Friday, December 29, 2017

There's a Reading Challenge Comin'

Mornin' Friday Fans,
Well, I ain't quite sure it's Friday. This weeks been such a strange week with being sick an' all, that I don't rightly know what day a the week this is. This here computer says it's Friday, so I reckon maybe it is. ;)

It has been a strange week. I came down with the virus that's been going around our area (chills, aches, fever, cough) on Sunday afternoon. On Christmas morning I was tired, achy, and cold. My dad came down with the same thing around the time we finished opening presents. My sister had a headache and was really tired. My mom had a cough from something else and hadn't been sleeping well, so our Christmas day was a bit strange. Dad slept most of the afternoon. I took several naps during the day. And it really didn't feel much like Christmas.
Tuesday Dad and I were still fighting the virus, and I had started coughing. It was (and is) a nasty cough. More naps, not much getting done.
Wednesday was the final Puppet Outreaches for the puppet team at church. And I couldn't go. :( But at least my sister could. By afternoon my energy was coming back. The aches and chills were gone. All I had left was the cough. And it's a cough that doesn't want to go away.
Yesterday I was coughing more, but Mom was feeling better and getting more sleep!
And now it's today.

I haven't written.

And I don't know if I'll even attempt to post things on here much longer. However, I was thinking about sending short stories I write out to "test readers" instead of posting them on here. 

Oh, and starting on January 1st, Read Another Page is hosting a Reading Challenge! Complete with prizes, "stickers" and a list of fun categories to read books from. Check it out by clicking the button below. And let me know if you are going to join. ;)
Read Another Page 2018 Reading Challenge

Have you ever participated in a Reading Challenge?
Does it sound like fun?
How was your Christmas?

Friday, December 22, 2017

Kelsey's Christmas - Part 7

Good morning FFFs,
I can not believe it's the 22nd of December! Christmas is Monday! Impossible. At least it feels that way. Has your December disappeared like Christmas cookies before hungry children? Or has it lingered like fruitcake?

What has happened this week?
Last Saturday I joined some other friends from church at an assisted living center nearby, and we sang and played Christmas music for an hour. They loved it!
Sunday evening was the Christmas program at church. My sister and I do bells with the children, and they did a great job playing "The First Noel" for the program. There was a fellowship meal afterwards and lots of visiting.
Come Monday late afternoon, it was time to head back to church for caroling. Only this year I was in charge of it! It took some creativity to fit everyone into only 10 vehicles since we had 65 people going! But we did it. Each vehicle had glow sticks to tape to the back window of their car so we could keep track of each other. We went to 7 widows' houses and sang to them. One lady said she felt like she had her own personal choir. ๐Ÿ˜Š And a car stopped in the road to listen to us. Then we went back to the church for chili, cookies, and hot drinks.
Tuesday was quiet and I got to stay home.
Wednesday was the same. We ended up watching a Christmas movie while we ate supper.
Yesterday was the first day of winter. And guess what? It got up to 74ยบ! Yeah, so much for cold and snow. We were going to babysit my nieces and nephews last evening, but two of them were getting over being sick, and my brother had the chills and fever now. So they all stayed home.
This afternoon we have the first puppet outreach with the puppet team from church. I know some of the kids are sick, so hopefully we'll still have enough to do it.

Not sure about tomorrow. My brother and his family were supposed to be coming to do Christmas with us, but that may have to wait until after Christmas if they're still sick.

And there you have it. I won't be posting next week. At least I doubt it. We'll be heading up to my grandparents' house that morning. So Merry Christmas! And happy New Year!

Kesley's Christmas
Part 7

    It was planned at last. Zoe had given up her idea of costumes and a large group once she found out that Kelsey didn’t want it. Once again borrowing the truck from his uncle, Wally drove it over to the McKenzie’s home, the back filled with straw and a pile of warm blankets. The night was colder than it had been before, for the sky was covered in clouds and everyone expected it to begin snowing before they returned. Mr. and Mrs. McKenzie had decided to join the fun, and Mike gave up his seat behind the wheel to Mr. McKenzie.
    “Belle, do you want to ride up front with Daddy and me?” Mrs. McKenzie asked.
    Belle shook her head quickly.
    Huddled together under blankets, the riders managed to stay warm until the old folks’ home was reached. Then everyone climbed out and headed inside where it was warm.
    Walking the halls, the carolers filled the air with the sweet and joyful tidings of Christ’s birth. At many doors, Kelsey would slip inside and return a few moments later, leaving the door open wide so the resident could hear better.
    Back again in the truck, Kelsey watched the lights of the home until they had disappeared behind them. She hoped they had left a bit of Christmas cheer behind them.

