Friday, December 31, 2010

A Message For You :) (if you can find it)

Welcome back Friday Fictions Fans,
I know this is a little later than usual. I am quite sorry for any inconvenience, but I was rather busy. We had a good time with family this week and this morning we were packing things up from the camp were we stay to head back to Grandma's. I did get this poem written this morning, though I started thinking about it last night.

If you can find the message in this poem, leave a comment telling me what it is. If you didn't find it, don't read the comments unless you are giving up.:)

A New Year's Poem

Hope you enjoy these words of a sage
Last minute poems are becoming the rage.
Sup with the family, take time to sing,
Happiness comes like a bird on the wing.
Make your tea taste of sugar and spice.
Pack in your pocket a few grains of rice.
Every bear that you meet, just charm with a grin,
And your winter pleasures will just begin.
Although your brain is spinning, don't give up and quit.
Just eat a peppermint, find a chair and sit.
I told you I was scrambling to make this rhyme for you,
So read this presentation and find my message, too.

And the message is? . . .

Friday, December 24, 2010

Home For Christmas - Part 4

Good Morning Friday Fiction Fans, and a merry Christmas Eve to you!
Doesn't it seem as though it was just Christmas? And now, here it is again. I haven't written a thing this week. All my evenings were filled up, however, I do have the last part of the Friday story for you this morning. I hope you enjoy it.

Home for Christmas
Part 4
Last week . . .
It would be easier if she could just forget it all, but there was Annie. If she could be happy helping others, couldn’t she? Would it even be worth trying?

“Tomorrow is Christmas Eve!” The younger children kept up the merry shout as they pranced about the dining room awaiting the call for supper.
“Are you going to be here for Christmas?” one of them asked Robert who had just entered the room.
“I don’t know. It might depend on the snow.”
Davie ran to look out the window. “Aw,” he grumbled, “the snow’ll stop tonight and by tomorrow the trains’ll be goin’.”
“Is that bad?” Annie asked, carrying a large pot of soup in from the kitchen.
“Sure is, when we need another man ‘round here.”
Robert laughed. “Well, it’s nice to be wanted, but I think my family will be waiting for me.”
Susanna, who had come in with Annie, thought about that as she sat down. Soon the trains would leave again. Where would she go? Should she go back or go on to the city? She didn’t want to go back. Maybe she could stay here.
So busy was she with trying to figure out what to do that Aunt Lydia had to shake her arm to get her attention. She looked up startled.
“Are you planning on eating tonight?” Aunt Lydia smiled.
Susanna glanced around and noticed the empty bowls and then realized she hadn’t even begun. Turning pink she bent her head over her meal. Around her the laughter and talk continued. The longing to be a part of a family like this grew until she could scarcely keep back the tears. Why was she shut out from family and love? Deep in her heart she knew the truth. She was not shut out, but had chosen to ignore what had been offered her.

Davie’s prediction about the snow turned out to be true, for by daylight the snow had stopped and people were beginning to shovel their way out. Around mid afternoon the station master stopped by to inform Robert and Susanna that the trains would be leaving in an hour. A bustle followed this news, and soon Annie, Davie and several of the other children escorted their guests to the station where fond farewells ensued.
“Well, Miss Susanna,” Robert asked quietly when once they were alone, “are you still going to go on to the city?”
Susanna dropped her eyes. “I don’t know,” she whispered.
“Is anyone waiting for you there?”
She shook her head, not daring to trust her voice to speak.
“Then suppose you come home with me for Christmas.”
“But--” she began.
“No buts. I can invite guests to spend Christmas with me, can’t I?”
Susanna didn’t answer. She was fighting back tears. All the heartache she had tried to push aside since her father’s death seemed about to suffocate her.
Robert took the silence as acceptance and went at once to see about her ticket. A few minutes later he helped her on the train and took a seat beside her.
“You have no idea how delighted I am to be taking home a guest this year. I suppose that may surprise you, but you see, before the war, I was in college and each Christmas I always brought home a guest. It just wouldn’t seem right to come home without one.”
Susanna gave a small smile. Her conscious was bothering her. She should have told this man she had to go back to her aunt and uncle’s. But she didn’t want to go back, she argued. They didn’t want her either. Her companion’s continued talk fell on deaf ears as she sat lost in her troubled thoughts. At last the clicking of the wheels lulled her into slumber.
“Susanna,” a voice called and a hand gently shook her arm. “Wake up. We have to get off now.”
Only partially roused, Susanna stumbled after Robert into the bracing snowy night. Suddenly she was wide awake. Was this a dream? It couldn’t be real. She was back in the town she had started from. It couldn’t be. Yes, this was the closest town to her uncle’s!
“Come on, Susanna,” Robert beckoned. “Mr. Conrad will let us use his horse and sleigh.”
Slowly Susanna walked over, her eyes wide with a half scared look. “Where . . . where are we . . . going?”
“But where is it?” she persisted refusing to climb in the sleigh as she stared in the moon light at the young man.
“Why to Seth and Alice Smith’s home. I doubt they’re expecting us this late, but it will make it even more of a surprise, huh?”
Susanna shook her head. “I changed my mind. I don’t want to go.” She began to back away.
Robert reached out and grasped her hand. “Come on,” he urged.
Again she protested that she didn’t want to go and attempted to pull her hand away. But Robert was not to be turned from his purpose. Go with him she must and would. “You don’t understand,” at last wailed Susanna. “I . . . I ran away from there to . . . to go back to the city.” Her voice dropped. “I’m your cousin. They wouldn’t want me-- now.” the last word was barely audible even in the stillness of the winter night.
For a moment Robert stood still, then with a gentle arm about his cousin, he drew her towards the sleigh. “Susanna,” he began quietly, “I was quite sure you were my cousin when you first told me your name. Not to mention the fact that you look a whole lot like my mother.” Robert smiled. “And I know that no matter what you have done, the entire family will welcome you back with love. Did you notice how much love Aunt Lydia had for Annie?”
Susanna nodded, keeping her eyes on her snowy boots.
“That love is waiting for you at home if you will just accept it. Not only that love, but the love of a Heavenly Father is also waiting.” Robert paused and lifted Susanna into the sleigh, climbed in beside her and tucked the robes about them.
With a jingle of bells the sleigh was off across the snowy, moo lit fields. “Are you willing to let the love in?” the question was gently put.
Susanna’s chin quivered and a moment later she had buried her face in Robert’s coat and was sobbing out all the heartache and loneliness of the past months.
Robert let her cry for a few minutes and then began to talk softly, caressing her hair as he spoke.

