Friday, December 28, 2018

End of 2018

Good morning FFFs,
Did you all have a good Christmas? I did. I had 2 Christmases actually.
One on Saturday with my brother and his family. It's so much fun to have kids around for Christmas. We had breakfast together, then opened presents, and then played, and ate, and played. 
On Sunday Sis and I sang in the choir for church, and then had a quiet and restful afternoon. I read! So delightful! :)
Monday was spent reading, and getting the rest of the presents wrapped. I like wrapping presents so that wasn't a problem. Then I helped Dad wrap the rest of Mom's presents. She didn't even know it. That night we had hamburgers and watched a Christmas movie.
Christmas Day! It was very relaxed. Since there are no younger ones in the family, we all ended up sleeping in. Ate our usual breakfast of Cinnamon Bread and Nut Bread. And then I read until everyone was ready. Our present time was slow and laid back. We commented a few times on how much nicer this year was than last year when we were sick. Mom, Sis, and I finished a puzzle, then we all ate lunch. I read later, and then, since it was so nice outside, Sis and I went for a walk. In the evening we ate snack foods for supper and watched "It's a Wonderful Life."
Oh, and yes, I did get some books for Christmas. :)

On Wednesday I read, and did a little of this and that.
But yesterday I did something that I've never done so close to Christmas before. I un-decorated! Yeah, I know, that's kind of terrible, but I did have my reasons. 1.) We're going to be leaving town on Sunday, and we won't want to have to take all the decorating down after we get home. 2.) We clean house today and when we take all the garlands down they always leave a mess, so we wanted them down before we cleaned. 3.) The weather was warm and in the low 60s. It certainly didn't feel like Christmas. I haven't taken the village in the living room down yet. That'll probably be today.

I'm starting to feel ready to take on 2019. I haven't done much planning yet, but I'm ready to get back into writing and teaching, and "normal" things. :) What about you? Are you ready for 2019 or are you still hanging on to the current year?

As you can see, I don't have a story for you this week. But I figured you would all be busy anyway.

What would you like to see on this blog next year?
Are you interested in stories or updates?
Do you have New Year's Eve plans?

Monday, December 24, 2018

A Carol in Her Heart - Part 3

This is the final part of

A Carol in Her Heart

    The day had been full of delight from the moment the Osborn family had appeared until they left after supper. Yes, she had insisted they stay and eat supper with her. It was the least she could do. They had not only gotten her a tree, but Jack had brought all her boxes of decorations down, and together, with much talking and laughing, and playing with the little ones, the tree had been decorated. Jack and Jennie had wound the garlands on the porch rails, and hung the Moravian stars up from the porch ceiling. Then it was lunch time and the little ones had taken naps in Aunt Molly’s guest room while the adults sat down for a long visit over cups of hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies.
    Jack’s history was short, “and boring,” he said. “Well, until I met Jen in college.” And the look that passed between them told Aunt Molly vollumes. He had lived in Chicago, and then New York. He’d gone to fancy schools and gotten good grades. “They kept me out of trouble, Aunt Molly. Them, my Bible, and the memory of you.” He had gone on to college, met Jen, gotten two degrees, gotten married, moved to North Carolina where Molly was born, then to Texas in time for Christina’s birth, and then to Nebraska where Kenny was born.
    “But now we’re home.” Jack squeezed his wife’s hand and smiled at Aunt Molly. “Every other place we’ve lived has been a stopping place; we both knew we didn’t want to stay at any of them. Last year I got my master’s in something-or-other and decided to move back here in hopes that it would finally be home.”
    “It is,” Jennie agreed. “The house is everything I’ve ever wanted, the town is a perfect size, and most importantly, you are here.”
    After the children woke up, they all decorated the gingerbread house together. Well, Aunt Molly spent most of the time playing with little Kenny while the others worked on the house.
    By the time the mess had been cleaned up, it was supper time, and Aunt Molly had persuaded them to say for a supper of tomato soup and grilled triple-cheese sandwiches.


    After that Miss Kennedy had no time to wait for the mailman, or wonder what to do when her baking was over. Jennie or Jack was always calling or coming over, often with the children, for something, even just to visit. And Miss Kennedy spent time at the Osborn home.
    On Sunday they all attended church together.


