*** The sounds of Christmas and the stories they inspire. Just a short little drabble that popped in my head while this song was playing. Enjoy! ***

"O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel…
"

It was her favorite Christmas song. Closing her eyes, she remembered the church. The soaring arches and colorful fabrics draped across pews and altars, twinkling candles in red, green and white votive holders. Magic.

The heat had been turned off at home again and Jinx was gone. Mary had to take Brandi somewhere that Christmas Eve because it was too cold to huddle under the covers on Mary's bed anymore and Squish wanted to see the Christmas lights. The library was closed, so their usual refuge was denied them. Mary saw the people going into the church and the light from within was warm and beckoning. She remembered going to church with her Daddy from time to time, and it had been nice. Telling Brandi they were going to go see some pretty lights, she led the toddler up the steps.

"Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight…
"

The smell of the incense seemed to transport her to an ethereal world, and Brandi squealed, "Oooooh!" at the boughs of evergreens and lights and giant Christmas tree in the vestibule and twirled around in delight. It was warm and she urged Brandi into the main church to get away from the draft by the doors. Sounds echoed and the whispers and mutters of the gathering congregation surrounded them.

The crowd quieted as the choir filed in near the sanctuary and Mary placed Brandi in a corner of one of the back pews so they could listen without being noticed by many. A girl not much older than Mary walked forward to the microphone and began to sing the mournful, but beautiful tune.

She didn't know what all the words meant, and didn't understand the latin verses, but it touched her all the same. A song of longing. Even Squish seemed taken by the moment as she just sat quietly next to her big sister with her thumb in her mouth. For the length of that song, Mary didn't worry and allowed herself to be filled with the music.

"Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
"

The rest of the service was lost on her, but they stayed for a number of hours until she noticed looks from the clergy members and had to leave.

Mary took Brandi to a church every Christmas Eve just to hear the song. She didn't go for the ordinary reasons people went to church that day, but to experience that brief time of peace the melody offered. It wasn't the same to hear it on the radio or sung by carolers, she had to experience it.

"Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel...
"

Mary found her sister in the kitchen and asked her to go with her. Brandi was surprised, but then remembered their tradition when they were young. The women threw on their coats and walked the blocks to the church in the cold…like they did when they were ten and three, and Brandi counted the houses with Christmas lights on the way. Mary smiled as not much had changed.

It was a little church and had chairs instead of pews, but the Christmas tree stood the same and the Nativity scene was strewn with evergreen and lights. Candles twinkled and people whispered while little girls twirled in their holiday dresses.

They sat in the back and Brandi leaned on her sister's shoulder as a young girl stood on the risers up front and began to sing. Mary knew it would be the first song…it always was. She closed her eyes to listen.

"O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel…
"

*** Happy Holidays! What do you hope Santa brings you?? ***