Friday, December 12, 2008

my story, finalized!

“Follow That Star!”
With title, names and input by my blog readers!
It was the last day before Christmas Vacation at Saints Bernadette and Therese High School in Lakeville, Nebraska. Senior Cecelia Starr, 17 years old, captain of the cheerleading and girl’s basketball teams and a straight-A student, was walking towards the Principals office to do the afternoon announcements. Her long, curly, dark blonde hair cascaded around her shoulders. She was popular, pretty, and class President. She was planning to study elementary education at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, the next fall. Her boyfriend, 18-year-old senior Jacob Richie, captain of the football, basketball, and baseball teams, was running his hand through his brown hair (again) waiting for the bell to ring in Government class. Sure, he was going to Stanford University next fall to study law, but he was done with the test, and he wanted the bell to ring. Now. Everyone considered Cece and Jake the perfect couple. They had been voted Homecoming King and Queen, and everyone expected them to be Prom King and Queen as well. 16-year-old Liliana Jenkins, a junior and Cecelia's best friend, was twirling her dark brown hair in Math class. She thought she probably didn't do that well on the test, but as she figured she was going to have to go to community college anyway because of her grades. Plus, she had more important things to worry about. Like making sure she wore her hair differently each day of the week and all her jewelry somewhat coordinated with her navy, tan, and white uniform. Her friends all told her she could do better in school if she only tried, but she just wanted high school to be over. Junior Benjamin Cullins was just finishing his test in Theology class. Theology was his favorite class and he was getting all A's in school so far. He was planning on attending college and then seminary after graduating from high school in two years. He had wanted to be a priest for as long as he could remember. He didn't play very many sports, and had always been a small kid, so his best friend Jacob had looked out for him since he was in kindergarten, when Jacob had stood up for Ben on the playground.

"Hi, this is Cecelia Starr with the afternoon announcements," Cecelia's voice came over the PA system, "We only have one, make that two announcements today. First of all, don't forget the special Life Night tonight over at church, we will be wrapping presents for our Christmas families, going to Adoration, and eating pizza. Hope everyone can come! And also, have a fun and safe Christmas vacation, and Saints Bernadette and Therese will be back in session the first week in January." Brrrring! The day was over. School was out for the next two weeks. Cecelia, Jacob, Liliana, and Benjamin all met in front of school. They were planning on going to Lili's to hang out before Lifeteen that night. "How'd your Math test go, Lili?" Jacob asked her. "Good, well I think. Probably not. You know, it's whatever," Lili said, quickly trying to change the subject, "Like, I had so much fun shopping last week for our Christmas families. Did you see all those deals I got? We got those families like twice what we would have been able to afford!" "Yeah, you can really be a little ditzy sometimes; Lili, but you did get some awesome deals! Why can't you apply those shopping-math skills to school math?" Cecelia asked her. "Because school is school," Liliana said, "and shopping is shopping!" Her friends all rolled their eyes. They were sure Liliana just didn't know her full potential! After they arrived at Liliana's house, they changed their clothes (they had packed a change of clothes in their backpacks), and Liliana's mom asked if anyone wanted some fresh-baked Christmas cookies. Of course, they said yes.
Over cookies and hot chocolate they discussed last week’s Lifeteen shopping expedition some more. "I am just so happy we were able to do 10 families this year!" Benjamin said. "I know," Jacob said, "Last year we only did 6, and this year 10? It's amazing how many donations came in!" "Hey Lili," Cecelia asked her, "What did you have to bring for wrapping tonight?" "I think I am bringing a roll of paper," Liliana replied, "What about all of you?" "Tape!" said Jacob. "Scissors!" said Cecelia. "Sharpies!" said Benjamin. "Cool..." Liliana sighed, "So, Cece and Jake! Looks good for the basketball season, eh?" Jake spoke first, "We've only had 3 games, Lili, but the team is doing well! We even beat Lakeville High last week, and they are our biggest rival! And Cece, did I tell you how awesome you did in your game against St. Thomas? You guys, I mean, girls, heh heh, um yeah, Lady Cowbells, really rocked! But you did especially great." Jacob was thinking, "Oh shoot. She really hates when I call her a guy. Please just let her keep talking..." "Thanks, Jake," "Phew," he thought, as Cece continued, "Really, we only beat them by 9 points. You did great in your game, though! You shot 4 three-pointers!" "Oh, come on," Jake replied. "Quit being so modest about it, Jacob," Benjamin told him, "You really are a good basketball player. Why do you think you have a basketball scholarship to Stanford?" "Basketball AND academic," Cecelia reminded all of them. Jacob blushed, and was grateful when Ben said, “Oh wow it's already 5:00!" Benjamin exclaimed, "We had better head to church."

