Friday, December 27, 2013

Graham Quartet - Part 17

Good Morning Friday Fiction Fans!
I hope you had a lovely Christmas. In case you are wondering why on earth I hadn't posted yet, it was because I slept in and am on vacation. :)

My week was rather relaxing after the craziness of the past few weeks. It was delightful to sit and knit while listening to some old radio programs. I also have been writing. And it's all been the Graham Quartet. I hope you are ready for lots of posts with it because right now I have 2 parts that are ready to post the next two Fridays, and 9 more after that which haven't been checked by my editor and I still haven't gotten to the end! I'm close to the end of the story, but I don't know how many parts it will take me to finish it. I'm really going to try to get it written before the end of the year. I had no idea when I was asked to write the rest of the story that it would take me this long! It is quite interesting and I hope you are ready for it.

Now I need to go eat breakfast before my aunt comes and we run off to a bakery to pick up some cookies. :) Enjoy this next part!

Graham Quartet - Part 17

    Softly Selena said, “We could just go directly to the seat of the trouble and see if we can get a tour of the furniture factory.”
    “The furniture factory?” The others stared at Selena in amazement.
    “That’s where all the answers are, right?”
    There was a long silence. Tim’s face was eager, while Matt and Elsa looked at each other doubtfully. True, they wanted to learn things about the factory and there had to be something going on there that was of great interest to the FBI, but they had also just been warned to be extra careful. Would it be wise to try and get a tour?
    At last Matt spoke slowly, “Well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to ask about a tour . . .”
    “Then if they did give one,” Elsa added, “we could decide then.”
    “Are you going to go call them now?” Tim was obviously quite excited.
    Matt shook his head. “No, I wouldn’t know who to call. Besides, I want to talk to Dad first, and . . .” he hesitated and listened to the old clock in the next room chime the half hour. “It is getting late and we do have school tomorrow. Let’s call it a night and get to bed.”

    In the morning Matt found time to talk to his dad about their desire to tour the furniture factory. Mr. Graham had no objections but wasn’t sure they were offering them any longer since Mr. Kern retired. “It wouldn’t hurt to check though,” he told his son.
    “Thanks, Dad.”
    “Yes, sir?” Matt turned from the door, wondering what his father wanted.
    “I know you are trying to help Guy, but there are chores around the house that can’t be neglected much longer. And I need the car today. I’ll drop you off at school, but you three will have to walk home.”
    With a nod, Matt agreed.

    Tim was plainly disappointed not to be able to stick around town after school, but if Selena was, she didn’t show it. When they arrived home in the afternoon, Elsa told them that the factory no longer offered tours to the public.
    “Sounds mighty suspicious to me,” Tim muttered. “I think Guy ought to know about it.”
    Matt laughed. “About what? That the new manager doesn’t do everything the same as the old one? Besides, we were just at the cabin twice yesterday. Let’s wait and see if we find out anything tomorrow.”

    Friday came, but brought nothing to report even though the Graham Quartet visited every place they could think of and Tim asked more than twenty questions. At last the Quartet returned home discouraged and with a feeling that they were somehow letting their friend down. None of them were inclined to talk much that night and even the offer of popcorn around a blazing fire in the family room with stories failed to rouse the usual enthusiasm.
    Later, as the four siblings slowly mounted the stairs to their rooms, Matt said, “Dad told me we could have the car all day tomorrow.”
    “What good’s that going to do?” Tim grumbled. “We’ve already been every place we can think of except the factory itself and haven’t learned anything new.”
    “Hey,” Matt chided, “we can’t give up now. Guy is counting on our help. And he’s been working on the case for almost two years. Surely we aren’t going to give up because we didn’t get anything new for two days, are we?”
    “Matt’s right, you know,” Selena whispered. “We just can’t give up now. Tomorrow may be a big break for us, but we won’t even be able to get it if we aren’t in town when we could be.”
    Elsa gave Selena a hug and sighed. “Of course we won’t give up. Will we, Tim?”
    Something that either Matt or Selena had said seemed to have re-inspired Tim for he grinned. “Not a chance! Those bad guys might as well quit the country now because the Graham Quartet are sticking to the case.” His manner and voice caused the others to laugh and they retired to their rooms in a more cheerful frame of mind.

    It was mid morning The Quartet had been in town since right after breakfast and as yet had learned nothing to report to Guy Fox at the cabin. When Sheriff Marr asked them what they were doing in town, Matt had shrugged and said, “Trying to find something to do.” The sheriff had laughed and told them not to get into trouble.
    “Why don’t we stop at the newspaper office,” Matt suggested. “I have an assignment for school and need to talk to Mr. Bryant, the editor, anyway. Maybe we’ll discover something there.”
    The others offered no objections because at least the office would be warmer than standing around on the street hoping someone would walk past them talking about the factory.
    It didn’t take long for Matt to collect the information he needed for his assignment and then, before anyone could make a movement to leave, Tim blurted out, “Mr. Bryant, what’s going on with the furniture factory?”
    Elsa, Matt and Selena turned to stare at Tim. Had he lost his senses? Didn’t he remember that all this was supposed to be a secret?
    Tim gave no indication that he even noticed his siblings’ stares but continued in a disgusted voice. “I got to help load some crates from the furniture factory earlier this week and that got me interested in seeing how they made the stuff and Dad said they used to give tours. But you know what? When we called to see if we could take a tour, they said they didn’t do them anymore? Why don’t they? I just wanted to see how chairs and couches were made.”
    With a chuckle, Mr. Bryant perched on the corner of his desk and folded his arms. “Well, Tim, I’m not sure of everything, but this new manager doesn’t like “revealing the secrets of their fine craftsmanship,” to quote the man directly."

Thoughts about this story?
Will you be back next Friday for the next part?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 24th - Ted, Fred, Larry & Jim

Today is Christmas Eve! Is it just me, or does it seem to you as though the days went by must faster than usual this year?

I thought you all might enjoy reading this new Ted, Fred, Larry & Jim story that I just finished. If you aren't familiar with those four lads, you should get a copy of my book "Home Fires of the Great War" and enjoy the other stories. And whether or not you have read other adventures of Ted, Fred, Larry & Jim, I hope you enjoy this one.

P. S. This story is nearly 3 parts long, but I'm letting you read it all at once.

Ted, Fred, Larry & Jim Play Father Christmas

    The time is day before Christmas.
The ages of the boys are:
Ted - nearly 10
Fred - almost 9
Larry - 7
Jim - 6
Their younger sister Margaret was a year old.

