Category Archives: 12 GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS STORIES

25Dec/15

Greatest Story Ever Told

It was not unusual for the Romans to issue sudden and inconvenient decrees but this one came at the very wrong time. Mary was pregnant, heavily. She did not want to take the journey but Joseph insisted. Bethlehem was very far away but they were close now. She could see the town ahead. She had never longed more for a comfortable bed for her back. She looked at Joseph trudging on beside the donkey. He never complained but she knew even he was tired too.
“At the pace we came, we may be among the first to get here.” She said.
“What?” Joseph looked at her. He apparently was lost in thought.
“I said we would be among the first people to arrive in Bethlehem at this pace.”
He laughed. “My dear, Bethlehem by now is full. Everybody wants to get in and get out fast.”
She nodded and concentrated on her big belly. She had often wondered how a child grew inside a woman. Could the child hear them? Could it tell that its mother was scared? This baby was supposed to be special, the saviour was what the angel called him. She was not sure what that was exactly but she was determined to do her best. The child would be born properly. She would have the best midwives around. She had been making beautiful little clothes for him.
If she was having a special child, he would have a special birth. She would make sure of it.
She looked up, Bethlehem was close. The baby could come here. She immediately shook the thought off her mind. The baby could not come here. She did not know any midwives here. And all her baby clothes were back at home. Joseph will sort the census business out as soon as they could and they would return home where their baby would be born.
“We are close now dear.” Joseph said. “If only there was a way I could check for any available hotels in Bethlehem without having to go around the city.”
Mary laughed. “That will be witchcraft.”
“Don’t blame me for dreaming Mary. Can you imagine if there was a way I could call for a carriage from here without raising my voice? Or if I can talk to my family from here no matter how far they are?”
“That will definitely make things easier.” Mary said with a smile.
“Aah, let’s quit dreaming. Thinking of all of these is like thinking of man flying.”
“Man flying, isn’t that…” Mary started but stopped. She let out a small groan.
“Are you okay?” Joseph asked.
“I’m fine, I think. But I’m tired. How long do we have to go?”
“I wanted us to stay in an Inn close to father’s house but if you’re tired, we will stay in one closer to the gate of the town.”
“That will be a great idea. I’m sorry we have to spend more.”
Mary kept her eyes on the road as they got closer to Bethlehem keeping her mind from the pain she had felt a few minutes before. Whatever it was, it had not come back. She really wanted a bed.
“We are just two minutes out, my dear.” Joseph.
The pain hit her again, this time it hit harder. Joseph saw her face contort as she tried to keep the pain in.
“Mary, are you okay?” He asked.
“Yes, I am…aargh!” She could not hold it this time. The scream escaped her mouth.
“What’s happening?” Joseph was running from side to side.
“This cannot be happening.” Mary whispered through clenched teeth. “Not now. Not here.”
“Talk to me Mary, what is going on?” She could see Joseph was in full panic mode now.
“Nothing is happening, just get us a room.”
“Okay, I will.” He said and started to run towards the city.
“Wait!” Mary shouted. “Don’t leave me here on the road.”
He ran back. “I’m sorry.”
He held her hand and poked the donkey. It started to move a little faster but even the poor beast was tired from the journey.
They entered the gates and Joseph was right, Bethlehem was filled with people.
“I will go get a room for us right there.” Joseph said, pointing to a house up ahead. “Wait here.”
He ran off and soon disappeared into the Inn. Mary looked down her legs and gasped. Her water had broken. It was really happening. She wanted to shout for help but no, she wouldn’t. Her baby was not going to be born like this. Where was Joseph?
She breathed in and out very slowly. She did not make a sound, she did not want to draw any attention to herself. But she was barely hanging on, the pain was worse now and coming more frequently.
Joseph arrived at her side, breathless. “My dear, we need to move to another Inn, this one is full.”
He pushed the donkey and they began to move. Mary hung on, not making a sound. He was too busy looking around to notice her. Finally she could not take it anymore.
“Joseph.” She said as loud as he clenched teeth could allow her.
He looked at her and he gasped.
“You are not okay Mary.” He looked at her hand on her belly. “Are you…?”
“Yes! The baby is coming!”
“We need to find a good place, the Inns here are too poor for a baby.”
“Find me any room, the baby is ready to come.”
“Okay, okay my dear. We also need midwives. Jehovah help us. Where do I find midwives now?”
“Joseph, just find me a room first!”
“Okay.” he said and ran off.
Mary groaned, she couldn’t keep the pain in anymore. The baby was coming anytime now. Just then the donkey started to move. She wanted to stop it but she was spending all her energy to keep from screaming. It continued to move but she could not see where it was going. Where was Joseph?
The stench hit her nose then she saw where the donkey was taking her.
“Mary.” She heard Joseph call.
She struggled to get her hand up and she heard steps heading towards her. She felt his hand grasp her and the donkey stopped.
“Did you find…?” She started to ask.
“No Mary, there are no rooms in the Inn here. They say all the Inns are booked full all over Bethlehem.”
Mary felt tears roll down her face. She could not tell if it was because of the pain she felt or because she now knew her dream birth for her son would not happen.
“What do we do now Mary?” Joseph was as broken as she was.
She opened her eyes through the tears and looked in front of her.
“Let’s go inside.” She said.
“Inside where?”
“The stable.”
Joseph released her hand and walked to the stable. He looked inside and came back to her.
“There’s no way I’m letting you in there, talk more of having a baby in there.” He said.
“This baby is coming in a couple of minutes. I can have the baby in the shelter of the stable or on the sidewalks here.”
“Mary, the stable is for animals.”
“Joseph please.”
He sighed and went off again. This time he entered the stable and stayed for what looked like years. He still was not coming out yet. The donkey moved again. It got to the entrance of the stable and stopped. Joseph came out of the stable and ran into the donkey. He steadied himself, reached for Mary and carried her off the donkey.
“I cannot believe we are having this special child in a stable.” Joseph said.
Mary smiled and said. “I cannot believe I’m having this special child at all.”
***
Mary wiped her brow with her sleeves and collected the child from Joseph.
“I’m very sorry I could not provide more than a manger to lay him.” He said.
Mary did not respond, her eyes were glued to the baby. She was actually holding the child that would rescue the world and bring salvation to her people. He was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. This was God’s son? She was holding the messiah?
“I expected the son of God to come in a better way.” She said.
“He is the son of God, it does not matter how he came. The fact that he came alone is enough.”
Mary looked at her husband and back at the baby. He was right. She had been given the greatest gift anyone could give. The world had been given the greatest gift it could be given.
The question was, will the world recieve him?
***
Jesus is the greatest gift of Christmas, I hope you recieve him. Merry Christmas!

