It was a lovely day here yesterday. For the first time this summer, I actually took some time and sat outside on the patio and read a book. That was after I watered the plants, brushed the dog, washed all the patio furniture off and swept the patio. But still it was nice to sit out under the elms, listen to the birds, and the hum of the air conditioning unit and read a pretty informative book on dressmaking for dolls. I found a few really good books at the local library which have everything in there from undies to hats. The hat section really sparked my interest, in particular the fancy Victorian hats with all the ruffles, ribbons and feathers. My fingers are dying to try one of those out...
So where were we with Winter Wheat?
I believe there was a kiss, and then a bit of a spat? Hummm, not so good that close to Christmas.
Okay, here we go, back to Winter Wheat...finishing Chapter 12 and on to 13!
What the hell had he done now! He watched her move around the room with no more regard for him, than a piece of wood for the fire, and he became instantly aggravated.
“Emilie . . .” his voice rose in agitation. Gone was the soft warm fuzzy feeling of just minutes before, now he felt hurt, confused and somewhat betrayed.
She turned at his angry voice, and stopped half way between the kitchen and the living room.
“I thought you wanted to belong . . . I pour my heart out to you and you turn away from me like it means nothing to you! For the life of me woman, I can’t figure you out!” He slapped his hand angrily against the side of his leg, and then jammed both hands angrily through his hair. Getting no response from her, he threw his hands into the air and stormed past her on his way to his bedroom.
Emilie watched him leave the room, and then tiredly returned to her work. She still had stockings to fill, gifts to wrap and a kitchen to clean. As strange as Karl’s behavior was to her, she had no time to dwell on the events of the past hour right now. Tomorrow was Christmas, and there was still much to do, if she was going to make it a special day for the children. She steadied her resolve, and turned her thoughts away from Karl for the moment. Never had she met a man quite like Karl Wright!
Christmas morning had arrived. Karl Wright’s small prairie home was rocked to it’s foundations with the thunder of children’s feet pounding down the staircase to gain access to the living room, where their stockings hung, now filled with treats. They flew down the stairs with eager hearts, and imaginations that had been fueled by weeks of anticipation of the big event.
No day had ever seemed so important to the occupants of the tiny country home. In the hearts and minds of everyone residing there, Christmas Day had come to represent a new promise for better things to come. This day they all could set aside their pain and loss and be carefree happy children and contented adults. They could enjoy the ritual of giving and receiving; they could be excited, and they could dream of new beginnings for themselves and the others in their new extended family.
The children piled into one another as they stopped abruptly in front of the fireplace where their bulging stockings hung. One by one their eyes swung to the Christmas tree in the corner, where wrapped gifts were piled hap-hazardly under the tree. They exchanged wide open-mouth smiles with one another, and then they ran into the kitchen where Emilie had already prepared a special Christmas Day breakfast.
On the table was bacon and eggs, cream of wheat cereal, hot cinnamon buns fresh out of the oven, and oranges; a special treat that none of the children had seen since Christmas the year before.
They each took turn greeting Emilie with a joyful “Merry Christmas” along with a hug and a kiss for the special woman in their lives, and then they seated themselves at the long wooden table to wait for Karl’s appearance.
Karl joined the boisterous group, after donning his only pair of dress pants and cotton shirt. He had shaved and combed his hair long before anyone else in the house had been up, and now he sat down at his place at the head of the table, and asked each person to join hands with the one beside them.
“Children, we are going to say a special prayer this morning,” he announced as Emilie took her place and joined hands with Anne-Marie and Richard.
“Dear Lord, we thank you for your generous gifts on this Christmas Day. We thank you for the gift of family, and friends and especially the gift of love for one another. Remember us to our loved ones with you in heaven, and help us as we continue on with our lives without them.” Karl raised his head and looked at Emilie and then lowered his head once more. “Thank you for bringing Emilie to us, and help us to let her know that without her here with us, our Christmas would have been very different than it is today. Amen.”
“Amen,” echoed along the table and the children dug into their meal with an urgency that brought smiles to both Karl and Emilie’s faces.
“Can we open our presents right after breakfast?” Raymond asked for all the children, his anxious expression moving between Emilie and his Father.
Karl smiled, “Yes Raymond, after breakfast, we will all open our gifts,” an excited murmur swept the room, “But only if you all promise to help Emilie with these dishes just as soon as all the gifts have been opened.”
“We’ll do the dishes ourselves, and let Emilie rest,” George announced as spokesperson for all the children, “Right, kids?”
“Yes,” they all agreed in unison as they hurried to down the huge breakfast that Emilie had so lovingly prepared for them.
Karl gazed across the table to where Emilie sat assisting Anne-Marie with her meal, “I think that’s very thoughtful of you, I’m sure Emilie will appreciate the rest.”
“I will, and Danke,” she smiled at all the children. She glanced around the table to the family that had become so familiar to her. She watched each child as they enjoyed their special breakfast, and felt a swell of pride in the young family that surrounded her. These were good children. They were kind, and of pure heart, and their parents could be proud to have raised such wonderful offspring. She felt a momentary pang of regret that they were not her children, but quickly pushed that thought aside. Today was Christmas; there was no time for selfish thoughts or moments of self-pity. There was fun to be had today, and she was just as determined as everyone else to enjoy the day to the fullest.
After the table was cleared and the dishes were piled in the sink to be washed later, the children gathered around the tree that now glowed with warm light. Long before morning had arrived, Karl had pinned small white candle holders on the tips of the trees branches. Minutes before the children had arrived from their beds upstairs he had inserted the candles and while the children cleared the table he lit each one carefully.
“Come Emilie,” Karl called out to her from his spot closest to the tree. “Leave the kitchen as it is, it’s time to pass out the gifts.” He sounded almost as excited as the children.
She quickly made her way to the living room where everyone sat waiting patiently for her to join them. As she lowered herself onto the sofa beside the tree, Karl reached under the tree for a gift and started calling out names. He selected one gift for each child, and then instructed the children to open their presents. They did so, with much commotion, laughter and excited sighs.
“Oh look,” Raymond squealed when he opened a book of children’s poems. His words of delight were echoed time and again by the other children as they filled their laps with handmade clothing and toys, and nearly new toys that had been generously donated by the neighbors and friends of the community.