    When Christmas Eve arrived, Miss Kennedy was busy wrapping gifts, for Jack and his family were to come over on Christmas Day since neither of their families were nearby. Christmas music filled the old farm house, and the smell of peanut butter kiss cookies lingered in the air to mingle with the scent of pine.
    After placing the last gift under her tree, Miss Kennedy stood and looked out the window. Everything was covered with a dusting of snow, and white powdery flakes drifted lazily down from the overcast sky. A red truck she had come to recognize drove down the road slowing and turned into her driveway. This time Miss Kennedy flipped on the switch, and the lights on the outdoor garlands came on, and the Moravian stars gleamed in the growing dusk. She opened the door and, pulling her sweater closer, waited for Jackie.
    He bounded up the steps, then opened the door and stepped inside, leaning down to kiss her cheek. “Merry Christmas, Aunt Molly!”
    “Merry Christmas, Jackie.” Her eyes sparkled as she looked up at him.
    “What are you doing tonight?”
    “Eating supper, reading the Christmas story, and going to bed.”
    “Come do it at our house.”
    “Jack, I couldn’t. You have a family and–”
    “You are family, too, Aunt Molly,” he insisted. “Please come. Jen wants you, and the kids have been asking for you.” He took one of her hands in his own. “Aunt Molly, I want the kind of Christmas Eve I had with you when I was young. Remember that time Mom was in London and Dad’s flight had been delayed?”
    Miss Kennedy nodded. It had been a Christmas she had never forgotten.
    “Please, Aunt Molly, spend this evening with us. I’ll bring you home later, and tomorrow we’ll come over here.”
    There was something in the pleading look he gave her that made Miss Kennedy give in. “You’ll grow tired of having me around,” she promised as she got her coat.
    Jack’s laughter filled the house. “After all those years growing up? I think it’ll take more than a week to make me grow tired of you, Aunt Molly.”


    A large fire crackled in the fireplace as the Osborn family, with Aunt Molly, settled down after a delicious supper. The children were in their cozy pajamas and nestled in blankets. The baby sucked his thumb and stared into the flames from the warmth of Aunt Molly’s arms.
    Jack, with his wife beside him, opened his Bible and began to read the Christmas story. “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem . . . A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
    Aunt Molly sat it silence, cuddling the sleeping baby and remembering those years long ago. She had tried to point the little boy in her care to the true Light of Christmas, and now here he was teaching his own children. A tear spilled from her eye and trickled down her cheek. All these years when Jack had been away, she had wondered what God was doing with her life since no husband had come to her. “You let me bring the true joy of Christmas into a family I wasn’t a part of. Thank You!” she prayed silently.

    Driving home in the darkness, Jack turned the radio on softly, and Miss Kennedy smiled to herself.
    –Soon the bells will start, But the thing that will make them ring, is the carol that you sing, right within your heart.
    It was true, her heart was singing carols tonight. Carols of joy, love, peace, and thanksgiving. They sang of the first Christmas long ago and every Christmas since, and the bells in her heart rang with the promise of a wonderful Christmas tomorrow.

I hope you enjoyed this story!
Have a blessed and wonderful Christmas tomorrow. 
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Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Carol in Her Heart - Part 2

Good morning and Merry Christmas, FFFs,
Are you ready for Christmas? I'm not. I have a lot of presents to wrap for my mom, me, and my sister. Things have slowed down though, which has been nice. I don't feel so rushed and stressed. This past weekend was CRAZY!
Saturday– My sis and I decorated the gym at church for the fellowship meal Sunday night. Then we had play practice with our small bell group who were part of the play. That evening I went to an assisted living home to play and sing with some others from church, then we went caroling to the houses in the back. (They LOVED it!)
Sunday– Had to be at church early to practice a ladies ensemble that my sister and I were singing in. Then Sunday school, church, and large bell practice with the kids. Late afternoon we were back at church for another practice of violins and flutes (I play violin), then getting ready for the Christmas program and play. Both went well. Followed by a fellowship meal where I got to hold and cuddle an adorable 5 1/2 month old baby.
Monday– was spent getting everything ready for caroling. I had directions to type up, songs to pick out and print, plus I really had no idea who was coming. We ended up with around 33 people, so that was good. We split into two groups so we could make it to every house before it was too late. After we finished singing, we went back to the church for chili, cookies, and hot drinks and visiting.
Tuesday– I got to stay at home! And I got to read some.
Wednesday– Trying to get some other things done, then I worked nursery that night at church.
Thursday– I spent quite a bit of time helping my dad finish some gifts for the kids. Then the kids all came over for the evening so their parents could go out. (Don't know if they just went out, or if they went shopping. ;) )
Today we'll clean the house and I hope I can read.
Tomorrow we do Christmas with my brother and his family. The kids are excited. :)

But anyway, that's that. How has your week been? I hope you enjoy this story. It's the one that got put in all our Christmas cards this year.

Here is part 2 of

A Carol in Her Heart

    Miss Kennedy went about the rest of the day somewhat in a daze as she relived the years when Jack was young. His parents had both worked a lot. At first she had babysat the toddler for half days. Then they grew longer. She often spent days at his house while his parents were gone on business trips. Then, when this house had been put up for sale, her dad had suggested she buy it as an investment. But it wasn’t long before she had moved into the old farmhouse. From then on, Jackie had gotten off the schoolbus before her house most days, and she had mothered the young boy with all the love and affection she had.
    When the Osborn family had moved away the year Jack was ten, it had taken Miss Kennedy a long time to get over the loss of ‘her boy’ as she used to call him. Her mother suggested she find another babysitting job, but Miss Molly didn’t think she could handle another one.
    “It’s too hard on my heart,” she told herself. “Perhaps this is a little how mothers feel when their children leave the nest and fly away. But Jackie wasn’t grown yet.”


