Candlelight Carols… “Second Stanza”

Decorative Letter I with Angel Playing Harp


n winter I get up at night and dress by yellow candle-light.

A Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson

[Picture: In winter I get up at night / And dress by yellow candle-light.]

At the time of the first Christmas, darkness was over the world… much like it is today… only more so, still awaiting the birth of hope.  Sickness… pestilence…slaveryAn edict going out to murder innocent baby boys two and under, in the hopes of killing the babe rumored to be the prophesied Messiah. Broken hearts spilled out as water.  Then the Father sent us His Son, the Light of the World…to conquer the darkness forever…

My heart is broken, Lord, I whispered that late 1980’s Christmas.  While others make merry, the lights seem dimmer to me somehow… I’ve lost the Christmas spirit…

Over these past years, his answer speaks inside me, gently reminding…                                You were never meant to walk in darkness I came to break that stone monument you’ve placed inside your soul to mark sadness and grief…  Hold me close and you’ll never lose Christmas, for my eternal flame of daylight lives within you…

It’s time to blow out the evening candle and let the morning come.

“Papa can’t wait to see you for Christmas!” Mom had written me over that Thanksgiving. “All he can talk about is when Pamela comes home…”

After I’d moved across the country a year or so earlier, Mom and Dad had invited her widowed dad – Papa to all his grandkids – to settle in with them.  Close to 90, he continued walking miles each day, keeping his mind sharp reading, and…  on special holidays… still regaling family and friends with his ever-strong operatic voice.  Moving to the often extreme warm climate where my family home was seemed to invigorate the sun-lover in him even more. Mom was worn out with more work…but it was good to have him out of his dreary apartment, see him happy.  My sister and my parents had visited me in my new home, but it was too much travel for Papa…

So here I was, winging my way back the day before Christmas Eve… feeling a bit torn over leaving behind a silver-white Christmas for one probably 80 degrees or so, but looking forward to celebrating again with family.  Just a few nights ago I’d talked with Mom on the phone and heard Papa’s accented voice calling out in the background.  “Tell her I can’t wait to see my yahvrose (sweetheart in his Old Country language) home!”

Crowded airports… endless terminal waits… battling suitcase carousels and hours later… I was finally there.  Standing by the curb outside the bustling airport, waiting for the family car.  “There she is!”  I heard my sister call out as I whirled around to greet them.

“Where’s Papa?”  I asked, looking around over their heads. A sudden quiet enveloped us in the midst of brash airport voices broadcasting over their speakers and endless numbers of people spilling out to hug friends and family.  I watched my sister and parents lock eyes, then turn back to me.

“He’s… he’s in the hospital, dear,” Mom started.

“It doesn’t look good,” my sister whispered.

“Wh-what?” I spluttered.  “But…but you said he was doing great… waiting for me to come home…”  I trailed off.  “Why didn’t you tell me?”

As Dad navigated our car through the circus of the airport lanes and out on to the freeway, they explained what had happened.  Papa had been perfectly healthy until a day ago.  He’d started complaining about his stomach not feeling too well, then suddenly fallen over at the lunch table…

“I think he’s holding on to see you, Pam,” Mom told me quietly.  “He really could have slipped away right then…   but… he’s…” her voice choked.

“But –”  I still couldn’t grasp this.  They hadn’t wanted to worry me, I knew.  But I should have been prepared…

Somberly, we made our way to the house, dropped off my suitcase and headed for the hospital.  Even the air seemed frigid and impersonal inside that building as we took the elevator to his room.  Looking smaller, more frail than I remembered from just a year or so earlier, he lay in the bed hooked up to a monitor, IV and oxygen.  His eyes were closed, but one by one we took his hand and spoke to him.

“Daddy,” Mom said, “Pamela is here…  she’s come to see you.”

Was he squeezing her hand?  Almost… imperceptibly.

His eyes fluttered as he looked over at me, then closed again.

Mom led me over to his side.  “Just sit here and talk to him,” she whispered.  “He’ll hear you.”

Swallowing over the lump in my throat, I felt almost panicky.  How could this be happening?  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Alone with him, I began to talk softly, tell him how I loved him.  I thought about the time when I was ten years old.  I’d been in the hospital bed then and he’d been visiting me with Grandma.  After awhile, I’d felt sort of tongue-tied, my shyness kicking in… so I’d suggested maybe they might be tired and need to go home…  Papa had laughed about that for years, often telling how he thought it was so cute and dear of me to be thinking of them at a time like that…    I’d never told him that maybe I’d been thinking more of myself.

