Conclusion of ALL HOLIDAYS MATTER by R.E.Mullins
Screeching Meg stumbled forward and slammed into something hard that went, "umph." By this time her mind had registered the male, familiar, and more-than-a-little irritated voice.
“You’re a terrible actress." Carter gripped her arm. "It was also hard to believe you had a headache when your eyes are clear, and you're practically glowing with health. Still, Aaron and I were ready to give you dumbasses the benefit of a doubt. That is, until, we went to check on you,” his tone turned was wintry as the temperature. “When you weren’t home it was easy enough to figure things out.”
“We're doing the right thing,” Meg challenged. “Nobody wanted to get involved, and I’m sick and tired of everyone shying away. It’s time to put a stop to white nationalism once and for all.”
Carter’s tone dripped with sarcasm, “And you think you can stop a bunch of thugs in their tracks?"
“Yes,” Meg jerked her arm away. “We record them and splash it all over social media.”
“Look, kid, it’d take a Christmas miracle—”
“Chanukah,” Meg interrupted without a qualm. “Time and place, Carter. Time and place.”
She knew exactly when her meaning hit him. "Right. I see your point. Still—”
“You know Jesus wasn’t even born in December.”
Her distraction seemed to work as he stopped fussing to ask, “How you figure?”
“Well, there are a couple of things. One deals with the shepherds. If they were 'in the fields' the night Jesus was born, then it wasn’t wintertime. The Talmud recorded daily practices of the time, and it details how the flocks were taken to the fields in March and brought home by early November before the winter cold and rain.”
“Maybe, they were having a warm winter.”
She didn’t consider that worthy of a reply. “You might find this more compelling.” Sitting back down, she waited until he joined her. “The timeline is set in the Books of Luke and Matthew. Both state, unequivocally, that John’s father, Zacharias was performing priest duties at the temple during Abia. Tal has explained that’s the time of the eighth Holy course in Judaism and ends in the middle of June. Yeah, I think I have that right…I know the part about it ending in June is correct. So, there was Zacharias busy at the temple when an angel tells him that his wife, Elizabeth will bear a son.”
“And the point is?” Carter grasped a twig that was poking him in the face and handily bent it back.
“Since it wasn’t an immaculate thing, old Zac had to finish work, travel home, and beget with Elizabeth. Nine months later, ta-da, John the Baptist is born in March.”
“What does this have to do with Jesus?”
“Everything,” Meg lightly slugged his shoulder. “This record of John the Baptist’s conception and birth starts the clock ticking on Jesus. The Gospels further document that Elizabeth is six months pregnant—they're quite specific about that—when the angel informs her cousin, Mary that she will bear Jesus. This places Jesus’ conception someplace in December—not his birth. Count forward nine months, and Jesus was born in September. Which,” she finished triumphantly, “fits with the shepherds’ routine as they would still be in the fields with their flocks.”
“I didn't know that,” Carter admitted. “I do know we celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December because early Christians wanted to assimilate the very popular Pagan celebration of Saturnalia during the winter solstice.”
Meg sighed. “It’s kind of disheartening, don’t you think? Knowing that the first Christians deliberately chose the dates on our religious calendar simply to supplant the Holy days of other faiths.”
“It worked, didn’t it?”
“Pretty much,” Meg agreed.
“Why does all this make me feel guilty?” Carter asked. When Meg nodded, he must have mistaken the movement for a shiver. “Come here." He pulled her into his lap and wrapped her in his arms.
Being held was comforting, but Meg found she appreciated the way their feelings meshed even more. “I said the same thing to Tal, but she said guilt wasn’t what she intended. When she shared what she’d learned in class, it was for me to see how all religions have become interwoven over the centuries. Chanukah and Kwanzaa both celebrate holy days in December. Ramadan follows a lunar calendar, but it eventually rolls back into December.”
“Then there are Pagans and Atheists.”
“The Pagans," Meg sighed as she rested her cheek against Carter's shoulder. "I think Pagans were hit hardest by Christianity. I'm glad it still exists. In fact, I was surprised by how many still practice the ancient religion."
“I admit Christians often act as if we have a monopoly on December.” Carter tugged her a little closer. “I didn’t know you were so well versed in these things.”
“My best friend is Jewish and studying the History of Religion,” Meg answered bluntly. “She wouldn’t allow me to be anything else.”
