I hope you all had a merry Christmas yesterday. It's hard to believe that Christmas Day 2014 has already come and gone. This is rather a strange year for us. It will be the first time in my life that my family is not either already at my grandparents or heading up there today. We are going up on Monday instead.
This week was more relaxing than last week, but the days didn't seem much slower. :P We had "Christmas" with my brother and his family on Saturday and enjoyed watching the kids open their gifts. Sunday night was the Christmas program at church. My sister and I got to go caroling with a group from church on Monday night to the homes of the widows in the church. That was so much fun! Tuesday and Wednesday I didn't do a whole lot. I got a few things taken care of and I did read some.
And if you or anyone you know, would like to get a free kindle copy of "The Graham Quartet and the Mysterious Strangers" you can get it on Amazon! Feel free to share this information with anyone you would like! And if you've read this story, be the first to leave a review on Amazon about it!
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As for writing, well, let's just say I tried. Didn't get more than a few sentences written, but I did try. Not sure if I'll be able to get the final Christmas story finished before next year or not. It would be nice if I could. You all can pray I get the right ideas and the "want to" to finish it.
I know I'm looking forward to getting back to "Dr. Morgan" in January! I'm as anxious to find out what happens as the rest of you are. And if any of you have any more ideas, suggestions, questions or anything for or about this story, let me know! I'll be re-reading all the parts I have written and any suggestions I have received before I start writing.
But I suppose you are ready to find out what happens in this story. So here it is.
First Christmas in America
The day dragged slowly by. With the house as clean as soap and water and many pairs of sturdy young arms could make it, and not much else to do, the children spent hours roaming from room to room looking out the curtainless windows in the hopes of seeing the longed for sight of Mama, Viktor, Lidiya, Yury and Sofia. When they grew cold, they sat in the warm kitchen where Ana had a large pot of thin soup simmering, and told stories. They sang every Christmas song they knew and every few minutes one of them would jump up to run and look out a window.
“Oh, I do wish they would hurry up,” exclaimed Polina for the twentieth time. “All this running to the windows is making me tired.”
Ana laughed, “Then I suggest you sit down for a while.”
“But we might miss them,” Polina replied, and jumping back up, ran to peer out the front windows. The other children followed her, for they hadn’t looked out the windows for three whole minutes and they might have missed something.
Papa was outside. He had taken the coal shovel he had found and was slowly shoveling a path from the front of the house to the road. This at least gave the children something to watch and no one noticed the taxi coming down the road until it stopped before their house.
Klara watched in breathless excitement. Would it be another telegram or would Mama get out? She didn’t have to wonder long, for the driver climbed out and opened the back door. Out stepped a slim figure who ran through the snow to throw herself into Papa’s arms.
“Lidiya!” Polina shouted. “They have come!”
There was a wild race to the door and the Ivanski children, unmindful of coats, tumbled out to be reunited with Mama, Viktor, Lidiya, Yury and Sofia. For a time confusion reigned and all tongues chattered at once. No one noticed that the driver stood watching them for a few minutes before climbing back in his automobile and driving on up the road.
It seemed impossible to ever get the Ivanski family in to the house, but at last, Ana took Sofia from Mama and carried her inside where it was warmer. Klara saw her go and followed with Yury and Marina clinging to her hands. This act attracted the attention of the others and they quickly hurried inside too, for the wind was bitter though they hadn’t noticed it before.
Klara never could remember clearly everything that happened next. Everyone had to warm up in the kitchen before seeing all the house; stories of what had happened since they had last seen each other had to be told and commented on. Mama praised the cleaning, and Viktor went down to the basement with Papa to take a look at the furnace. Neither one, however, could discover how to make it work and they had at last given it up.
During the cleaning of the house, the girls had discovered a small door, before unnoticed. This hid a narrow staircase which led to the attic. In that room several old, broken pieces of furniture had been discovered and these Papa had brought down. He had only had time to mend the rocking chair, and here Mama was established while they ate their simple supper.
“It is a good house, Papa,” Mama told him, with a smile. “God has been good to us.”
Papa nodded. “Yah, Mama, God has been good to us. Ve have a house, I have a job after Christmas, and ve are all together again. Let us thank Him.”
