cooed. "That's so sweet!"
"I thought so."
Emma hugged Peter and kissed his cheek.
"It is wonderful to know
you have a spouse who always has your best
interests at heart. I especially
appreciated it when I was pregnant," Isra
shared as she bestowed a proud smile on
Behnam. Then she reached over
towards Vincent and gently stroked
Aurora's curls. "Daddy took very,
very good care of us, didn't he?"
Aurora gurgled in her
"I think your daughter is
"It was my
pleasure. I certainly had it easier
than Isra... or Aurora, for that
matter. Growing... and having
someone grow inside you... must be utterly
exhausting," the man demurred.
"Your care for my sister
has been wonderful to see...
life-affirming," Salma offered, her voice
soft and husky with emotion. "It was
little things... things you probably
didn't even know I noticed. You
pulling out chairs for Isra, carrying her
purse for her when her shoulders
ached. And I feel the same watching
the two of you..." The young woman
smiled at Zelda and Logan who were
snuggled together on a settee. "All
of you, of course, but..." She
"You relate most closely
with your sister and your longtime
friend," Amber-Marie reasoned. "That
makes complete sense, Salma."
"Yes, I suppose it
does." Salma giggled and returned
her attention to Behnam. "I also
very much enjoyed going with you when you
shopped for Isra's Christmas
present. To think you get so anxious
even after years of marriage."
Isra gave Behnam a
"And he doesn't need to
be," she insisted. "Simply having
you with me at Christmas is present
enough, my love... although I am excited
to see what is in that beautiful box
beneath our tree."
"Yes, I know. I've
caught you shaking it."
"Only to make sure none
of the lovely ribbons would fall off and
pose a choking hazard to the little ones
or pets," Isra lied, grinning the whole
"Likely story," Behnam
Joshua laughed. He
knew what was in the box and he also knew
it was exactly what Isra hoped it would
be: a mother's cross. She'd long
admired JenniAnn's and Behnam had chosen
one that perfectly suited his wife.
"Only a few more hours'
wait, Isra," the carpenter reminded.
"Then you'll be able to open that
"I can't wait!"
Salma sighed happily as she imagined
Christmas morning with her sister,
brother-in-law, nieces, and nephew
gathered together in a warm home provided
by Vincent who had become a second father
to them all. And later they would
return to Dyeland to spend more time with
her beloved Joshua... her Zmaray.
Peering into Joshua's
eyes, Salma thought of one of her most
treasured memories of the season.
December 19th, 2016
Salma sang as she walked
around the Fields of Gold, plucking boughs
of holly. The Sisters of Divine
Patience had a tradition of making wreaths
which they presented to the sick and
elderly of El-Chanan. The red of the
holly added some much appreciated
color. When JenniAnn had informed
Salma of the abundance of holly in the
Fields, the young woman had wasted no time
in going in pursuit of it.
Surrounded by majestic hills and massive,
gorgeous trees and wearing her favorite
blue dress and a matching cloak from
Vincent and his people, Salma felt like a
princess. In that shining moment, as
her lilting voice echoed around her, what
she had suffered seemed very, very far
"'Tomorrow shall be my dancing day: I
would my true love did so chance to see
the legend of my play, to call my true
love to my dance: Sing O my love, O my
love, my love, my love; this have I done
for my true love.'"
Salma sang the verse through again and was
just about to move onto the second when
another voice beat her to it.
"Then was I born of a virgin pure, of her
I took ﬂeshly substance; thus was I knit
to man’s nature, to call my true love to
my dance: Sing O my love, O my love, my
love, my love; this have I done for my
Salma sat down her basket of holly and
rushed towards the voice coming from the
woods. She was so eager to reach him
that she missed an exposed root and began
to fall. Thankfully, Joshua's strong
arms caught her and steadied her.
Breathless, Salma rested her cheek on his
shoulder and embraced him. "You're
"Always, my Salma, my child... but I am
glad I can be here with you in this way
now." Joshua kissed her veiled
hair. "Now how about that dance
before we head to Willowveil?"
Too giddy to speak, Salma replied with a
In his beautiful tenor, Joshua restarted
the old carol as they waltzed around a
"'Tomorrow shall be my dancing day: I
would my true love did so chance to
see the legend of my play, to call my
true love to my dance: Sing O my love,
O my love, my love, my love; this have
I done for my true love.'"