    Altogether the night was one to remember. The carolers walked the neighborhood where the mayor, doctor and several other influential people in town lived, bringing most to their doors to listen. They visited Wally and Zoe’s grandma, and much to her delight, came around the house to the door which led to her apartment from the garden. The next stop was Aunt Olive who invited them all to come in and warm up a few minutes. This invitation they gladly accepted, for their toes and fingers were a bit numb. After thawing out and singing a few more carols, the group returned to the truck. A few snowflakes were starting to fall, and heads tipped back squinting against the light flakes.
    “Are we heading back to the house now?” Mr. McKenzie asked as everyone began climbing back into the truck.
    “Daddy,” Kelsey begged, hurrying over to him and speaking low, “can’t we carol around our own neighborhood? No one ever does it, and I know so many of the families would enjoy it.” She didn’t add, “More than some of the others had,” but she couldn’t help thinking it. It hadn’t been her idea to visit the wealthy neighborhoods, and she had remained hidden in the back of the group, feeling shy and out of place.
    “Well, I don’t see why not. It’s not late yet. Perhaps we’ll just park the truck at home though and you all can walk.”
    Kelsey nodded. She knew Belle at least was tired and cold.
    Mr. McKenzie told the others of the plan as Kelsey took Wally’s hand to climb into the truck.

    The snow was still light when they reached home, and everyone scrambled out.
    “It’ll be good to walk a little,” Lottie said, brushing the hay off her coat. “Where are we going?”
    Kelsey mentioned a few names, and Lottie started off the others trailing behind, except for Mrs. McKenzie, Belle, and Shannon who had stayed behind to warm up and heat the water for hot drinks.
    Lottie suggested that they sing as they walked. “That way more houses can hear us.”
    “I thought we wanted the people to hear, not the houses,” Mike teased.


    Finding the snow growing heavier and sticking to the streets, Wally pulled his sister from the lively conversation she was having. “We’d better get home, Zoe,” he said. “We don’t want Mom and Grandma to worry and send Dad out looking for us.”
    “Oh, I had so much fun! Thank you for thinking of it, Kels!” And Zoe gave her friend a warm hug. “And thank you, Mr. and Mrs. McKenzie for letting us join your family again.”
    “You’re welcome to join us anytime you want to Zoe,” Mrs. McKenzie replied heartily. “And you too, Wally.”
    “Thank you, ma’am. Good night everyone. Merry Christmas!”
    Calls of “Merry Christmas” followed Wally and Zoe as they hurried through the falling snow to the truck. The blankets had all been shaken, folded, and set in the front so the snow wouldn’t make them wet.
    Shivering in her seat, Zoe folded her arms around her and looked back at the brightly lit house. “You know, Wally,” she said, “the McKenzie family is one of the few families I know who share the real joy of Christmas.”
    “Yep. I noticed that Kelsey didn’t seem to be enjoying herself when we were in our neighborhood except when we sang to Grandma. But when we were singing for those who were lonely or sick, she seemed to forget herself.”
    “I’m sure she did. She has such a tender heart. Wally, I’m glad Kelsey suggested going caroling. It’s made Christmas extra special this year.”

Have you ever been caroling?
Are you ready for Christmas?
Are you tired of trying to read this blog each week?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Kelsey's Christmas - Part 6

Here's the next to last part of Kelsey's Christmas. Enjoy!

    Cookies and hot chocolate that late were a novelty for the younger McKenzie girls, and they sat at the table with their half-filled mugs, cookies, and sparkling eyes. From the corner of the room, Kelsey watched in silence, sipping her hot drink and savoring the flavor of her Christmas cookie. Mike, Wally, and Lauren stood near the door talking, while Mrs. Wittenmyer sat at the table with the younger ones telling them something amusing, for their giggles erupted now and then. Lottie and Zoe were walking about the large kitchen talking. At last Zoe left Lottie at the table and hurried over to Kelsey.
    “What are you planning?” she whispered.
    “Planning?” Kelsey echoed, confusion in her voice.
    “You have an idea for something; I saw the look on your face while we were singing to Grandma. And now you’re off by yourself with that look still there.”
    “What look?”
    “Oh, come on, Kels, just tell me,” begged Zoe. “I know it’ll be fun.”
    After chewing the last bite of her cookie and cupping her hands around her warm mug, Kelsey gave in. “It really wasn’t much, and I don’t know if we could do it since it’s so close to Christmas and all, but I thought it would be fun to go caroling–”
    A squeal from Zoe interrupted every conversation in the kitchen, and all eyes turned toward the two girls. Kelsey felt her face grow hot and wished she’d kept her mouth shut. But it was too late for that now. Zoe fairly quivered with excitement, and the hot chocolate in her mug would have splashed over the edges if there had been more of it.
    “When can we do it, Kels?” Zoe asked, completely oblivious that everyone was now watching and listening. “Where would we go? Oh, wouldn’t it be fun if we could dress up? You know, like they have pictures of on the old Christmas cards and things. Kelsey, you have the best ideas!”
    “What idea?” Wally asked.
    Zoe whirled around. “She suggested we go caroling! Oh, Wally, doesn’t that sound just grand?”
    “No, of course not.” Zoe turned back around. “Kels, when did you say we were going to do this?”
    “I didn’t.” Kelsey wasn’t sure if she should laugh or cry. Zoe seemed to take it for granted that everything was settled. Looking across the room, Kelsey caught Lauren’s eye with a look that pleaded for help.
    “Zoe,” Lauren said, answering the silent plea, a smile on her face, “why don’t we all think about it and then get together to see if it will even work out. There isn’t much time left before Christmas, you know.”
    Then, before Zoe could do more than nod, Mike added, “And we really should be going. Mr. McKenzie doesn’t want the younger ones out late, and it’s already getting on towards that now. Thank you, Mrs. Wittenmyer, for your hospitality.”
    The girls echoed their thanks, Wally brought in the coats, and soon everyone was bundled up again for the ride home.
    It seemed colder to Kelsey than it had been before, as Mike offered his hand to help her up into the back of the truck. “I think the caroling is a great idea, Kels,” he whispered, “but don’t talk it over on the way home or Zoe and Lottie might get carried away.”
    Nodding, Kelsey settled herself in the hay between Shannon and Belle and made sure the blankets were wrapped warmly around them. The last thing she wanted was for her little idea to get out of hand. She gave an inward sigh when Lottie and Zoe, seated next to each other, commenced talking adamantly. Though she couldn’t hear everything they were saying, she caught enough to know that her idea was undergoing massive planning and being turned into a production.
    A hand touched her shoulder, and turning, she saw Wally had changed his seat and was now on the other side of Belle.
    “Don’t worry,” he said quietly, “I’ll try to calm Zoe down on the way home. Right now she’s too excited about the idea.”

