FICTION: The House, part 10: Visions of Christmas Past

This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to names of people and/or places is purely coincidental.

by Peg Pellerin

Click here for the previous installment.

They decided to call it a day and attempt to tackle the last room and ‘adventure’ the next day.

The following morning Jake said, “Wonder what we’ll find in our final room,” while the four were enjoying a waffle/egg sandwich, compliments of Miri and Amy’s creative cooking. They were still trying different things that they would hope to serve guests in the future and the guys didn’t mind testing them out.

“I don’t know,” replied Miri, “but I, for one, will be glad to have it over so we can get back to our normal lives.” Everyone nodded in agreement.

They stood in front of the sixth room, the final room to be searched for something that belonged to the young spectral boy. They took a deep breath, signaled each other that they were ready to enter and went in. For some reason this room seemed a tad larger than the others. It was filled with several pieces of furniture that could be considered child-sized. There was a dry sink, bureau, armoire, an adult-sized rocking chair next to a child-sized one, and a bed. Everything was in near perfect condition as if it was still being used except the dust on everything showed it hadn’t been for many years.

“Wow, this is amazing,” said Amy in wonderment. “Could this have been Ian’s bedroom?”

“I don’t think so,” replied Miri. “When we started moving in and preparing the two bedrooms, ours and Dave’s, the one Dave has was nearly identical to this one so we assumed it was the child’s bedroom being closeby to the parents’. Maybe this one was in anticipation of another child, which never happened. ”

As they walked around looking over everything, they nearly forgot why they were in the room in the first place. Dave was the first to ‘wake’ up and started searching. The others followed his lead. Jake opened the doors to the armoire, which appeared to be empty. As he was about to close the doors, something caught his eye. He bent down to peer into the back bottom left corner of the cabinet and found a square wooden box, which was about 7 inches by 7 inches. “I think I found it or at least something,” he called out to the others who immediately surrounded him. He wasn’t sure if he should open it but they did want to get whatever event was about to happen over with. Holding his breath, he slid the cover off the box. Within was a beautiful star.

“What a beautiful star,” said Amy.

“This isn’t just any star, it is a Moravian star, originating in Germany back in the late 1700s. I can fill you in on the history of that but this is gorgeous,” said Jake in awe.

“Why hasn’t anything happened yet?” wondered Miri. “Maybe you have to take it out of the box,” she answered her own query.

Jake carefully turned the box over to let the twenty-six pointed star slip out onto his hand. Then it all started. The four felt that they were in a slow moving eddy but when all cleared, they found themselves in the downstairs living room, but it wasn’t the current one. A fire was lit in the fireplace and the scent of baking and wassail wafted from the nearby kitchen. A slight rapping at the front door could be heard and a woman quickly walked out of the kitchen to open the door. Cold air rushed from the open door as a tall, robust looking man came in carrying a young boy on his shoulders. Behind him was another man carrying a fresh cut red spruce, which was common in the Poconos region.

“Before you bring that tree in here, please shake the snow off onto the porch,” demanded the woman who turned out to be Emma Hodges. The tall man must have been Jebediah and the young boy, about age three, was Ian. Unlike the events in the past, everything was vivid as if the four were actually in the living room with the residents of the house, but weren’t noticed.

“Thank you, Tom, for helping my boy and I to bring that tree from the back of our property to the house. Once you’ve placed it where the Mrs. wants it, please go into the kitchen and help yourself to whatever Emma has made and some Wassail. I can smell it all from here.”

“Thank you sir,” replied Tom Meuller, the handy man of the Hodges home. Once he placed the tree into the stand in the living room, he went off to the kitchen to dig into the goodies and drink.

“C’mon lad, let’s get those cold damp clothes off you and sit in front of the fire before you catch your death of cold,” said his mother in a stern voice, staring harshly at her husband. “You kept him out there too long. You know how delicate his health is.”

“He needs good fresh air once in a while. You coddle him too much, plus he needs a little fun once in a while.” replied Jebediah. “You did have fun didn’t you, Ian.”

Yes father, I did. I’m not cold mother,” said Ian as his mother hurriedly took off his wool coat, pants, hat and mittens, which she had knitted for him.

