Writings by Carmela P.

Formerly "Mel's Musings" but do to many authors with name of Mel - changing to "Writings by Carmela P."

Monday, December 24, 2007



When I was a child my mother, my grandfather and I would walk just under a mile to buy our fresh Christmas tree and bring it home. All three of us would carry it as we trod the distance back home. I remember at times needing boots, gloves, hats and scarves to keep warm while packed snow was on the ground. I remember the fragrance of the pine trees. At other Christmas eves I remember the sting of ice and snow upon my face and the taste of it on my tongue. I relish the memories the Christmas Season conjures up within me some 60 years later.

I remember my mother’s forest green wool coat, the scarf she always wore as a bandana, a colorful silk-like, triangled down her back and tied under her chin. It always reminded me of a babushka. I remember my grandfather’s hat with a brim almost as wide as he was tall, a little Italian man with thinning gray hair and red mustache that, to this day, I believe was dyed from all of the tomato sauce he slathered all over his pasta.

We would carry the tree into the front door, place it in the living room, into it’s stand, add sugar water, gather the tree lights and ornaments to arrange them very carefully onto the tree. My mother would stand on a chair and place the star at the very top. Pine needles would be swept up onto the dustpan and discarded into the trash bag.

Our home was a humble little house. Walking into a tiny vestibule, we would open the door into a very small living room, big enough for our embossed dark blue chair, grandpop’s, which bore a one-inch burnt mark by a lit cigarette; he had fallen asleep. The fire aroused him in time and he put it out. Thank God. Also in the living room, we had a two-seater burgundy couch, a couple of small lamp tables and a 12 inch black and white television. We had enough room for our Christmas tree and a little Nativity set.

The kitchen was small with an icebox. The ice would go in the top where now we have freezers, and a basin in the bottom would catch the melting ice water. Naturally there was a kitchen table with formica top and 4 chairs. I think the kitchen was yellow. There was a ringer washing machine in the kitchen upon which my mother set up all of my drawings and encouraged me to continue to draw. I thought one day I would become a dress designer but as I grew older my goals changed.

We had a very tiny room, a mud room I suppose, or as we called it a ‘shed.’ In there we kept a little cabinet that was overstuffed with odds and ends, string, rubber bands, and paper bags. The shed is also where we kept our broom and dustpan, mop, and other paraphernalia.

Upstairs were two very small bedrooms, one for grandpop and one for my mother and me. My mother and I shared one bed. I used to jump on and off the bed with as wide a pounce as I could make my short legs leap because I felt as though someone would grab my ankles from under the bed. I don’t know what he or she would have done to me but it was a fright every night. I thought if I hopped quickly onto the bed, there would be no one underneath it. What thoughts go through a kid’s head! The only possible things under the bed were dust bunnies.

The bathroom was small and adequate…the flushing chamber was high above with a chain to pull. There was a ceiling window with a chain to open it a crack or two on warm and sunny days.

In addition to our Christmas preparations, we would hang our wreath on the front door. Decorating for Christmas was fun and as I believed in Santa Claus, I would become even more excited treating him, in my child-like way, as a chubby, red clad, white bearded happy sort of Ho Ho-ing god. One Christmas Eve night, I jumped out of bed and ran to my bedroom window. I could have sworn I saw Santa in his sleigh being pulled by 8 reindeer rushing along the midnight blue-black star-studded sky. I thought he passed my house by because I was still wide awake. So, I jumped back into bed and remember thinking if I pretended to be sleeping, Santa would come. If I could fool him, he would come. Evidently I drifted off to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I would run partly down the steps to see if he came and he always did. I would go back up and try to arouse my tired mother and exhausted grandpop so we could, all three, go downstairs and open presents.

I didn’t always get what I wanted, but I was ecstatic one Christmas morning when I found a wind-up roller coaster under the tree. I remember winding that thing practically to death watching the little cars race down the hilly tracks ad infinitum. It was bright and red and delighted me immensely. My mom and grandpop were happy I was happy.