    All the next day Miss Kennedy baked cookies and breads and wondered if Jackson–Jackie–Jack, would come by. “I know he’ll come sometime,” she murmured, sliding a pan of gingerbread men into the oven and shutting the door. “Unless I imagined him. I wonder what his wife’s like. He wouldn’t look so happy if she wasn’t sweet and wonderful–unless he needs someone to help them–” Quickly she shook her head. No, any wife of Jackie Osborn just had to be perfect. And the children! She wished she had asked their ages.
    Absently she rolled out another lump of gingerbread dough and, picking up the special cookie cutters, cut out first a front part of house, then the sides. She was cutting the roof when she realized what she was doing. “I haven’t made a gingerbread house since that last Christmas I took care of Jackie. How much fun we had making that house together.”
    She looked down at the pieces waiting to be baked. Should she? With a decided nod, she resumed her cutting. There were probably some candy she could use to decorate it later.
    While the pieces of the house were baking, Miss Kennedy began to have second thoughts. What would she do with a gingerbread house? The vague wish that Jack Osborn would come visit and that his children would decorate the house floated through her mind, but she dismissed it. Jack wouldn’t have children old enough to fully enjoy making a gingerbread house. She would just eat the pieces when they were baked.
    But she didn’t.
    Instead she set them aside to cool and went upstairs into the back bedroom. There were no beds in the room, no dresser or chair. Only boxes. Going straight to the stack of red tubs, she opened the first box and looked inside. An array of ornaments greeted her. Ornaments of different shapes, colors, sizes, and styles.
    “Don’t want that one,” she muttered, shutting the lid and setting the box aside. On the top of the next box was what she had come after. A wreath. The bow as rather smashed and bedraggled.
    “I can make a new bow,” Miss Kennedy said slowly, fingering the ribbon and imagining the little boy who had so proudly attached that bow to the wreath. It had been crooked, but Miss Kennedy never had the heart to fix it. Especially after the Osborn family moved away.
    After digging around in the box a little, she found a spool of red ribbon. As she pulled it out, her eyes caught a glimpse of something else. “I could put the candles in the windows this year. They do make a home look festive.”
    With her arms full of wreath, ribbon, and candles, Miss Kennedy went back downstairs. By evening the front door held a wreath with a new red bow, and from each window a candle gleamed. Plugging in the lights intwined with the garland on the mantle, Miss Kennedy sat down in her favorite chair and looked about. This was the most decorating she had done for years. And it felt good.


    Morning was nearly gone, and Miss Kennedy had just told herself that Jack was busy and not to expect him until Christmas Eve or after Christmas, when a knock at the front door made her start. Quickly drying her hands, but not bothering to take off her apron, she hurried from the kitchen. It could be the Smiths picking up their order of cookies. The Johns wouldn’t be coming until later.
    Her heart beat just a little faster as she reached the front door. The wreath blocked her view from the small window. Quickly she opened the door.
    “Merry early Christmas, Aunt Molly!”
    It was Jackie. And his family.
    “Aunt Molly, this is my wife, Jennie. Jen, meet the dear woman who–well,” his voice grew a bit husky, “meet Aunt Molly.”
    A young woman with hair the color of cinnamon enveloped Miss Kennedy in a warm hug. “I’m so glad I get to finally meet you, Aunt Molly! May I call you Aunt Molly? Jack has called you that for so long, that I don’t think I could call you anything else.” A bubbling laugh broke forth as the woman stepped back.
    “Of course you may! All my nieces and nephews–the two I have–are in another state, so I don’t get to be Aunt Molly as much as I’d like.” She looked at the young woman and instantly approved.
    “And these,” Jack said, pushing two young children forward, “are our kids.” Placing a hand first on one brown head and then the next, he introduced them. “Molly and Christina. They look like twins, but Molly is four and Chris is just three. And this,” he shifted a bundled up little marshmallow to his other arm, “is little Kenny.”
    Miss Kennedy felt the tears rise in her eyes as she looked at Jack’s adorable little family. It was going to be wonderful to have little ones around again, not to mention– A timer’s incessant beeping, roused her from her thoughts. “Come in, come in! Don’t just stand out in the cold. I have to get the cookies out of the oven, but make yourselves at home. Take off your coats and stay awhile.”
    Turning quickly she hurried into the kitchen, thankful for a moment to compose herself. “Thank you, Father,” she whispered. “Thank you for answering my prayers and keeping my Jackie true.”
    “Aunt Molly.”
    Jack’s voice in the doorway made her look up from the snickerdoodles she was scooping onto the cooling rack. “Yes?”
    “Where do you want your tree?”
    She nearly dropped the hot pan. “My what?”
    “Your tree. We went out yesterday and picked a tree out for you. That’s why we didn’t make it over then. It was too late. But we saw your candles in the windows. Now, the tree?”
    “I don’t know. Wherever you want to put it, Jackie.”
    Jack disappeared with a laugh.

