah, yes . . . Santa was here last night, dear,” Emma spoke in a whisper. “. . . And he’s brought this tree specially for you!”
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Ravindra Bhalerao
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