Eventually, I came to focus on the real reason we celebrate Christmas. I suppose several things influenced my thinking as I was maturing. When I was about 7 years old I was sent to Catholic School where the good nuns taught me the true meaning of Christmas, teaching me how Jesus was born in Bethlehem. There would be a Nativity scene, the story of the First Christmas, singing the usual Christmas songs and I loved hearing about that very First Christmas and I loved singing the songs, “Adeste Fidelis,” “Come Let Us Adore Him,” “O, Silent Night,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and countless others.

I remember having a friend from school who would invite me to her home and be in the company of her Irish Catholic family, praying together before and after meals. They had a Creche under their Christmas tree, too, somewhat bigger than ours.

My non-Catholic friends had beautiful Nativity sets, too. I was beginning to love this part of Christmas very much and loved the Churches being so beautifully decorated every Christmas season.

Gradually, Santa began to fall to the wayside, and I say gradually, because I wanted to believe in him, and I did, far longer than the other kids did. My mother was reluctant to tell me Santa did not really exist. Therefore, I also let her think I still totally believed. By the time I was eleven, however, a light bulb went off. I found a letter I had written to Santa Claus in my grandfather’s bedroom. As I put two and two together, I took a step to maturity, in a pre-teen sort of way.

How, in heaven’s name, could a roly-poly, pot-bellied, red-suited man fly through the air in a sled being pulled by 8 reindeer that didn’t even have wings? How could he and his elves make and he deliver toys to every girl and boy in the world in one night? How could he slide down a chimney without being covered in soot? How was it the toys and their wrappings were never soot-covered? How did he get into the house when there was no chimney? Did he have a key to those houses? How many trips would he have to make to refill the sled with more toys? How would he have time to eat a trillion cookies and drink vats of milk that children all over the world would leave for him? Maalox and porta-potties were not even thought of. Oh well! Revelation time! I grew up!

The fear (respect) of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

Now, I was able to put these childish things behind me. I was able to begin focusing on things of a spiritual nature. I was beginning to appreciate the mystical experience of Christmas and, as mature Christians have known it before I knew it, Jesus IS the Reason for the Season.

Now we move to a meditative writing as growth in maturity progresses:This writing is strictly my own and is not Biblically proven. What I have attempted to do is think how Mary and Jesus might have thought. This is not a locution nor is it visionary. These are my own thoughts and are not meant to be taken as total truth. Please take it all, if you read it, with a grain of salt. I hope you enjoy it. God bless you, the reader.


Mother? Tell me the story about when I was a baby.

Why do you want to know, Jesus?

Because Levi is visiting his uncle, our neighbor, and he told me his mother says we are different. How are we different, Mother? Are we really different?

Where do you want me to start, Son?

Start from the beginning, you know, when the Angel came to tell you about me.
Alright. Come now, and I’ll share what I know so you can understand it better:
Almost eight years ago I was kneeling to pray in my room asking God’s guidance in my life. I wanted to be close to God and do everything right. I was bethrothed at the time, to marry your father, Joseph. I wanted so much to be a good wife.

Mother, what does ‘bethrothed’ mean?

Bethrothed means being engaged or promised to someone. It means I was promised to your father and he was promised to me. We loved one another before you were born.

Getting back to while I was kneeling in prayer, the room lighted up brightly and I saw an Angel, who called himself, Gabriel. I was frightened and my mouth dropped open but he told me not to be afraid that I had found favor with God. He told me I would have a child and would name him, Jesus, and that was how I first found out you were going to be my child. I was very nervous but he allayed my fears and I began to feel God’s Presence.

How could you feel God’s Presence, Mother?

Well, I suppose my worry was stopped, and I began to feel calm and warm and at peace. I don’t know how else to explain it to you, Son. It was nothing I ever experienced before. I felt God’s love all around me. I felt protected somehow. I knew something supernatural was happening. The Angel was most beautiful and I knew in my heart of hearts he was sent by God to me, a simple, young Jewish girl. If God sent his Angel to me, it meant you, also, were very special, Jesus. I was told that my child would bring salvation to the world. You, Jesus, are that child. You will bring salvation to the world. I don’t know how that will happen but there is no doubt. I believe!