Come back on Monday for the final part of this story.
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Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Tour of Garlandsburg - Part 2

Our tour continues . . .

    Oh, watch out for the puppy! I am so sorry, folks! Cinnamon! Don’t you know you’re not supposed to jump on tourists? They might not come back. Here, I’ll take her inside. Mr. Hansan probably doesn’t even know she’s out. Come on, Cinnamon, I think you’ve caused enough trouble. Does anyone else want to go into the cobbler shop? If you’re looking for special shoes, he can make them for you. Or sharpen your skates, or waterproof your boots. I don’t know what the village would do without Mr. Hansan.

   Move out of the way, please. These brothers are always taking care of their sister since she was injured. They’ll pull her everywhere. I’m guessing they are headed to the bookstore because Danielle loves to read.

    Is your mouth watering with that savory smell? Surely my stomach isn’t the only one that’s growling. Let’s stop in at the Grind Central Cafe and get a cup of their stew, a slice of hot bread, and something hot to drink. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of food for everyone. I’ve never known them to run out of anything before. Come inside. This is the coldest day so far! And that wind isn’t helping any. Oh, it feels so nice in here!

  That was so delicious! I’m ready to keep going now.

 This is Ron’s Music Shop. He specializes in all things music. You can see some of his special music boxes on display in the window. You want to buy one? Go right ahead. I don’t think Ron is there, but his wife can help you.
    Good afternoon, Holly, Nicholas. Fine day for a sleigh ride. Merry Christmas to you too! That was Reverend Goodman’s brother Nicholas, and Holly. She used to be a Stone, but they got married on Christmas evening right here at our lovely church last year. It was perfectly enchanting!
    There’s Ron and a few friends who have come out to play for the skaters. Just watch those skaters. Drew is really good. Yes, he’s the one closest to the fence with the striped shirt. He won first place in a skating race on a large pond last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he enters more skating races after December is over.

    Yes, this is the village park. It’s usually crowded with people. Sometimes tourists, or even the locals–especially the children–enjoy meeting friends here.

 Oh, dear. That clock is terribly wrong! I must step inside the Clockwork and let Mr. Getty know. He keeps out town clocks in order, and it looks like that one needs some help. He also mends all the watches, and yes, he does sell new ones. I put a watch on my Christmas list this year since mine was just some cheap thing and not working very well. I hope I can get a watch from here this year.
    Merry Christmas, Dr. Ketchum! Oh, wait, sir! Postman Owen is trying to get your attention. I think he might have something for you.

   Let’s keep moving now. Do watch out for the sledders. This is the favorite place to sled for most of the children. Sure, we have time for you all to take a spin down the hill if you want. I’m sure someone will lend us their sled. Thank you! There go Little Me and Sissy with their dog Ruff to pull them. It doesn’t look like Ruff is eager to pull them down the hill. I wonder if he would rather pull them up it.

    This house is the pride and joy of Garlandsburg! It is the home of Rufus and Betsy Garland. The entire Garland family lives in this fine mansion every December, including the mayor and his family.

    We must walk through the woods just a bit as the coast turns, but it’s not too far. It’ll give us a chance to work up an appetite again.

    Hello Mrs. Stone! It looks like you are returning to the Bakery with packages. Are you preparing for Christmas? Yes, we will most certainly come in! Our mouths are watering for a taste of those delicious cinnamon buns we have been smelling! I hope there are some still warm! Good evening, Peter! Merry Christmas to you too. Peter is Mr. and Mrs. Stone’s son. Let’s go inside now. Hello Mrs. Johnson. Out getting some delightful goodies for supper? Joel is growing up so quickly. Have a good evening!

   Didn’t I tell you those cinnamon buns were worth the few minutes wait to get them hot out of the oven? Yes, the Stone family does a thriving business here in Garlandsburg every year. Well, Merry Christmas, Reverend, Mrs. Goodman! Hello, Clara. You must have gotten a new shoe on Coffee. Yes, this will be my last tour for today. Are you taking gifts to the church for the Christmas Eve service? Oh, yes, I’ll be there! Merry Christmas!

   The snow isn’t as deep up here. I think the wind off the coast has blown it farther inland. 

Oh, look, someone is decorating a tree for Miss Ann at the Needlework and Quilts. Are any of you quilters or sewers? Perhaps you’d like to stop later and look around. There are some masterpieces in that little shop. She also makes rugs, as you can see on the porch railing. Those things last forever! I have one from when I first started giving tours here, and it still looks like it did when I got it.

    Careful on the hill. It’s a little steep in places and the curves are a might narrow. Here we are at the Lodge. Hello, Andrew. And yes, hello to you too, Sugar. Are you going to hitch Sugar up to your sled, Andrew? Oh, that does sound like fun. I wish we had time to join you, but we must keep going before it gets dark. We often take a stop at the lodge during tours, but since we just warmed up at the bakery, we need to keep going.

