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Now here is the end of this Christmas story, just like I promised! Enjoy! And we'll return to our regularly scheduled program next Friday, which is the first of the New Year!
The Christmas She Wanted
The snow had stopped falling some time during the night, leaving a good foot and a half of snow on the ground. “I don’t think it’s done snowing either,” Mr. Rush remarked to his wife after taking an observation from one of the large windows.
“Well, I’m just glad we aren’t driving right now. Is anyone coming for breakfast?”
“I’m here, Mom!” and Lester dashed from the ladder to the kitchen. “And Brad is coming too.”
“What about Shawn?”
“Nope. He’s still sleeping. Where’s Dixie?”
Setting a plate of pancakes on the table, Mrs. Rush replied, “Still sleeping. I have a feeling that those two think the only way to survive this delay is by hibernation.”
“They’re crazy,” was Lester’s observation.
Mr. Rush looked at his wife as Brad came to the table. “Should we wake them?”
She shook her head. “No, let’s let them sleep. It might be a long day anyway. And there’s always tomorrow.”
It was mid-morning before Shawn stumbled sleepily down the ladder. Dixie had beaten him getting up by only five minutes. Dad and the younger two boys were playing a game of Monopoly on the floor before the fire while Mom knitted nearby and acted the part of the real-estate agent and handed over the properties which sold.
“What’s for breakfast, Mom?” yawned Shawn.
“There’s some pancake mix on the counter if you and Dixie want to make yourselves some. Or there is bread for toast.” She made no move to rise and fix breakfast, so Shawn and Dixie moved slowly out to the kitchen.
The rest of the morning dragged. The monopoly game ended with Brad owning over half the properties and building hotels on a third of them. “Let’s play something else,” Lester suggested, putting the lid on the box.
“Well, what else is in the closet?” Mr. Rush had discovered a closet with some games and things, for which he was thankful. They should at least be interesting enough for Lester and Brad.
“Hey, what are those long thingies?” Brad asked, pointing to a large box.
“Oh, let’s get ‘em out and see!” Quickly Lester and Brad pulled out the box and opened it.
“Lincoln Logs!” Mrs. Rush exclaimed. “I haven’t seen toys like that since I was a girl. Here, look, you can build all kinds of buildings. Why, there looks like enough here to build a small western town.”
“Cool!” The younger boys began building and even Shawn, having finished breakfast, sat down and began constructing a cabin.
Seeing her boys busy and her husband dozing by the fire, Mrs. Rush looked around for Dixie. She found her in the kitchen looking at a book. “What did you find, Dix?” she asked.
“It’s just a cookbook, but don’t these cookies sound good?” And Dixie pointed to a recipe.
“Too bad we couldn’t get to the store and buy a few things for making these.”
After looking at the recipe, Mrs. Rush said, “Actually, Dixie, we may have the ingredients. I thought we might want some cookies and bought what I thought we might need. I also noticed that there were spices and some other things in the cabinets.”
Dixie looked up with an eager expression. “Do you think we can use them?” she asked.
“Why don’t you call and find out?”
“Where’s the phone?”
It didn’t take Dixie long to make the call and get her answer. There was a family in the cabin last and they had stayed for two weeks. When they left they didn’t want to bother taking all the extra spices and things home. They knew they wouldn’t spoil and so left them. Dixie was thrilled to learn that she could use whatever she wanted.
“When can we start, Mom?”
Mrs. Rush looked at the clock. “What about after lunch?”
The hot tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches were quickly devoured, and Shawn said he didn’t remember tasting such a good lunch.
No sooner had the lunch dishes been washed and put away then Dixie began looking to see if they had everything for those cookies. They did.
Gathered around the fire that evening, Mrs. Rush noticed the pleasant expressions on the faces of each one. Lester was leaning against Dixie, curled up in a ball on one end of the couch. “Those cookies were really good, Dixie,” he was telling her. “I could eat them every day.”
“Yeah, they were good,” Shawn agreed, offering a smile to his sister. “Can you make more tomorrow?”
“If we have the right stuff, I want to try another kind. I didn’t know baking cookies was so much fun, Mom.” And Dixie laughed.
“Hey, Dad,” Brad asked, “can we play Charades again tomorrow?”
A chorus of “Yeah, let’s!” echoed from the other children. The family had passed almost two hours in a hilarious game of charades. Never did Mr. Rush remember laughing so much with his children as he had during that game.
“Didn’t we use all the cards?”
Shawn shook his head. “Nope, only half.”
Putting her hand to her side, Mrs. Rush gave an exaggerated groan. “Just thinking about so much laughter is making my side hurt again.”
The laugh that followed died out and the bright flames of the fire became the focus of attention for the whole family for some minutes.
Finally Dixie spoke, her voice quieter in the silent room. “It’s kind of early for bed, Dad. What are we going to do now?”
“We—l—l,” Dad drew the word out slowly. “When I was looking around the cabin today, I discovered . . .” He paused and looked at each eager face. “I discovered a bookshelf with some books on it. And one of them was a Christmas story.” He held up a red book. “This is one I enjoyed as a boy, and I think we’ll all enjoy it now. That is, if anyone wants to listen to me read it.”
Only a few days ago Dixie and Shawn, at least, would have declined on the excuse that they were “busy.” But after today, the thought of listening to their Dad read a Christmas story just like he used to do when they were younger was very appealing and each gave an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Brad and Lester eagerly chimed in with their agreement and they all settled a little more comfortably for the story.
Mr. Rush opened the book and began. “Sleigh Bells for Windy Foot, by Frances Frost. Chapter one, ‘Tish is Coming!’ . . .”
It was late when the story was at last over. Everyone had sat in silence, lost in the simple, yet well told, story. Only Shawn had gotten up now and then to add another log or two to the fire. As Mr. Rush shut the book softly, a deep sigh was heard.
“Mom,” Brad said softly, “I think we need to have more books in the house.”
“Would you read them instead of playing games on the computer or your iPad?”
No answer came, only thoughtful silence.
Mr. Rush looked down at his watch. “I had no idea it was so late! No wonder Lester is falling asleep. Tomorrow is Christmas. Let’s read the Christmas story now and then we had all better get to bed. Shawn, will you read it this year?”
In the dim light of the quiet cabin, the Rush family listened to Shawn read the familiar story of the first Christmas which somehow never grows old. To each of them the story held a new meaning. Always before they had rushed through the day, spending time playing games on their electronic gadgets, complaining when they had to do things, picking on their siblings and going to bed thinking only of the presents they would get in the morning, never really taking the time to understand the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus Christ didn’t come to get everything He could from life, He came to give. And that Gift was for each person who would accept it.
Somehow a feeling of wonder seemed to creep over the four Rush children, and in a subdued manner, they told their parents good-night and went off to bed with not even a question about tomorrow or asking if they were going to open the presents they had brought along to open at Grandma’s.
Watching the last flickering flames in the fireplace, Mrs. Rush said softly, “This is the kind of Christmas I was missing, but I didn’t know it would take a snow slide in the mountains and a heavy snowfall to bring it.”
Mr. Rush smiled. “God does work in many ways.”
If you were stuck like the Rushes were,
what would you have liked to do?
Will you be back next year?