Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Delays

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas . . . Wait! This is no dream! We actually have a White Christmas! There is at least four or five inches on the ground and it is still snowing! Yippee! This is so fun! It was raining yesterday morning at home and most of the drive up here. Just after we had unloaded, the sleet started to be mixed later with snow. By 5:00 there were big, fat, feathery flakes floating down.:) Oh, I just love snow! It kept snowing all evening and this morning it started again. No snow until Christmas Eve and then a White Christmas! We will be heading out to Parkville tomorrow. I'm sure we will have a wonderful time. This will be the 26th year of going there for Christmas. And, all Mom's side of the family will be there. Even my aunt who broke her arm on Sunday and had to have surgery on Tuesday.

And yes, I will have something to post on the 1st. Well, I think I will. I just realized that all my stories are on the computer at home. I'm sure I can post something. Maybe I'll write a new short story while I'm gone which I could post. But that is later. Now it is time for my latest story. Enjoy it whenever you read it. Merry Christmas, and as Tiny Tim says, "God bless us every one!"

Christmas Delays

“Great! Here we are in a ditch! This is the third delay this morning!”
A merry peal of laughter was the only response his wife gave him for a minute.
Dave Quincey tried to frown but instead smiled wryly at his young, dark eyed wife. “At this rate we won’t make it to your folk’s house until New Year,” he grumbled good naturedly.
“Oh, Dave, I couldn’t help laughing. This is the fourth, not the third delay. First the alarm didn’t go off, then you got stuck talking on the phone, or listening rather, to a patient, then we had a flat tire and now we’re in a ditch.” Here she broke off to laugh again.

It was Christmas Eve; the sun shone brightly on the snow covered trees and fields. This was Dave and Linda’s first Christmas together. Not only that, but Dave had received a notice to report to the Medical Corps for service by the 10th of January. The young couple knew well that it would only be a matter of time before Dave was sent overseas or to the Pacific to join in the war against the power hungry Nazis and Japanese. They were determined, however, to make this a joyful Christmas, and had promised to spend it with her parents and siblings who lived hours away. They had planned to leave first thing in the morning, but first one thing and then another had delayed them. Now it was early afternoon, and they still had several hours left to travel.

Dave sighed. “Did you tell them when we would be there?”
Linda shook her brown head. “I didn’t know if you would have calls to make today or not. I said we’d be there before Christmas. If nothing else, we could get out and walk.” Her eyes twinkled.
Dave grinned. It was impossible to stay upset with a wife as merry as his.
Just then a truck slowed down and stopped in front of them. The driver got out and came back to their little car. “Do you need a hand?”
“A pull would be more helpful I’m thinking,” Dave replied.
The truck driver laughed. “I’ve got a chain. I’ll have you out in no time. Just wait there.”
True to his word, within five minutes the truck had pulled them out of the ditch. With a hearty thanks and an exchange of Merry Christmas! they went on their way.

“I can’t believe we are actually going to spend Christmas with my folks,” Linda’s voice showed her excitement.
“Now Honey,” Dave spoke gravely though the corners of his mouth twitched, and when he glanced at his wife, his eyes twinkled. “Don’t get too excited, we have three more tires that may need changed.”
“And miles of ditches to get stuck in,” she retorted gaily. “Oh, I didn’t tell you that the boys are planing a snowball fight if the snow doesn’t all melt. I have a feeling you’ll be initiated into the Stephens Sibling Secret Society sometime during our stay.”
“And what might that be?”
Linda shook her head with a laugh. “Oh, I can’t say. I just thought I’d give you a little heads up warning so to speak.”

The car continued down the snowy road filled with merry talk, bright laughter and many an affectionate word. After a time, the sun which had been shining so brightly in its effort to melt the snow, disappeared behind a large bank of clouds that were piling up in the west, and the temperature began to drop.

“I wonder if we’ll get more snow,” Linda mused, her eyes on the clouds.
“We already have snow. What would we do with more?”
“You never can have too much snow for Christmas.”
Dave grunted, his eyes on the road before them. “I’ll remind you of that when we get caught out here in a blizzard.”
“A blizzard!” Linda’s ready laugh sounded again. “Then we’ll head to that little house over there and seek shelter for the night. It is such a small house. See, Dave?”
Dave glanced over and then nodded. “Yep, I saw. It looks rather abandoned to me.”
“Perhaps there will be a light on the other side where it is closer to the road.”
Dave didn’t reply as he eased the car around the curve in the road, eyes searching for hidden patches of ice, for with the cold deepening, ice was beginning to form once more.
“There! I told you there’d be a light! A candle in the window. I love candles in the windows. They make a house so inviting.”
Now that the road was straight again, Dave ventured a glance. At that moment the wheels of the car hit a hidden patch of ice and began to slide. With strong hands on the wheel, Dave fought to gain control, but in vain. The car turned around and plowed straight into a large snow drift.