    We’ve now reached the Brixton Road, named after Hank Brixton. He was a good friend of Sam and Rufus, and, after Sam moved away, he has helped plan the new design for the village a few times. This road will also take you to the next town. It looks like it’s a well traveled road today.

    Darkness is settling around us, but we’ve made it to the other end of town, to the lighthouse. There’s Lucas and Grandpa Uriah Donavan with Torch. They are still watching for Adam’s ship to arrive. I hope it makes it in time for Christmas. Let’s go inside. The keeper is always willing to show visitors his light. He’ll even let you go out on top if you want. And don’t worry, the steps are inside on this lighthouse.

   And here we are, back outside. Darkness has settled around. Brrr, that wind is cold! Look! It’s started to snow! We can wait at the Lodge or the Bakery for the stage to come by and pick us up. Or for those who like walking in the dark through the falling snow, we can ask Mr. Stanhope to be your guide. He loves dressing like a man from Old England and would be more than happy to escort you back to the hotel.
    I hope we’ll see you at church for the Christmas Eve service! And enjoy the rest of your stay in our wonderful little village of Garlandsburg. Merry Christmas!

I hope you enjoyed your tour of Garlandsburg. Do you have a Christmas village that you set up? Would you like to visit a place like Garlandsburg?
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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Tour of Garlandsburg - Part 1

Every year I set up our Christmas village. It runs the entire width of the living room on top of built in bookshelves and expands to the top of another shelf, and then finishes in my parents' room on the desk. I hope you enjoy your tour this year!

Garlandsburg 2018

    Welcome everyone! I’m so glad you could join me for this tour of Garlandsburg. I hope you all have warm coats on because this wintery air is biting and cold. I’ve heard rumors that it might snow again this evening. But come inside the lighthouse. Crystal has hot drinks and freshly baked cookies before we really begin the tour.
    Does everyone have something to eat and drink? Good. Thank you so much, Crystal. I know we don’t usually start out at the lighthouse, but it works best this year.
    Before we head outside, I want to give you a bit of Garlandsburg’s history. It was founded many years ago by two brothers, Rufus and Sam Garland. Their dream was to create a village with the look and feeling of an old New England village from long ago. It was incredible how well they succeeded even in their first attempt. There’s an essence, a charm, about this village that will leave you with the sense of stepping back in time. A feeling that you too have lived when motor cars were a thing of the future, where cell phones and the internet were beyond comprehension, and where folks cared for one another and helped their neighbors.
    There are two important things you should know about Garlandsburg if you’ve never been here before–and I see some new faces. One is that Garlandsburg is never the same two years in a row, and it is only opened during the month of December with maybe a few days before. That’s right. As soon as January comes around, the villagers return to their normal homes and jobs in the 21st century, and Rufus Garland sets to work with his contractors and architects. (Sam has moved away to a warmer climate and no longer joins in the planning.) All or most the hills are leveled or changed, the streams are channeled into new water courses, trees are planted, and then the buildings, bridges and such are carefully settled. Just after Thanksgiving each year word is sent out to all the villagers and they come flocking back, eager to explore the town’s new layout, find out where their shop or house is located, and settle into life in Garlandsburg for another Christmas season.

    Is everyone ready to begin now? Fasten your coats, pull on your gloves, cover your ears with your hat or scarf, and let’s go.
    Here we are at the top of the bluff. This lighthouse is an important part of Garlandsburg. Not only does it warn the ships out at sea, but it is a beacon to a very special ship which always comes home at Christmas time. Crystal’s husband, Adam, is captain of that ship. There is Grandpa Donovan. He’s not really everyone’s grandfather, but the villagers all call him so, and the tourists picked it up. He and Candle are no doubt watching for the ship. I wonder where Lucas and his grandfather, Uriah, are. What was that, Crystal? Oh, they’ve gone to watch from the other lighthouse for a while. Yes, we have two lighthouses. We’ll see the other soon.
    Now we should move on. That wind is bitter up here, and I don’t think Grandpa Donovan would approve of anyone climbing to the top of the lighthouse in this weather! What are those two children doing outside without coats on? They are Crystal’s niece and nephew. You two had better get inside with your flag before you catch a cold. Yes, take your dog, Matches, inside too. He’s a cute little thing.
    Did you all notice that everyone at the lighthouse, from Grandpa Donovan to the dogs, have names that have to do with light? Of course, you haven’t met Torch yet. He’s most likely with Lucas.
    Careful down the hill everyone. Need a hand there? Easy now. There we go.

    Here we are at Barnacle Bill’s Boat House. Watch out! Brandon and Brian are having a lively game of snowballs. Sure, you can join in the fun. If you get cold, come warm up over here. Bill is working on his boat and has a good fire going. We’ll visit with him a few minutes.

