“The Christmas Time Stood Still”

Dear Reader:

I never know when and where the idea for the next Christmas Eve story will come…but I always know it will. I suppose I have my foot to thank for the Christmas story last night. While in my chair/ recliner, daily, with my foot propped up on several pillows I started watching a lot of the Hallmark Christmas movies starting throughout November…and still continuing.

One afternoon (one particular Hallmark Christmas movie) zeroed in on a young girl who was an antique dealer. She was showing her boyfriend a beautiful antique clock with painted panels that told  the love story between a peasant German girl and a master clock maker that had become a German legend over time…with a fairy tale quality about it.

I was immediately intrigued. I looked it up. Like most legends the tale has been told and re-told… changing story lines upon each re-telling…but the theme always come  back to center around a castle known as the Bernkastel.

In the movie the legend was told without using any names for the main characters so I did some adaptations to make the story more personable with names and expressions.

So with all that said….here is a summary of the 2018 Christmas Eve story….”The Christmas Time Stood Still.”

Once upon a time in a small German village there lived a peasant girl named Anna who was beautiful beyond description…with long dark hair and azure blue eyes. She was not only stunning-looking but she was just as beautiful inside…kind and generous.

Secretly she and Hans, a master clock-maker in the village were madly in love and  dreamed of sharing a life together.

One day, however, by a stroke of bad luck…a distant cousin (Duke Sweinstagger) to the king (who ruled over Bernkastel Palace) happened to see her walking along a crowded street and immediately decided he must have this ‘object’of unsurpassed beauty for his bride.

He tracked down her parents and told them his desire…her parents were overjoyed…a peasant, a commoner marrying royalty…now when does that ever happen? 🙂 The parents could hardly wait to spread the good news.

You can only imagine Anna’s distress when her parents told her about the meeting…she told her parents quite defiantly that there was no way she would marry him…she was in love with Hans the master clock-maker.

The parents immediately notified the Duke of their daughter’s reaction and the Duke knew he must remove her from the village and the clock maker until the day of the wedding…Christmas day.

When Hans heard the news of what had happened… he was heart-broken and prayed fervently that somehow their love could still win out…in the meantime he decided to build a clock so magical, so intricate, that her parents would be swayed into giving him a chance at her hand.

By the time he finished the clock, however, it was Christmas Eve…the wedding set for the following day. He had to get the magical clock to Anna that day…it was their only hope for happiness.

And then a miracle happened…the lady in waiting  to Anna at the far away castle (where Anna was hidden) had heard the muffled sobs and seen her tears …so she took a love letter from Anna to Hans…and on Christmas Eve knocked on his door.

Hans was overjoyed…he told the servant that it was imperative that Anna read the directions he was sending her… placed in a secret compartment within the clock. His last message was- Tell Anna “Trust in love.”

Anna was overjoyed when the servant returned with the clock…quickly she searched until she found the secret compartment. The instructions told her to set the chimes to ring five times… soon after the wedding ceremony began…then to hide the clock in a corner of the Bernkastel chapel, to repeat three times while slowly, very slowly walking down the aisle…”Trust in love, trust in love, trust in love.”

Hans ended his letter with a mysterious prophesy…if you do all these things…time will stand still when the chimes ring out. Quickly  grab the clock and run out of the chapel before the fifth chime finishes ringing…time can only be “stilled” for a minute.

So the next day -Christmas Day…Anna hid the clock in a dark corner of the chapel, she set the chimes and whispered a prayer for deliverance.

As the music began Anna slowly, very slowly begin to walk down the aisle towards the evil Duke of Sweinstagger. She couldn’t bear to look at him so she turned her eyes downward under the veil and began to whisper…”Trust in love”…another step…”Trust in love” and the last step “Trust in love.

Suddenly the most beautiful, melodious sound crossed the chapel as the first chime rang out.  Anna looked up in surprise…she now understood the magic…everyone was frozen in place…time was standing still…

*Bring Eva Cate and Rutledge Dingle up to pantomine some of the characters in the story and the ending to the story

Anna first glanced at the groom… Duke Sweinstagger….he was scowling fiercely with his arms crossed…irritated by her slow pace down the aisle.

  1. Anna then looked at the famous soloist Baroness Von Trouver… who had her arms outstretched and her mouth positioned in a perfect “O” for her solo…”O Holy Night.”
  2. The minister had been shaking his head and staring down at his watch…also impatient for her to pick it up going down the aisle- he had Christmas dinner waiting for him at home.
  3. The last person Anna saw frozen in time was her mother sitting up front by the aisle. She had turned around and was smiling so big it looked like her face would crack…with her hands clapping by her cheek. ……………………………………………………………………………………………

Quickly Anna grabbed the clock and started running out as she heard the fifth chime begin to sound…Hans was waiting with the finest steed she had ever seen…smiling he pulled Anna and the clock up on the horse and they galloped off…  never to be  seen again

Over the years. however, tales trickled back and stories were told that Hans and Anna lived happily ever after  throughout their long, happy life together.

Each year they performed an annual tradition. On Christmas Day at 5:00 they would stop…face each other…and while holding hands…say “Trust in love, Trust in love, Trust in love.” (3 times) * Rutledge and Eva Cate finish up with this scene

Tonight we once again wait expectantly and trust in the love that arrives  in the form of a little baby in a manger. Simply put…God is love, Jesus is love and the spirit of Christmas IS love. The very best gift of all…and our challenge to keep that spirit for every day of the year!

So until tomorrow…May the Spirit of Christmas be with you tonight and for every day of your life…the gift that keeps on giving if we are willing. Merry Christmas!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh


It really was a crazy fun afternoon but miraculously the 5:00 Children’s Service went extra well…unexpectedly quiet and relaxing…all the children “hung in there” quite well…the best yet!

The children were so excited to get their Boo Boo stockings!

***One of the strangest things happened tonight at the end of the service….but I must wait and tell you of this amazing ‘God Wink’ tomorrow ….my eyes won’t stay open….I must get to sleep… Santa is coming!


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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1 Response to “The Christmas Time Stood Still”

  1. bcparkison says:

    Love your story and how special that your grands were able to help out. Love always wins .


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