“Great! Now what!” Dave sighed.
Linda couldn’t help a little laugh. “We could try to dig it out, or we could just stop and have a snowball fight.”
“Honey, aren’t you even a little upset about being delayed for the fifth time today?”
Linda looked surprised. “Why should I be? It wasn’t your fault. Besides, I haven’t had this much fun since I went camping with my Girl Scout Troop and a huge rain storm came up.” She chuckled at the remembrance. “And I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather be stuck with than you.”
“Darling, you always see the silver lining. I don’t know how you do it, honestly. If it weren’t for you, I don’t know what I’d do.”
“And,” Linda retorted brightly, “if it weren’t for you, I’d still be at home helping to get supper on the table.”
Dave leaned over and kissed her.
“The question is, what are we going to do now?”
“Why walk over to that little house and ask for a shovel to get our car out.”
“Or we could just ask if they have a horse and sleigh we could use,” Dave added dryly.

Soon Dave and Linda were tramping through the snow towards the little house.
“It doesn’t look as though anyone has been out since the snow fell two days ago.”
“That’s a pity,” Linda said. “No one to make a snow man or snow angels.”
“Perhaps no one is home.”
“Oh, someone is there, I see a whiff of smoke from the chimney.”
Dave assisted his wife up the slippery porch steps of the tiny weather beaten house and knocked.
In a moment the door was opened, and a pale, tired looking woman looked out.

“We’re sorry to bother you,” Dave began, “but our car is stuck in a snow drift, and we were wondering if you had a shovel we could borrow to try and free it.”
“Come in,” the woman offered opening the door wider. “I’ll see if I can find one.”
As she shut the door behind her two visitors, the woman suddenly leaned against it and pressed a hand to her side and her eyes closed momentarily. Linda noticed that the woman appeared very pregnant, and she glanced at her husband. Dave had also noticed.
“Ma’am, are you all right?” he questioned. “Here, let me help you to a chair, you shouldn’t be standing.”
“I’ll be all right,” the woman gasped as she sank into a chair. Both hands pressed on her stomach, and her breathing was rapid. “The baby has been trying to come all day, but I can’t get out . . . to the hospital.”
“Linda, I’m going to get my medical bag.” Dave glanced around the dim room, noticing its bareness, three small children huddled close to the stove, and a bed in the far corner near a cold fireplace. “Help her to bed. I’ll be right back.” With that he was gone.

Linda introduced herself and found out the woman’s name was Alice. Her husband was somewhere in France. The three children spoke not a word but stared wide eyed. After Linda had helped Alice to the bed, she asked about wood for the fireplace.
“We don’t have much left,” Alice whispered. “I haven’t been able to go get more, and Teddy isn’t old enough to send.” She moved restlessly. “What we have is through that door.” She motioned toward a door near the stove.
In a very few minutes more, Linda was building a fire, and Dave came in. He pulled his coat off and rolled up his sleeves. Noticing a curtain hanging on a wire stretched across the room, he pulled it shut to try to warm up the makeshift bedroom. Motioning to his wife, he stepped to one side.
“Honey, I brought the basket of food in. Can you heat up some water and give the children some food?” The youngest child had begun to cry when she could no longer see her mother.
Linda nodded with a smile. Her experience of being the oldest in a large family stood her well now. Before long she had found out that Teddy was four years old, and he took care of his brother and sister. Bobby was three and Lori was only one. Lori cried for her mother until Linda opened the basket of food and put a cookie in her hand. While the kettle heated, Linda settled the three children around the table and began to make them some supper. Teddy informed her that Mama hadn’t gotten them any and added with childlike frankness,
“Mama didn’t eat today either ‘cause she wasn’t feeling good. But did you know tomorrow is Christmas?”
“I did know that, Teddy.” Linda smiled.
Bobby had to tell his bit of news. “Daddy is gone away so we not have a trismas tree.”
“That’s okay,” Linda assured him. “You can have Christmas without a tree.
Lori began to cry. Her cookie was gone. She was still hungry. Linda set a plate of food before each child and then stepped to the curtain to tell Dave the kettle was hot.
Dave turned at sound of her voice. He spoke softly. “Make her,” he nodded toward the bed, “a cup of tea, and then can you handle things here a few minutes? We need more wood than we have. And don’t worry,” he added with a smile at her concerned look. “The baby isn’t coming yet.”
His wife nodded.

