Midnight Misadventure Part 2

So, at midnight on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving morning, my cousins and I slipped away from the house and crept down the road. We knew that our parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles had all come to expect this thing to happen, it was a very well known tradition, but it was more fun to sneak out than to ask for permission. It was chilly outside, frost had appeared on the ground every morning for the past few weeks, covering the stiff grass with a layer of crystals that melted in the late morning sunlight and faded away without a trace in the warmer afternoons. We were all praying for a white Christmas, as we prayed every year, with childlike anticipation of mounds of white fluff, perfect for building snow forts and snowmen.
My cousins and I crept down the street; the walk seemed endless, though it was only a few blocks. Finally, finally we reached the church, and there sat the bell in all its glory, the sharp image of black metal stood out starkly against the surrounding darkness. We stood and stared at it, fascinated, our breath puffing out in clouds, illuminated by the soft ethereal light of the moon.
    We exchanged conspiratorial grins as we stared at our goal. Then with excited whispers we scrambled up and stood next to the bell. We paused for a heartbeat, reveling in the mounting excitement and danger of the moment, and then we grasped the wheel and began to turn the bell.
    We had become experts at this over the years, and we knew that someone had to make sure that the clapper did not hit the side of the bell as we turned it upside down. Kim was in charge of this and Gayle and Wendy and I were in charge of turning the enormous wheel. Slowly, ever so slowly we strained to turn the bell upside down. Finally, it was in position; we paused, listening to the silence, as the night seemed to hold its breath in anticipation. Then we let go and dashed towards the grove of pine trees that stood on the corner of the church property. We huddled there, shaking with suppressed laughter as the bell swung back and forth, clanging over and over again, its deep, clear tones ringing out and disturbing the quiet Morenci night.
    “Let’s go home,” Gayle said quietly, when the bell had finished ringing and silence had once again enfolded us in her arms.
    “No!” I whispered in agitation, “This is our last childhood adventure, we will never have this time again. If we leave now, we will regret it for the rest of our boring adult lives!” I can be very persuasive when I want to be, and although all three of my cousins were older, wiser, and more mature than I, I knew that they were still children at heart as I was. I also knew that they could not argue with my statement, illogical as it might have been.
    Gayle’s argument weakened as Kim joined my ranks, “Come on Gayle,” she said teasingly, “Where’s your sense of adventure?” Wendy nodded, but did not vocalize her agreement.
    Gayle finally grinned, “What can it hurt?” She asked.
    I stopped myself from letting out a cheer. Together, the four of us crept back up to the bell and repeated the process. If anything, we were all a little more on edge. We turned the bell upside down and then scattered, only this time, we ran around towards the back of the church, intending to loop around and run home. However, before we had gotten more than five steps from the bell, we heard an ominous noise.
    SLAM! The door of the pastor’s house swung open with a violent crash, and then we heard a dog begin to bark ferociously. Then, panic ensued. We all dashed away in different directions, terrified. In the darkness I lost my cousins, but I kept running as fast as I could, without knowing exactly where I was going.
    As I fled, I wondered what had happened to Kim, Gayle, and Wendy. I did not know what had happened to them, but all I could think of was that a dog the size of the Beast in the movie Sandlot was chasing us. I had visions of my cousins being devoured in one enormous bite by the vicious, drooling monster who by now must be coming after me, I could hear its heavy footsteps coming closer and I could feel hot breath on the back of my neck. I ran and ran, my feet pounding the ground, keeping time with the frenzied thumping of my heart. Suddenly, I saw the grove of pine trees and leapt for it in desperation. I made it to safety, and found myself surrounded by all three of my cousins. I was relieved to see that they were all alive and well.
Before we had a chance to calm down, the beam of a flashlight blazed into our eyes and a gruff voice said, “I guess you think you’re pretty cool, don’t you?”
    Wendy, the oldest by ten minutes, stepped forward and spoke in a quavering voice, “I’m sorry sir, but we’re Roger Porter’s grand-daughters and ringing the bell is kind of a tradition.”
    The pastor suddenly seemed embarrassed, and he lowered his voice and said grudgingly, “Well, you really scared my wife.”
    “We’re really very sorry,” we all chorused, our hearts beginning to calm.
    Then the ferocious barking began again and we all recoiled in terror as the pastor’s huge beast jumped out at us.
    “Oh, don’t worry,” the Pastor said kindly, “Pixie won’t bite.”
    We stared at him, and then we stared in shock and embarrassment at the growling beast, that was actually a tiny miniature poodle with bows on her ears. The Pastor turned and went back inside, and the four of us dashed back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house as though we had a raging forest fire chasing us. When we got back, we related the story to our parents, who laughed at us; it was somewhat upsetting that they found our terror so amusing, but within a few moments we were laughing with them. We had gotten our “last” adventure, and what an adventure it was!

~ jenelle

Little Star

I ordered “Little Star” because I have fond childhood memories of another book called “The Tiniest Christmas Star.” I had hoped that this would be in a similar vein.

However, this story was disappointing. The story is about a little boy who is looking up into the sky trying to find the Christmas star from when Jesus was born. So his father tells him the story of the Christmas star. It starts out as a cute story about a tiny star that the other stars ignore or make fun of, kind of like a “Rudolph” story. The tiny star sees Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem and sees that nobody will let them in, and empathizes with them. Then, Baby Jesus is born, the tiny star is concerned that Jesus will be cold, so he shines as brightly as he can to warm the baby. The other stars tell him to stop or he’ll burn himself out, but the little star can’t hear them. All through the night the star shines and warms the baby, and in the morning, the star is all gray and cold because he burned himself out.

The little boy is sad that Little Star is dead, but his father says no.