By the time the Smith cabin was seen, Susanna had a smile on her face. True, it was a bit apprehensive, but she climbed down from the sleigh clinging to her cousin’s hand.
All was still about the house. Mr. Conrad drove away leaving Robert and Susanna standing before the front door. “Well,” Robert whispered pulling out his watch and looking at it in the moonlight, “shall we try to slip in unnoticed or shall we rouse the whole house? It is officially Christmas morning as of five seconds ago.”
“Wake them all up.” Susanna thought it might be easier to slip back in with the commotion Robert’s homecoming would bring.
As he started to turn the knob of the door he grinned. “I feel like a school boy about to commit a prank.” Then throwing open the door he shouted, “Merry Christmas, everyone! You’d best get down here before we open all the gifts ourselves! Mama! Come see what I brought you!”
That was all he could get in before a tumult of voices, pounding of feet and shouts and squeals filled the house. The next instant white night clad figures rushed pellmell into the dark room and surrounded the newcomer. Somehow, someone finally managed to light a lamp and great was the excitement over Robert’s return.
No one noticed Susanna standing alone by the door for several minutes. At last Aunt Alice caught a whisper from her returned boy. On seeing the forlorn figure, she made her way over and said softly as she held out her arms, “Susanna.”
That was all it took, and the next moment Susanna was wrapped in the loving arms that had so longed to hold her close. Many a tender word was murmured as the tears of both mingled.
“Susanna, this is the happiest Christmas of my life. We were so worried about you, and now you come home with Robert.”
“Let’s sing something!” David suggested, and soon the room rang with the wonderful strains of “Joy to the World.”
In the glow of a hastily built fire, Susanna looked about her. Everywhere she looked she saw joy, and love such as she had seen on the face of Annie. This was home. Her home.
“And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love.”
All around her the joyful Christmas song rang out. Never had it meant so much to her as it did this Christmas. She blinked back the rising tears and felt Robert looking at her. Raising her eyes, she met his with a smile. He had brought her home for Christmas.
The End
Did you like it?
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas remembering our Saviour's birth!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Garlandsburg - Needleworks & Quilts

This will be the last of the Garlandsburg stories for this year. I hope to have new ones written for your enjoyment, next December.
Come back tomorrow for the last part of "Home For Christmas."


“Yes, Mrs. Stone, the quilt is ready. Let me go get it.” Miss Ann, owner of “Needleworks & Quilts” hurried to the back room. In a moment she returned.
“Oh, Ann,” Mrs. Stone exclaimed as she saw the fine, neat stitches in elaborate patterns over the quilt. “It is just beautiful! I have never seen such tiny stitches. Holly will just love this.” Gently she fingered the edge of the quilt. The different shades of greens with splashes of red and white here and there made the quilt a festive masterpiece. She knew her oldest daughter, who would be married Christmas night, would treasure this for years to come.

Her thoughts were interrupted. “It wouldn’t have looked so nice if you hadn’t done such a fine job of piecing it.”
Mrs. Stone laughed. “That was the hard part. I was so glad when Nicholas took Holly off to spend three weeks in New York with his family. Otherwise, I never could have gotten it finished.”
Miss Ann nodded. “With names like Nicholas and Holly, it is no wonder they chose Christmas day to get married. Are his folks in town yet?”
“Yes, they’re here. They were all at the pond when I went by. I would have had them stay with us, but you know how crowded it is at the bakery with five children. They are staying at the Grand Hotel, and since that is right next door, no one minded. As for the wedding day,” Mrs. Stone continued, eager to impart news, “what with Holly’s birthday coming the day after Christmas and Nicholas having his yesterday, I really don’t know that any other day would have suited either one. Of course I did mention that it might be more work, but Holly wants things simple. It hasn’t been any extra work at all. But I really must be going, Ann. I still have some work to do for dinner. Peter will be around with his cart to bring your order, and I’ll have him bring the quilt home. I don’t know if I could carry it and these other things. I won’t have to worry about Holly and Nicholas seeing it.”
“Where are they?” questioned Miss Ann as she carefully wrapped brown paper around the quilt and tied it with string.
“Oh, they went on a sleigh ride to the lighthouse. I’m sure they’ll only get back in time for supper and the Christmas Eve service. You know how much Crystal enjoys company. Poor dear, with Aaron gone this time of year, too.”
“They say his ship is due tomorrow,” put in the young woman.
“Is it now! I hadn’t heard. Well, that would make a real nice Christmas for all.” Mrs. Stone retied her bonnet, drew her gloves on and gathered her packages. “You aren’t going to spend Christmas alone, are you?”
“Oh no, I’ll be at the Manse.”
“Well, Merry Christmas, if I don’t get to talk to you tonight.”
“And to you.”
Mrs. Stone hurried out into the sparkling Christmas Eve snow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Garlandsburg - Hearthstone Bakery