    Since there is a sheer drop-off from the top of the cliff, we have to go the round about way. Quiet! There, look up at the top of the hill. Do you see the deer? I’ve seen three up there before, but I don’t see the buck today. Perhaps he’s in the woods.
    Below the hill, but not in the valley yet, sits the village church. Listen! That’s Mayor Garland and his family singing. Don’t they have lovely voices? They could be practicing for the Christmas Eve service, or maybe they are just out caroling. That was a beautiful song, Garland Family. You want us to join you? Well, I think we have time for one song before we must be on our way. And here comes Edwin Ketchum with a delivery of poinsettias. He’s the doctor’s son. Perhaps he’ll sing too. I know he has a splendid bass voice.

   Thank you so much for that lovely singing everyone! Good bye, Garland family! Careful now folks, this road is rather steep. Maybe we should wait until those two little daredevils are out of the way. I’m not sure exactly who they are, but I’m guessing they are likely Nathaniel and Joy. Not many children, besides those two, would think of chasing the stage down this road. I don’t think they are going to beat Chocolate Swirl with Mr. Stathem at the reins. When we catch the stage back, you will probably get a chocolate stick from the driver. He loves to hand them out to his passengers. That’s why the children insisted the horse be named Chocolate Swirl.

    As you can see, our Grand Hotel sits back from the road here. Do you all have rooms already? It gets booked until the end of the year. Often reservations are made the year before just to ensure a place to stay in Garlandsburg. Oh, yes, you can stay outside of the town and just come in during the day, but some folks want the full experience.

  Does anyone want to stop at Tattered Covers Rare Books? Yes? I thought there would be a few people. But perhaps you could come back after the tour? Yes, they will be open later. Oh, good evening, Mr. Paige. Are you coming to get a new book? Yes, I think there are a few readers in this tour, so don’t take all the good books!

    Let’s cross the stream on the larger bridge. Good evening, Travis. Excuse us, please. Merry Christmas to you too! That was Adam’s brother. Oh, dear, Landon Moore seems to be having trouble with his fishing pole. I wonder if something caught it. Hopefully his uncle can help him. Yes, back on the footbridge Mr. Shields and Willie are fishing. I wonder if they’ve caught anything yet. It seems like a cold time to be fishing, but then I’m not much of a fisherman.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m growing a bit cold. Let’s warm up by the fire at the Carriage House. Oh, this feels good! What was that? Of course you can go ring the bell in the gazebo! It’s a tradition for visitors to ring the bell when they come.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the tour . . .
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Friday, December 14, 2018

A Carol in Her Heart - Part 1

Good morning FFFs!
Look what I have for you today! A story! A real, new, never published before story! Well, it's the first part of the story anyway. ;)  You'll have to come back for the rest of it. Remember that picture of the red truck with the tree? Well, this is the story that came from that picture and idea. And, since no one gave me any ideas, I don't have to design a cover and publish it! (Though I might someday. If I find the right picture.)

How has your December been? Crazy? Yeah, mine too. Some things–like my dad's birthday–have come and gone. But things are about to get even busier! Tomorrow my sister and I are going to help set up and decorate for the fellowship meal that will be after the Christmas program on Sunday evening. Then we have small bell practice, then play practice since the small bell group are part of the play. That will take up all morning. In the evening we have an assisted living center what we're going to go to. After we do our usual singing, we're going to go caroling to all the homes there. :) Should be fun!
Sunday brings practice before church. Then Sunday school, church, and large bell practice. Hopefully I'll get a fairly quiet afternoon before I have to head back over to church for another practice before the Christmas program and play. Then the fellowship meal.
On Monday it's fairly normal until evening. Then I'm in charge of the caroling groups who are going out to sing to the widows and widowers from church. This will be the first time we will be dividing into two groups, but we've added several new people this year, so we have more houses. It should be fun! It always is. :)

Then I should get a break! I think. *looks around and tries not to remember anything but books to read*

Anyway, here's your story. Enjoy! And check out the rest of the 12 Days of Christmas posts! (The bottom of the post has the link.)