    Upon reaching the McKenzie house, it was discovered that the youngest girls had fallen asleep. Shannon was partly roused enough to stumbled to the back of the truck and into Mike’s arms so he could carry her inside. But Belle slept on, so Wally picked her up and said, “I’ll take her in, Kelsey. No use waiting for Mike to return.”


    Up in their room that night, Lauren, Lottie, Marie, and Kelsey talked over the idea of caroling. Lottie was eager to find or make outfits from Dickens, but Lauren and Kelsey vetoed that idea.
    “Lott, I wanted to make this a blessing to others, not a production,” Kelsey said, staring up in the dark at the bottom of Lottie’s bunk. “Can’t we just put on our coats and walk to the old folks’ home and sing for them? And maybe go to a few other houses, like Miss Olive’s?”
    “But we’d probably get more people to join us if we were going to the larger houses,” Lottie said.
    Marie’s soft voice came from the other top bunk. “I don’t want to go if there are going to be lots of people. Can’t it just be us and Mike, and Zoe and Wally?”
    “I think that would be good, Mair,” Lauren agreed, adding before Lottie could say anything, “It would be easier to plan and might actually happen, Lott.”
    A long silence fell on the room before Lottie said, “I guess you’re right. But I don’t know if Zoe will like it.”
    Lauren gave a soft laugh. “Leave Zoe to Wally. Mike and I talked the idea over on the way home, and then Mike talked a few minutes with Wally before they left.”
    “He did promise me he’d try to get her calmed down,” Kelsey whispered. “But I’m too tired to talk about this any more. Good night.”

Would you be more like Zoe and Lottie?
Or like Marie?
Or perhaps like Lauren and Kelsey?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Love

I have watched this several times this year after first discovering it. It gives me chills, brings tears to my eyes, and causes me to remember the reason for Christmas. God's amazing love!

Watch and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Kelsey's Christmas - Part 5

Enjoy this next part!

    Once introductions were over, Mrs. Wittenmyer motioned with her hands. “Sit down everyone, do. It’ll feel more like a friendly visit instead of a duty. Oh, I know,” she added when Kelsey glanced over at Lauren with some anxiety, “you all can’t stay long, but I do hope you’ll tell me a little about the sights in town. Is it too cold riding in the back of the truck?” She looked at Penny as she spoke.
    “No, ma’am! We have straw to sit on and blankets to wrap around us. And we’ve been singing. Well, we were until we got to all the pretty lights and windows in town. But the tree in the park is so beautiful!”
    “Oh, Grandma, it really is,” Zoe added, sitting down cross-legged next to Kelsey. “There are thousands of colored lights on it!”
    “And red, gold, white, blue, and silver balls all over it,” put in Lottie. “And at the very top is a huge star! I’ve never seen the town tree so pretty before. But it would be even better with fresh snow on the ground and on the branches.” She sighed and looked dreamily into the fire.
    Grandma Wittenmyer had many questions about the lights they had seen, about the shop windows and what the displays looked like. It didn’t take long before everyone, even the shyest of the McKenzie girls, had something to say. Finally Kelsey caught Mike’s eye and nodded toward the clock on the mantle.
    With a little cough, Mike interrupted Zoe’s detailed description of one shop window. “It’s starting to grow late, and I promised not to keep the girls out past nine. I’m sorry, but we’re really going to have to leave soon.”
    Zoe sprang up. “But we have to have our hot cocoa and cookies. Mom will be waiting for us. Thanks so much for letting us come visit, Grandma. I’ll tell you all about everything tomorrow.” She kissed her cheek.
    The others had gotten to their feet, and added their own murmured thanks to Zoe’s.
    “Oh, please,” Mrs. Wittenmyer said, “won’t you sing just one Christmas song for me before you leave? I don’t get out, and I would so love to hear some young voices singing again.”
    Kelsey looked at the others. She didn’t mind singing, but what song should they sing? “Do you have a favorite?” she asked at last when everyone remained silent.
    “My favorite is ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’. Do you all know that one?”
    Kelsey nodded.
    “Start it, Kels,” Lauren whispered. “We’ll follow.”
    Though feeling a little shy, Kelsey did, and the others joined right in.
“It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold.”

    The young voices filled the dim room with life and cheer as the old carol was sung. When the third verse began, many of the singers, not remembering the words, dropped out to hum along, leaving Kelsey, Lauren, Mike, and Lottie to carry the verse in a quartet.

