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 ChristmasIt 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 week . . .
“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.
Did you like it?
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas remembering our Saviour's birth!
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas remembering our Saviour's birth!