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A New Wreatha Natale Holiday Story

December 5, 2019

 

NOTE:  To kick off this holiday season on WORDWALK, I am decorating my blog with a second Wreatha Natale short story.  The character of Wreatha Natale first appeared on WORDWALK on December 16, 2015; “A Sign of Peace at ‘Cocoa with the Clauses'” was also included in my book THE CHRISTMAS CARRIAGE AND OTHER WRITINGS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON.  As some of my readers will realize, this character’s name is a combination of the names of two postmaster friends of my mother (who was postmaster of the Blanford, Indiana, Post Office for more than twenty-eight years).

 

Although I initially thought I would write a Wreatha Natale story each Christmas, the journey to this second Wreatha Natale story has taken me four years to find my character again.  During this first week of December, I hope you will enjoy reading more about Wreatha Natale.

 

 

The Christmas Poet:

 

A Wreatha Natale Holiday Story, #2

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

Spanning ten city blocks and maintaining its status as the third largest rail terminal in the United States, Chicago’s Union Station was a whirlwind of noise and activity on December 17.  Sitting quietly in the midst of the hubbub were retired teacher Wreatha Natale and her guide dog Wiggles.  Douglas Fir–the man, not the tree–was kind to have taken the time to accompany her to this waiting area.  “One half hour, and we will be back on the train,” she whispered to her Black Lab/Golden Retriever.  Wiggles seemed eager for the short train ride home to Milwaukee.

 

As Wreatha took out a braille volume from her backpack, she realized that the man sitting next to her arose and walked away.  Within a few seconds, someone else–much smaller–quickly occupied the empty spot.  The sweet and gentle voice promptly began:  “I hope you don’t mind my joining you and your guide dog.  I have been watching the two of you, and I want to give you something.”  When the rapid delivery of words stopped, Wreatha felt something atop her hands:  a piece of paper had been rolled up and tied with a thin satin ribbon.

 

“Since you recognized my guide dog, you must understand that I do not read print:  I read braille,” Ms. Natale explained.

 

“Oh, yes, but do you have a computer that converts print into speech or braille?”

 

“As a matter of fact, I do.”

 

“Good.  Then, you can read my gift to you–a Christmas poem–when you arrive home.  Each holiday season, I write Christmas poems and give them as gifts here at Union Station and other places.  I want you to have this one.  You will read it when you arrive home, won’t you?”

 

“Yes, dear, I promise I will read your poem.  Thank you so much.  I love poetry.  Are you a student?”

 

“No, my voice sounds a bit younger than I am.  I am twenty.  May I help you to your train when it arrives?”

 

“Do you work at Union Station?”  Of course, the young woman’s answer was negative:  she just wanted to help Ms. Natale and her Leader Dog.  Conversing with someone would pass the time more quickly for both individuals, but Wreatha determined that her new friend was not awaiting a train or any person.  The young lady was merely at Union Station to give her poems to reluctant recipients, most of whom were not as fond of poetry as was her current recipient.

 

Since the young woman could not be urged to read aloud the poem to Wreatha Natale, due to the inappropriate atmosphere:  reading the poem in a house with a Christmas tree was mandatory.  Waiting to read the verses would, indeed heighten the anticipation and wonder–Christmas wonder.

 

As the minutes of conversations lengthened, Ms.  Natale did introduce herself and Wiggles; however, the young poet was respectful and knew not to disturb a guide dog in harness.  Then, the poet shared that she had known a fellow high school student who was blind.  Eventually, the youthful poet revealed that she had been in a foster home until she turned eighteen.

 

“I appreciated my foster parents; they were well-meaning people, but I never grew to love them.  I had contentment, safety, lodging, but not a home.  For a long while, I knew I would leave when I turned eighteen; and I knew that they would not dissuade me.  They did not even try.  For two years, I have been trying to move on, make something of my life.”

 

Finally, Wreatha had to ask the young girl her name.  Her meager response was:  “I am The Christmas Poet.”  Despite a little prodding for a more conventional name–at least a first name–none was mentioned.

 

“I have no idea who my parents are, what color they were.  I do not know if they were together when I was born, nor if they liked poetry.  I know nothing about them.  I do not know who gave me my earlier name, so now I just go by the moniker ‘The Christmas Poet’ no matter what the season of the year is because I keep Christmas in my heart all through the year.  Christmas is such a family time, warm and loving time:  I try to hold onto it all through the twelve months of the year.  I believe that through Christmas, I will find my way in life.”

 

Ms. Natale prided herself in being able to detect people who were not genuine:  this young woman exuded only a delicate, fragile honesty.  What would Douglas think of this young poet?

 

Checking her raised-dot watch, Ms. Natale said:  “My train should be here any minute.  I will return here for an appointment with Mr. Fir on December 23.  I should arrive at 10:25 that morning.  Can you meet me here?  I would like for you to come with me to meet my … friend Mr. Fir.  We are going to lunch–my favorite, high tea.  I want you to join us.  Will you?”

 

For a long minute, The Christmas Poet said nothing.  At last, she smiled:  “I will be here at ten o’clock on December 23:  I like to be early.”

 

Ms. Natale reached for her backpack and put the braille volume inside; then, she pulled out a copy of her print manuscript.  Handing the red folder to The Christmas Poet, Ms. Natale told her new friend:  “Here is my little gift for you.  Please read it before you meet me on the 23rd.”

 

The Christmas Poet was already silently reading the title page, but had to repeat the words aloud:  “The Christmas Poet:  A wreath of Holiday Verses, by Wreatha Natale.”

 

* * *

 

HOLIDAY BOOK NOTE:  To read more about my book, to view the cover photo, and to see my new poster, please visit my author’s web page:

http://www.dldbooks.com/alicemassa/

For patrons of Talking Book and Braille Libraries, my book is order number DBC 08305.  Print and e-book copies are available from Amazon and other online sellers.  The braille version is available for the same price as the print book ($7.50) from :

Homepage

 

Wishing you a delightful December,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

December 4, 2019, Wednesday

 

 

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6 Comments
  1. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–I loved this story!

    • Season’s Greetings!  Sue–Many thanks for your comment!  I do appreciate the quick feedback.

      Happy holiday reading!

      Alice and Willow

  2. What an endearing story, Alice! The ending certainly opens the door for a # 3, which I hope you will share with your readers soon. Wreatha Natale’s name brings memories of two wonderful ladies, who were such dear friends of our mother. Thanks for warming our hearts with this special Christmas story.
    Love and Christmas Wishes to you and Willow,
    Mary

    • Season’s Greetings!  Mary–Yuletide thanks for your very nice comment about this second Wreatha Natale story!  I think #3 will take more time to write than this second story took.

      Jolly Holidays–Alice and Willow

  3. Katherine Binole permalink

    Alice, What a neat special story! It certainly makes me anxious to hear the continuing 3rd addition to this story! Merry Christmas with love to you and Willow. Aunt Kathy

    • Season’s Greetings!  Aunt Kathy–So glad to hear that you liked this holiday story!  The way this Christmas season is rushing by, I am doubtful that I will write another Wreatha Natale story until next year’s “Buon Natale!”

      Wishing you a very Merry Christmas,

      Alice and Willow

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