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Merry Christmas, from the Mary Club: A Fictional Story

December 9, 2020

Merry Christmas, from the Mary Club:

A Fictional Story for Your Holiday Reading

By Alice Jane-Marie Massa

                “Mary Francis, how’s the president of the Mary Club?” yelled Mary Therese from the side of her snow-covered barn.

                “All is well.  I am delivering Pizzelle to all the members in good standing of the Mary Club.”  Her Beagles Queenie and Quilter happily greeted their neighbor and awaited their pets.  After handing the decorated tin filled with Pizzelle to Mary Therese, the younger woman explained that she had already delivered to Mary Sue, Mary Ellen, and Mary Pat.  Although Mary Therese urged her friend to stay for a visit and a cup of tea, Mary Francis and her dogs were determined to continue their walk, as usual. 

                Folding up her large bag, Mary Francis felt a bit like Santa after delivering all of the early gifts; however, the date was only December 16.  She had talked with her students earlier that day about the nine-day celebration of “Posadas”; and thoughts of her own community’s live Nativity were alternating with thoughts of her husband who was serving in Afghanistan.  She walked.  Every night, she walked with her two Beagles.  When he first left, lilacs were in bloom.  After months of walking in the summer’s late sunshine, Mary Francis was comforted by walking through the fallen leaves.  In the past several days, she had been leaving her bootprints in the snow.  Yes, the young woman was dwelling on no donkey for the live Nativity and no Joel to smile at her from the audience.

In her high school classroom, she stood almost all day; and each night, her feet were tired, but she walked and wondered.  When she arrived home, Mary Francis knew that there would only be a stack of papers waiting for her–waiting for her to grade.  Mary Francis said a quick prayer that an e-mail from Joel would also be waiting for her. 

                Instead of going up the stairs to the front porch where one of the windows displayed a blue star for her Joel, Mary Francis took another path into the once-used pasture–even Queenie and Quilter were surprised, but they were ready to continue their adventure into the night with all of its interesting smells. 

                After a few minutes, a cloud moved aside to allow a star to shine brightly onto the east side of the pasture.  Mary Francis wondered if she were seeing a deer:  obviously, something was near the clump of pines.  The two Beagles were the only animals on the hobby farm:  their little barn did not even have a single barn cat.  At times, she had wished for a horse, but knew such a wish was impractical.  “Maybe someday when Joel is back for good … maybe a little pony when we have …,” her thought was interrupted by a movement ahead.  Immediately, Mary Francis called the dogs to heel and affixed their leashes.  “Good girls,” she whispered as her eyes squinted to see what was near her favorite pine tree.  With her red plaid scarf, she wiped snow from her glasses.  In the starlight, Mary Francis realized that what was before her was a little donkey–perhaps, a miniature donkey–with a big red and silver bow around its neck.  Slowly, she approached the animal.  Then, Mary Francis firmly told her Beagles to stay.  Queenie and Quilter whined a little, but obeyed.  Carefully, Mary Francis moved right up to the little donkey who was pleased to nuzzle a new friend.  As she stroked the donkey, Mary Francis found that a bag was tied onto the red ribbon.  Realizing how gentle the donkey was, Mary Francis called Queenie and Quilter to her.  The donkey seemed to have met them previously. 

                In the silent pasture, Mary Francis opened the red satin bag that was topped with snowflakes.  Inside the bulky bag, the young woman found a beautiful pair of fleece-lined slippers–light blue with a snowflake design, she thought.  Next, Mary Francis found an envelope and removed the card.  At first, she could not read the message, but she could feel an embossed donkey and a manger on the front of the card.  Finally the moon sent a beam of light over that section of the pasture so that Mary Francis could read the message:  “I know how much you love the story of the “Posadas,” so here is your donkey named Posadas to let you know that I will be home in nine days–I will be home for Christmas.  Love always and forever, Joel.”  With tears of gladness, Mary Francis read the card at least three more times and did believe the words.  As she leaned against the donkey’s soft coat, Mary Francis reached out to pet Queenie and Quilter.  She could feel her heart again:  she could feel real hope again for Christmas.