“I—” Whatever Carter was about to say was lost as a car door slammed in the distance. “I don’t believe it,” he breathed. “Aaron was positive there wouldn’t be any more action tonight.”
The crunch of shoes on gravel prevented further conversation. Whoever it was, they were coming from the main entrance instead of using the one directly accessing their targeted side. By coming from that direction, they would walk across rows of graves boobytrapped with uneven ground and tombstones before reaching the short wall.
“Told ya no one would be here,” a voice crowed. Immediately, Meg started the video app on her cell phone to record them. “You thought they’d be guarding the place, but I said no one would believe we’d hit again tonight.”
“Keep it down,” another ordered.
“It’s too damn dark out here,” a third complained. "That’s the second grave I’ve tripped over, and the thought of stepping on dead people creeps me out.”
“Keep your light off and shut up,” their apparent leader ordered.
There was something about…Meg's eyes narrowed. Though their voices were masculine, they lacked the timber of maturity. Dropping her chin with a long sigh, she felt confident at least two of the fools were in the High School Science class where she was student teaching.
Waiting just long enough for the trio to get over the waist-high barrier, Meg surged to her feet. Flicking on her flashlight, she aimed it and her camera at their stupid faces.
“Nate, Dan, and, yep, it’s Dylan,” she yelled in disgust.
Carter also blasted a powerful beam into the boys’ eyes as he relieved a stunned Nate of the sledgehammer he carried.
“You idiots. Don’t bother running. You're surrounded, "she lied. "Plus I recorded you bragging about vandalizing the Synagogue. So, now you get to spend Christmas in juvie instead of opening presents.”
“Shit,” Dylan immediately took off with Carter hard on his heels. A moment later they heard the oomph and thud as the college athlete easily tackled the scrawny teen to the ground.
“Give it, Miz Howell,” Nate demanded the moment Carter no longer had her back. He thrust out a hand for her phone. “Then it’s your word against ours.”
“Didn’t you hear me?” Smiling grimly, Meg gestured to Aaron and Talia as they approached. “I said I wasn’t alone.”
“I’m live streaming to the cops, and they're on their way,” Talia announced as Carter returned pushing a sullen Dylan in front of him.
Aaron indicated the ground. "Have a seat, boys,"
“Glad that’s over," A gravelly voice boomed from out of the darkness.
“Dad?" Meg's jaw dropped. She continued to doubt her ears until her mom said, "Me too.”
“But we enjoyed the history lesson,” Mrs. Baum’s head popped up a few yards behind them.
The other parents also agreed it was very informative as all eight came forward.
“And we’re glad Carter finally came to his senses,” Mr. West added humorously.
Meg was left desperately trying to bury the burbles of laughter tickling the back of her throat. She should have known. As kids, they’d never gotten anything past their sharp-eyed parents.
Laughing Carter flung his arms around Meg. “That I have, Dad,” he said and planted cold lips on her equally icy mouth in a surprisingly hot kiss while the peanut gallery applauded.
Meg then grinned down into the three morose faces of her students. “I’ve got a great idea,” she told them. “While we wait for the police, Talia is going to repeat the history surrounding the birth of Jesus.”
“Excellent,” Carter said and kissed her again.
Part Four: December 25th 11:27 Late Christmas morning
Meg stirred as her waking mind became flooded with everything that had happened. She found, with a start, that she was on her couch, fully dressed, and half-draped over an equally clothed Carter.
Beneath her cheek, she felt the rhythm of Carter’s breathing change. Lifting her head, she was just in time to see him slowly opening his eyes.
“Hey you,” she whispered.
“Hey,” he whispered back and hugged her to him.
A minute later, Aaron's surprisingly beautiful baritone could be heard outside her door. It took Meg a moment to decipher the new lyrics inserted into the badly mangled tune.
“Not having my baby—” he sang, and then a cringe-worthy, off-key Talia chimed in, “It’s a wonderful way to say I got my period.”
Meg doubled over with laughter at Carter’s pained expression.
“I’ll never be able to listen to that song the same way again,” he complained.
“We discuss everything around here, so get over it,” Meg planted a kiss on his pouty lips. “That is if you planned on sticking around.”
With a big smile, she disengaged herself from his arms and headed for the door. It looked as if she and Tal had gotten their miracles after all.
To find other things R.E.Mullins has written or is writing, visit: remullins.com
Buylinks: The Wild Rose Press
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