09Dec/15

To hear him say I LOVE YOU

“Mom, you can’t just leave! The party is for you and Dad.”

I ignored Deola and headed for my car.

“Mommy, come on.” Tunde joined Deola. “You guys have been married for thirty six years, can’t you just let this slide?”

I kept my eyes on the road. Even if I wanted to stop, I couldn’t now. I did not want them to see the tears in my eyes. My children always thought their mother was tough. I was not ready to blow that cover after thirty five years.

“Mommy, how about Debola and Dunsin? What do I tell them happened to their grandma?” Tunde said and I stopped.

I loved my children but I adored my grandchildren. I considered wiping my tears and going back to the party. I shook my head, it wasn’t worth it. I resumed my march to the car.

“Glory.” I heard his voice call my name. “I love you.”

I wanted to go on but I couldn’t. I stopped and began to sob. Aloud.

***

EARLIER THAT DAY

I love parties. At least I used to love them. My husband and I attended a lot of parties in our day, it seemed like ‘our day’ was long gone now. But it was Christmas and my children – Tunde and Deola had planned a special party was us. My old party instincts kicked in and I was up early to get some things ready.

“Where are you going so early?” My husband stirred on the bed.

“The party is today. Remember?”

“What party?”

“Our Christmas party, the one our children are throwing us.”

“That was today?”

I did not respond. I left the room and very soon was lost in preparations. A few hours later, the kids arrived.

“Where is Dad?” Deola asked.

“I’m not sure. Have you checked the room?”

“No, I’ll just see him later. I can’t believe you have been married for thirty six years.” She said.

“You better believe it.”

“Thirty six years is a long time.”

“Well, when you are committed to somebody, it doesn’t matter how long it is, you’ll stay.”

“The power of love.”

“Love? That’s minor. It’s the commitment that counts. The things you people call love – dates, flowers, all that rubbish is not what matters. Your father has not taken me out since our first wedding anniversary but still I’m here.”

“What! Really?”

“Yeah, that stuff doesn’t matter.” I said. Was I being truthful?

We continued our work in silence. A few minutes later my husband walked into the kitchen looking cross.

“What’s the problem?” I asked.

“Do you know what time it is?”

“No, what time is it?”

“I’ve been waiting for my breakfast for hours. Are you planning to starve me?”