The air around the Hearthstone Bakery was filled with tantalizing smells of freshly baked breads, cakes, pies and other delectable, mouth-watering and enticing goods. Peter, the oldest son of Baker Stone, hoisted yet another sack of flour onto his broad shoulder and carried it out to the waiting cart. There were deliveries to be made before dark. After setting the sack in the cart, he paused to call “Merry Christmas!” to the approaching sleigh carrying the Reverend Goodman, his wife and daughter. Then, turning back to the warm bakery, Peter re-entered the shop.

“Here you are, Mrs. Johnston,” Mr. Stone was saying. “And Joel, are you going to carry this loaf of bread home?”

Young Joel nodded as he carefully held the large loaf handed to him.
“Thank you, Mr. Stone. Have a merry Christmas, oh, I almost forgot, your horse is ready whenever you want him.”
Mr. Stone thanked her, and she and Joel turned to leave.

“The cart is loaded, Father,” Peter announced straightening his baker’s hat and dusting his hands on his apron. Most lads his age would have scorned to wear an apron in the kitchen, much less be seen in one, but not Peter. It didn’t matter what others thought of him as long as he was doing his best to please his father.
Mr. Stone opened the oven door, and the spicy smell of cinnamon buns wafted across the kitchen and into the shop.
“Ah, now that is what I call a pleasant Christmas aroma!”
Peter turned. It was the postman with his hands full of mail.
“I’ll make a trade with you, Mr. Stone,” Postman Owen chuckled. “These letters for a hot bun.”
Peter grinned. It was a holiday tradition for his father and the postman to exchange freshly baked goods for the mail.
As the baker was taking one of the hot buns from the pan, he turned to his son. “Peter, run over to the carriage house and fetch Sugar. You should start on the deliveries a bit early so as to get home for supper.”
Peter nodded, taking off his hat and apron and dashing upstairs for his coat, scarf and cap. Coming into the shop once more, he suddenly paused and thrust his hand into his coat pocket.
“Pastry!” he exclaimed pulling out the family cat. “My coat is not the place to have your kittens.”
Mr. Stone laughed. “I don’t know what we’ll do with kittens. You wouldn’t be wanting one, Owen, would you?”
Postman Owen grinned. “If one was named Cinnamon Bun, I might.”
Peter joined in the laugh as he gently placed the cat on a burlap bag near the oven.
“Any thing else to add to my deliveries, Father?”
When the baker, already busy rolling out a pie crust, shook his head, Peter and the postman headed out into the frosty, Christmas Eve afternoon.
“So long, Peter,” Postman Owen called. “See you at the Christmas Eve service.”
Waving gayly, Peter headed down the cobblestone road to the carriage house.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Garlandsburg - Lighthouse & Cliff

I really was going to post this last evening, but I didn't. Sorry. Here it is now.

Clear on the other side of village, on the cliff overlooking the Atlantic ocean, stood the Garlandsburg lighthouse. For years it had stood there, its light warning of the rocky cliff below as well as welcoming home to the harbor those who had sailed the vast and seemingly endless waters. Now it stood proud and tall, festooned with its Christmas garlands, wreaths and ribbons. All seemed joyous, yet old Grandpa Donovan, as he was called by everyone, walked about sober and quiet. Grandpa Donovan had been the lighthouse keeper before most of the villagers had been around. Now that he was so old, most of the responsibility of the light fell on his son, Uriah, who along with his great-grandson, Lucas, kept the light burning.

Growing restless, Grandpa Donovan donned his yellow rain hat and coat and stepped out into the world of white. Candle, his dog followed. Towards the cliff the old man made his way, eyes gazing out to sea. Would the ship come for Christmas? When he reached the edge of the cliff, he began to carefully make his way down to what was left of an old pier at the bottom.

Here the spray from the waves dashing against the rocks fell in showers. “It’s a good thing I persuaded Crystal not to put my slicker away. You need one too, don’t you, Candle, old girl.” Grandpa Donovan stroked the head of his favorite companion. “I know, I know,” the old man went on talking to the dog. “You wonder why I’m down here. Well, sometimes a body can see a ship coming in when one is down on level with the waves.” A deep sigh came from him as he gazed at the empty expanse before him. “But, not today, Candle, not today.” Slowly the old man turned and with tired steps, made his way back up the cliff.

There he again paused and looked out over the waters. Would that ship come? Would Adam get home for Christmas? As he stood there, his mind drifted back many years ago to another ship which had also been due on Christmas.

The Magi, had been his brother Douglas’s ship. Douglas had loved the sea from a child and when he was taken aboard a vessel nearly ready to sail, Douglas begged to go along. Grandpa Donovan smiled in remembrance. His brother had gone on that ship and after that had been at sea more than on land. Douglas’s ship had been due to arrive no later than Christmas Day. However, Christmas came and went and no sign of the missing vessel. It wasn’t until two months later that it did finally come in battered and worn from the violent storms. The crew were exhausted, and Douglas, well, Douglas never fully recovered from the terrible strain and had died at sea only three months later.

A whine from Candle roused Grandpa Donovan. “All right girl, we’ll go back inside where it is warmer, and smell the Christmas Eve dinner.”