“You see, Little Star did a wonderful thing that night in Bethlehem. He gave his life so the baby Jesus could be warm. And God gave him a great reward in return. Little Star will be remembered forever and ever.”

“You mean Little Star isn’t gone?” the boy asked.

“No, he’s alive!” the father said. “Every Christmas, when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, people all over the world place a star on top of their Christmas tree to remember him.”

Okay. It’s a cute story. Sure, it’s a super fictionalized account of the story behind the Christmas star. The problem I have with it, is that while it alludes to Christ’s sacrifice so that we might live, the story’s focus at the end is on the STAR, rather than on JESUS. It just left me feeling rather… I dunno… empty, I guess. Maybe the disappointment was that I really loved the story up until the last 2-3 pages, and then it felt as though the narrative suddenly fell flat or turned a corner and left me behind. Also, we know that the star shone for YEARS, (and moved oddly) because the wise men followed it for a very long time and didn’t find Jesus until he was around 2, so the whole supernova thing hasn’t really ever made a lot of sense to me. Even type II supernovae only really last for a few months. But I digress.

Pros:
-cute fictional story about the Christmas Star
-tells the story of Jesus’ birth from a different perspective
-gets the details about Jesus’ birth correct
-as I said earlier, alludes to Jesus’ sacrificial death (and sort of His resurrection)
-great illustrations
-my 2 year old LOVES it – good length and number of words per page

Cons:
-very fictionalized story about the Christmas Star, posing as a true story
-focuses on the star rather than on the true meaning of Christmas

Maybe I’m being nit-picky… but something about the way the author chose to end the story really bothered me. I’m sorry, I really wanted to like this one.

I received this book for blogger review through the Blogging For Books Program. They asked for nothing other than an honest review, but the FTC requires that I make that clear.

~ jenelle

Poetry Corner: Some Dreams Do

Some Dreams Do
10-19-01

“Once upon a time…”
Or so the story goes,
And then in perfect rhyme
The fairytale flows.

To the beautiful, captive princess
The perfect prince or knight
Rides to save her from distress
And everything ends all right.

But “once upon a time” isn’t now,
Not all tears end in laughter,
And we can’t always see how
It could end “happily ever after.”

Life isn’t a fairytale, it’s real
Still, things aren’t always as they seem;
Though it becomes painful
Cling tightly to your dreams.

No, there is no perfect rhyme,
And perfect knights are few,
No “once upon a time,”
Yet, some dreams do come true.

~Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

~ jenelle

Midnight Misadventure

Our hushed whispers seemed to ring out with deafening clarity in the cold, November night air. The barely suppressed giggles slashed through the sacred midnight silence. Along the street, darkened windows stared out at us from sleeping houses with grim, unblinking, and judgmental glowers.
On the very edge of Michigan in a tiny town called Morenci, there is a beautiful brick, one-story house. It is placed on a quiet road across the street from a large field of corn. The pretty little brick house has a large, grassy lawn around it and right out front is a tall, old, peeling, white sycamore. Its trunk has split and grown in two different directions, and each trunk is too thick for a grown man to encircle with his arms.
Upon entering this house, good smells assail the nose and warmth seems to surround the heart. This is my grandparents’ home. At Thanksgiving every year, our family all comes together and gathers at this house to celebrate God’s goodness and constant loving care. It is a happy time, cheery and secure, full of good things to eat and comfortable companionship, and most of all family. It is here that my story begins.
On my mom’s side, I have three cousins who are my own age. These cousins in particular have always been my best friends, for we share a bond that we always believed made us more than cousins. My mom is their mom’s younger sister, and my dad is their dad’s younger brother; to put it simply, sisters married brothers. This made my cousins and me more like sisters than merely cousins; therefore, it was always great fun when we got to spend time together. We were a mischievous four-some, and we were constantly getting into worlds of trouble, but it was harmless trouble, and I think our parents were generally more amused by our antics than upset by them.
At the time of my story’s beginning, I was in eighth grade; Kim was in her sophomore year of high school; and Wendy and Gayle, twins, held that most envied title of seniors in high school. Simply said, it was our last year as children. In a year, I would be entering that vast, and hitherto unexplored, realm of high school, and Wendy and Gayle would be leaving forever on the great adventure called college. We suddenly realized with the dramatic flare that children have, that we might possibly “never see one another again.” So it was decided, this Thanksgiving we had to have one final adventure, an adventure that would go down in history, an adventure worthy of the occasion.
There is a certain adventure that has really become more of a tradition over the years, a tradition that can only be carried out when we go to Grandma and Grandpa Porter’s house. Down the road, two blocks from our grandparents’ house, is the Morenci Baptist church. It is a small church; the congregation is composed of no more than two hundred people. The windows are stained glass and the pastor and his family live in a tiny, yellow-brick house, just next door to the church. It is a real-life, small town church, with all the traditional country-style hospitality and potluck dinners almost every week. However, there is one feature of this church that sets it apart: the bell.
The bell is not in a tower, it is set on a rectangular-shaped mound of earth that rises about three or four feet above the level ground. The bell itself is suspended in the air and attached to a great wheel, larger than a grown man. To ring the bell, one must turn the wheel, thus causing the bell to turn with it until it is completely upside down; and then the person must release the wheel, thus allowing the bell to swing back around and down, swinging back and forth and ringing several times before finally stopping.
Every time we went up to our Grandma and Grandpa Porters’ house, it was our tradition; my cousins’ and mine, to sneak out at midnight at least once during our several days’ stay and walk down to the church and ring the bell. This Thanksgiving was to be different though. We had determined that this time we would not simply ring the bell and run away, this year, we would ring the bell twice.

………. TO BE CONTINUED ………….. NEXT WEEK!

~ jenelle