With a cup of tea in her hand, Linda glanced at the children who were busy eating and then slipped through the curtain over to the bed. Alice opened her eyes.
“The little ones?” The question was low.
A smile flashed across Linda’s face. “Are just fine. They are eating supper now and quite content. Don’t worry about them. I’m used to children. There was a whole parcel when I was growing up.” Gently she brushed the hair away from Alice’s pale face and raised her head holding the steaming cup of tea to her lips. “When was the last time you ate?”
The answer came slowly. “Last night.”

All was still then. The only sounds were the fire crackling in the fireplace, the noise of spoons at the table and now and then a thud of wood being set down. After a few minutes in which Alice seemed to doze off, Linda slipped back to the other side of the curtain. Dave was just coming inside. He carried a small evergreen in one hand and a bag from the car in the other. Linda’s smile when she saw him was very bright, and the children stared in astonishment.
“She seems to be sleeping,” Linda whispered in answer to Dave’s nod of the head. “And Dave, she hasn’t eaten since last night.”
Dave frowned. “I’m afraid this is going to be a difficult birth, Honey.” He set the tree in an empty bucket and handed his wife the bag. Then with a smile for the children, he stepped back to their mother.

The children greatly enjoyed the decorating of that tree. From the bag, Linda brought forth some gilded pine cones, gay buttons and bright red yarn. The yarn was intended for a sweater Linda was knitting, but she decided the tree needed it more than the sweater. Dave opened the curtain a little that Alice might watch for a few minutes.
Teddy paused suddenly and asked, “Where’s my stocking?”
“And mine,” Bobby whispered.
Lori just stuck her fingers in her mouth.
Their mother heard and in a voice filled with emotion, whispered to Dave where they were. He brought them out, and Linda helped the little ones hang them up.

It was growing late. The sun had long since gone, and the stars shone brightly in at the windows. Dave made another trip out to the car to bring in a few more of their things, for they wouldn’t be leaving that night. Linda sat in the rocking chair with Lori cuddled in a blanket in her arms while the two little boys sat at her feet. In a soft voice she told them the very first Christmas story of all. After that she began to sing. One Christmas carol after another filled the little house with its sweet sound of peace, joy and good will.

As the boys began to nod, Dave, who had been standing by the partially opened curtain where he could keep an eye on his patient and his wife, came and tucked them into a makeshift bed on the floor beside the stove. Lori whimpered when Linda made a move as if to put her in bed as well, so with a smile, she settled back and continued rocking, her thoughts drifting back to the days of her childhood.

“Linda!” Dave’s low but intense voice roused her some time later. Instantly she was wide awake. Quickly she placed Lori between her brothers, tucked the blanket around them and then hurried to the bedside.

It was a long, difficult time. Linda could tell by the firm set of her husband’s jaw that things were serious. All she could do was follow orders quickly and to pray. Never once did she stop praying. Dave too was praying as he worked. This was by far the hardest delivery he had done outside of a hospital.

At long last, just as the distant city bells were ringing out the Christmas morning, the baby arrived. A girl. Dave didn’t hear the bells, but Linda did.
When a pale Alice reached to take the flannel bundle from Linda, she asked softly, “Did I hear the Christmas bells ringing?”
Linda nodded. “Your little girl has come on Christmas morning.”
Alice gave a tired smile as she snuggled the tiny bundle in her arms and gazed into the sweet little face. “Christmas bells. You are Mama’s little Christmas Belle.”

Some time later, when Alice had fallen asleep with her new little daughter nestled in the crook of her arm, Dave and Linda slipped out to the porch. The stars were still bright in the heavens and the moon cast a silvery light over the snow. Dave looked down at his wife and smiled. He received an answering smile as he folded her in his arms; their lips met in a long kiss.
“Dave, aren’t you glad now that we had so many delays?” Linda whispered.
A puzzled look crossed Dave’s tired face. “What do you mean?”
“If we hadn’t been delayed so long, that patch of ice might have melted, and we wouldn’t have stopped . . .. What would have happened?”
Dave cringed, “I don’t even want to think of that, not on Christmas Eve.”
Linda gave a soft little laugh. “Honey, it’s Christmas Day. The baby came right as the bells were rung. Merry Christmas, Dave! Merry Christmas. We may not have made it to my folks’ home, but we helped make this home a happy Christmas because of God’s Christmas delays.

I hope you enjoyed it. What did you think of it?


Anonymous said...

hey we have snow here also in NE, but it is more like a foot+ - so cool:) Did you know today was Christmas??? and not next friday? check your dates.... Merry Christmas - hank

Rebekah said...

Hmmm, I see I need to somehow change the date on my posts.:)