“O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow:
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.”

    As Kelsey sang those words, she saw two tears roll down Mrs. Wittenmyer’s faded cheeks, though her smile never changed. Was she thinking about her life and the toil and pain she had gone through? A sudden thought struck Kelsey, and though her mouth sang the final verse, her mind was as far from the words she sang as a mind could be.
    The song over, everyone said good bye and followed Wally through halls and rooms to the kitchen where they found Mrs. Wittenmyer, the younger, waiting for them.

Have you ever sung for an older person?

Friday, December 15, 2017

Kelsey's Christmas – Part 4

Morning FFFs!
I think some of you still read these posts even if the month is flying by. I can't keep up. I was going to do a lot of Christmas-y posts for you, but in case you hadn't noticed, that hasn't happened. Sorry. I don't know what has happened to my days. I feel like I'm working on one thing and then another, and I still can't get things done. I've hardly had time to write. I'm working on getting everything organized and put together for our Monday caroling to the widows at church. It's always so much fun, and everyone looks forward to it, but this is the first year I've been in charge of it. *gulp* I still have to get new directions typed up as the old ones we had were so basic that it was still easy to get lost.

Tomorrow night I'm joining several others at an Assisted Living Center nearby to sing for the residence. Then on Sunday evening is the church Christmas program and fellowship meal afterwards. Then comes Caroling on Monday.

I was going to write a Tour of Garlandsburg, but it didn't happen. Sorry. But I hope you enjoy this next part of Kelsey's Christmas.

Kelsey's Christmas
Part 4

    Kelsey didn’t say a word as the others scrambled to their feet, brushing off hay and shivering in the cold. Feeling shy, she followed Belle to the end of the truck where Wally was waiting to help them down. The others were gathered at the end of the walk. If they had to go, Kelsey was at least thankful that Mike and Lauren were with them.
    Zoe led the way up the path, onto the wide porch, and flung open the double front doors, waving them all into a large entry way. A wide staircase wound its way upward before them while doorways on either side gave glimpses of fine rooms with high class furniture. Everyone seemed awed into silence staring about them.
    “Mom?” Zoe called.
    A door opened, and a lovely woman came out, a bright smile on her face and looking so much like Zoe, that Kelsey lost some of her timidity. “Welcome, all of you. Wally, Zoe, take their coats. I gave Linda the night off, so don’t wait for her. Just put them in the dining room, Wally,” she directed as coats were taken off, hats, gloves and scarfs tucked into pockets and sometimes sleeves. “Now, I know I’ve seen you all in town, but I’ve never gotten to properly meet all of you. I’m Mrs. Wittenmyer.” She held out her hand.
    Mike took it and introduced himself, but before he could do more than look at the others, Zoe interrupted.
    “Oh, do let me introduce them, Mike. I think I can get everyone’s name right. Mom, this is Lauren, Kelsey, Lottie, Marie, Ellen, Penny, Shannon, and Belle.” She looked quickly back at Kelsey. “Did I get them all right?”
    Kelsey shook her head, an amused smile on her face. “You mixed up Ellen and Penny.”
    “I didn’t. I did?” She stared at the two girls, and when one giggled, Zoe shook her head. “That’s Penny. They look so much alike!”
    “You need more practice, Sis,” Wally teased, coming back into the room. “Is Grandma awake?” he asked his mom before Zoe could reply.
    Nodding, Mrs. Wittenmyer motioned toward the door she had just come through. “Yes, and she’s very eager to see you. When you’ve finished visiting, come to the kitchen for some hot chocolate and cookies.”
    Kelsey blinked. Hot chocolate and cookies in a place like this? A small hand slipped into hers and glancing down she saw Belle looking up at her.
    “Do we really have to go see someone?” the little girl whispered.
    “Don’t worry, Honey, she’s Zoe’s grandma. You like visiting the older ladies at the home, don’t you?”
    “She’s like them?” Belle had only gone a few times to the home, and after her original shyness had worn off, had enjoyed going.
    “I’m sure she is. Come on, they’re waiting for us.”
    The hall, covered by a rich carpet, gave no sound to the footsteps as they approached a closed door. Zoe knocked, and a bright, eager voice bid them come in.
    Zoe opened the door and poked her head inside. “We’ve brought them, Grandma. Are you ready for visitors?”
    “Of course, child, come in.”
    A few lamps cast a soft yellow light about the room. A white haired woman clad in a warm dressing gown and slippers a gay afghan spread over her knees, sat in an easy chair near a small open fire and beamed a welcoming smile at her visitors. The sight of the fireplace in a room that wasn’t the living room seemed to silence even Lottie’s tongue.
    “Here they are,” Zoe said merrily, stepping up beside the woman and stooping to kiss her cheek. “I told you I’d find a way to capture the whole lot.”
    The older woman smiled indulgently at her granddaughter before turning to the others. “I’m so glad you came. I’ve been hearing so much about you, and since I can’t get out now, it was kind of my grandchildren to invite you over.”
    “Oh, they didn’t invite us,” Lottie said, laughing. “It was all some secret plot that only they and Mike knew about. And possibly Lauren.” She looked accusingly at her oldest sister, and Lauren simply smiled. “I’m–”
    “Let me guess,” Mrs. Wittenmyer said, holding up her hand. “You are Lottie. One of the best roller skaters my grandchildren have ever seen.”
    “I’m not that good,” Lottie protested, a rosy glow rising in her cheeks that wasn’t made by the warmth of the fire.
    “Now,” continued Mrs. Wittenmyer, “you must be Lauren, because Zoe tells me you are engaged to that handsome fellow you are holding hands with.” Mrs. Wittenmyer’s eyes twinkled. “Do you have a wedding date set yet?”
    “No, ma’am.”
    “I’d marry her on Christmas Day,” Mike replied. “But she wants a spring wedding.”
    “I was married in the spring,” Mrs. Wittenmyer commented. “The crabapple trees were all in blossom, and when the wind blew, it sent the lovely petals drifting down on the cake and into drinks, for we were married outside. But,” she added, “I would rather have flower petals in my drink any day than the spider who drowned in my cup.”
    “Ew! Grandma!” Zoe shuddered.
    Moving closer, Penny looked eager. “What did you do? Did you drink it?”
    “No, but I was about to. When I saw it, I shrieked, dropped the glass, and wouldn’t touch another thing to eat or drink until my new husband took me away.” The grandmother smiled. “I can laugh about it now, but for the longest time I dared not drink anything which had been outside, nor would I take even a glass of lemonade out to enjoy on the porch. But enough about me.” She looked from one face to another, stopping at last with Kelsey. “You must be Kelsey.”
    Kelsey nodded and smiled.
    “Zoe can’t stop talking about you. It’s Kelsey this and Kelsey that. No need to blush, child, it’s all good things she tells me. Now, which child goes with which name? Zoe rattles names off, but aside from the older three, I get everyone else mixed up.”