Friday, December 17, 2010

Home for Christmas - Part 3

Good Morning Friday Fiction Fans,
I haven't been outside yet, but it looks rather cold. Still no snow. :( I keep hoping for even a dusting, but instead we have real dust. Everything is covered in dust in our yard because its been so dry and Dad raked the leaves. But I don't want snow today because this evening is our Christmas Open House. We should have over 70 people here! Wow! I'm sure it will be a crowded, crazy and confusing time yet, a lot of fun. We have to get the house ready today. Change the sewing room into the play room, the new room into a game room and pack closets with as much as possible. Should be interesting.

I really haven't written much this week, though I did get some other things done like the doll clothes I had to make. I also finished knitting Mom's first sock and started on the second one.:)

But, I know at least two of my readers are either reading this after the story, or are wishing I'd hurry up and get on with it.:) Okay, okay! Here is part three. Enjoy!

Part 3
Last Friday:
“I don’t have one,” Susanna replied in a small voice.
“Well, that ain’t my concern though I say it’s a shame to send a young girl like you off with no bag an’ baggage. And right before Christmas, too. Never mind though. Jest follow me close, the snow’s gettin’ deeper all the time.”

Into the world of white the two travelers went, following their guide. For Susanna, who had never seen a snow storm quite like this before, it was frightening, and she clung to her new companion’s hand. By the time they reached a house on the edge of town, Susanna could scarcely breathe, and Robert was in no better shape.

The station master rapped loudly on the door. Quickly it was flung open and a bright faced girl stood before them.
“Annie, I hope you an’ yer aunt can put these two up till the trains start runnin’ again.”
“I’m sure we can. Aunt Lydia!” the girl beckoned her snow covered visitors inside, taking the bag from station master.

As the door closed behind them, a tall, slim woman entered wiping her hands on her apron. “I wondered how those trains would get through in this weather,” she said cheerily. “We’ll find room for you, never fear.” As she talked she bustled about taking off the snow covered garments and settling Susanna and Robert in chairs before the fire. She quickly found out the names of her unexpected guests and continued her cheerful talk. “Annie, we’ll let Susanna sleep in with you seeing you have a larger bed, and do go air out the guest room for Robert. Be sure to light a fire, or no, get Davie to, in the grate to take the chill off.”

Susanna watched without a word as Annie hurried off with a smile to do her aunt’s bidding. “But then her papa is probably coming back,” she told herself. “I would have been cheerful if that were true for me.” Her conscious told her she hadn’t been cheerful since she first arrived, but she refused to listen.

Before long supper was served and everyone gathered around the table. Never had food looked or tasted so good before to Susanna. She realized with a start that she hadn’t eaten since early that morning. It was a merry table though no father or uncle was present. Robert was persuaded to take the head while Aunt Lydia sat at the foot. On each side children of all ages sat and talked, laughed and ate. The only silent one was Susanna.
When the meal was over and the dishes cleared away, One of the little ones brought out a large book and gave it to Aunt Lydia.
“Thank you, Son,” she smiled. Then turning to her guests she said, “We always have a bit of reading and prayer before we skip off to bed. I hope you both will join us.”
Robert expressed delight in staying, saying that it would remind him of home. Susanna would gladly have slipped away, but didn’t want to appear rude.
The prayer that followed the reading was simple. Susanna didn’t hear much of it, but one sentence stayed in her mind.
“Please bless both our guests with the joy of your birth this year.”

Once in bed with Annie, Susanna lay awake for some time. For the first time since she had left, she wondered what her aunt and uncle were doing. Were they worried about her? Had her cousin arrived? Perhaps she should have left them a note saying she was not coming back. It was too late now. She would wire them from the city. At last, Susanna’s eyes closed of their own, and she slept.

She was awakened quite early the following morning when Annie slipped out of bed into the freezing room and rapidly dressed.
“Where are you going?” Susanna queried sleepily.
“To get the kitchen fire started before Aunt Lydia gets up. Why don’t you stay in bed longer. The heat from the chimney will warm this room up before long.” With that, Annie slipped out of the door and down the narrow stairs.

Susanna couldn’t go back to sleep. Why would this girl, who appeared to be about her own age, get up so early just to light a fire for her aunt? Why didn’t the aunt do it? And why was Annie there in the first place? Susanna could hear the wind howling and whistling around the house, and she shivered. Never had she heard a wind like this. It scared her.

All that day the winds blew the snow around in swirling gusts causing visibility to be only a few inches. Inside the little house, all was snug and cheerful. Aunt Lydia bustled here and there for the comforts of her guests as well as in preparation for Christmas. Annie seemed to be always at work. All the children were kept busy, the older ones over lessons and chores indoors while the younger ones played and helped when they could. Everywhere the excitement of Christmas was to be felt.

In an armchair by the large, cheery fire, Robert had been established in the morning, having been told that what he needed was rest and some good food. He didn’t complain but amused himself by telling stories to the young ones or talking to Aunt Lydia, Annie and Davie. He tried talking with Susanna, but she had pulled into her shell and hardly said anything. Her eyes and ears were open, however, and she noticed many things which puzzled her.