    The hay in the stable loft rustled as Larry shifted in his seat and crossed his legs. It was warmer in the stable than outside, and he was glad Ted had said they should all meet in the loft. Now if only Ted and Fred would quit whispering to each other and tell him and Jim what they were going to do . . .
    “You know that new family that moved?” Ted spoke, interrupting Larry’s thoughts. When his brothers nodded, he added, “They don’t have much.”
    “How do you know?” Larry asked.
    “‘Cause we saw them arrive,” Fred explained. “And the carriage wasn’t nice and there was only one light in the house when it was dark and there’s only a little wood in the shed.”
    “‘Sides,” Ted added, “there wasn’t any trunks, so they can’t have much.”
    “They’ll get more when Father Christmas stops by tomorrow,” six-year-old Jim piped up.
    ‘Jim, “ Fred sighed, “there is no real Father Christmas. Don’t you know that?”
    For a moment Jim looked dumbfounded and stared at each of his older brothers in silence. At last he found his voice, “But who brings our gifts?”
    “Mama and Papa do,” Ted informed him. “Everyone who’s big knows that.”
    Jim looked ready to argue the point of being considered “big,” but Larry, who was only seven, stopped his words.
    “That’s all right, Jim,” Larry consoled. “I didn’t know that about Father Christmas when I was your age either.” He neglected to mention the fact that up until that very moment, he had been as sure as his little brother that there must be a Father Christmas.
    “But get back to the family,” Ted pulled off one glove and picked up a piece of hay to chew on. “They need help.”
    “Why?” Larry was really puzzled by the interest shown in the family.
    “‘Cause they don’t have warm clothes or anything,” Fred pointed out. “Not even hay for the baby to sleep in.”
    Jim’s eyes grew as large as saucers. If they were that poor, than they must be poorer than Mary and Joseph!
    “How do you know there’s a baby?” Larry wanted to know. He wasn’t sure he approved of the idea that Ted and Fred had discovered all about the new family without him and Jim.
    Ted sighed. “Larry, ‘course they got a baby. The lady was holding something under her cloak. Now what’re we going to do?”
    “Why don’t we play Father Christmas to them?” Fred suggested.
    “How?” Ted asked around the piece of straw in his mouth.
    “Couldn’t we give them some things?” Larry wanted to know.
    “Like what?”
    Larry tried to scratch his head as he had seen his father do when he was thinking, but found it difficult with his mittens on. “Maybe things we don’t need.”
    “I’ve got an extra handkerchief,” Jim suggested.
    “And I’ve got more shirts than I need,” Fred decided quickly. “And Papa got a new coat this winter and he still has his old one.”
    “Should we ask Mama and Papa?” Larry wondered.
    Ted frowned. “They’re gone visiting, won’t be back for hours. Then it’d be too late. They won’t care. Give things away themselves.” The oldest of “those Foster boys,” as the villagers called them, never cared much for proper grammar and often left out “unnecessary” words when just with his brothers.
    With that the brothers quickly climbed down from their warm nest in the loft and hurried out into the bitter winter afternoon. Dashing to the house, they burst in and began to pull off their coats and boots, eager to see what they could find to give away.
    “I got some old socks,” Larry shouted, waving a pair above his head. “‘Course they have holes.”
    “No,” Fred objected at once. “These things have to be nice. Something that you would like to get.”
    Jim and Larry frowned. They didn’t want to get just clothes for Christmas. Perhaps they should add some other things.
    Before long the four lads had quite a collections of items gathered: Fred’s new shoes (“My old ones are comfortabler,” he said.), Larry and Jim’s best Sunday shirts, Jim’s handkerchief, Ted’s only Sunday knickers that didn’t have any stain on them, Papa’s older coat (He was wearing his new one.), a dress of Mama’s that the boys were sure she never wore, one of baby Maggie’s dresses and a bonnet, two dull looking books from the shelves and some food from the pantry.
    Proudly they surveyed the items spread out on the chairs. “Should have stockings though,” Ted muttered.
    Instantly Fred, Larry and Jim raced back to their rooms and returned moments later with two pairs of socks. “These don’t have holes,” Larry announced. “They weren’t mine.”
    “Think we should add some wood, Ted? They might not have any to cook that goose on.”
    “You and me’ll carry some,” Ted directed. “First have to make a bundle.”
    It required some debating before a tablecloth was settled upon as the wrappings for their Christmas bundle. With great care, the bundle was tied with string and then came the difficult part of loading the bundle onto the sled. But at last they succeeded, and with Larry and Jim pulling the sled and Ted and Fred carrying the wood, they set off on their first experience of playing Father Christmas.
    “Now, we don’t want to be seen,” Ted had instructed, pointing the way to the grove of trees. “We’ll go back lots.”
    It was quite a chore for the two youngest Foster boys to drag the heavily loaded sled to the edge of town where the new family had moved, but at last they reached the woods where they could see the front of the house.
    Exhausted, Larry dropped the rope of the sled and sank down into the snow. Once he caught his breath, he whispered, “How’re we going to get these things to the house without them seeing us?”
    Ted didn’t have an answer ready. That part of the plan hadn’t crossed his mind.
    “We could stack the wood on the porch with that little bit they’ve got,” Fred suggested softly. “Then we could . . .” He wasn’t sure how to get the large bundle up onto the porch since it had taken all four of them much effort just to get it onto the sled.
    Just then Jim spied a tall figure striding across a nearby field. “We could have Ben carry the bundle!” Eagerly he pointed to the approaching figure.
    Seeing a solution to their problem, the Foster boys waved and beckoned until Ben saw them and turned his steps in their direction. Ben was considered nearly grown up by the four boys, him being nearly fifteen.
    Ben, on his part, was often much amused by the creative youngsters and wondered where they got their ideas. As he approached the boys he called out, “What’s up, laddies?”
    Ted quickly explained the situation and, though he struggled to keep a straight face, Ben agreed to carry the bundle and put it on the porch.
    “Should I knock after I put it down?” he inquired.
    Ted, Fred, Larry and Jim shook their heads. “No,” Fred explained. “You’re not playing Father Christmas and if they saw you, they would think you had brought the things.”
    Swallowing down his laughter, Ben hoisted the parcel from the sled and quietly carried it across the yard and gently placed it on the porch. He couldn’t help but wonder what was in it, but he didn’t dare to ask for he was afraid of laughing.
    When he again reached the boys in the shelter of the trees, he said, “You lads had better be getting home now or it will be dark.”
    “I can’t walk home,” Jim sighed from where he had sunk down onto the sled.
    “Me either,” Larry echoed.
    “I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” Ben offered. “You pile on the sled and I’ll pull you all home.” His offer was instantly accepted, and moments later the sled was skimming across the snowy streets directly to the Foster home.

    “Darling,” Mrs. Foster addressed her husband from the kitchen. “Have you seen the white linen tablecloth I ironed this morning? I can’t seem to find it.”
    Mr. Foster shook his head. “I thought I saw it earlier, but perhaps I saw something else and you never got it out.”
    Mrs. Foster sighed. She was sure she had gotten it out and ironed it. “If those boys have gone and used it for a fort or anything like that . . .” she didn’t finish her threat, but with a shake of her head, she returned to the kitchen.
    Moments later four red cheeked boys came stamping into the warm kitchen, laughing and shaking snow from their coats. In the flurry of setting the table and seeing that her sons were presentable for the table, Mrs. Foster didn’t think to ask about the missing tablecloth.
    Dinner was nearly over when Mr. Foster, who had been eyeing the bookshelves in a puzzled manner asked, “Boys, have you been playing with the books?”
    “No, Papa,” came a chorus from around the table.
    “Is something wrong with them, Dear?” Mrs. Foster asked.
    “Something appears different, but I don’t know what. Perhaps I’m imagining things.”

    Later, as the boys got themselves dressed and ready for the Christmas Eve service, they didn’t talk as much as usual; they were listening to the low tones from the other room and beginning to wonder if Mama would notice what they were wearing. She did.
    “Frederick!” Mrs. Foster exclaimed, “put on your new shoes, Dear, and hurry.” Then she turned to inspect her other three sons. “Why, Theodore, those knickers have a stain on them and Lawrence, James, where are your new shirts?”
    “They aren’t in our room,” Larry piped up.
    Mrs. Foster sighed. Many things seemed to be misplaced this evening, but she didn’t have time to search. “Well, put your coats on,” she instructed, pulling her own wrap about her and bending over the cradle to pick up the baby. “We’ll look for them after we get home. No one is likely to notice tonight in the dark. But,” she murmured, “I can’t think what has become of them. Or of my new dress either.”