Have you ever met someone who had heard all about you?
Have you ever gone to look at Christmas lights?
How has your December been so far?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Sale

This is going to be quick, but you can purchase all my Christmas Collection books for $2.39 each right now! And if you want them signed, just put a note in your order requesting them signed. 

You can also get The Old Mansion's Secret for only $3.96!

So come and take advantage of these sales if you need some stocking stuffers or just want some Christmas books to read.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Listen to This!

Have you ever gotten to sing in the Messiah before?
Have you gotten to watch a performance of it?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Kelsey's Christmas – Part 3

Oh, good morning FFFs,
I'm looking for a missing day or two. Can anyone tell me what happened to them? Has anyone seen them? No? Well, I guess they're gone for good. Sorry, because I was going to post on those days, but since they seem to have vanished without a trace, I can't. I'll try to get some other things up next week. I won't promise, but I'm going to try.

This week has not been good for writing. Why? Because every evening except Monday was busy. And Monday I did write. 
Tuesday the kids came over, and we made Christmas cookies! So much fun! And the decorating of them was quite something. And the sprinkles and sugar that ended up on the floor and all over the counter,  . . . well, you can imagine that, I'm sure.
Wednesday. I was scheduled to work in the nursery at church, but got someone to cover for me so I could spend time talking with my best friend before she heads up to Canada. She'll be gone until the middle of January! (Her twin sister is due to have baby #3 on the 20th!)
Thursday my grandparents came down, and we went out to eat to celebrate my dad's birthday. Then Grandma, Grandpa, and I went to a concert. It was lovely. It was a vocal group from Germany, and they sang Christmas songs! I loved listening to them talking, and hearing the old German folk songs was a delight. They did sing some English songs as well.
Tonight my brother, his wife and their kids are coming over to celebrate my dad's birthday with supper, pie, games, and fun. Dad and my brother are going to help the kids put up the electric train set around the Christmas tree. Dad had wanted to do that last year, but Miss Ti-K was too young. Now she's almost three, and the baby isn't mobile yet.
Tomorrow is empty! Maybe I can write then. :) I'll have to try as I really need to get somethings written.