That night when Susanna and Annie were in their room, Susanna ventured a few questions.
“Why are you living here?”
Annie smiled. “Because Aunt Lydia is my only living relative besides Uncle Joe, but he’s away at war.”
“When did your parents die?”
“My mother when I was only three and Papa--” For a moment Annie was silent, her face turned away. When at last she looked back at Susanna, there were tears in her eyes, yet she smiled and her voice was soft. “Papa was killed in France two months ago.”
“Yours too.” That was all Susanna said until they were in bed and the only sound was the storm outside. Then in a voice scarce above a whisper she asked, “Have you always lived here in the country?”
Laughing a little, Annie replied, “No, I’m from Chicago, but now I love this place.”
“Why? Because I have the love of my aunt and cousins and,” she added more quietly, “God had a reason for me coming. I sometimes think it was to help Aunt Lydia. But then maybe it is for something else.
“Don’t you ever want to go back?”
“I wouldn’t have any place to go. Besides, I love it here.”
“But all the work they make you do!” Susanna protested.
Annie turned in bed to face her guest in the dark. “When I lived in the city, I only thought of myself, and when I came out here, it was hard. But I am so much happier here where I can work with my hands and help others. Aunt Lydia has been like the mother I don’t remember. And especially at this time of year. When I think that Jesus left all the glories of heaven to be born in a barn and then grow up working, only to die on the cross for me, how can I complain about a few chores?”
Susanna ventured no answer. This was new ground for her. Enjoy working? Enjoy serving others? In all her life she had only thought of her and enjoyed being miserable when things didn’t go her way. Yet here was Annie, full of life and happiness, yes, and even joy, and she was in nearly the same situation as herself. For a long time she lay still, pondering it all. Would she really be happy back in the city? Could she be happy back in that dreadful house with her aunt and uncle and all those cousins? Even knowing her papa wasn’t coming home and her cousin was? No, she couldn’t be happy. Not ever again. Yet, something inside of her kept whispering that she was not being truthful.

It was still snowing when Susanna climbed out of bed the following morning. As she slipped into her cold clothes, her thoughts turned once more to the unsettling ones of the previous nights. It would be easier if she could just forget it all, but there was Annie. If she could be happy helping others, couldn’t she? Would it even be worth trying?

Last part next Friday. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Garlandsburg Christmas Eve - Boathouse

Barnacle Bill, as everyone called him, was busy at his boat house. He whistled a merry Christmas tune as he worked on a boat out in front. Tomorrow he would take the entire day off to enjoy the holiday, but today, ah, today he would work. The shouts of fresh young voices caused him to look up. His twin sons, Brandon and Brian were having a snowball fight. It seemed as though Brian was losing for he dodged around the corner with his brother right at his heels. Barnacle Bill paused. The boat could wait a little longer. Quietly he packed a dozen snow balls and then waited for his sons. Soon they were back. Brian had the upper hand now and was pursuing Brandon. With sure aim, the boat maker let fly his ammunition. The sudden onslaught caused the boys great astonishment. They thought their father was too busy to play. But with wide grins, they returned the fire.
Before long, the snowballs were flying thick and fast as father and sons pelted the others with winters’ cold ammunition. Around the house the three combatants raced, hurling the snow as fast as they could scoop it up and pack it into balls. Across the yard Barnacle Bill raced before leaping the stone wall where fresh, un-trampled snow waited for him. The snow drift was so deep, however, that he sank in clear past his knees and was at the mercy of his boys.
The merry shouts and laughter caused Mrs. Bill to pause in her pie making and hurry to look out the window.
“I declare, Betty, it does my heart good to see your father having a little fun.”
Betty hurried over to her mother’s side to see what the fun was. “Do you think, Mama, that Father will go back to work after this?”
Mrs. Bill pursed her lips. “He won’t if we put his tools away.”
“He shouldn’t be working on Christmas Eve anyway,” Betty agreed, hastily pulling on her coat.
Rapidly, yet quietly, Mrs. Bill and Betty gathered the few tools and slipped back inside.

“Whew!” Barnacle Bill sighed as he collapsed in the snow to catch his breath after having with great effort, been helped out of the snow drift. “I haven’t had that much fun in years.”
Brian looked at Brandon meaningfully before speaking. “Do you think you could go down to the pond with us and Betty after a while?”
“Well,” their father began to reply but got no farther, for Mrs. Bill called from the house, “Come and have some hot chocolate and warm cookies to thaw you out.”
With a cheer, the three snow covered figures headed inside where the fire blazed brightly.
When Barnacle Bill went back to his boat, he couldn’t find his tools. Then, since no one would tell him where they were, he consented with good natured grumbling to go skating instead.
“Just be home in time for Christmas Eve supper!” Mrs. Bill called after them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Favorite Christmas Books

This is a list of some of my favorite Christmas books. The first three were read to me every Christmas for as long as I can remember until I started reading them to myself a dozen year or so ago. It just wouldn't be Christmas without these books. These books will be listed with my very Favorite one first and going down the line.

#1: The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas
by Madeleine L'Engle
(I don't recommend all of her books at all, but this one is wonderful!)

#2: A Pint of Judgment
by Elizabeth Morrow
(Such a cute, short story.)

#3: The Birds' Christmas Carol
by Kate Douglas Wiggin
(Be prepared to cry in this one.)

#4: Arne and the Christmas Star
by Alta Halverson Seymour
(A Norwegian Christmas story. She has written other Christmas books about other counties which I also enjoy: The Christmas Donkey - France, The Christmas Stove - Switzerland, Erik's Christmas Camera - Sweden, The Top O' Christmas Morning - Ireland.)

#5: Christie's Christmas or Christmas Surprise
by Isabella Alden
(Written by my favorite author.)