    Coming home in time for supper, Elizabeth, Charles and David Burton blinked in astonishment at the sight of a large bundle lying on their front porch.
    “Now where did that come from?” Charles asked.
    His brother and sister shook their heads, but before they could answer another boy came around the house and jumped lightly to the porch.
    “Oh, hello Ben,” Charles held out his hand to the lad. “This is my brother David and sister Elizabeth.”
    “Pleased to meet you both,” Ben smiled and nodded. “I figured someone would be wondering about that bundle, so I thought I’d wait around.”
    David, home from college for the holidays, looked interested. “What do you know about it?”
    “Only that I was assigned to set it there by the Foster boys. I couldn’t even begin to guess what was in it though.”
    “Foster boys? Aren’t they the lads you were telling me about yesterday? The ones who had the whole village out looking for them when they decided to play pirates on the island?” Charles was nudging the bundle with the toe of his boot.
    “The same. But I should head home or I’ll be late for supper.” He jumped off the porch. “See you tonight at the Christmas Eve service!” With a merry wave, he was gone.
    “Well,” Elizabeth smiled, “now I’m longing to see what’s inside. Let’s take it in and open it. Mother and Father will want to see it too, I’m sure.”
    The bundle was carried inside and opened amid peals of laughter. Mr. Burton laughed so hard that soon tears were running down his cheeks as he saw the knickers and shirts and heard his sons’ comical remarks about trying them on.
    Elizabeth wondered if she had an old doll around in a trunk somewhere since she was too big for the baby dress.
    “These books must belong to a set,” Mr. Burton chuckled, turning the books over in his hands. “Here we have Volume 2 and Volume 5. I wonder why they didn’t send the entire set.”
    “Really, Dear,” Mrs. Burton said with a shake of her head, “we should return these as soon as possible. This is a very fine linen table cloth and I don’t believe this dress has even been worn.”
    “Not to mention their Christmas goose,” David put in with a chuckle. “It may be wanted tomorrow.”
    Mr. Burton looked about the room at the strange assortment of items from the bundle. “If I knew who their father was and where they lived, I’d take the things right straight back; however, since I don’t, I will have to wait until I can speak to the parson after service tonight.”
    “That’s a good idea, Papa,” Elizabeth nodded. “Perhaps the Fosters will even been at the service and we can catch a glimpse of our unexpected Father Christmas.”
    “I think that would be our four Father Christmases, Sis,” Charles grinned.

    The walk home from church that frosty Christmas Eve night was a quiet one for the Fosters. Larry wondered who the man was that had stopped his father and talked to him for several minutes after the service. And why Ben had been talking to those strangers and everyone had looked in their direction.
    Arriving home, instead of being sent directly to bed as they expected, the four Foster boys were called over to their father’s armchair. Papa was quiet for several minutes, staring at the fire dancing in the fireplace. At last he spoke. “What were you four boys doing this afternoon while Mama and I were away?”
    “Playing,” Ted spoke up quickly.
    “What were you playing?” inquired Papa gently.
    “We were playing Father Christmas,” little Jim answered eagerly. “And it was such great fun.”
    “Yes, Papa,” Larry added. “It was hard work pulling the sleigh, but Ben pulled us home again.”
    “I see.” Mr. Foster ran a hand over his face. “And how did you play this new game, Ted?”
    “We were just trying to help the new family,” Ted replied.
    “Yes, Papa,” Larry leaned against his father’s knee to say, “they are poor and we had to share with them.”
    “Your new shoes, Fred? And your knickers, Ted?”
    “But Papa,” Jim explained eagerly, “they had to be nice things to give away, ‘cause we wouldn’t give things that weren’t nice to the baby Jesus, so we had to give nice things when we played Father Christmas.”
    “I see,” Papa said again. Then he drew his two youngest sons to him and said, looking tenderly at each one, “You wanted to help someone and thought giving away your things was the best thing to do?” Four heads nodded and Mr. Foster went on. “I am very glad you want to help others and are even willing to give up your Christmas goose, but boys, those things were not yours to give. You can’t give things away to others when the things are not yours to give in the first place.”
    “But you weren’t here to ask,” Fred mumbled, his head down.
    Gently Papa reached out and tipped up his chin. “Did you stop to think what we might have said had we been home, or thought of waiting until we returned?”
    Soberly Fred shook his head.
    “Ted, you are the oldest,” and Papa motioned him a little closer. “You must learn to think before you do something. Do you even know the family you gave the things to?”
    It was Ted’s turn to shake his head.
    “I thought not. They are not poor, by any means, and their youngest son is fourteen. A little too big for your clothes, don’t you think?” And Papa smiled. “Now, I will overlook it this time, but remember all of you, never give something away that is not truly yours to give, without first asking. All right?”
    “Yes, Papa.”
    Mr. Foster pulled his sons close in a strong embrace. Looking over their heads at his wife, he smiled and, after the four boys had been sent to bed, he said quietly, “Their hearts are in the right place.”

    Later that evening, when all the boys were in bed and most were asleep, Larry heard a knock on the door and then the low, deep tones of men talking. Straining his ears, he thought he heard Papa say something about Father Christmas. Quietly slipping from his warm bed, he tiptoed across the cold floor to the bedroom door and peeked through the keyhole. He couldn’t see much, but there was someone else in the room besides Papa and it wasn’t Mama. Then he saw a gloved hand set a wrapped packaged down on a chair. That was enough for Larry. Quickly he scampered back to bed. “I knew there was a Father Christmas,” he whispered to himself with a satisfied sigh.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23rd

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve! What are you going to do to pass these last hours? Well, if you are wanting something to do, why don't you try some Scherenschnitte (Sharon-sh-net)? Scherenschnette is the German word for paper cutting. I used to love cutting things from magazines and catalogs. When I had paper-dolls, my favorite part was cutting them out. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed making these lovely silhouettes.

I started out with this one as it seemed to be the easiest.

Next I moved on to a little harder one. (The starry circle around the Christ child's head was tricky, but fun.)

And last I did this one. I thought it needed something so I took some stencils and traced the words backwards and then cut them out. Yes, everything in the picture is cut by hand.

So, if you're feeling in the mood to try your hand at some Scherenschnitte pieces, give these a try. You can download and print your own patters from this blog.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22nd

I don't know about you, but I really enjoy hearing the story behind hymns and Christmas carols. And when I was trying to decide what to post today, I kept thinking of this carol. When I came across this video with the history and the song, I knew I wanted to share it with you all. I hope it blesses your Christmas as it has blessed mine!

Enjoy those bells!
And if you want a different tune and a more "homey" feel, here's the Waltons singing "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day." It's from one of my favorite Christmas TV episodes. 

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dec. 21st - Christmas Eve - Part 6