And now, enjoy the next part of Kelsey's Christmas

    If Kelsey had thought things were wild before, they doubled as everyone scrambled to pull on gloves, find the hat someone else was wearing, or ran around trying to remember where they had laid their coat before hurrying outside. The younger girls were lifted into the back of the truck by Mike, Wally and Mr. McKenzie. The older girls climbed in, and with much laughing and chattering, they all settled themselves in the hay and wrapped blankets around themselves and the younger ones.
    “I don’t have to tell you to be careful, Mike,” Mr. McKenzie said.
    Mike shook his head. “No, sir. I’ve got precious cargo in this truck.” And he put an arm around Lauren who was the only girl not in the back. “I’ll bring them all back safe and sound.” He turned to Wally and held out his hand. “Keys?”
    “Already in the truck.”
    “Right. Come on, Lauren.”
    Kelsey turned and watched Wally step over to her father. She heard their quiet voices.
    “Watch out for my girls. Don’t let any of them do anything foolish. Penny is like Lottie, high strung and impulsive. I’m not so worried about the rest.” Mr. McKenzie held out his hand. “And have fun.” A smile crossed his face.
    With a grin, Wally shook the offered hand and replied easily, “Don’t worry, sir, I think I can manage. And if not, there’s always Mike.” Then Wally stepped up on the fender and swung his legs over into the back of the truck. “Let’s be off, James!” he called out.
    “That’s Mike, not James,” Penny giggled.
    “Well, I call all my chauffeurs, James.” And Wally leaned an arm on the tailgate with a look of some rich movie star. A sudden lurch of the truck make him grab the sides as he added, “Then again, I think maybe I’ll stick with Wally.”
    Merry shouts were called, and hands waved as the truck began to roll down the street under the cold, star-filled winter night.
    Zoe and Lottie started a popular Christmas song, and the other joined in. It would take a bit of time to reach the higher class neighborhoods where lights twinkled and winked on the outsides of the houses, and where large Christmas trees sparkled in the windows. Everyone was in such merry spirits that there was much laughter mixed with the songs.
    As Kelsey rode along, singing with the rest of them, with Belle snuggled beside her, she tipped her head back and looked up at the sky. Gleaming like diamonds on a velvet curtain, the stars shown down. Clouds, small ones, blown quietly in, played hide-and-seek with the small lights, first hiding them, and then letting them shine forth as they covered others. So enraptured had Kelsey become with the lights above her, that she didn’t even notice she had stopped singing.
    The hilarity had begun to wear off, and a silence fell on the back of the truck after the last lines of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” were finished. In the cab, Lauren sat beside Wally, his arm around her shoulder. Softly Kelsey began to sing, her clear soprano voice sounding sweetly in the night.
“O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie;
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;”

    Lottie and Marie added their voices in perfect harmony.
“Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.”

    The other joined in on the second verse and in the stillness of the winter night, their singing brought many folks to their windows.
“We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel.”

    Mike rolled down the window and called back to them, “Do you want to do Main Street now or on the way back?”
    “On the way back,” Lottie and Zoe called.
    “Mike,” Kelsey called, “I think we’d better do it first. Some people might not be awake enough on the way back to enjoy it.”
    “Oh, I didn’t think of that,” Lottie exclaimed. “Do it now.”
    “Now it is,” Mike replied, and rolled up the window.
    “Are you cold, Belle?” Kelsey whispered.
    The little girl shook her head. “Are we going to see the toys in the shop windows? And the great big, huge Christmas tree Lottie told us about?”
    “Uh huh.”
    Soon delighted squeals and exclamations, elaborate sighs and cries of “look at that one!” and “oh, that is so pretty!” filled the back of the truck. Kelsey, forgetting that there were others in the old truck besides her sisters, let her natural reserve fall away and reveled in the sights as much as the little girls. It was a side of her that Zoe had only witnessed a few times, and Wally never.
    After twice driving completely around the city park where the massive Christmas tree stood in all its splendid glory, Mike headed into the residence of the upper class citizens. Oohs and aaahs, were the common exclamations, for everyone was too busy trying to catch a glimpse of all the marvelous lights at once to attempt any talking or singing.
    When Mike turned into a half-circle drive and approached a large house, Kelsey started up and would have stood had not Wally caught her arm and pulled her back down. “But what is Mike doing? Where are we?” she demanded, suddenly nervous.
    “We’re at our house,” Zoe explained quickly as Mike brought the truck to a stop. “Grandma has been wanting to meet you all, and my mom talked to your mom, and your mom said it was all right if we took a break here to warm up and visit Grandma. Now, come on.” Rising, Zoe dropped the blanket, brushed the hay off her clothes and offered her hand to Shannon who had been sitting beside her. “Brrr! It’s cold without that blanket!”

Have you ever ridden in the back of a truck in winter?
Do you like to go look at Christmas lights?
Do you enjoy singing?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Kelsey's Christmas – Part 2

Enjoy part 2 of Kelsey's Christmas!

    “Home with a cold.”
    “Oh, I’m sorry. Is that why she wasn’t in school yesterday?”
    “Yep. She’s on the mend, or so she says, but Mom’s keeping her at home today. So, what were you girls doing so far from home without coats?”
    “It was so nice earlier,” Kelsey began, “we didn’t think we’d need coats today.”
    “And we wouldn’t have,” interrupted Lottie, “if I hadn’t wanted to see what sort of Christmas decorations the houses in North Hills had. We were at the old folks’ home visiting.”
    Keeping silent, Kelsey let her sister and Wally chat. Lottie had no trouble talking with anyone, even if she hardly knew them. The car bumped over the railway tracks and into the lower class district of town. Pulling up before the small two-story house, it came to a stop.
    “There you are ladies,” Wally said with another grin. “I hear we might be getting snow soon.”
    Lottie gave a little squeal. “Oh, I hope so! Thanks for the ride, Wally.”
    “Thank you,” Kelsey echoed, adding, “and tell Zoe I hope she’s feeling better soon.”
    “I will. See you on Monday!”
    With a smile, Kelsey gently shut the car door and hurried after Lottie. She saw several faces clustered around the window and knew her sisters had probably been looking for them.