Hope you find some happy reading in these books.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Home for Christmas - Part 2

Well, once again, Friday Fiction Fans, it is Friday and time for Part 2 of last weeks story. Well, almost time.:)

I hope you enjoyed the short posts I did during the week. I'll be doing more next week. (As long as I can spend a few evening writing.:}) It has been a busy week. We got our piano tuned! Yay! Now I can play Christmas songs that sound good. It was also Dad's birthday this week and last evening S & I babysat for some friends. I think we're supposed to watch the kids tomorrow. Why do things always get really busy just when you think you can finish all your projects and maybe read a few books? I really have to work on my book today so I can get it sent out to my proofer. If you haven't seen my book blog, check it out here.

And now, for the next part of that story. Enjoy!
Last week:

For a moment Daniel was still. He had never heard this quiet, withdrawn cousin go on in this fashion. True, he had known, as had they all, that Susanna wasn’t happy, but never had he dreamed that she felt that way about it. “Well,” he spoke quietly, “there’s not much I can do about that now. Let’s get back to the house before it starts to snow.” He placed a hand on her shoulder.
She pushed it off. “I said I wasn’t going. Maybe you think I’m just talking, but I’m not!” her voice rose to a shout. “I hate it here! I’m leaving, and I won’t go back” She stamped her foot.! “You can go back and wait for your brother. I wish he would die!”
“That is enough!” Daniel’s voice was stern. “I won’t listen to that kind of talk from anyone. If you would stop thinking of only yourself and think and do for others for a change, you would find life more enjoyable. Do you think that your selfishness hasn’t affected the rest of the family? Well, it has. We have all tried our best to make you welcome, yet you persist in thinking of no one except Susanna Mary Stanson. And I for one have grown weary of it. You may complain about it, but,” he added firmly, “we are going home, and I will listen to no more of that kind of talk.”

The sudden sternness of her cousin’s voice startled Susanna into silence. Never had she been spoken to in that tone before. Daniel had always been kind and gentle until now. When he lifted her into the saddle and then swung up behind her, she make no sound.
Daniel’s voice softened as he said, “Now, let’s get home before the snow gets too bad.”
The ride home was one of silence. Daniel, wondering if he had said the right things, prayed for this cousin of his who was making life so miserable for herself.

Susanna’s thoughts were in a turmoil. How could anyone talk to her like that? Was he right? He couldn’t be. It wasn’t her fault that she had to live with them in the middle of nowhere. Life was being unfair. That is what it was. If only she were in the city where she belonged, she would be different. She really wasn’t selfish, it was just her circumstances. By the time they reached the barn, Susanna had once again convinced herself that the problem lay elsewhere.

For several days after that, Susanna went about the house silent and at times sullen. She did the work assigned her so poorly that her uncle spoke to her more than once about it.

In spite of Susanna’s attitude, the family was fairly bursting with excitement and joy. Christmas was only a week away and the eldest son was expected sometime before then. Nothing could dampen their spirits entirely. Not even Susanna’s frowns.

Then one night, Susanna quietly packed her few belongings into the pockets of her coat and the next morning slipped out the door and up to the mail road. As she expected, a neighbor came by shortly afterwards in his wagon.
“Oh, please, won’t you take me into town?” She questioned sweetly. “I have errands to run and no one is free to take me.”
The neighbor chuckled. “Christmas errands I reckon. Sure, I can give you a lift,” and he stopped his horses and offered her a hand up.

Arriving in town, Susanna thanked the man and hurried down the street toward the small general store. Once she was sure the neighbor was gone, she slipped over to the train station and bought a ticket. She was just in time too, for the train was about to pull out.

“At last,” she told herself, “tonight I’ll be in the city and then things will be all right.” What she planned on doing once she reached the city was still uncertain. However, that gave her no worries, for soon the motion of the train had lulled her into an uneasy slumber.

Several times the conductor paused beside her and gazed down in silence at the young, fretful looking face of the sleeping girl. Where was she going, and why was she alone? Poor little thing, she looked so forsaken, and now and then a tear would roll down her cheek.

It was mid afternoon when Susanna awoke only partially refreshed from her long nap. All she could see from the car windows were snow laden trees and hills. Snow swirled around with such force that at times nothing but snow could be seen. The train began to slow down and the passengers looked at one another anxiously. When the conductor came through, he was eagerly questioned but only replied that they were nearing a town. In a few minutes the train had stopped, and the conductor entered the car.

“Well, folks, you all have got to get out now and find a place to stay. The snow is growin’ worse, and we can’t go on without riskin'’ being stranded. Besides that, the westbound train came in some ten minutes ago saying a bridge they had crossed just a couple miles from here is about to collapse.”

Eager were the tongues then and rapid flew the questions. Were there hotels to be had in such a small town? Would the westbound train keep on going? Perhaps some of them would just return with it. Was the bridge going to be checked to see if it really was about to collapse?
Susanna listened to all this talk with growing dismay. Stuck? Here in a little mite of a town? What would she do? For the first time she began to realize the folly of her running away. It was too late now, though, to return, for she heard the conductor say that neither train was going anywhere until the storm had passed. Slowly she stood up and followed the crowd out of the train car. What she saw did not lift her spirits any. People were milling about in the snow, and the station, if it could be called a station, was packed with passengers from the earlier train. With a clutch at her scarf, Susanna managed to squeeze her way int. Finding a small empty corner, she sat down and waited.

At last the crowd began to thin and people disappeared out into the world of white. A strange silence filled the room causing Susanna to look up. Only a few persons were left besides herself. One was a young man with sandy hair and a pleasant face. As Susanna gazed at him, he looked up and smiled. That smile so reminded her of her papa that for a minute all she could do was stare and then slowly one by one, the tears began to trickle down her cheeks.