A Carol in Her Heart
Part 1

    It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go–
    The song played over the radio in the kitchen where a pan of cookies sat cooling, and drifted into the living room where Miss Molly Kennedy stood at the window, her apron dusted lightly with flour. She was waiting for the mailman, and he was late.
    “Not that it really matters,” she sighed, brushing a few strands of hair off her face. “There’s no one to enjoy Christmas with me this year.” She wasn’t young anymore, though she wasn’t old either. Just in that middle age where she didn’t seem to fit anywhere. Several gray hairs had found their way onto her brown head, and lines around her eyes and mouth showed a little more when she smiled.
    There's a tree in the Grand Hotel– the song continued.
    “But not here,” Miss Kennedy remarked to no one. “I despise fake trees and don’t have money or the strength to lug in a real one.” She lived all alone in the old farmhouse. Not even a cat kept her company because Miss Kennedy didn’t particularly like cats. She preferred dogs–big dogs–if they were well trained.
    Just as she was about to turn from the window and return to her cookies, her still-sharp eyes caught a glimpse of something red out on the distant road where it wound around the base of the hills. It was a truck. Perhaps the same truck she had seen driving by once or twice before in the last few days. She didn’t know who owned the truck, but she liked it. She always had liked red trucks.
    “Is it carrying something,” she whispered to herself, squinting against the afternoon sunlight. A bend in the road and a stand of trees hid the truck for a moment, then it reappeared.
    “Yes, it is. Why, it has a Christmas tree on the back! If there’s one thing I like better than a red truck at Christmas time, it’s a red truck carrying a Christmas tree.” With a smile she watched the truck as it drove along the winding road, sometimes disappearing from sight but always reappearing a moment later. It came closer and closer. As it approached her driveway, it slowed, and–to Miss Kennedy’s astonishment, bewilderment, and consternation–turned into it.
    “What on earth is that man doing?” She backed away from the window, hoping the driver hadn’t caught her staring. “Perhaps he forgot something and has to turn around.”
    Cautiously she peered around the opened curtains again. “Good gracious! He’s stopping in front of the house! Whatever can he want?” A feeling almost like panic welled up inside Miss Kennedy, and she pressed a hand over her heart.
    She heard heavy steps on the porch.
    “No one with a red truck and a Christmas tree is going to murder me,” she told herself firmly, but she still started when the old fashioned door knocker rapped a quick beat on the door.
    Tipping her chin up just to give herself confidence, and smoothing her apron, Miss Kennedy unlocked the door and opened it.
    A young man stood before her. She made a rapid guess that he was in his twenties. “Yes?”
    “Aunt Molly?”
    Miss Kennedy took a slight step back, and then stared at her visitor. He did look familiar. But–
    “Don’t you remember Jackie Osborn, the little boy you used to look after?”
    “Little Jackie? Why you can’t be him! But you do resemble– Where are my manners?” Quickly she stepped aside and motioned him in. “It’s a cold day to be chatting out on the porch. How are you? What are you doing in this part of the country again? Little Jackie. I just can’t believe it!”
    Jack Osborn chuckled.
    Miss Kennedy thought he had a very nice chuckle and told him so, which turned the chuckle into a full laugh.
    “Oh, Aunt Molly, I’ve missed you!”
    “Well, I’ve missed you, Jackie–Jackson–” She shook her head in confusion. “Neither name fits you now. Won’t you take off your coat and stay awhile?”
    “I usually go by Jack. And I wish I could, but I promised to bring the tree home in time for the kids to help decorate it when they get up from naps.”
    “Kids? You’re married? And why wouldn’t you be, it’s been at least fifteen years since I last saw you.”
    The hearty laugh filled the living room once more. “Yes, I’m married. With three kids–two girls and a boy. Can you believe that? We just moved into that country-looking house near the edge of town right after Thanksgiving. I’ve been wanting to stop and see if you still lived here, but I’ve been so busy getting the family settled that I haven’t had a chance. Getting the tree didn’t take as long as I thought it would since we had it picked out already, and so, here I am,” he finished with a grin.
    “Well, I’m mighty glad to see you!”
    Looking around the room, Jack’s face grew puzzled. “Aunt Molly, where are all your Christmas decorations? I remember your house was always decorated from top to bottom. Now there’s nothing except a strand of garland on the mantle and the manger scene.”
    “Oh, I’m getting older, Jackie. My brother moved way off to Idaho, and I only see him once every few years. My parents are both gone, and I don’t have anyone who comes over, so I haven’t bothered to get everything out for the last several years.”
    Jack shook his head. “Not this year, Aunt Molly. Now that I know for sure you’re living here, I’m going to bring the family over. I want my wife to meet the dear woman who practically raised me though she was young herself when she started.”
    “Raised you, huh?” Miss Kennedy gave a dry chuckle. “I babysat you.”
    “And helped me with my homework once I began school. And took me to my basketball and baseball games, taught me how to rake leaves and shovel snow, and ride a bike, took me to church, read stories to me by the hour, let me help in the kitchen, and always had a listening ear for all my woes, kisses for my bumps, and counsel and prayers for my troubles. Aunt Molly, you showed me the Christ of Christmas, and I’ll never forget that. Now, as much as I would love to stay and eat some of your cookies that I smell–” he sniffed the air with a smile “–I must get this tree home. But I promise you, I’m coming back!” With those words, and a firm but gentle hug, Jack Osborn rushed from the house, climbed into his red truck, and drove around the U-shaped drive and back onto the road.
    “Well!” Miss Kennedy exclaimed when the red truck was out of sight. “Of all the people to come knocking on my door a week before Christmas, Jackson Osborn was the last person I’d have expected, if I’d been expecting anyone. And I don’t think he was a dream.”
    Hurrying to the kitchen, she shook her head. “If I’d had my wits about me I would have fixed up a plate of cookies for him to take home with that tree. The old country house at the edge of town? I wonder if he means the old Edwards place?”

Do you like red trucks with Christmas trees?
Have you decorated for Christmas?
Do you want to read the rest of this story?
Yes! I'm participating in the 12 Days of Christmas on this blog too! :D Don't you just love Christmas? Click on the link to head over to Faith's first post and see who else is posting today. Meet you over there!