Jesus listens attentively, rapt in his mother’s words. He does not question but pensively meditates upon all that this could mean.

Jesus, my Son, at the same time my sweet cousin, Elizabeth, advanced in age, also was told she would have a child and that his name would be John. He would prepare the lands for your coming ministry. Again, I don’t know how that will happen but again and in Faith, I believe!

John was born about 6 months or so before you were born. I visited my cousin to help her until John was born. It seems your uncle Zechariah, who was in the Temple at the time, was visited by an Angel but he did not immediately believe the Angel when he was told that John would be his son and that John would be his name. The Angel told your uncle he would not be able to speak until John’s name was given to him at his circumcision. When John was eight days old, he was presented in the Temple. Your uncle’s voice came back that day. What a happy day that was for everyone, full of joy and gladness.

It soon became time for me to come home to your father, Joseph, whom I missed terribly.. We walked into the house arm in arm after he greeted me on the path. I was happy to walk in our front door again. We were becoming anxious for your impending birth, Jesus. I was so excited, filled with anticipation, and even a little afraid, but I still knew deep within that we were in God’s hands, all three of us. What a peaceful and comforting feeling that was.

Keep going, Mother, I want to hear more. Tell me the whole story, please?

Alright, Son. Before you were born we had to travel at the order of Caesar Augustus for a census or counting of everybody. We set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judea, to David’s town, Bethlehem, since your father was from the Line of David.

While we were traveling, your birth became evident. Your father, Joseph, looked all over for a place to stay and the last innkeeper he asked, directed us to a stable. It was the only place we could find with warmth enough from the outside chill. The body heat from the barn animals helped to warm us. Joseph made a special place set aside for you, precious child, and for me. The room brightened and you were born. It seemed heavenly light shone all around us; we were bathed by the Light of the Holy Spirit. Oh Jesus, it was so peaceful. You were the most beautiful baby I ever laid eyes upon. You had fine hair. Your little eyes were a beautiful hue. Your cheeks were round. Your mouth was as a little rosebud. I counted all of your fingers and your toes. I wrapped you in swaddling clothes. I kissed your head. Joseph, your father, was smiling and happy. We were in awe of you, Jesus. You were and are the Son of God. We believe! We are instruments of God’s Divine Plan. We prayed, Father in Heaven, do with us what you will. Your will be done.

Oh Mother, I love hearing this story of my life. Tell me about the shepherds and the kings.

The shepherds quietly came to visit you. They said they were told by an Angel that you were born and they found their way to us. They honored and adored you knowing you were the Son of God. We could hear all of their sheep quietly shuffling about outside and their little baa's sounded so sweet to the ear.

Oh mother. I am a child and yet something inside tells me I must wait and not be anxious. Sometimes I hear the voice of my Father speak to my soul. 'Shepherd' keeps coming to my mind. When I pray, I hear him tell me to obey Joseph as my earthly father, whom I love so much. I will always obey Joseph, my father. God has given me wonderful parents and you, my mother, whom I love this much.

O Son, I love you, too. Give me a hug. The embrace of mother and Son is a gift to both.

Oh, mother, the kings! Tell me about the kings.

The Kings came by way of Jerusalem following the bright star that marked the place we were. They were dressed in royal clothing, wore crowns upon their heads and brought gifts to you, Jesus, of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They knelt down to adore you. After some time, they climbed upon their camels and left.

All the while you lay sleeping stirring only to yawn and drift off to sleep again. We were so rapt in you. We couldn’t take our eyes off you, Son. Everyday we love you more and more. I love you more today than ever, Jesus.

Mother, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I better go , now, and see if my father wants some help in the wood shop.

Mary watches as Jesus scoots off to help her husband, his father, and sits pondering what will come to pass in the days, weeks, months and years ahead, all the while, having complete trust and love in and for God. She says, "I believe!"

© Mel Patterson, December 2007