“Well, upon my word!” the young man exclaimed softly and standing up he walked rather feebly over and sank down into a seat beside Susanna. “There now,” he said gently, “there’s no need to cry. Did you lose something?”
Susanna shook her head and forced herself to stop crying. “You just, . . . just, . . . reminded me of someone.”
The young man nodded. “I understand. Are you here alone?”
Susanna nodded and dropped her head. What would he say to that?
“I see I haven’t introduced myself; my name is Robert Smith. and you are--?”
“Susanna Stanson.”
The young man gave a slight start and looked down at the girl beside him with a new interest which Susanna didn’t see.
“Where were you going? To visit relatives for Christmas?” The questions was gently put.
Susanna shook her head. “Just to the city. I have to live in a city.”
Robert nodded soberly and fell silent.
Susanna, feeling fretful and worried, looked up. “I don’t know what to do now. I have to get to the city, and now I’m stuck here.”
“There’s two train loads of people stuck, Miss.” It was the station master who had come up. “An’ we’ve only got jest one hotel, an’ that ain’t the biggest. But don’t you fret none, the folk here’ll make room for everyone somehow. Suppose you two jest come along with me an’ I’ll get ya a place ta stay.”
Robert thanked the station master and stood up. As he reached for his bag, the station master picked it up, saying as he did so, “I’ll carry that. Ya don’t look all that strong. Miss, where is yer bag?”
“I don’t have one,” Susanna replied in a small voice.
“Well, that ain’t my concern though I say it’s a shame to send a young girl like you off with no bag an’ baggage. And right before Christmas, too. Never mind though. Jest follow me close, the snow’s gettin’ deeper all the time.”

Part 3 will be here next week, so come back.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


A Garlandsburg Christmas Eve

The little village of Garlandsburg, along the coast of New England, was full of Christmas cheer. All the shops and houses, the church and even the lighthouse on the cliff, were trimmed with green boughs brought from the nearby woods and festooned with red ribbon bows. A thick blanket of snow lay everywhere, in which the children of the village reveled, while the cold weather had frozen the pond into a perfect skating rink. The air was full of good cheer as last minute shopping was done, and merry were the voices on that frosty Christmas Eve day. Even the sleigh bells seemed to ring in pure joy of the season.

For some reason, the pilot of the plane that carried the photographer only flew over half of the village. I hope I can get him to fly over the rest of it. If so, I'll post a few more pictures for you.
More of this village to come, so check back

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Wonders

Christmas Wonders

Christmas wonders, what are they?
Presents wrapped in colors gay,
Snowdrifts piled along the roads,
Wagons filled with Christmas loads,
Red bows or sleigh bells ringing,
Christmas trees or carols pealing,
Or is there something sweeter still
That all the world with joy fills?
Christmas wonders, there are many
but never could I think of any
Greater than my Savior's birth,
Death and life upon the earth.
So, Heavenly Father, I thank Thee
For the Christmas wonder You gave me!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Home For Christmas - part 1

Good Morning and Merry 3rd of December to all you Favorite Friday Fiction Fans!

I suppose since no one left a comment, that no one got on and read last weeks story. It is not too late to tell me what you think of it and if I should write any others to go with it.
Since I posted last Friday, things have been busy! On Sat. we drove home from KC, picked up the Cass girls on the way, and began to get the house ready to decorate. On Sun. the rest of the Cass and Morris and Yoders came, and we decorated after church. It sure looks pretty. Everyone left that night. Monday, I spent the morning finishing last touches on the decorating downstairs, then relaxing in the afternoon. Tues. I did the upstairs, then got to work on a quilt I'm doing for someone. Wednesday, I worked a lot on the quilt. Yesterday, Dad came home with a pile of green branches from Lowes that they had cut off of Christmas trees and were giving away! Yay! Now the house smells like Christmas. We baby-sat the three kids from 4:45 - 10:00. By the time J & M came back, K told me, "Mommy & Daddy were gone too long." :)

But that was then. I started this story last year, however, I got stuck and didn't finish it until this year. It will continue until Dec. 24th.

ATTENTION: Important notice. Throughout the month of December, Rebekah's Reading Room will not only have the regular posts every Friday, but will also be posting different things during the weeks!* The things during the weeks won't be long, but you might want to check back often.
*Special thanks for this idea goes to the Cass girls.*

And now, for your regularly scheduled program. Uh, I mean story.

Home for Christmas

It just wasn’t fair! She had barely tolerated it from the first and now all would be even worse. Twelve-year-old Susanna strode across the yard, climbed the fence into the pasture and frowned. Savagely she kicked a clump of frozen grass and then winced as her toe connected with a hidden rock. “I hate it here!” she spoke the words aloud and started across the field. She didn’t want to stay here any longer. Why couldn’t she go back to the city where she had always lived? Surely she could find someone among her friends to live with. It just wasn’t fair! Susanna could feel the tears rise, and her eyes smarted. Why did her father get drafted to go fight and her uncle get to stay home? And if that wasn’t bad enough, her father had to get killed only two weeks after he was shipped over to France while her cousin only got wounded and was coming home any day now. Irritably she twitched at her skirt as it became caught in a bramble.