Each time he sang "true love," Salma
felt as if Joshua was speaking
directly and especially to her.
And she supposed he was. Fr.
Mike often reminded her that Joshua
would have made the same choices, the
same sacrifices even if only one
person stood to be saved. Even
if only for her...
When their song and dance ended,
Joshua clasped Salma's hands in his
and smiled brightly.
"Let's head back now. We'll pick
some more holly on the way. And
you can tell me about everything
that's been going on, everything
you've been doing with the Sisters."
"But... you know."
"Yes but I adore hearing about your
days from you."
And so, brimming with joy, Salma told
Joshua of her new life: of babysitting
her nieces and nephews, of deciding to
take vows, of making so many new
friends that sometimes she could
hardly name them all. As she
spoke, her hand in the Prince's, Salma
felt even more like a princess than
December 25th, 2016
When Salma came out of her
reverie, she realized that Joshua was
staring at her. The pride and
pleasure in his gaze made her want to
dance and sing again!
Before she could say or do anything to
act on this impulse, a grandfather
clock chimed twelve times.
"Happy birthday, Joshua!"
"Happy two thousandth something,
"Happy birthday, my own."
The Birthday Boy smiled at all those
surrounding him. The same utter
joy and delight in his children that
Salma had noticed was also evident to
each of the Friends.
"Thank you, beloved ones. And
thank You to Dad for letting me be
here." Joshua raised his eyes to
the ceiling and rested a hand over his
heart. He turned to his Ama and
Abi. "Thank you... for all
you've done, for all you still do."
Maryam and Yosef took turns hugging
and kissing their boy.
"We have told your story early,
Yeshu. Now what shall we do?"
Joshua considered for a moment then,
again catching Salma's gaze, smiled.
"I'd like to dance. Nothing too
wild. Everyone should head to bed
soon, after all. How about... a
quiet sort of Hora?"
Joshua linked his arms around his
parents and began to softly sway.
Soon the others joined in, forming a
circle nearly as large as the ballroom.
"Now for the song my Ama sang to me all
those many starry nights ago...
'My soul and my spirit rejoice for now,
my own, you are here.'"
Many with tears in their eyes but all
smiling, the Friends joined in after a
nod from Joshua.
"'The Mighty One has done great things,
best of all brought you near. My
little one, my precious one, to you
these promises I make: I will love you
in the daytime, in the nighttime, in the
morn as you wake.'"
As they danced, Maryam and Yosef
thought back on that sublime, miraculous
night when their little Yeshu had been
born. Their hearts had felt so full
when their family had shifted from two
members to three. But now, seeing
the immense love on their son's face and
the love from so many reflected back upon
meditated on how immense their family had
awe was increased by the knowledge that,
in other worlds and other countries, there
was yet more love for Yeshua and from
"'When the way is hard, when you feel
alone and do weep, remember this, oh my
child, my love is always yours to keep,'"
the chorus of Friends continued.
And so they and so many others knew
Joshua's and the Father's love to be:
"'Savior. I get to save
everyone! I am glad because I love
you!" a child's voice cried out deep in
the soul of the man he'd become.
"Yes. You did. And we love you
so," a chorus of souls replied as they
celebrated His birth.
Thanks to Kim for
supplying Sean's tale!
Note for January 1st: Happy New
Year! Tomorrow's update will be
lengthier. I'll have time for writing
then with the New Year's festivities over.
Note for January 6th: Apologies for the
delay on the Jan. 5th installment.
Stomach flu is no fun. I wrote this
last portion from my bed using my old laptop
with a nearly dead battery. Therefore,
I couldn't proof it before posting. If
you're reading this on the 6th or 7th...
I'll clean it up soon!
Luke 1 & 2- Most of what Maryam and
Yosef quote is taken from Luke.
Isaiah 53:5- alluded to as one of the
Luke 2-34-35: Simeon's prophecy
Matthew 2- the visit of the Magi
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by
E. T. A. Hoffmann
Angel Unaware: A Touching Story of Love
and Loss by Dale Evans
Little Golden Book's Frosty the Snow Man
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
a Wonderful Life
"Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day" -