    “Kels, wait up!”
    Kelsey stopped and moved to the less crowded side of the school hall. Classes were over until after New Year’s and the students were all eager to get home and forget about studies for a time. She saw Zoe trying to reach her, but her way was constantly interrupted by first one student and then another, for Zoe was popular in school.
    When at last she reached Kelsey’s side, she sighed. “Sometimes,” she whispered, “I wish I was like you and could go practically unnoticed anywhere.”
    Kelsey shook her head. “You’d hate it. You’re more like Lottie. What did you want?”
    “Huh? Oh, can you believe Christmas is a week from today? I’m so glad school is finally over. I’ve been longing to drive out and look at Christmas lights, but Mom first wouldn’t let me because of my cold, and then because of all our tests. But now I’m free!”
    The girls slowly made their way after the crowd, coats on and books in their arms.
    “Would you and your sisters like to go too? Wally and I were thinking of going tonight.”
    “Uh huh. Tomorrow is Saturday, so we won’t have to be up for church, and I just can’t wait until next week! Oh, please, Kels, can’t you all come?” Zoe bWittenmyered.
    Giving a slight laugh, Kelsey looked at her friend questioningly. “Zoe, there are eight of us girls. Even if Lauren does something with Mike, that’s seven of us. We wouldn’t fit in Wally’s car.”
    Hugging her books close, Zoe practically beamed. “That’s where the fun comes in! Wally was going to borrow one of our uncle’s pickup trucks. We’ll put hay in the back and get lots of blankets. Then we can ride in the back and look at the stars and the lights and sing Christmas songs and–Lottie!” Zoe broke off to call across the yard and beckon.
    Kelsey tried to frown. “That’s not fair, Zoe. You didn’t even give me a chance to answer before you called for reinforcements.”
    “Well, you can accept before she comes.”
    “Hi, Zoe!” Lottie jogged up. “Do you have something planned and Kelsey won’t agree?”
    “I sure do.” And Zoe spilled her plan. “Want to go?”
    “Do I? Of course! I’ve been wanting to look at the Christmas lights all month and haven’t gotten to. Mike has had to work late several times, and Dad is too tired after working.”
    “Zoe, we have to check with Mom and Dad–”
    “Sure, give me a call, okay? And Kels, please, please, please, try to make it work. The snow has mostly melted and the roads are clear.”
    “I’ll try,” Kelsey agreed. It did sound like fun, and she knew the younger girls would be as wild over the plan as Lottie was. Perhaps they could go.
    Walking home, Lottie chattered non-stop about Zoe’s plan, and the moment they entered the warm house, she hurried off to find Mom.

    It was a bit confusing that evening. Mrs. McKenzie had given her permission to go as long as Lauren went along. But Lauren and Mike were going to go out together. Lottie spent time on the phone with Zoe, and Lauren spent some time on the phone with Mike. Zoe’s mother even called to talk to Mrs. McKenzie about the excursion. Kelsey let the others do the planning. It was all the same to her if they went or not. She knew that if they didn’t go that night, Mike and Dad would find a way to let all the girls see the lights and the tree in the town square. Finally everything was worked out, and Lottie was overjoyed.
    Supper was eaten quickly and then the girls bundled up in warm clothes with coats, hats and scarves.
    “There may not be much snow on the ground right now,” Mr. McKenzie said, smiling at his daughters, “but the weatherman on the radio said we might get more snow tonight. And riding in the back of an open truck is going to be cold.”
    Kelsey tied Belle’s scarf, pulled Shannon’s hat lower and helped both little sisters get their mittens on before putting on her own coat. She expected that Belle, who was only six, would fall asleep during the ride, perhaps even seven-year-old Shannon as well.
    A horn honked outside, and moments later a rap sounded on the door. Lottie rushed to fling it open.
    “We’re almost ready. Come in,” she urged Zoe and Wally. “Lauren! Mike!” she shouted toward the kitchen, “the truck’s here!”

Do you want a tour of Garlandsburg this year?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Kelsey's Christmas – Part 1

Happy First of December FFFs!
I'm feeling a bit mixed right now. I'm excited that it's finally December. I feel that November shouldn't be over yet. But it also feels that it has been December for days now since most of the Christmas decorating is finished. Kind of crazy to feel everything at once. What about you? What are you feeling?

I still haven't finished the decorating. I know I said it was almost done, but I've been saying that, or thinking that for a few days now. I just can't seem to get it finished because things take longer than I thought they would since I'm doing pretty much all the decorating alone, and then we suddenly remember something else that hadn't gotten finished. 

I've written a little this week. Not much, but I'm hoping to write a little more tonight and tomorrow night. But which story should I work on? I could work more on this Christmas story, since I do need to write the ending of it. Or I could work on my AZ Christmas story that won't be posted on here. Or there is the other Christmas story that I started that might get posted on here or it might not. Don't know how long it will be. :)

The kids are coming over tomorrow morning to make Christmas Cookies!!! That's going to be fun! They enjoy cutting them out, but the best part is decorating them. I love watching them really get into the decorating. Some are very careful about how they put the sprinkles on, and others just dump. The one who will be quite interesting is Ti-K. She's almost 3, and is sure she can do everything her big siblings can. I have a feeling she'll be eating more sprinkles than the others. ;)

Have any of you gotten snow yet? We sure haven't. It's been warm. In the 50's-60's mostly. I'm ready for cold and snow. :) I like snow. And Christmas books. Did I mention I loved Christmas stories? Well, I do. I'm reading a collection of 7 books, and went to the library yesterday and picked up 2 more books to read. And I didn't mention how many others I have on my kindle waiting for me. :) Can I just go read now?