Here is the final part of

Christmas Eve at the Backdoor
Part 6

Last time . . .
    Right then a knock sounded once again on the backdoor. With a tired sigh, Mrs. Kabrick pushed back her chair and stood up. Never could she remember a time before when there had been this many visitors on Christmas Eve. Who was it this time? A neighbor? A relative?
    Pulling the door open, she saw another tramp. This one was younger but he seemed just as tired and hungry as Mr. Bruce had been.
    “I’m sorry to bother you, ma’am,” the stranger began, “but could you spare a crust of bread? I . . . I’ll shovel your walks in the morning if I can sleep in your woodshed.”
    Mrs. Kabrick noticed then for the first time that it had begun to snow. Soft flakes drifted down and settled on the man’s bare head and torn jacket. It was not a good night to be sleeping under bridges, and besides, it was Christmas Eve. “Come on in,” she beckoned softly. “You look like you could use a good hot meal.”
    Following her inside, the stranger blinked in the glare of the lights and stood waiting awkwardly in a corner of the kitchen.
    Quickly Jody had risen and carried her dishes to the sink before she brought a clean plate and spoon and carried them to her empty place at the table. Then she beckoned to the man. “Come over here and sit down.”
    Shuffling over, his feet still almost numb with cold, the young man stumbled into the seat. It was only then that he seemed to notice the others. For several minutes he stared at the twins and then shook his head as though trying to shake off a memory. Then his eyes fell on the other tramp for the first time. “Adam Bruce?” he asked in amazement.
    Mr. Bruce nodded. “It’s me, Son. But I didn’t expect to be sharing a Christmas Eve supper in a warm, friendly kitchen like this one with you this year.”
    Over at the stove, Jody whispered to her mother, “He looks a little bit like Uncle Dale, doesn’t he?”
    “I hadn’t had time to notice, Jody,” Mrs. Kabrick softly replied, ladling some stew into a bowl. Carrying the bowl over she set it before her newest guest. “I hope it warms you up. Ceddy, put some more wood in the stove, please.”
    “Yes, Mama.”
    “Mrs. Kabrick,” Mr. Bruce said, “I’d like to introduce an old friend of mind. We’ve ridden the rails many times together and he’s always shared what he had with an old man like me. This is Cedric Marr. Cedric . . .”
    But neither Mrs. Kabrick nor the young man were listening anymore. Each was staring at the other in wonder, doubt and disbelief.
    “Ced?” Mrs. Kabrick whispered as though not daring to believe what her eyes were seeing.
    “Nanny? Nanny!” The stranger of moments before sprang up suddenly, swayed and then found himself in a tight embrace, while he heard his name whispered over and over. “Ced! Oh, my Ceddy! Where have you been? Why didn’t you write us? Oh, Ced, it’s been so long!”
    The rest of the Kabrick family, along with Mr. Bruce, stared in wide-eyed, open mouthed amazement. What was it all about?
    At last Mrs. Kabrick seemed to gain some control over her emotions, for she held the young man off at arms length and looked him up and down, shaking her head the whole time. After another embrace she gently pushed him back to his chair. “You eat now, Ced. By the looks of it, you haven’t had a decent meal in days. You certainly aren’t sleeping in the woodshed tonight, though I don’t know but you deserve a trip to one, and if Dale were here, he might threaten you with one.”
    “I wish he were,” was the low toned answer the young man gave before he began to eat hungrily.
    Into the silence of the kitchen came the sound of a plaintive mew.
    “Jody, heat up some milk for the kitten and Roger, you’d best bring in some wood.”
    “But we already did, Mama,” Roger protested. “Before supper, remember?”
    “So you did, your uncle’s coming has me so mixed up I don’t know what I’m saying. But, I didn’t introduce you! Ced, you met Jody and Roger when they were small.” Ced nodded his head, his mouth was too full to even think of trying to talk. “But you never met the twins.” Gently Mrs. Kabrick placed a hand on each twin’s head. “This is Cindy and this one is your namesake, Cedric.”
    Seeing the emotion in her young brother’s face, Mrs. Kabrick said softly, “We have a lot to catch up on, Ced. Ten years with no contact is too long.” Then her voice changed and she began issuing orders briskly.
    “Roger, start a fire in the fireplace in the living room. Jody, as soon as you’ve finished feeding the kitten, get water ready to wash the dishes. Cindy, start clearing away the dishes and Ceddy, take two of these chairs into the living room. We’re going to need a few extra seats tonight.”
    Mr. Bruce stood up. “I’m an old hand at washing dishes, Mrs. Kabrick,”
    “Very well, you may wash and Jody and I will wipe them. Cindy, it’s your job to sweep the floor tonight.”

    Before long the Kabrick family, with their two unexpected but welcomed guests, were gathered in the living room before the bright, blazing fire. Only one lamp was on near Mrs. Kabrick’s chair and the room was dim save for the fire, the lamp and the many colored lights sparkling on the Christmas tree. The soft scuffles of restless feet grew still as Mrs. Kabrick began to read.
    “Now it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. . . . And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem . . .”
    When she finished, the sounds of voices singing far down the road were faintly heard in the stillness of the room.
    “It’s the carolers, Mama!” Ceddy and Cindy exclaimed, jumping up to race to the windows and peer out into the winter night.
    Mrs. Kabrick looked up at the ticking clock on the mantle. “Why, it’s nearly ten o’clock! Where has Christmas Eve gone?”
    With a smile, Jody replied, “I think it’s gone out the backdoor.”

The End
I'd love to know what you thought
of this story.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dec. 20th - Christmas Eve - Part 5

Good Morning FFFs,
I forgot today was Friday since we usually have our Open House on a Friday, but this year had it yesterday. It was fun but busy. I got to see people I haven't seen for quite a while and it was after 11:00 when the last ones left after helping pick things up. And it was almost mid-night before I got to bed. We slept in this morning, but I'm about ready for a nap. :)

It's been a busy but fun week. We babysat the kiddos Wednesday night over here again. And this time there were presents under the tree. All the names were on the bottom of the gifts so the kids didn't know who they were for. But half the fun of the gifts is knowing which ones are yours and then imagining what it might be. I let them point to a gift and I'd tell them who they were for. At least I'd tell them most of them. :) They aren't allowed to touch them. Then last night, since they were the last ones to leave, they were excitedly telling us which gift that was theirs they were going to open first on Saturday evening. :)

Well, I'm going to go eat breakfast and let you all enjoy reading the next part of 

Christmas Eve at the Backdoor
Part 5
Last time . . .
 “Mrs. Kabrick,” Reverend Powelson smiled, shaking the widow’s hand warmly, “I know it is growing late, but my wife insisted that I deliver all the gifts before I ate my supper.”
    Eagerly the children eyed the packages he had set on the table. There were so many! There were only two churches in town, the Catholic church and the Protestant church, and the Protestant church which the Kabrick’s attended had a tradition at Christmas time. During the month of December, any family or individual who wanted to give a gift to another family simply left the wrapped present with the name of the receiver clearly written on it, in the vestibule of the church or at the parsonage. Then, on Christmas Eve, the minister would deliver the gifts. There was never a show of this gift giving, but it was a way to bless others in secret. Every year the Kabrick family had made it a point to give at least one gift to a family less fortunate than themselves. “We may not have much,” Mrs. Kabrick had often told her children, “but there are others who have even less. And we have something that money can’t buy; we have love.” Her children all seemed to catch the true spirit of Christmas, for their first talk of gifts in December were not about what they wanted but what they could give someone else.
    Now it seemed that many people had wanted to bless the always helpful, always cheerful widow and her family.
    For a moment Mrs. Kabrick could only stare at the gifts on the table in bewilderment. “Surely, Reverend, there must be a mistake.” She looked up into the kindly smiling face. “These don’t all belong here.”
    “Well, if they don’t you’ll have to find some other Kabrick family to give them to, for I know of only one in the entire town and surrounding farms. But I must be on my way! Have a blessed Christmas, Mrs. Kabrick, Jody, Roger, Cindy, Cedric.” As he said their names, the minister shook hands with each person before slipping quietly from the room.
    “Mama,” Ceddy whispered in awe, “are they really for us?”
    “Can we open them now, Mama?” Roger wanted to know.
    “No, Roger, we aren’t going to open them now. We will wait until tomorrow like we always do.”
    “But are they ours, Mama?” Ceddy persisted.
    “Reverend Powelson said they were, Ceddy,” Jody answered. “And you know ministers don’t lie.”
    Mrs. Kabrick couldn’t help but smile at her daughter’s words even while she blinked back a few tears. “Come children,” she directed, “carry these and put them under the tree. I’ll never get supper made if I have many more such interruptions. And no peeking now, Roger?”
    Roger flashed his mother a grin. “Yes, ma’am.” He had been known to slip in and unwrap a few of his presents before it was time.
    The sun was slipping farther towards the west, leaving Christmas Eve in dusky, wintery light. Inside all was warm and bright. The stew was simmering on the stove, casting forth enticing aromas of its tantalizing contents. Mrs. Kabrick was cutting a loaf of bread while Jody and Cindy set the table and Roger and Ceddy neatly stacked the wood they had just brought in. Everything was cozy when a knock interrupted their work.
    Wiping her hands on her apron, Mrs. Kabrick remarked, “Now who could it be this time?” and opened the door.
    There on the doorstep stood an older man. His clothes were threadbare but clean and he held his hat in his hands. “Good evening, ma’am. I don’t mean to trouble you, but could you be sparing a bite or two of food for a stranger? I’m willing to do anything you need done to earn it.” The man looked old and tired, but his manner was polite and respectful.
    For a moment Mrs. Kabrick hesitated. She really didn’t have much that this man could do, yet she couldn’t turn a hungry person away. She glanced back into the kitchen, wondering if her children were willing to share their Christmas Eve supper with a stranger. Jody was already reaching up into the cabinet for another bowl and plate. Roger was dragging a chair in from the front room while the twins adjusted the place settings at the table to fit in one more. Mrs. Kabrick smiled. “Come on in,” she invited.
    With a wondering look on his face, the older man entered the warm, bright kitchen and a smile crept across his face. “I haven’t seen a sight like this in ten long years,” the man sighed. “It’s been that long since . . . well—” His sentence ended abruptly as Roger beckoned.
    “Here. You can sit beside me. I’m Roger Kabrick. And that’s my brother Ceddy and those,” nodding his head towards the girls, “are Jody and Cindy, my sisters, and that’s my mom.” Roger held out his hand to the stranger.
    “Pleased to meet you, Roger Kabrick,” the man said, shaking the offered hand. “My name’s Adam Bruce.” He took the seat indicated as he said, “It was real nice of you to invite me in, ma’am, but I want to earn my vittles.”
    Turning from the stove with hot bowls of stew, she placed them one by one before those seated at the table, coming at last with one for herself. “No one should work on Christmas Eve on an empty stomach. Roger, ask the blessing, please.”
    Every head bowed as Roger asked a simple blessing on the food and offered thanks that they had someone to share it with.
    Mr. Bruce seemed strangely moved by the prayer and swallowed hard several times before he could take a bite of his supper. Then, between bites, he told the Kabrick’s about his life for the last ten years. “Ever since my wife died,” he said quietly, “I’ve just been on the move. Can’t seem to settle any place.” He told of “hopping cars” with the regular hobos, of sleeping under bridges and in barns.
    “What made you stop here?” Jody asked.
    The man smiled. “Well, it was partly the sight of your tree shining so brightly in the window and partly because of the well worn path from the street to the back door. Something just told me that here was a place where many came, and with that tree beckoning so invitingly, well, I just thought I’d up and see if I’d be welcome too.”
    Right then a knock sounded once again on the backdoor. With a tired sigh, Mrs. Kabrick pushed back her chair and stood up. Never could she remember a time before when there had been this many visitors on Christmas Eve. Who was it this time? A neighbor? A relative?