On their way to church, snow stared to fall, piling on top of the 3 inches Lakeville had received the previous day. Jacob picked up a fistful of snow and threw it at Cece. He then threw one at Lili and then Ben. Cece struck back first, and soon they were all in a snowball fight, continuing as they walked to church. By the time they were to church, they were covered in white splotches of snow. They quickly brushed each other off and headed to the gathering space. Their youth leader, Kelly, came and greeted them, "Hey guys! Did you all bring the supplies?" "Sure did," Cecelia said, holding up Lili's roll of wrapping paper and the bag they had put their other items in at Lili's house. "Great," Kelly said, "Just go put them over there on the floor with the other rolls of wrapping paper." Soon the four friends and many other teens from their youth group, as well as the floor, were covered in rolls of tape, scissors, markers, scrap pieces of paper, and ribbon. Cece and Lili were meticulously packing their boxes and wrapping them carefully, while Jake and Ben simply set the gifts in the box in no order, and then cut a piece of wrapping paper that looked as though it would fit. After they saw it didn't, they found a scrap piece of paper on the floor to tape over the hole. Cece stared at them and said, "What do you call THAT?" Jacob replied, "A masterpiece! It's, oh, what's a good word?" Lili suggested, "Um, abstract?" Jacob's face lit up, "That's perfect! It's an abstract masterpiece!" Ben, always the quietest of the four friends laughed at his friend, "Jacob, you are just so funny!" Jacob replied, "Hey, you just did the same thing!" looking at Ben's box. Ben looked down at his own box and said, "Well, maybe these kids will be more appreciative of our creativity than Lili and Cece!" A shout came from across the room, from both Cece and Lili, "We heard that!" Before long, all of the presents were wrapped for every member of every family. They stacked them according to family on the table in the corner of the room. Kelly said, "OK, all of you! We did great this year! Now, please turn off your cell phones and we will head over to church for a half hour of Adoration."

