I wanted to share something with all our friends for Christmas, so I wrote a Christmas story. Merry Christmas everyone and God Bless.
"A CHRISTMAS STORY" by Dutch Henry - Part 1.
With a piece of kindling, Sarah scratched ice from inside the lone cabin window. Cupping hands against her face she was able to squint through the tiny pane to see the blowing, swirling snow outside. Nothing new to see, except the darkness moving in. She shook her head, "Can't even see the barn now."
If he wasn't getting home tonight, and her hopes were fading as her worries mounted, she'd better bundle up and tend the animals in the barn. Jed had been sure to load the wood box before leaving . Load the box? She smiled at the heavily laden box with wood stacked halfway up the wall. "Wood enough for a week," she remembered him assuring her, even though he was planning on being gone only a day.
This would be the first Christmas Eve visit to the orphanage she'd missed since they'd wed three years ago. But this year, with a month old daughter of their own, and the threatening skies, Sarah thought it best Jed make the ten mile ride without them. So he'd set out in the shadows of early morning alone.
She bent over the black kettle filled nearly to the brim with simmering chicken stew. Stirred it thoroughly and swung the black arm out from the fire to hold the kettle just near enough to the hot coals and gentle flames to keep the stew at the perfect temperature. She'd have a Christmas feast waiting for him when he returned.
The orphanage sat way outside of town, on a little farm well off the beaten path. Out of sight. Out of mind. Run by old widow Martha Bowman, and two old broken down ex-cow pokes, Jake and Shorty. Jed had grown up there. "Poor kids," Jed had told her once, "not only don't they have families of their own, but most town folks don't even want to see 'em. They'd just as soon forget 'em."
Jed never forgot them. Each Christmas he'd visit and carry a feed sack of toys to share with the children, usually numbering around ten. Toy horses, he'd whittle, a fishing pole or two, and dolls Sara would sew. Of course a few knitted scarves and mittens too.
Not being able to see the children this Christmas Eve had Sarah's heart a little heavy. She'd grown so used to the singing, laughing and playing. And the happy faces. Even the old cow pokes would join right in and sing along. Jed had a way of really throwing a lively Christmas Eve party.
Sarah tended to the fireplace, wrapped the baby in their warmest blanket, grabbed the milk pail, the coal oil lantern and started for the door. Forcing the door into the wind took all her strength. The gale hit her full on, slamming the door shut behind her, nearly sucking the very breath from her lungs. Leaning low she sheltered the baby, pushed into the wind and hurried for the safety of the barn. Tiny frozen flakes pelting her cheeks like stinging bees. It was a journey of only fifty feet, but tonight it seemed a mile. The snow wasn't deep, but the wind halted her every step.
Full hands made sliding the barn door latch nearly impossible. She could set nothing down for fear it blow away. Struggling with an elbow and the back of her hand she managed to pull back the thick metal latch. Immediately the wind ripped the door from her grasp slamming it wide open. She hurried to the far corner, past the cows, the horse and chicken coop.
Inside was a different world. Jed had labored a full summer four years ago to build the barn out of logs instead of boards. "Harder to be burnt out that way," he'd explained. They'd lived in the barn a full year after that, while together they finished their one room cabin. She settled the baby snugly in a bed of hay. "There now," Sarah soothed the sweet girl, "you sleep easy, Jessica, while I milk the cows, and I'll bet Daddy will be home before I'm through."
She battled the raging wind to pull shut and latch the heavy door, hung the lantern on its peg in the center of the barn and paused a moment to look around. Three cows and a horse make plenty of heat inside a barn as snug as this one. The wind howled and raged but could find no way in. She settled down on the milking stool and started milking the first cow.
Snug as they were in the sturdy barn, her mind was on Jed. The first streams of milk rang out on the pail side. She tried to time the ringing sound of milk hitting the metal bucket to "Silent Night" as she squeezed in time to the hymn she hummed.
"Why isn't Jed home yet?" Is all she could think.
I'll post Part 2 tomorrow on Christmas Day ~ Merry Christmas ~ Dutch Henry