Oh Papa, I thought now… if only I had come home this Christmas a few days sooner!  Again, I felt guilty… like I’d been selfish, wanting to have my white Christmas. He did seem to be holding my hand as I talked now, and I felt he knew I was there…  yet, my thoughts were tumbling with why now, God?  At Christmas? Especially when he’d been waiting to see me…

Later, Mom sat with him, talking about Jesus and heaven… but though her parents were both wonderful, good-hearted people, I’d never really heard them talk about knowing or loving God.  Did Papa know, accept God’s love?  I wasn’t sure.

“We’ve had a lot of good talks about the Lord, lately,” Mom told me then, her eyes bright with unshed tears.  “He told me Jesus has always been part of him, and how he’s looking forward to seeing Grandma…”

Midnight on Christmas Eve we received the call… just after returning from a day long hospital visit. He was gone.  Had it only been a day ago that I’d flown across the country to celebrate?  I felt numb and a bit sick to my stomach as Christmas dawned… like getting up to the dark chill of a winter morn.  Where was the light?  Just even one candle… to warm this ice.

Later, flying back to my new home, I purposed to only return here for visits on non-holidays from then on.  Christmas had lost its tinsel in the wake of loss… and family stuff that always happens in the midst of it… leaving only melancholy in its place.

Then… a few years ago, I came across a lovely quote that was like opening a curtain and letting sunlight dapple over me.  The end of life is like blowing out the evening candle because the morning has come…

Suddenly, I thought of that one Christmas Eve midnight. Of Papa… closing his eyes in a cold hospital and opening them in heaven’s sunshine.  And the bit of darkness his unanticipated leave-taking had hung over my heart for years… though I’d pretended it wasn’t there.  A tender picture came into my mind of God, keeping a candle lit for us in the window of Heaven… to light the way home.

I’ve set the Light of Christmas in your heart, dear one, came the whisper then…  Place your hands before the flame and feel the warmth…  

Yes.  It’s time to blow out the evening candle and let the morning come…


©  Pam Depoyan

In this season that celebrates the Lord of Joy…                                     it’s time to let His Christmas candle shine                                          bright within…chase away the blues…                                                                     and sing of candlelight carols…

Tag:  In winter I get up at night and dress by yellow candle-light…


About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

I love to hear your thoughts, even chat back and forth amongst comments.Won't you join the conversation? :) ..................................................................................................................... May my stories refresh you, like a whisper from our Father's Heart !
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10 Responses to Candlelight Carols… “Second Stanza”

  1. Such a beautiful story, Pam, with an equally beautiful tag line: “Yes. It’s time to blow out the evening candle and let the morning come…” Since becoming a child of God, we emerge into the light out of the darkness of sin.” A very warming thought.

    I’ve been noticing the pretty decorated fonts you are using for the first letter of your post and I thought how appropriate they are for such beautiful posts.

    Thank you, Pam. I appreciate the way you usher us to the lessons that we need to get out of our readings. I look forward daily for your new posts and anticipate what I would learn by it. Thanks for sharing this and for the encouragement.

    BTW, I find nothing wrong with the way you lay-out your stories. In fact, I love them the way they are…… makes me feel at home and comfortable.

    Have a lovely day, Pam.

  2. Another thing I forgot to say….. I came for a bite of your golden apple, but ended up carrying home a basketful.

  3. Lolita… you always give me some golden apples here too… 🙂 Yes, I love those fonts, especially for Christmas. They remind me of old-fashioned children’s story books, or in this case, carol sheets… Loved the angel within this one… Glad you like them too.

    I am happy with the layout here on the blog, but for some reason the notification email often comes out odd. It’s more literal I guess, making things bigger even though I cropped the size for the blog etc. But if you always read them on the blog they should be alright. It touches me to know that you are moved by these words – I always pray for inspiration reflecting His heart and your words make me see an answer to that… 🙂 .

  4. Ohhh, Pam. You gave me a lump in my throat. Your blog has become my other Daily Bread…. so I am always on the lookout for the e-mail note….. then I go directly to your blog to read. When I don’t get one, you are bookmarked, so I visit and read other past posts. That way I could cover some back issues. TY and GBU!

  5. It’s a blessing to hear that, Lolita. Sometimes it can be discouraging sending writing out to editors… it is a long process to publishing, and I’ve been praying about whether my writing really makes a difference. It means all the more to know readers like you are touched by simple words I think He is putting in my heart for this blog… God bless you in this beautiful season!

  6. Diane says:

    Oh, Pam…I’m speechless. My heart is touched profoundly. Thank you for sharing your story…and for the beauty of your soul that comes through your writing. Absolutely beautiful!

  7. Thanks, Diane. I guess God is using my writing in some ways and that is good to know! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know it touched you…

  8. Loved your story as you loved your Grandpa !! I am certain that he had placed his faith in Jesus. Blowing out the candle, because the night is over is a sweet concept. Thank you for sharing your story at Tell Me a Story.

  9. Pingback: Lasso the Moon! | Writing… Apples of Gold

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