The four friends followed the other teens over to church, and soon they were kneeling side-by-side in front of the Monstrance. Music was playing in the background, and they all linked hands and started to pray the words. Before they knew what was happening, they felt wind swirl around them. They all opened their eyes, but quickly shut them. Sand was flying everywhere! "Where are we?" Liliana shouted. Jacob said, "I have no idea! Come on; let's huddle together until this storm stops!" Soon, the sand stopped flying and the wind settled down. Jacob, Cecelia, Liliana, and Benjamin all opened their eyes. They were in the middle of what looked like a desert. "What happened?" Ben said. "I don't know..." said Cecelia, "I was praying, and then we joined hands and started singing, and then all of a sudden, we were here." Jacob had left and gone to look for a sign of life somewhere, anywhere. He had to protect his girlfriend and his best friends and he had no idea what country they were in, or even what year it was! He went back to Cece, Lili, and Ben, and said "Nothing, I found nothing, no animals, and definitely no humans." "Hey!" Ben shouted, "Look over there!" Everyone directed their attention to where he was pointing. They saw what looked like three men. And they had camels! Liliana said, "Hey, you guys! Let's see where they are going!" They ran over to the men. The men looked them over and said something they couldn't understand. Well, everyone but Cecelia. She knew just about every language. "They want to know what in the world we are wearing!" she laughed. She responded, "We have no idea where we are or even what year it is!" They replied and Cecelia translated, "You are in the Middle East, and you are apparently a very long time in the past," Cece said, while the wise men were surveying their clothing again."Whoa...." Cece stood there shocked, as she realized something, that could only be verified by the next question, "And where are you headed?" she asked. "See that star? We are following it to the birth of our next great king!" "Just a minute," Cece said, turning to her friends. "OK, these guys say we are in the Middle East a very long time ago! Should we ask them for a ride? It's our only chance out of here!" "Ask them where exactly they are going, Cece," Jacob said. Cece asked and they replied "First we are stopping to see King Herod in Jerusalem and tell him our mission." Cece stared in disbelief. She said to her friends, "You all won't believe this, but if we go with these guys, we might get to see the baby Jesus!" "Are you sure?" the ever-skeptical Ben asked. "Yes!" she replied. "Then c'mon! Let's follow that star!" exclaimed Lili. Jacob and Ben helped the girls onto the camels. The three wise men headed off with the four friends from Lakeville, Nebraska. They couldn't wait to see where they were going!
Soon, they saw what looked like a city. One of the wise men said something to Cece and she told her friends, "You guys! This is Jerusalem! We're going to see King Herod." Jacob said, "Cece, you know what happens. Herod is going to want us to tell him where the Baby Jesus is so he can go kill him!" Cece replied, "Yeah, but remember? The wise men have a dream and go back to their country by a different way!" Ben chimed in, "She's right, Jake. Don't worry. We'll be fine." "I guess so," Jake said, "I just want to protect all of you. But I am getting hungry, and I know they ate dinner with King Herod, so mmmmmm..." Cece winked at him and said, "Oh, so now you're not going to protect us and stuff your face instead?" He laughed, "No! I need you know, strength so I can protect you!" Ben, Liliana, and Cece laughed. The wise man said something to Cece, and she again translated, "He says we will be at the castle soon!" Jacob and Ben pratically sang Hallelujiah Chorus as they both shouted, "FOOD!!!" Cece and Lili rolled their eyes and laughed at them, and Cece said, "We just ate cookies at Lili's house 3 hours ago! How can you be hungry?" Ben looked at her like she was crazy and said, "Because. We're guys! We need food to live!" Cece rolled her eyes and said, "So do girls. Just apparently, not as much!" "Hey!" Lili said, "Look! We are here!" Jake and Ben helped the girls off the camels and the three wise men led them in to the castle.