“Come on Dad.” Deola said. “We have been busy. The party starts in a few hours.”

“Maybe he has forgotten about the party already.” I said and went back to my work.

Deola ushered him out of the kitchen and promised him food in five minutes. He was so selfish. He did not even care that I was doing a lot of work, all he wanted was his food. A strange longing coursed through me. Maybe I wanted more than commitment.

***

A FEW MINUTES TO THE PARTY.

“We have sewed this agbada for weeks, why are you doing like this?” I looked at my husband, ashamed of the terrible thoughts going through my mind.

“Look Glory, you know that I don’t wear anko. All the years of our marriage we never wore the same material, why will we start now?” He said.

“I didn’t pick the clothes, the children did. Won’t you just do this to make the children happy?”

“The children…anytime you want to get your way, you always invoke the children.”

“Why won’t I invoke the children when you seem to care about them more than you do me?”

He paused. “That’s not true. Why will I still be married to you if I don’t care about you?”

I wanted opened my mouth to reply him but I changed my mind. I spread the agbada on the bed.

“That’s it on the bed but if you insist you won’t wear it, the blue one is in the wardrobe.” I said and walked out of the room.

The party was already starting outside. Deola saw me and came over.

“We are waiting for you and Dad.” She said.

“We will be with you soon.”

She was about walking away when I saw her ring finger.

“You changed your ring?” I asked.

She smiled and said. “Yeah I did. Bayo bought me another one. Did a lot of drama when giving it to me, it was beautiful.”

“I’m sure it was. When did this happen?”

“Our seventh anniversary.”

I sighed and looked away.

“Are you okay mom?” Deola asked.

“Yes, I am. I’ll go get your father. Tell Tunde and his wife, we will be with you soon.”

She nodded and walked away but I stayed where I was. I tried to empty my mind of all the negative thoughts that were flowing through it. I had to be happy today, at least for the children. I heard a sound behind me and turned around to see my husband. He wore the blue agbada.

“I can’t believe you did not wear the clothe they made for us.” I said.

“We have talked about this already. Let’s just go for the party.” He said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Why? You are the one who has been talking about this party all day. Why are you asking why we are going?”

“I know why I’m going, why are you going?”

He looked at me confused.

“This party is celebrating us a couple. Are we a couple?” I asked.

“Glory, please don’t do this. The children are waiting.”

“The children? That’s what this is about for you? The children?”

“We have been married for over three decades, of course it’s not just about the children.”

“What is it then? You love me?”

He laughed. “We are already knocking on the doors of seventy. Is it now we will be doing lovey lovey?

I shook my head and stormed into the bedroom. I removed my gele and dropped my bag. I picked my purse and the car keys and left the room.

“What happened to your head tie?” My husband said when he saw me. “Where are you going?”

“What do you care? You children are there, go and have your party with them.”

“This party is about us. If you’re not there, we can’t have the party.”

I stopped and faced him.

“Remember how I asked you to let us renew our vows after our tenth anniversary? Hold a little ceremony?”

“Yes. I did not agree and see, twenty six years later and we are still together.”

“Deola showed me her new ring today, she got it for their seventh anniversary.”

“You think her husband loves her more than I love you because he got her a ring?”

“You don’t get it, do you?”

I turned away from him and walked out.

***

BACK TO THE PRESENT

“Mommy, how about Debola and Dunsin? What do I tell them happened to their grandma?” Tunde said

I continued my march to the car.

“Glory.” I heard his voice call my name. “Please don’t go, I love you.”

I wanted to go on but I couldn’t. I stopped and began to sob. Aloud. My husband had not told me he loved me in thirty years.

He walked to me and held me.

“I’m sorry Glory.”

I leaned unto his shoulder, it was a great feeling to be held again. I did not know how much I missed it.

“I love you, as much as I did thirty six years ago.”

“And it took you all these years say so?”

“I thought you knew.”

“I knew but I wanted to hear it from you.”

“How about we use this Christmas party to renew our vows?”

I smiled. “Does it mean, I’ll get a new ring too?”

“Well yeah, you’ll have one before the end of the day.”

“Does it also mean we will wear our anko?”

He laughed. “Yeah.”

“Are you serious?”

“No. I really don’t like that stuff.”

“I guess, I can compromise on that.”

“I love you, a lot.”

“I love you a lot too.”

I didn’t care for much for the ceremony or the ring – I was a grandmother for crying out loud. I was just glad to hear my husband tell me he loves me again. It was the best Christmas gift I could ever get.