                Somehow, Mary Francis had gone to the pasture even before she had read Joel’s e-mail.  Holding the slippers and guiding the donkey, the soldier’s wife and her two dogs walked toward the little barn.  All was well on that 16th of December, and Mary Francis whispered prayers of thanks and joy.  Suddenly, the teary-eyed woman became aware of activity around her barn.  A familiar voice shouted, “Merry Christmas, from the Mary Club!”  Of course, the cheery voice was Mary Ellen’s.  Mary Francis waved the snowflake slippers in the air and realized that some of the visitors were going in and out of the barn.  In the driveway were four trucks, one of which had a horse trailer.  Besides Mary Ellen and one of her sons, Mary Sue and her husband John, Mary Pat and her son Matthew, and Mary Therese were there. 

                Seeing how overwhelmed Mary Francis was, Mary Therese took her friend’s arm and shared, “Dear, we have everything ready for Posadas in the barn, and we have another surprise for you in the barn.”  With Mary Therese on one side and Posadas on the other, Mary Francis entered the barn–directly behind Queenie and Quilter. 

                Mary Pat spoke first:  “Here is Posadas’ faithful companion.”  As expected, the two little donkeys were quite happy to be reunited.

                After a few minutes of taking in the reunion, Mary Sue spoke up:  “Well, you may want to change the name of this little donkey.  She is named … Mary Jo!”

                Reaching out to shake hands with and give hugs of gratitude to all of her neighbors, Mary Francis was blessed with that delicate combination of joyful tears and jolly laughter–a laughter she had not enjoyed for many months.

                Nine nights later, as the Mary Club was singing at the live Nativity with Posadas and Mary Jo nearby, a young soldier smiled brightly from the audience.

* * *

Christmas blessings to all who have welcomed home or will welcome home

members of the United States Armed Forces during the holidays!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

December 9, 2020, Wednesday


From → Uncategorized

  1. What a sweet story! Like a cup of hot cocoa to end my day! 🙂

    • Season’s Greetings! Jo Elizabeth–Many yuletide thanks for your sweet comment on this blog post! I do appreciate the opinion of another author.
      Best wishes for the holiday season–Alice and Willow

  2. Thank you, Alice and LD Willow, for a good morning read!

    • Holiday Greetings, Linda–So good to hear from you this morning! Special thanks for reading this holiday story and sending a comment!  Willow and I have been enjoying walks in this unusually warm-for-Wisconsin December.

      Take good care, and enjoy this Christmas season–Alice and Leader Dog Willow

  3. Dear Alice,
    As someone who would qualify for the Mary Club, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful and touching Christmas short story! Having waited anxiously for our son Eric to come home for Christmas after completing his military service in Iraq, I can certainly identify with main character Mary Francis. I also had fun making the connections between the characters’ names and the special people you know.
    Merry Christmas wishes to you and Willow!
    Mary Elizabeth

  4. Susan M McKendry permalink

    What a nice Christmas story! Funny but the Mary club is something that should have been thought of long ago. I think of several Mary—–s in our extended family, just as first names, not counting middle or confirmation names! And it was so nice to have miniature donkeys in the story. Our friends have 4 of them, and they are adorable. Could you explain the “Posadas” please? I know it is the Spanish (or Italian?) word for hotels, but am unaware of the custom mentioned in the story.

    • Season’s Greetings, Sue–What a delightful comment to hear that you have friends who have four of those adorable miniature donkeys!  Thanks for sharing!  You are the second reader to ask me about “Posadas”; so, I may reply by means of another blog post.  I had been toying with the idea of a “Mary Club” for another non-holiday piece, but ended up including the idea in this holiday story.  I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed the story.

      Jolly holidays!  Alice and Willow

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