One morning, you look up from your cooling cup of coffee and see that it’s almost the end of another year, and Christmas has snuck up on you and jangled its bells, sending a shiver of frosty cold down the back of your neck. Sighing heavily, the weight of the year’s mishaps shifting fitfully on your shoulders, you smirk yet again as the parade of misfortunes dance across the stage of your mind’s eye. Ralphie got his tongue on the flag pole. Who would have thought it could get that cold in Texas? This was after he shot out his eye with that stupid BB gun you gave him last year. Cindy lost her Kitty Karry-All. Bobby’s voice decided to crack and change, just as the kids got that big TV show singing gig. Stress!
Depression and gloom are not very merry, and it is a Sisyphean chore to not walk around with a scowl on your face every minute of every day. Why do we do this every year anyway?
What is really so special about Christmas that we need to participate with overflowing effervescent happiness year after year? Is Santa the reason we behave all year? No. You seriously doubt a chubby hipster with a flowing white beard and handmade toys is enough to generate decent behavior for more than a very short while. Like two hours tops.
You are bothered by these thoughts. It wasn’t always like this. Christmas used to be a happy time. Now it is just blah. Is this even a “Christian” holiday? Isn’t this really a sad excuse to replace a competing pagan holiday? Bah! Why bother? Humbug! No one knows when Jesus was really born, anyway.
You’re startled out of your pitiful broodings. “Who’s there?” Shifting to the left, you peer into the gloom that fills the corner of your living room, next to the basket of unfolded laundry. Which is probably still clean, no thanks to the cats.
You see a small boy, no more than eight or nine, wearing an orange coat and a green, knit cap. “Who are you? How did you get in here?”
The boy smiles slightly and steps forward. Clearing his throat, he speaks. His voice is clear and quiet, but holding a confidence that you have not felt of late. “You can call me… Sparky.”
“Is this one of those mustard related things? I had a nice, thick sandwich last night. You could be nothing but a left over bit of seed and vinegar!” you squeak out. Leaning forward to get a better look, you shake your head to clear it. “No more decaf pumpkin latte for me,” you murmur.
“Pumpkin?” Sparky says, smiling a little and shaking his head. “Sorry, that’s another story and a different holiday.”
As he adjusts his knit hat, he speaks calmly, confirming your suspicions that you are about to have a mental breakdown. “I am a representative, of sorts, here to remind you what Christmas is all about.”
“Oh, really?” you blurt, skepticism spurting with both words of your terse reply.
“Yes,” Sparky laughs. “Maybe this will help jog your memory.”
Squaring his shoulders, Sparky’s eyes focus on your intently, and he begins to speak.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” 
Sparky leans forward a bit and looks at you expectantly. His eyebrows lift slightly and he tilts his head and expands his smile, causing it to completely reach his eyes. His little cherubic face is beaming.
“Okay. That’s true. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. But things are so hard right now!” Even you don’t fail to hear the very edge of a nice bottle of whine creeping into your voice.
Sparky’s eyebrows scrunch up as he scowls at you with a surprisingly impactful look of disappointment. You feel a tad uneasy at the disconcertingly quick change in the sweet face of your not-mustard, apparitional child visitor.
“Okay,” he declares in a calm, quiet and yet stern voice. “Let me also remind you of a few other things.”
Sparky’s face reverts back to its former calm demeanor as he straightens back up. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
You realize that this is a true statement, but you try and deflect this with a scowl of your own as you go on the verbal offensive. “What is the deal with the haths and ye stuff?”
The kid shrugs nonchalantly and replies “You grew up in a house that used the King James Version. You tend to revert back to things you learned as a child when you are not sure what to do and don’t have a well thought out and updated default response.”
“No, I don’t,” you mumble. The words of the boy in front of you sink in, as you stare quietly at him. You do, you realize. And you have not felt like you have known what to do for a while now. You were certainly not any help when Marsha had her nose smashed with the football, right before her date.
“Yes, I guess I do,” you mumble again. This time, your words are even quieter, but the boy hears you anyway. His mouth thins a bit, and spreads out to accommodate a large, and loving smile.
“What do I do?” you query. The boy steps forward, and as he reaches to place his hand on yours, the color of his jacket seems to brighten and become cartoon like. In fact, his whole appearance seems to pop a bit as his features blur into a rounded head. Sparky’s colors are all now vibrant and he seems to have developed a thick, black line around the edge of his entire body.
“Pray,” he states, very matter-of-factly. “Give all your concerns to God. You are not happy, but He still loves you and cares for you. Don’t fear that you are alone, because nothing can separate you from the love of God. If you are tempted to huddle and pull your circumstances around you like a warm blanket, don’t. Call out and He will be there for you.” Sparky pats your hand with his irregularly drawn sausage-like fingers.
You stare at the hand that pats yours and you look up into the black dots of his eyes. “Wait, I know you…” you begin. Sparky quickly lifts his hand, with his forefinger extended.
“Shhh. Copyright,” he cautions. “Pray, now. God loves you.” He steps backwards to his original spot in the gloom, next to the stupid basket of laundry.
You close your eyes for a second, and when you open them, the room is empty. You close your eyes again, and settle back in your spot and begin to pray.
“Lord, I’ve had a tough time lately. Please take this fear from me and help me live in your joy. Thank you for your Son and sending him to Earth. Help me be joyful so that I may be a light for others. Thank you for all you have given me, and I thank you for both the good and the bad times. Help me to do what your word says, and not just hear it. Thank you, Lord!”
1 [Luke 2:8-14]
2 [2 Timothy 1:7]
3 [1 Corinthians 10:13]
4 [1 Peter 5:7]
Published by Jonathan Bernard