Who is this visitor?
Would you have invited the old man in for supper?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 19th

Touring Garlandsburg
Part 2

    I’m glad you enjoyed the view and the singing, but we must be on our way if we wish to reach the farthest edge of the village before night.

    Right down here is the newest shop in town. Ron’s Music Shop. Ron has been a member of the village since the beginning, but it was only this year that he was persuaded to open the music shop. As you can tell, he’s got a lovely touch to the violin; he has taught music for a number of years. It’s a little hard to hear him right now with the sleigh going by. That’s Reverend Goodman, his wife and daughter. No doubt they’re on their way to deliver Christmas packages around town. The Reverend’s brother is about somewhere too. No doubt we’ll meet him and his fiancĂ©e, Holly. They are always together.

    Now watch your step! This is the sledding hill. Would you like to take a spin or two? Sure, we have time. I wouldn’t mind a slide or two myself!

    Now that is what I call fun! Oh look, speaking of Holly and her fiancĂ©, there they are. Nicholas Goodman had come to stay with his brother for a season, but then he met Holly Stone. Yes, Holly is the eldest daughter of Mr. Stone the baker. A lovely couple the two of them make, don’t you think so?

    But here is our village cobbler. He really does such fine work, and his son, he’s the one out front with the shoe shining things, is a real hard worker. They haven’t been in Garlandsburg for many years, but now no one could imagine the village without them. If you have shoes to be fixed, or shined, or skates to be sharpened, this is where you should come.

    Here we are at the Needleworks & Quilts store. It’s a shop really, managed and run by Miss Ann. Let’s stop in and look around. Oh, hello Mrs. Stone. Last minute shopping? Merry Christmas! Let’s all go in. It’s sure to be warm and cozy inside. Ah, this is delightful. Take your time and look at the lovely quilts, the rag rugs, the scarves and afghans. She even has a new supply of warm mittens if your hands are cold.

    Yes, this is our village church. Charming, isn’t it? That’s little Johnny playing out in the yard. Mrs. Goodman’s sister is a widow who has been living with them this winter. Johnny is such a sweet boy. I wonder why he didn’t go to deliver packages in the sleigh? Perhaps he was still taking a nap when they left. And it begins to grow later, so let’s move on. You can come back for the Christmas Eve service if you’re still in town. Or the Christmas Day service.

    Our next stop is the pond. It looks like a busy place here this afternoon. If you have your skates you can take a turn or two. Or would you rather come back and skate when it is dark and the trees light up the pond? Yes, it is more charming then, also busier, unless you come during supper time.

    Ah, and we have reached the village pride and joy. Well, at least we’ve reached the home of Rufus Garland. If you can see in the windows, you’ll probably notice Mr. Garland and his wife, Betsy. And who’s that? Oh, that young girl is their granddaughter, Hannah. She’s a sweet girl; the mayor’s youngest sister.

    We are nearing the edge of the village now. This is the Carriage House. Not much of interest to look at, as Mr. Davis is out. But let’s warm our hands before his fire. Right next door, as you can see, is Barnacle Bill’s Boat House. He’s an old timer in these parts and does splendid work on any type of water craft. He’s always willing to work and sometimes his family hides his tools to make him take a holiday. Oh, be careful! Watch out for those snowballs! Brian and Brandon, Barnacle Bill’s twin boy,s are having a snowball fight. Looks like fun. I wish we had time to join them, but if we want to see the rest of the village by daylight, we’d best move on.

    Look, we can see the lighthouse. Oh dear, it looks like Landon Moore is having trouble with his fishing. At least his uncle is there to help him. There is Grandpa Donovan on the rock with Candle. They are probably waiting and watching for Adam’s ship to come in. (Adam is Grandpa Donovan’s grandson.) Crossing the bridge behind the boat house we can now reach the lighthouse. Did you notice the fisherman on the bridge, the one staring out to sea? That was Travis Donovan, Adam’s brother. They are all waiting for his ship to come in. We can stop by the lighthouse. I’m sure Crystal would be happy to have some visitors.

    And this is our last stop. We need to cross that little bridge over the rushing stream. Have you caught any fish, Mr. Shields? Well, perhaps Willie will catch one yet. This is the lodge where the Shields live. They love the outdoors and the peace of winter stillness on the hillside. Oh yes, they do come down to the center of the village, and everyone is welcome to their lodge. Let’s go in and warm up. Mrs. Shields is sure to have something hot for us. I think I smell gingerbread! Look, up there on the hill, deer! Step onto the porch. Isn’t it a lovely view? Hello, Andrew. How is your pony doing?

    And that brings our tour to an end. After we warm up with hot cider and fresh gingerbread, we’ll have to tramp back to the Carriage House. I’m sure they’ll have a sleigh and will drive us back to where we started. I hope you have enjoyed the tour of our unique Christmas village of Garlandsburg. Come back next year and see us again! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 18th

Touring Garlandsburg
Part 1

    Garlandsburg — a little holiday village nestled along the coast of New England. This little town is unique in several ways. Perhaps that is why is it so popular and why folks come back year after year.