Together the family bowed their heads while Papa offered a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving.
Dusk was settling over the white world outside and the Ivanski children left the warm kitchen for the larger front room. Viktor built a blazing fire and the children were quiet a few minutes before impetuous Polina burst out, “I can’t wait until tomorrow!”
“Why?” Lidiya asked, admiring the mantelpiece.
“Because tomorrow is Christmas!”
“Polina,” Ana said quietly, “tomorrow will be not much different from today.”
“But tomorrow is Christmas,” Kristina began.
“And we will surely find little gifts like we always do,” Polina chimed in.
Ana shook her head. “But Papa has almost no money, Polina. What he has we must save for food.”
A moment of silence pervaded the room. The little ones looked at their elders, trying to understand what they were talking about. “But we have to have Christmas!” Polina pouted, folding her arms. “It is our first Christmas in America and—“
Here Viktor interrupted. “See here, Polina, we will just have to make next Christmas extra special.”
But Polina wasn’t to be convinced. “I don’t want to wait. I want it tomorrow!”
“Well, . . .” Klara began slowly, “what if we make it special.”
“How?” Kristina looked at her almost twin. “How, Klara?”
But Klara was looking out the window. “Viktor, am I seeing things?” She heard her older brother step up behind her. “See, over there. Do those look like moving lights?”
All the children crowded eagerly around the windows and then fell silent. Into the quiet room, through the window panes, came the faint sound of a song.
“Our cousins told about people who go sing Christmas songs before houses,” Lidiya whispered. “Perhaps they are coming to sing for us.”
No one offered a reply for the song grew a little louder and the bobbing lights came closer. Klara turned and slipped into the kitchen to tell Mama and Papa about it. Mr. and Mrs. Ivanski joined their children at the windows where they too, peered into the darkening night. Could it be carolers? But no one knew them.
“Have you made any friends here?” Mama asked.
Papa shook his head. “No, I have only spoken vith the taxi driver and the shop keeper. He is the von who had the key to the house.”
The music was now so close they could hear the words:
“Oh come let us adore Him,
Oh come let us adore Him,
Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord”
The unknown singers turned onto the partially shoveled path before the house. There seemed to be dozens of them. Several carried a large tree, some had covered baskets, others had packages of some sort and they were all coming right to the front door of the Ivanski home.
“They must have the wrong house,” Mama gasped. “Why do they come here?”
A rap on the door prevented any answer. For a moment no one moved. The knock sounded again and a voice called out, “Mr. Ivanski, this is Mr. Weber from the store in town.”
Papa stepped over and opened the door. A shout of “Merry Christmas!” filled the air. “Vhat is this?” Papa asked, as his family gathered around the open door in wonder.
“We all wanted to welcome you to America,” Mr. Weber beamed. “These folks are all your neighbors or from town, and we wanted to make sure you all had a merry Christmas.”
As Klara and the rest of the family watched with eyes wide with wonder, the entire group of new neighbors trooped into the house. There was much talk and laughter, many friendly greetings, smiles and kind words. Klara found a secluded doorway and from there saw a tree set up and decorated as if by magic. From nowhere candles and lanterns appeared to light the room, while brightly wrapped packages were set under the branches. The baskets were carried by pleasant faced women into the kitchen and their contents of bright and colorful jars of food, several pies, tins of cookies and even a few bags of flour and sugar were placed on the pantry shelves. A pile of warm quilts was stacked against the wall. Sofia and Marina were seen hugging new dolls while Yury held a teddy bear tightly in his arms.
When at last everything had been done, and even the furnace had been made to work, the visitors gathered near the door and Mr. Weber spoke again. “Merry Christmas, friends. May God bless your new life here. And we all wish you a happy new year!” Then, almost as suddenly as they had come in, the visitors departed, and the sound of their singing echoed across the snowy fields on the still night air:
“Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright.”
Klara felt a sudden tightness in her throat as she looked around the room now glowing with the candles on the tree, at the mysterious packages under its branches, the toys in the younger ones’ arms, at her family gathered together. Tears began to trickle down her cheeks. She knew that no matter how many Christmases she had, never would she forget her first Christmas in America.
What did you think?
Did you enjoy it?
The last part with all the neighbors, really happened.