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 5Last 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?