    Let me introduce you to this little village, those who are responsible for its charm, and why this village is so different from your regular small towns. Come with me now and join the tour as I take you along the streets and hills of Garlandsburg, show you the sights, make you want to spend your money in the shops, tease your senses with smells, and tingle your toes and fingers with winter's brisk breeze.

    Garlandsburg was first established many years ago by Rufus and Sam Garland, two wealthy and influential brothers. They are getting on in years now and Sam has moved away from the area. The town originated with the idea of having a holiday town and since those early days it has become a destination for holiday travelers. Each year something new has been added to the village: a new shop, a bridge built over a stream, a skating pond, something. It has been a few years since many new faces have joined those who dwell in Garlandsburg, but it is not for lack of charm, for the village, as you will discover, is full of charm. It might simply be for lack of room.

    Another reason Garlandsburg is so popular with holiday tourists, and why the Grand Hotel is full every night, is because of something that no other village has. You see, Garlandsburg is only open during the month of December. The rest of the year the good folks of the village move back into a nearby town where they have regular houses and employment like the rest of the population. As soon as the last one has packed up and left, Rufus Garland and his contractors set to work. The entire town is redesigned, hills are leveled, new ones built up; the coastline is altered and the stream beds are re-channeled to fit the new layout. The shops, houses and other buildings are carefully removed from their current locations and, once the new landscape for the village is completed, they are settled in their new places. As you can imagine, all this takes quite a lot of planning and work, but Rufus Garland has not grown tired of this unique hobby of his. In fact, the supervising he does and being out in the fresh sea air so much, seem to have kept him quite robust in spite of his advancing years.

    Just before December 1st rolls around, the families who live in Garlandsburg pack up what they will need for the month and move back to their shops and houses. Many folks live in the rooms above their shops and have said that, since it was only for the month of December, no one minds being a little crowded. It is always an exciting day when the news is first passed around that Garlandsburg is ready for occupancy; folks hurry down to see the new layout and to discover where their shop or house has been relocated.

    Each shop or house, sleigh or group of people has a story to tell about living in Garlandsburg, and everyone whom I have talked with says that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are their favorite days of the entire month. (If the name of a shop or other location is a different color, you can click on it to read the vignette about that place. Note: not many places have one written yet.)

    “The crowds are fun,” says Mayor Jonah Garland, grandson of the town’s architect and founder, “but when the crowds have returned to their own towns, that is when Garlandsburg really comes alive. The local villagers have last minute shopping to do, there is skating on the pond, and a special Christmas Eve service at the church that almost everyone attends. One person must man the lighthouse at all times. And then there is Christmas Day.”

    And so, let us begin our tour of this quaint little village along the coast of New England, and by the time we are through, I’m sure you will wish you could visit it in person.

    Our first stop is the Hearthstone Bakery, home to Baker Stone and his family. The warm air when the door opens is full of the mouthwatering smells of hot cinnamon buns, freshly baked bread, pastries, cookies and the like. But don’t fill up too much here. There’s a cafe just down the street.

    Out in front is Krisa Johnston, you met her mother and brother in the bakery just now, doing the hoola-hoop. Can you keep it going as many times as her?

    Right next door is the Clockworks shop. We have to stop in and see the intricate clocks and watches Mr. Getty has, and don’t forget to set your own watch by the clock in his tower. Ah, I see Postman Owen trying to get Dr. Ketchum’s attention. It seems that the doctor is always in a hurry.

    Now if you’ll take a look between the Clockworks and the Cafe, you’ll notice the Grand Hotel. Of course you’ll probably only notice the cafe sign on the side of the building from where we stand. I’m afraid that unless you have reservations, you won’t find a room in the hotel, for it has been filled since December 1st.  And there’s nothing quite like a good snowfall to make you feel like a youngster again. Don’t you want to join in the fun?

    Your toes are probably growing chilly so we will stop by the Grind Central Cafe. Here they serve the best hot drinks in the village, and don’t forget their soup of the day! We might as well eat a bit as the rest of the tour may take a while. When we come out you’ll probably notice Edwin Ketchum, the doctor’s eldest son, selling poinsettias. The ones he has left on Christmas Eve night will go to the church.

    Oh, look up on the hill behind the cafe! That’s Mayor Garland and his little family caroling. They have fine voices. Would you like to go listen? All right. Let’s move up to the town square where we can hear better. But wait, first you should give the bell a ring; everyone does. It’s a village tradition to ring the bell when you pass by.

    Ah, here we are. Isn’t it a lovely view? You can see right down over the rooftops. And if you look in the right place, yes, over there, see? That’s the lighthouse. And listen to those voices. Such a delightful song, Mayor. What? You would like my guests to pick a Christmas song? Well, what would you like?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 17th

If you've read "The Lion in the Box" then you'll already be familiar with these stars. If you haven't, then you'll get to see what you're missing. :) I've made these stars with friends and even the younger ones can make them with a little help. It's also a great way to use those old Christmas cards. And if you want to add to the look of your star, poke holes with a needle to let light shine out when you're done.

Click to make it larger
(If you'd like to get a pdf file of this pattern to cut and use, or print on colored paper and draw your own pictures, just send me an e-mail and I'll e-mail it back to you. I'd put it on here, but I don't know how.)

Cut two stars out.
Cut the pattern out. Cut on the dotted lines and score on the solid lines around the stars. (I usually use a pin to score my lines. Just put a ruler by the lines and trace them with a push pin.)

Fold the scored lines.
Once the star is cut and folded, glue the funny little piece on one point of the star to the underneath part of the other point beside it. This will make a fat star.

 Once you have two stars folded and glued this way, fit them together and glue the edges of one star on top of the edges of the other. You will have little holes on the inner parts of the star. These are great for putting over a light especially if you poked holes in your star for the light to shine through.

Happy star making!

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16th

Are you in a Christmas baking mood? Would you like to try some new recipes from other countries? Well, if you are, then you've come to the right spot! Here's a free downloadable cookbook with recipes from different countries, and some look mighty tasty. I don't like to cook, but my sister does, and I may just see if she wants to try some of these recipes out.

Not only can you get this cookbook from Knowledge Quest, they said that if they reach a certain number of subscribers they will give to others through the Gospel for Asia Christmas Catalog. You'll have to go and read all about it. And then you can share it with your family and friends.

I'd love to know what you make and how you like it!
Happy Baking!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15th

If you have never seen Amahl and the Night Visitors, you need to watch this! I watched it for the first time last year that I can remember and loved it! So I hope you'll take time to watch this. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dec. 14th - Christmas Eve - Part 4

I thought you all might enjoy the next part of

Christmas Eve at the Backdoor
Part 4
Last time . . .
    A frantic sounding knock caused Mrs. Kabrick to hurry back to the kitchen and open the door.
    “Why Mr. Knutzen,” she exclaimed in surprise. “What is wrong? Do come in.”
    The German immigrant, and near neighbor, stepped inside and blurted out in his broken English, “Please, you to come. Mine vife . . . ze baby . . . she ish alone . . .” he made a few gestures, his face lined with worry as he tried to recall the English words.
    They were not necessary, for Mrs. Kabrick understood. “The baby is coming and you must get the doctor and want me to stay with her while you are gone?”
    “Yah, yah!” the man’s face relaxed a little. “You come, yah?”
    “Of course I’ll come.” And she snatched up her warm coat, turned down the flame under the cider, checked to make sure Jingle Bell was sleeping in her box and pulled rubbers over her shoes. “Do you know where to find the doctor?”
    “Yah, I tink.”
    “Good, then you go straight for him and I’ll go to your wife.” The backdoor shut behind the two forms and the kitchen fell silent save for the gentle, steady ticking of the clock.

