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The Reason For Seasons
Fudge and Paradise
by Maricia Mlynek
     

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As a little girl, there were many Christmas traditions that I anticipated, including Christmas caroling. From the time that I was too small to read the words to the carols to the time I knew the words by heart, my family caroled with our church.

It was a rural area, which meant that we had to drive from house to house, as the distance was too great to walk. We visited the same homes each year. That too was part of the tradition. Some homes were that of elderly couples. They would greet us at the door and sing along. The home I remember more than any of the others was that of a dear lady named Edna.

To this little girl, Edna was the token Christmas angel. We would stop at her big, white house and pile out of the cars. She always seemed very old to me, but that was probably because I was very young. I still remember the sweet smell of her entryway. We would climb the big porch and knock on the wooden door. We were always a crowd. There were at least 20 of us to sing for Miss Edna.

Her little frame would come to the door, and her smile was like the light of a Christmas star. “Come on in,” she would say in a sing-song fashion as she wiped her hands on her apron. It never seemed to occur to her that our boots were muddy and wet. It never seemed to bother her that many of us were children with loud off-key voices.

I anticipated Edna’s house all season long. Her entryway had a dark wooden floor and a large staircase. Her kitchen was always lit up and warm--just like my own grandma’s kitchen. And the smell . . . it was heaven on earth. Edna was famous for her peanut butter and chocolate fudge. I don’t know how she knew which night we would arrive on her porch, but somehow she did. There was always warm and gooey homemade fudge waiting for us.

As we entered this warm place, Edna would sit down at her piano and play the melody of each carol. We would sing our hearts out for her. If she would have kept playing, I promise you that I would have kept singing. I loved to see her nimble, wrinkled fingers play the tunes that made my heart stir. As the last song was finished, she would head to the kitchen for a plate of fudge for her carolers.

As time went by, I grew older and so did Miss Edna. Each Christmas her fingers grew a little less nimble. Her small frame grew a little more fragile and her walk a little slower. Yet, her smile never dimmed, and her fudge never stopped filling the bellies and hearts of her carolers.

One Christmas, it was not Edna that met us at the front door. My heart nearly dropped from my chest as I wondered what could be wrong. We were asked to come in, but there was no sign of sweet Edna. She did not sit at her piano, nor did she greet us with her usual apron and warm smile. How could this be?

The man that stood in Edna’s place explained that she was not well, but he wanted us to sing to her as always. We offered to sing from the entryway, but this was Edna, so we were invited to file in around her bed. There was barely room to stand. Her white hair glowed like a halo around her lovely face. Her smile was weak, but still as radiant. As we sang, one of the little children looked down at Miss Edna’s face. He was three years old, and she neared 100.

The warmth in that room melted more than the snow from our boots. As we finished the final carol, the little boy looked up and smiled at us too. Calmly, he whispered to the group, “God is here.” There were few dry eyes that left Miss Edna’s house that evening. The next day, we were informed that our Christmas angel had gone to be with Jesus for Christmas. The carols she would sing would be with Herald angels. She would celebrate Christ’s birth by his side.

To this day, the smell of peanut butter fudge, the words of “Silent Night,” and the warmth of a well-lit kitchen make me think of Miss Edna. Lessons in life are plentiful and come in many forms. Because of Edna, I am certain of a few things. I am certain that in giving of yourself you gain everything. I am certain that Christmas caroling should be practiced with no reserves. I am certain that heaven now offers more than golden streets and mansions; it also offers Edna’s peanut butter fudge--and that is paradise.

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