A cheerful whistle was heard along with the sound of horses hooves. A quick glance showed her that Daniel was riding out to bring in the cows. With a look of disgust she turned her back on her approaching cousin and continued walking. That was another thing she disliked; all these smelly animals. It was a disgrace to have a dog in the house as well as two cats! She shuddered. All these relatives of hers thought about was work and animals, from Daniel down to the baby. Back when she had lived in the city with her papa there had been plenty of time for parties and friends. Now she hardly had time to breathe by herself!

“Susanna!” her cousin’s cheerful voice sounded beside her. “You want to ride with me to round up the cows?”
Susanna shook her head, her frown deepening into a scowl.
“Okay, suit yourself.” Daniel shrugged and turned his horse’s head. “Just don’t stay out too long, supper will be ready shortly, and it looks like a snow storm might be brewin’.”

Susanna made no reply and tramped steadily on, away from the house with its warmth, noise and joy. She felt miserable. There had been times over the last months that she had almost begun to let herself like this new home, but the feeling had never lasted. That was mostly her own fault though she refused to admit it and pushed away all love. Her aunt had a special place in her heart for this only daughter of her only brother. Susanna’s mother had died when she was just a baby, and thus it was that Susanna had never known the love and gentleness of a mother.

Reaching the far fence of the pasture, Susanna turned her head. She could see the smoke coming from the chimney of the large log house. Behind it the Rocky mountains towered high into the sky. Most peaks were invisible because of the clouds. A cold wind blew from the north making her shiver and pull her coat even closer around her. She jerked a scarf from her pocket and tied it around her blonde hair. At the sight of it a sob rose in her throat. Papa had given it to her only last Christmas. Papa! Why did he have to go? All the former thoughts came back to her again. Life wasn’t fair to her.

It all started when she had to leave the city. That was it! If she could only return to the city, any city, life would once again be what it used to. Suddenly, acting on an impulse, she turned, deliberately climbed the fence and set off across the open country toward the town. She would just leave. No one cared for her anyway.

She didn’t know how long she had walked, but it felt like it had been hours. Her feet ached, and she was cold, tired and hungry. The darkness was settling quickly all around, and she could hear the cry of a coyote. She shivered. Her eyes filled, but defiantly she blinked back the tears. She wouldn’t cry. She hadn’t cried since her papa had kissed her good bye before her train pulled out for Montana; even when word came of her father’s death, she had shed no tears.

She hadn’t heard her aunt talking about it to her uncle. “I don’t know what to do. She hasn’t even shed a tear though I know she loved him dearly. There is something wrong with her, Seth. There must be, for she doesn’t act like any child I have ever known.
“Just give her a little more time, Alice. This is quite a shock to her. Perhaps she just needs more love.”
“Love! I’ve given her all the love I have, yet she rejects it all. She wants nothing to do with us or this place, you can see it in her every look and action.”
“Then the only thing we can do is to pray for her more than ever we have before.”

Back in the barn, Daniel and Josh were milking the cows while their father tossed hay down from the loft. “Is Susanna out here?” Rosy-cheeked Martha stepped in out of the wind.
“No, I haven’t seen her,” replied her father.
Daniel stood up from the last cow. “Isn’t she home yet?”
Martha shook her head. “No one has seen her since before you set off for the cows. We thought maybe she was with you.”
Daniel frowned. “I did see her in the pasture and asked if she wanted to go with me, but she refused. I told her not to go far or stay out too long.” He paused and glanced out the door.
“Perhaps you should ride out and bring her back, Son.”
Daniel nodded and went to saddle up.
“Can I go too, Pa, please?” Josh pleaded eagerly. At his father’s nod, he too began to saddle up his horse.

It wasn’t long before the two brothers were riding off into the gathering darkness. Daniel held the lantern. Upon reaching the back fence they found a piece of her skirt, and Daniel realized with a growing dread that she was alone in the open range. Turning quickly to his younger brother, he ordered, “Josh, go back to the house and tell Pa I’m going out to find her. She can’t have gone far, not in this short of time. I’ll bring her back just as quick as I can. Now get.”

Susanna had sat down on a fallen tree to rest her weary feet. She heard the sound of approaching hooves and saw the light of a lantern. She knew it must be either her uncle or cousin. Her shoulders sagged. Why did they have to find her? Secretly she was relieved, but not for an instant would she admit it to anyone, not even herself. As Daniel swung off his horse beside her, she stiffened and looked away.
“Come on, Susanna, Ma has supper waitin’.”
“I don’t want to go,” her voice had a faint quiver in it despite all she could do.”
Daniel shrugged and reached out to pull her to her feet.
In an instant all the pent up frustration and anger, as well as sorrow and despair, that had been bottled up for so long burst forth. “I won’t go back! I hate it here! It’s the very worst place anywhere, and I won’t stay here with smelly animals in a crowded, noisy hut one more night! I’m going back to the city. That is where civilized people live. You can ride back and tell them I said so! And I don’t care one bit about your brother coming back. You don’t deserve him back! I hope he doesn’t come back, so there! It isn’t fair for him to only get wounded before he even goes over seas and Papa to be killed. And I don’t care about Christmas coming. No one here would even know how to celebrate it anyway. You are all just a bunch of . . . of ignorant, backwoods nobodys, and I can’t stand any of you!” As she finished her tirade, she crossed her arms over her chest and stood waiting for she knew not what.

For a moment Daniel was still. He had never heard this quiet, withdrawn cousin go on in this fashion. True, he had known, as had they all, that Susanna wasn’t happy, but never had he dreamed that she felt that way about it. “Well,” he spoke quietly, “there’s not much I can do about that now. Let’s get back to the house before it starts to snow.” He placed a hand on her shoulder.
To be continued next Friday.