Jebediah had taken off his outer clothing and had rushed into the kitchen to grab he and Ian a cup of warm Wassail and a tea cake. After placing them down on the table, he went to the side room, returning with a square wooden box. “I’ve been holding on to this until I felt Ian was old enough to appreciate it.” He sat down next to the young boy and slowly opened the box. He carefully turned over the box in order to let the content slip out onto his large meaty palm.

Both mother and son exhaled in awe at the beautiful sight. Sitting in Jebediah’s large but gentle palm was the most beautiful sight the two had ever seen. It was a multi-pointed, twenty-six to be exact, silver and gold star. The light from the fireplace made it appear to sparkle. “Oh, Jeb, it’s beautiful! Where did you buy it?”

“I didn’t. It was given to me by my father when I was Ian’s age. Look see,” instructed Mr. Hodges as he removed one of the points, exposing a hole. He then gave the star to Ian, instructing him to carefully hold it so as not to drop it and he lifted the boy so he could reach the top of the six foot tree. Ian was able to place it on the top point of the tree. The first decoration of the Christmas tree.

The four quietly watched the three as if they were looking at a live Victorian image on a Christmas card. Jake looked down at the star in his hand knowing that it was the same star that had been placed on the tree. Amy remembered the wool coat she had removed from the armoire, which brought Dave and herself into a tundra facing a polar bear.

Suddenly their vision seemed to waver. When it cleared they were still in the living room but it was a different time. The tree was already decorated with the star at the top and the remainder of the tree covered with ropes of popcorn, berries and other handcrafted items. Mother, father and Ian at approximately seven years old were sitting nearby, unwrapping gifts. Laughter could be heard from the three until Ian untied the cloth ribbon that was holding a flat square cloth covering the present. It was a slate framed in wood. There was a clay pencil and the cloth was considered to be the ‘eraser’. “It’s time you start some academics, learning how to read, write, and to do sums,” explained Mrs. Hodges of the present that Ian didn’t seem too thrilled about receiving. The child thanked his mother and put the unwanted gift down to his side.To break the somber moment, Mr. Hodges picked up another gift, much larger than the one that the young boy had just unwrapped. “Let’s see if this will brighten up your spirit,” as he glared at his wife. Ian had a difficult time unwrapping the package which appeared to be too heavy for him to hold. His father went to his side and loosened the twine so the boy could unwrap the heavy brown paper that covered a box. Ian opened the box and whooped with delight. He lifted the object out of the box. It was a toy Blunderbuss Pistol.

Mrs. Hodges didn’t look pleased. She quietly said to Mr. Hodges, “Why did you get the boy something like that? Is it to try to make him feel like he’ll be a big game hunter like you? You know he’ll never be able to do these things.” The boy didn’t hear their conversation as he was too excited by the toy he held in his tiny hands.

Jake, Miri and Dave looked at each other as they recalled the event in the attic, the first of several they had experienced since finding items belonging to Ian.

The living room vision wavered once again. When it cleared another Christmas unfolded in front of the quartet. This time it appeared that Ian was a couple years older. He walked into the room with a piece of raspberry tart in one hand and a cup of wassail in the other. He set it down on the table. His mother was the only other person in the room. “I was hoping that your father would have made it back in time for Christmas, but it doesn’t look like he will. There is a heavy snowstorm going on in New York where he went for business,” explained Emma to her son of the absence of his father. “We can still enjoy the day. There are some gifts for you under the tree and supposedly a special one from your father. I wonder what he got for you this time,” she stated rolling her eyes. It was obvious that Mrs. Hodges did not approve of some of the things her husband had brought home for her son. He felt she coddled Ian too much and she felt that her husband didn’t see or didn’t want to see how feeble her son was.

The boy slowly went to a chair near the tree and sat down. He didn’t seem to have the spirit in him as he did in the past Christmases that Jake, Miri, Dave, and Amy had witnessed. There was a sad somber feeling in the air. The mother brought some small wrapped items to Ian for him to free from their wrappings. There were new mittens, hats, a coat, and a few other items she had made for him. He hugged her giving thanks. Emma finally came to a larger item that was under the tree, evidently something that Mr. Hodges had sent for Ian and that Tom had picked up at the post office.

To be continued


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