Monday, December 10, 2018

I know I've shared this before, but it's just as wonderful now as it was the first time I saw it. In the midst of the crazy, busy, rushing around of this season, let's stop and remember WHO we are celebrating!

Come back another day because there's no telling what I might post. :)

Friday, December 7, 2018

"Behold" Blog Tour and Review

I'm participating in a Blog Tour today (I know I never do that on here, but the Read Another Page blog was already full.) I had the privilege of reading this collection of stories and I'll share my review down below.

A collection of short stories honoring the birth of the Savior
From two siblings caught up in the harrowing days of World War II to separated foster children in the US...
From a memorable road trip across the Southeast to the reunion of a war-torn family...
You’ll be swept into the Christmas spirit with the endearing stories tucked inside these pages. The storylines range from family to romance to the bond of community, with settings scattered across America and beyond.
Behold the beauty of the Savior’s birth with this gathering of stories that warm the soul and bless the heart. 

You can find the book on:

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars
Well written with interesting characters is how I would describe this collection of short stories. There was a recurring theme in each and every one of these stories: the military. (Though the last story had only a side character, and he was only there briefly.)
I think my favorite was the second story since there was no one seriously injured, or maimed. And the ending for it was just so sweet. I didn't want it to be over.

All injuries were handled tastefully and didn't make me cringe.

If you love stories with military persons in them, you will probably enjoy this book.

She's also doing a Giveaway for a paperback copy of her book!!

Read the rest of the posts for this Tour:

Wednesday, December 5th
Brooklyne @ Showers of Blessing >> interview 
Abigail McKenna @ Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors >> review 
Victoria G. @ Victoria’s Book Nook >> spotlight & interview 
Jana @ Reviews from the Stacks >> spotlight & excerpt
Thursday, December 6th
Janelle @ The Ramblings of a Bookworm >> review 
A. Kaylee @ Kaylee’s Kind of Writes >> review & interview & excerpt
Kaitlyn Smith @ Maidens for Modesty >> review & excerpt
Hannah Marie @ Silver-Lined Ramblings >> review
Friday, December 7th (release day!)
Rebekah @ RebekahAshleigh >> review 
Ryana Lynn Miller @ Life of Heritage >> review & interview 
Rebekah Morris @ Rebekah’s Reading Room >> review & excerpt
Molly Anne @ Qadash - Set Apart, for Him >> review
Saturday, December 8th 
Angela Watts @ The Peculiar Messenger >> spotlight 
Gracelyn @ Literatura >> spotlight
Serethiel @ The Book Sprite >> spotlight & review 
Abigail @ Books, Life, and Christ >> spotlight & review

Behold {blog tour schedule}.pdf

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Red Truck and . . .

Merry 5th of December!
This is one of my favorite Christmas decorations this year. Why? Because I have fallen in love with red trucks and Christmas trees. :) I wanted an ornament for the tree of a red truck, but they were too expensive. So, when I discovered this red truck in the box of cars and trucks, I made use of it. And Garlandsburg could do without one tree. ;)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas–
The song played over the radio in the kitchen and drifted into the living room where Miss Kennedy stood at the window. She was waiting for the mailman, and he was late.
"Not that it really matters," she sighed, brushing a few strands of hair off her face. "There's no one to enjoy Christmas with me this year." She wasn't young anymore, though she wasn't old either. Just in that middle age where she didn't seem to fit anywhere. A few gray hairs had found their way onto her brown head and a lines around her eyes and mouth showed a little more when she smiled.
There's a tree in the Grand Hotel– the song continued.
"But not here," Miss Kennedy remarked to no one. "I despise fake trees and don't have money or the strength to lug in a real one." She lived all alone in the old farmhouse. Not even a cat kept her company because Miss Kennedy didn't particularly like cats. She preferred dogs–big dogs–if they were well trained.
Just as she was about to turn from the window, her still sharp eyes caught a glimpse of something red out on the distant road. It was a truck. Perhaps the same truck she had seen driving by once or twice before in the last few days. She didn't know who owned the truck, but she liked it. She always had liked red trucks.
 "Is it carrying something?" she whispered to herself. A bend in the road and a stand of trees hid the truck for a moment. Then it reappeared. "Yes, it is. Why, it has a Christmas tree on the back! If there's one thing I like better than a red truck, it's a red truck carrying a Christmas tree." With a smile she watched the truck as it drove along the winding road, sometimes disappearing from sight, but always reappearing a moment later. It came closer and closer. As it approached her driveway, it slowed, and–to Miss Kennedy's astonishment, confusion, and consternation–turned into it.
"Who on earth is driving that truck? And why did he turn in here?"

. . .

Tell me what you think happens. Finish the story if you wish, or just leave your suggestions. If I end up writing this story and use your suggestion, I'll send you a copy of the finished story. (Perhaps even with a cover!)