I don't know if this story title will change or not once I reach the ending. If so, I'll make sure you know it's not a different story. Oh, and since it is December, I don't know when I'll be posting next. ;) I might post on Monday or Tuesday. So keep your eyes open. And if you are needing any Christmas book recommendations, don't forget the "24 Books before Christmas" posts I'm doing on Read Another Page.

Kelsey's Christmas
Part 1

    “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” Lottie sang, pointing toward a wreath which hung on a front door.
    “Everywhere you go,” joined in Kelsey, linking her arm with her younger sister.
    It was mild day for December, not at all like the ones in story books with bitter wind, snow and ice. The sun was actually shining, and only two wispy clouds could be found overhead in the deep blue sky. Arms linked, the girls strolled along the sidewalk singing and searching for any decorations already up. It was early in the month, and only a few people had started preparing for Christmas.
    “There’s a tree in the grand hotel.”
    Lottie picked up the next line with a pretend snobbish toss of her head. “One in the park as well.”
    And then the two girls, leaning their heads together, joined their voices. “The sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow!”
    “Kels,” Lottie interrupted their song to say, “wouldn’t it be fun if we had a large Christmas tree this year? One that filled the whole corner of the living room and reached almost to the ceiling. We could move some of the furniture out.”
    Kelsey laughed. “And what would you do with all of us, pray tell, when we wanted to sit around the fire on a cold winter evening?”
    “We would leave enough seats for all of us.”
    “And what about when Mike wants to cover over?”
    “Oh, there’s still plenty of room. I’m going to suggest it. Come on, let’s race home.”
    “I can’t run through the middle of town, Lottie. Besides, I thought you wanted to look in the shop windows?”
    The girls, returning from a visit to some elderly friends in the home for old folks, had decided to take the longer, more round about way and look for Christmas decorations in a different part of town. Waiting to cross a road, Kelsey rubbed her leg. She had broken it that summer saving the life of old Mr. Stuebanks, and it still ached at times.
    “We can skip downtown if your leg hurts,” Lottie offered, looking worried.
    “It’s all right. Just a little tired. I think we were walking faster than it likes. Come on, let’s cross the street.” Neither sister talked as they approached Main Street. They could see from where they were that the lamp posts were wrapped with green garlands, and large red bows were tied under the lights. “I’m sure it looks so pretty at night,” Kelsey sighed.
    “Perhaps we can get Mike to take all us girls some night. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. Just to drive around and see the lights,” Lottie added quickly. “Then he can drop us off at home and can take Lauren out to–wherever it is they want to go. I mean to ask him next time he’s over. Unless–”
    Something in Lottie’s voice made Kelsey turn and look at her. “Unless what? Come on, Lott, you’ve got that look on your face. What are you thinking?”
    “Well, Zoe’s brother has a nice car–”
    “No. Lottie, listen, just because Wally’s been nice to us, and he and Zoe have come over to visit, doesn’t mean we should take advantage of it and ask him to take seven girls for a drive just to see the lights in the town.”
    “But you don’t mind asking Mike?”
    “No, because he’s practically family. Even if they aren’t married yet, they are engaged. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he suggested that very thing one of these mild nights.”
    “Well, all right. Oh, look at that window, Kels!” And Lottie forgot about seeing the shops at night and grew excited over the Christmas displays.
    Lingering longer than they meant, Kelsey suddenly noticed the wind had picked up. A quick glance up at the sky alarmed her. “Come on, Lott, I think that cold all the girls have been wanting is coming. Let’s get home.”
    Pulling their sweaters close, they started off, wishing they had their coats, for the wind, as though suddenly realizing that it was supposed to be winter, blew down from the north with increasingly colder gusts. “Kels, let’s stop at the drug store and call home. Perhaps Mike will be there and he can come and pick us up.”
    Kelsey shook her head. “He won’t be off work yet. And neither with Dad. We’ll just have to walk quickly. Come on.” Seizing her sister’s arm, Kelsey hustled her on, head ducked against the wind.
    Beep. Beep.
    The sound made both girls pause at the street corner and look up, their hair blowing in every direction, and the cold making their eyes water.
    “Hey! What are you two doing this far into town without coats? Where are you headed?” It was Wally. He had rolled a window in his car down and was looking right at them.
    “We’re heading home,” Kelsey replied loudly, for the wind tossed her words back in her face.
    Leaning over, Wally opened the passenger door. “Hop in. I’ll take you home.”
    Lottie shoved her sister toward the front, jerked open the back door and scrambled inside. “Whew!” she sighed shutting the door and pushing back her hair. “I’m glad to be out of that wind!”
    A little more slowly, Kelsey also climbed in and pulled the door shut. “You don’t have to go out of your way,” she protested, shivering as the heat from the car sent tingles up and down her arms. “We can walk.”
    A grin spread over Wally’s face. “I was just out running some errands for Mom. It won’t be a trouble. Besides,” he added, stopping at a red light and glancing at his passengers, “it would be safer for me to take you home.”
    “Safer?” Lottie asked, leaning forward. “What do you mean?”
    “If my sister heard that I let you two walk home in this weather, I’d be lucky if she spoke to me again before New Year.”
    Kelsey smiled. “Where is Zoe?”

Are you more like Kelsey or Lottie?
Do you enjoy looking at other people's decorations?
Are you excited about Christmas?