    It was nearly two hours later when the door opened and Mrs. Kabrick entered. Slowly she removed her rubbers, slipped off her coat and hung it up. Smiling, she sniffed the hot cider. “A cup of that will do me good.” Soon she was sitting at the table, a steaming cup of cider before her, warming her cold hands, while in her lap a small, grey engine was purring loudly. Sighing, Mrs. Kabrick closed her eyes as she mused, “A little boy. Mr. Knutzen was so proud and pleased. Our turkey is so large, we can spare some for our neighbors tomorrow. Clara won’t be doing any cooking and it would be a shame if they couldn’t share in our bounty.”
    Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock. It seemed hesitant, almost unsure, as if the giver wasn’t sure he really wanted to knock. Rising, Mrs. Kabrick slipped Jingle Bell into the pocket of her apron and went to answer the knock.
    “Hello, ma’am,” a pleasant faced young man greeted Mrs. Kabrick. “This wouldn’t by any chance be the Conway place, would it?”
    “No, I’m sorry. They live on the other side of town.”
    The young man looked disappointed and bewildered. “I was afraid I was lost,” he groaned. “Now I’m sure of it. Would it be too much trouble for you to tell me how to reach their place?”
    “Not at all. Just you step right in here and warm up a bit. It’ll be cold enough tramping all the way across town. Here, have a seat. Would you like a cup of hot cider?” As she spoke, Mrs. Kabrick had ushered her guest inside and shut the door. At his nod, she poured another cup of the steaming, spicy drink.
    “Thank you, ma’am!” Gratefully he took a drink and closed his eyes. “This tastes like home! Oh, I’m sorry. I haven’t even introduced myself. My name is Marshall Smith. I’m a nephew of Mrs. Conway. I wired them I was coming but didn’t know when I’d arrive. They sent me instructions, but either they were mixed up, or I was.” He gave a little laugh. “I’m not sure which.”
    “Directions can be confusing,” she agreed. “And their street name and ours are very similar.”
    The backdoor was flung open at that moment and four bright eyed, rosy cheeked children burst into the kitchen all talking at once.
    “Children, children,” Mrs. Kabrick scolded gently. “Have you no manners?”
    Suddenly aware of the visitor who was grinning broadly at the sight of such youthful energy, the young Kabrick’s fell silent.
    “Marshall, I’d like you to meet my children,” Mrs. Kabrick smiled. “Jody, Roger, Cindy and Ceddy. Children, Marshall was looking for the Conway home . . .”
    “Oh, Mama,” Roger burst out, “I could take him there if Edward hasn’t left yet.”
    “Edward Conway?” the young guest sprang up eagerly.
    “Yes,” Roger grinned. “He went skating with us and it was keen!”
    Mrs. Kabrick, always quick when it came to decisions, ordered briskly, “Roger, run out and catch Edward if you can. It would make Marshall’s walk much more enjoyable.”
    Before she had finished speaking, Roger was out the door and a moment later he returned with his employer's son. With hearty thanks to Mrs. Kabrick for her kind hospitality, Marshall departed with his cousin.
    “What a whirlwind!” Mrs. Kabrick sighed. “Now what’s wrong? Cindy, what is the matter?”
    With tears streaming down her cheeks, Cindy sank down on the floor. “I can’t find Jingle Bell!” she sobbed.
    “Why, Cindy, the kitten is in my pocket, see?” Gently putting her hand in, Mrs. Kabrick drew out the kitten who blinked and stretched.
    Cindy’s tears dried instantly and the children, once their coats and boots, scarves, hats and mittens had been taken off, settled down in a circle on the floor with cups of hot cider and the kitten, who was ready to play, in their midst.
    “Children, as soon as you are done with your cider, why don’t you take the kitten into the living room and turn on the tree lights. It’s beginning to grow dark and I can’t move around and get supper ready with the four of you underfoot.”
    With giggles from the twins, the last few drinks of cider were quickly swallowed and the four children vacated the kitchen for a place near their decorated Christmas tree.
    Right in the middle of cutting up an onion for the stew, a knock sounded on the backdoor and a voice called out, “Mrs. Kabrick?”
    “Come right in,” Mrs, Kabrick called, recognizing the voice of the minister, Reverend Powelson.
    “Merry Christmas!” Reverend Powelson called as he opened the door and stepped in, his arms full of packages. The deep tone of his voice seemed to be a magnet, for in half a minute the children had crowded into the kitchen eager to know what was happening while Mrs. Kabrick hurried to put her onions in the pot and wash her hands. “Mrs. Kabrick,” Reverend Powelson smiled, shaking the widow’s hand warmly, “I know it is growing late, but my wife insisted that I deliver all the gifts before I ate my supper.”

How many visitors are they going to get?
Have you ever had a crazy Christmas Eve like this?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dec. 13th - Christmas Eve - Part 3

Welcome to Fiction Friday!
We've had snow on the ground since before last Friday and it's been cold. Yesterday it was above freezing things were starting to melt. This morning it's warmer and we're even getting some rain. However, there's another chance of rain, snow and ice tonight. We'll see what happens. It's been fun to have snow before Christmas.

I don't know about you, but my week has been busy. We got the last of our decorating done and we made cookies with the kiddos on Wednesday evening. It was pretty fun. Doodle Bug is in love with hippopotamuses for some reason and pretends there is one outside. He'll say, "Oh, I see a hippopotamus out dere." So I created a hippopotamus cookie for him. That's the first one he wanted to decorate and eat. Then he told Daddy he ate a hippopotamus. And he's only 2 1/2.

I had every intention of getting a lot of writing done this week. Ha. It didn't happen. I worked a little on the Graham Quartet and a little on a new Christmas story. That's it.

Tonight Dad and I have our Sheriff's Citizens' Academy Graduation at the Sheriff's Department Christmas party. Should be interesting.

And now I'll let you get on to your story. I hope you've been enjoying all the other posts.

