Riding into town, the three travelers passed a small, brick church. Snow flurries danced in the air and candles glowed in each of the church’s windows. The Christmas Eve service had started. Organ music drifted to them. Silent night, holy night. Voices now joined the organ, drawing a wistful feeling from Charity. This was her first Christmas Eve as a believer, and how she wished she could spend it in that church. Thad’s baritone joined the congregation as they rode past. Charity gladly joined him. She’d learned the song years before. The words hadn’t meant anything to her, at least nothing more than an old story or legend. This year, she treasured the sacrifice Christ made to become a man and bring her grace.
Since I write romance with a great deal of action and suspense, adding these tender scenes into my books makes for a sweet change during the holiday season. The one above is from my latest novel, Detective to the Rescue, part of the Christmas Rescue series. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08121FXK3
In the main room, a large sock hung from the mantle. Behind the low hanging sock, a pine knot popped in the cheery fire that drew Frankie. The room was cold, reminding Frankie that she was living in a mud house.
As she rubbed her hands near the flames, Boss reached around her to lift the sock off of the nail. He pointed to the nail before giving Marsha the sock.
“See that nail, precious girl. That one’s yours for every Christmas.”
His daughter puckered her face in confusion. Boss’s voice quavered as he tried to explain. “Christmas is a special day each year. It’s precious so we give you a present to celebrate.”
Carrying the girl to the sofa covered by a gray wool blanket, Boss sat with her on his lap and offered Marsha the bulging stocking. She held it but didn’t reach inside.
Frankie joined them, sitting close to her husband. Smiling at Marsha, she rolled the top of the stocking down. “I think there’s something fun inside for Marsha,” she crooned.
At those words, the girl’s face changed from confusion to excitement. She seemed to now understand that the contents were hers and reached in to pull out the surprise.
Her little fingers entwined in yarn and pulled out a soft rag doll. Its face had been embroidered with skill, and a finely sewn calico dress covered the rag body. From the doll’s neck, a bonnet dangled down its back.
Where and when had her husband bought it? She knew he couldn’t have made it in the night. Had he slipped out while she slept?
Marsha’s lips pursed as she oohed over her doll. Cradling the rag doll, the little one rocked it slowly. Then she surprised her new parents.
Frankie met her husband’s startled gaze and grinned. “Another new word! I think the words are locked up in her brain, only she’s been too afraid to use them.”
Rubbing a hand over her child’s dark hair, Frankie softly asked Boss about the doll. “When did you have a chance to get it? Weren’t the stores closed today?”
With a nod of his head, Boss answered her. “Yeah, I haven’t left the house.”
His voice faltered a bit as he looked at a distant corner of the room while speaking. “I had a sister who died young of yellow fever.” He ducked his head in embarrassment as he explained. “I’ve kept her doll all these years. Just somethin’ to remember her by, I guess.”
Frankie gave him a worried look. “It won’t bother you to see Marsha play with it? Maybe even get it dirty?”
His head shook from side to side. “Nah. Marie’s been gone years. The toy’s been stuffed in a chest without me lookin’ at it. Time for it to be used.” Then he gave a gruff laugh. “Anyhow, can’t have my girl here goin’ without. This bein’ our first Christmas together.”
Tears pooled in Frankie’s eyes, and she willed them away. Serious, reserved spinsters didn’t cry.
Of course, she left that life behind to become a wife and mother. Maybe a mother could be forgiven tears in a tender situation like this one. She hoped so since the moisture ran down her cheeks now.
Clement Moore's poem A Visit from St. Nicholas (The Night Before Christmas), written as a gift for his ill child who wanted a Santa Claus story, is in part responsible for a great deal of our traditions at Christmas. The stocking hung by the fireplace. Gifts for children.
Early on, Christmas festivities were for adults. Children had very little to do with the holiday. It was a time for drinking and being, well, merry. As an example, take a look at what is considered the very first Christmas card.
I prefer the warm, child-centered Christmases I've known with decorated cookies and lights on the tree. We'd play I spy each night. The lights would be turned off and we'd take turns describing a decoration. The game was to see who could be the first to find the one being described. Perhaps your family had something similar. For me, it was an essential part of the Christmas and one of the few times my mother played a game with me.
"To be honest, this didn't sound like a book I would enjoy. A woman marries a man in a traveling circus...does not sound romantic. Boy was I was wrong. Like all of Marisa Masterson's stories, I couldn't put it down once I started it. There was action, adventure, love and of course romance. This is a must read!"--Leona M.
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