King Herod greeted the three wise men and then looked over Liliana, Cecelia, Jacob, and Benjamin. He whispered something to one of the men and the man whispered back Cece overheard and said, "King Herod asked what we were wearing!" "Seems as though that is the question of the day!" said Lili, as Cece continued, "The wise man said we weren't from this time, and then King Herod, as you can see, raised his eyebrows, then he said well, they are welcome too." Jacob gave a sigh of relief, "Well, that's a relief. As long as I get to eat!" They all sat down to a delicious dinner of vegetables and fruits, along with some meats that were unidentifiable, so the girls politely refused, while the guys were very intrigued. Ben said, "This stuff is so awesome!" Jake agreed, saying, "I have never tasted anything like it!" Cece turned to Liliana, saying, "Well, that's concerning..." They giggled. While this conversation was going on, King Herod was talking to the three wise men, "Please, once you find this great king, come back and tell me where he is, as I would like to pay him homage." The four friends knew they wouldn't be back this way, but the three wise men told King Herod, "As you wish, my king!" Soon, the three wise men and Lili, Jake, Cece, and Ben were off again on the camels, following the star. Not long after, they found themselves near the village of Bethlehem. They followed the beautiful star to the ever famous Nativity scene. There they stood and stared in awe. Lili, Jake, Cece and Ben knew what they were looking at. The three wise men just knew that this was the next great King, and they were coming to present him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The four friends stood aside and watched the scene unfold just as it had in the Bible. Cece and Lili started to cry, and Jacob and Ben gave both of them hugs. After the three wise men had given their gifts, the three friends watched them leave for a different route. Mary noticed them standing over there, and she told them, with Cece's translation, "Hi. You may all come in. This is my husband, Joseph," she said, gesturing to the man sitting next to her, "And this is my baby, Jesus," she told them, uncovering his face so that they could see him. Lili whispered to Cece, "She really is as young as everyone said she was. She can't be more than maybe 16." Cece whispered back, "It's amazing, isn't it?" The friends stood there in awe before sitting down on the floor of the stable with the Holy Family. Mary told Cece and Cece told her friends, "We can hold the baby if we would like." Ben went first, holding the baby carefully. There were 6 kids in his family, but he was the youngest, so he had never held a baby before. The baby started to fuss, so Ben handed the baby Jesus to Liliana. She cooed at the baby, but whispered to Cece, "Cece, I am afraid I am going to drop him. You know how ditzy I can be!" Cece told her, "Lili, you are doing great. You want me to hold him?" Cece took the baby,and she stood there rocking him. Jacob told her, "You look really adorable holding a baby in your arms. Almost as adorable as the baby." Cece looked at him and said, "Almost?" Jake said, "OK, just as adorable." The two of them looked at each other, wondering if one day they would be doing the same thing, holding their own baby. After Jacob took a turn holding baby Jesus, Mary took him back to lay him in the manger to sleep. He slept so peacefully that everyone was entranced on the beautiful and humble face of their Lord and Savior as a baby, that before they knew it, Jacob, Cecelia, Liliana, and Benjamin were back at Saints Bernadette and Therese Church, surrounded by 15 other teens in Adoration. As they left the church, Cece whispered to Lili, "Did that really happen? Was it all a dream?" Lili told her, "You dreamed it too?" Lili asked the boys, "Was it a dream? Were you there? You were in my dream." Their youth leader, Kelly, came up to them, saying, "Hey you guys! Pizza in the gathering space! Oh and Cece? You have a piece of straw in your hair." Her friends looked at each other and laughed. They had truly experienced something amazing. Jacob said, "This is one Christmas we will never forget."


The four friends never did forget that amazing Christmas. The next fall, Cece and Jake headed their separate ways, one to Ohio, the other to California. They didn't see each other again until spring break of their senior year, at Mass at their home parish of Saints Bernadette and Therese. Cece went up to the familiar looking and handsome young man after Mass, saying, "Jacob Richie?" He turned around, saying, "Cece! You look absolutely amazing!" Cece giggled and blushed. How did he always know exactly what to say to her? He ran his fingers through his hair and asked her, "You have any plans for tonight? I was going to help with the Jr. High kids youth group, and wondered..." Before he could even finish, Cece said, "Of course I'll come! So it's a date?" He replied, "You know, I haven't even been on a date since senior prom with you." She looked at him, looked in his eyes, and said, "You know I'll always love you, Jacob Richie." She gave him a kiss on the cheek. He proposed that summer, and they were married two summers later, by Fr. Benjamin Cullins. It meant so much to them to be married by one of their best friends. Jacob opened a law firm in Lakeville, and Cecelia was accepted as a teacher at Saints Bernadette and Therese elementary school. They had the large family they had always dreamed of, eight kids. They had five boys and three girls, including one set of twin girls. Liliana Jenkins went off to Lakeville Junior College to earn her degree in cosmetology. One day at the coffee shop, she met a boy named Edward. He, she discovered, was a lawyer at the same firm Jacob had opened in Lakeville. They were married the summer after Jacob and Cece, also by Fr. Benjamin Cullins. They had four kids, and stayed in Lakeville, Nebraska, one block from their church, and two houses down from Jacob and Cece. All four of the friends told their amazing Christmas story every year. Fr. Benjamin told this story to all of the Sunday school kids, Jacob and Cece told the story to their kids, and Lili told the story to her husband and children. They knew that no one would truly know what an amazing journey they had been on, but the story touched everyone's hearts. And just as Jacob had said, "This is one Christmas we will never forget." And they never did.

1 comment:

Evann said...

Wow...really cool, Mary!! That's good!! Great job!! How long did it take you to write all that?