Christmas Eve at the Backdoor
Part 3

Last time . . .
    “Think we’ll get snow, Mom?” Roger asked eagerly.
    Looking up, Mrs. Kabrick shook her head. “I don’t know, Roger. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. But see here, two more Christmas cards.” She held up the envelopes and eager hands reached for them. “Whose turn is it to open them?” she asked.
    “Ceddy’s and mine,” Cindy squealed, jumping up and down making her brown braids bounce.
    Before anyone could say anything else, a soft meow was heard and the children hurried over to the box where Jingle Bell, roused by the commotion, was crying for attention.
    “Here, Jody,” Mrs. Kabrick directed, “warm up some milk for her dinner. Cindy, Ceddy, you may open the cards, but be careful to save the stamps for Mr. Findley. Roger, set the table please, and I’ll get started on our own dinner. The morning has gone by so quickly that I didn’t realize it was so late.”
    Just then another knock was heard on the door and it was opened and one of their neighbors, Elsa Birks stepped in. “Oh, Nancy, I am so glad you are home. I already tried the Perry’s but they left earlier this morning to drive over to his parent’s house for Christmas. And the Smith’s weren’t home either and I’ve already been away from the house so long that who knows what dire things might have happened.”
    “What is it that you need, Elsa?” Mrs. Kabrick asked, pushing the package which had arrived in the mail farther back on the counter and setting down a bowl of stock she had taken from the icebox.
    “Salt. Do you have a little to spare? I didn’t know I was out, and I’m sure the grocery is already closed, it being Christmas Eve and all, and me with not even a pinch of salt in the house! I only need a teaspoon. Oh, thank you so much, Nancy,” she exclaimed as Mrs. Kabrick pulled down her tin of salt and held it out. “I brought my own tin to put it in.” And Elsa pulled from her coat pocket a salt canister. “Can you spare a teaspoon, Nancy?” she asked.
    “Of course,” was the hearty reply. “Roger just brought some home with him yesterday. Will a teaspoon be enough? You are welcome to more if you need it.”
    “Well . . .” The neighbor hesitated. “Perhaps I should take just a little more to last me until the store opens again the day after Christmas.”
    “You go right ahead,” Mrs. Kabrick urged with a smile. “No one should be without salt for Christmas Day.”
    Mrs. Birks soon departed with the salt, wondering aloud if her house would still be standing when she arrived.
    “What a morning!” Mrs. Kabrick fairly flew about her kitchen preparing dinner and trying not to step on her children who seemed to be everywhere at once. Before long steaming bowls of soup were set on the table and the family gathered around.
    Roger asked the blessing and then for several minutes the only sound was the clink of spoons against bowls. The hot soup tasted good, the kitchen was pleasant, and tomorrow was Christmas.
    “It’s less than twelve hours until Christmas,” Roger exclaimed after looking at the clock.
    “You are not getting up at midnight this year , Roger Kabrick!” Mrs. Kabrick decreed firmly though her eyes twinkled.
    Roger grinned and quickly finished the last of his soup.
    A sudden shout, voices calling and a few squeals alerted the Kabrick family that something was up. When a loud, quick knock came, Jody and Roger sprang to their feet to answer it, but Jody reached the door first. Flinging it open, a swirl of cold winter wind swept into the kitchen and a breathless voice exclaimed, “The pond’s frozen! We’re all going skating. Want to come?”
    Jody turned at once. “Please Mama, can’t we go?” And the other children added their pleadings.
    Looking past her children’s eager faces to the boyish one in the doorway, Mrs. Kabrick asked, “Paul, who tested the ice?”
    “Dad did,” Paul Stone replied. “He said it was frozen solid this morning and it’s only gettin’ colder now.”
    “All right. You may go.” Mrs. Kabrick was nearly smothered with hugs and kisses for a moment, as the two youngest hurled themselves at her in delight.
    “We’ll be right out,” Jody assured Paul before quickly shutting the backdoor. “Come on, let’s get ready!”
    In less than ten minutes the four Kabrick children, warmly dressed and with skates slung over their shoulders, stood in the kitchen.
    “Watch out for each other,” Mrs. Kabrick cautioned, tying Cindy’s scarf and pulling Ceddy’s hat farther down over his ears. “Don’t stay out too late, and if you get cold, come home. We don’t want any sick children on Christmas Day. All right now, run along and enjoy your skating.”
    Assuring her that they would, Roger opened the door. Their merry voices, mixing with those of many other children, came floating into the kitchen making Mrs. Kabrick smile. “If I weren’t tired, I’d be tempted to go join them,” she thought, slowly beginning to clear off the table. “It’s been a long time since I’ve gone skating.
    Silently she washed the dishes, wiped off the table and swept the floor. “I’ll just make some apple cider,” she decided. “It can simmer until the children are home. There’s nothing quite like a cup of something hot to drink to warm a person right up. And no doubt they’ll be frozen through.”
    It wasn’t until the cider was slowing heating up on the stove that Mrs. Kabrick noticed the package. Picking it up she looked closely at the postmark and then smiled. Her brother never forgot special days. Opening the parcel, she discovered a few smaller packages wrapped in bright paper inside. Each one bore a name and the words: Do Not Open Until Christmas.
    With a light step, Mrs. Kabrick carried the packages and tucked them among the branches of the Christmas tree. For several minutes she stood and looked at the tree, thinking of how kind Mr. Ditty had been to let them have such a lovely one.
    A frantic sounding knock caused Mrs. Kabrick to hurry back to the kitchen and open the door.

Who do you think is at the door now?
Have any of you gone ice skating on Christmas Eve?
Questions or comments?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 12th

Now that all our decorating is done (finally) I thought you might enjoy seeing a little of it. Enjoy!

The top of the china cabinet

Wreath above the piano

Our Christmas tree. It's lots smaller than other years.

Upstairs in the new room

This is a wooden nativity puzzle.
(Doodle Bug would probably say there was a hippopotamus in there and maybe Jonah and some Indians.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 11th

I remember a Christmas many years ago when I was only seven. Every year my mom's side of the family would get together for a few days out at a church camp where we would hang out, go hiking, work puzzles, read books and share meals together. It was always a special time, but that year it was different. You see, I had the chicken-pox. My older brother and sister had had them years before, when I wasn't even around, but my younger two cousins hadn't had them. I also had three Aunts who were expecting at the time. What were we to do? We just couldn't miss the Christmas gathering. It was at last decided that I would just remain in the downstairs part of the lodge (where all the bedrooms were and a large room with a ping-pong table) while the cousins remained upstairs.
My next youngest cousin, Nicky, was only three and he would come to the top of the stairs to sing to me. It was really sweet, but another thing that made that Christmas so special was all the extra, one-on-one attention I got from my uncles, aunts and grandparents. I got to eat dinner each night with two chosen people by candlelight and one of my uncles taught me how to make these darling little boxes out of old Christmas cards.

I've never forgotten that Christmas and whenever I see these boxes, I remember that special year. And remember, if a seven-year-old can make these, so can you. Have fun!

1. Construction paper, old Christmas cards, Birthday cards, church bulletins, etc.
2. Ruler
3. Pencil
4. Scissors
5. (Glue if you need or want it.)

Step One:

Cut two squares - one 1/4 inch larger than the other from your paper or card. Draw diagonal lines to each corner on both squares. (I usually only draw lines in the middle.)

Step Two:
 Fold each corner to the center.

Step Three:
Fold each side to center, and then back to form crease.

Step Four:
Cut slits in sides 1 and 2, on the crease from the edge to the crease. (The sides on the right and left in the picture.)

Step Five:
Unflold sides 1 and 2 between slits. Fold up sides 3 and 4, folding small ends in at right angles to form a box.

Tuck sides 1 and 2 over the small ends and into the box. (Put a dot of glue on bottom of inside to hold corners down if you wish. Most boxes made with Christmas cards don't need it.)

Oblong boxes may be made following the same principle.

Happy Box Making! I'd love to hear how yours turned out!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 10th

Now that you've had a chance to read my old favorite Christmas stories, I thought I'd share my other favorite books for Christmas. I don't think I really have any order to these, I just really enjoy the stories.

Sleigh Bells for Windy Foot
Frances Frost
(This is a delightful story about the Clark family and some special friends. If you've ever read any of the other Windy Foot books you'll enjoy this one.)

The Candle in the Window
Margaret Hill McCarter
(This is an old reprint published by Lamplighter. I liked this simple story.)

The Lion in the Box
Marguerite De Angeli
(Oh the charm of this story! I'll show you in another post how to make stars like they did.)

Christmas Stories from Grandma's Attic
Arleta Richardson
(If you like the Grandma's Attic books, then you are sure to like this one. It's all the Christmas stories and some you won't find in the other books, all combined to make one book of fun Christmas stories.)

The Christmas Stove (a story of Switzerland)
The Christmas Donkey (a story of France)
Arne and the Christmas Star (a story of Norway)
The Top o' Christmas Morning (a story of Ireland)
Erik's Christmas Camera (a story of Sweden)
Kaatje and the Christmas Compass (a story of Holland)
Alta Halverson Seymour
(If you enjoy reading about Christmas time in other countries, than you should read these lovely books by Alta Seymour. They are told so well and quite enjoyable!)

I hope you get a chance this December to curl up with a good Christmas story and be transported to another time and place for a few hours, back to when life was simpler. Happy reading!

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9th

Pull out your scissors and let's have a little fun cutting. I was looking for something online and came across this free pattern for a Scherenschnitte (Sharon-sh-nett) tree and loved it. I decided that I didn't want to put hearts on my tree, so after I cut out the pattern, I traced it and put candles instead of hearts. I really like how it turned out and I hope you do to. 

And if you don't want to cut two of them and sew them together, just cut one and put it on a Christmas card. Have fun!