Tag Archives: Stories

The Next Train

Today I am posting the second story in the Summer Stories collection.  This next story takes place during the Great Depression. You will find yourself in a small Hooverville camp living in a cardboard box with a young girl named Penny.

I composed this story a few years ago for my middle school writing and literature class. I thought I would share it with you. Although I revised it slightly, the story is mostly in its original form.

The Next Train

I awoke to the sound of a train far off. As I lay on the cold ground I could feel the screeching wheels shaking the ground with a slight pulse. I pressed my ear to the ground, and could tell how far away the train was by the intenseness of the vibration. Perhaps my daddy would be on the train this time. Although I yearned for him to return, I knew that today was just like any other day. He had promised to return home as soon as he found a job. It had been six months now, and I had received no word from him. Sometimes I was able to imagine him here, home with me. I could just feel his strong arms around me and the warmth of his breath kissing my neck. I could hear his deep voice whispering softly in my ear. When daddy made a promise, he didn’t easily break it. Knowing this truth made hope linger in my heart a little longer.

A gust of wind snuck into my little “pretend house”; my living quarters made of cardboard. I shivered. The newspaper that served as my blanket was mucky. I could hear Mrs. Saunders, my temporary mamma, calling my name.

“Penny! It’s time to start fixin’ breakfast! I’ve got some leftover bacon from yesterday mornin’!” I arose, and crawled out of the cardboard box. Wrapping a thing coverlet tightly around my gangly body, I glanced around. Angry clouds floated through a gray sky above my head. The smell of smoke emerged from the piles of steaming sticks serving as our fire. Families gathered around the blazing pots to cook breakfast. By now the train was getting closer. I impatiently started hoping, no, knowing that my daddy had to be on that train! But still, deep inside, I accepted the sheer fact, that I couldn’t let myself become disappointed.

After breakfast I scrubbed the rusty saucers in a small creek. The flowing water greedily snatched up the bits of leftover food and carried them away down the long snake. Only moments after breakfast, some boys had gone off to see if there were any of our men on the train. I told myself not to worry even though by now all of the people in this Hooverville figured my daddy was dead.  They hadn’t known that I had heard them whispering around the campfire every night.

“That man goes off and leaves his only child with no one to care for her. God forbid he must be dead by now; even if he isn’t I bet there is no hope for him returning home.”

Then another man would gripe, “That man always did get himself in trouble. He’s probably out there somewhere in the world, not even thinking about his homely daughter.” I always would sob after hearing this, although I would tell myself it wasn’t true.  My daddy had gone lookin’ for a job, and it was best for both of us. At least that is what he had told me.  Plus, if it hadn’t been for the whole depression situation, my daddy wouldn’t have lost his job, and we sure wouldn’t be living in this Shantytown right now! Just a few years past, I had been just like any other girl. I studied hard in school, had many friends, and lived in a grand house towered by a giant oak tree.  Every afternoon, I would sit beneath its strong limbs, stretching out into the world.  When my daddy lost his job, we did everything to earn money so we could keep the house.  But it didn’t take long for the bank to push use out and leave us with nowhere to go. I then knew that we had lost everything; our home, our garden, our friends, our church, and even our dog. But in my saddest times, my daddy would lovingly remind me, that we hadn’t lost absolutely everything.  After all we still had each other, and that was the most important thing we could hold. But now, as I sat by the rippling creek, I realized that I had lost even that most important thing in my life.

After stacking the dishes, I returned to the large camp that was crowded with little shacks made of cardboard and metal. Part of me didn’t even want to hear the news the boys had brought back from the station. Mrs. Saunders called me over to a small group of men. I reluctantly shuffled over to her with my shoulders drooping and my face to the ground. My worn boots kicked a pebble with every step. I approached the group with a sigh. Mrs. Saunders grabbed my arm forcefully.

“Well, if it isn’t your ole’ man after all!” she cried. I could hear my heart beating within me. Tears started to fill my eyes when I spotted my daddy in the crowd. His tattered clothes were torn and dirty.  His face painted with sadness. When he saw me, he cried out for joy, and we both ran to each other.

“I’m so sorry I was gone for so long, I…I… didn’t exactly find a…” I didn’t let my daddy finish his words.

“It’s okay daddy. I am just so glad you’re home! I knew you would return, because you never break your promises!” After an hour or so, I led him over to our shack and told him to lie down and rest fo  the afternoon. Skipping about, I finished my remaining chores. My daddy hadn’t found a job after all.  We would be livin’ in this Shantytown for quite awhile now. I didn’t care though; I only hoped my daddy would never have to leave me for so long again.

That night after the typical meal of black beans and mushy stew, I lay beside my daddy. Through a small peephole in the roof of our “little house” I could see the stars, bright and beautiful. I was so happy at that moment that all of my troubles and fears seemed to disappear. My daddy was home to stay!  Even though my life wasn’t perfect, I was so very glad to be alive!

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Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time, on an ordinary, rainy afternoon, the minds of two children sailed away on a not-so-very ordinary adventure.  The lively adventure that only comes to those who read.  Any morning, afternoon, or night can grow into exciting day if you take the time to open a book and paint a picture between the lines of exciting text.  Below I have made a few lists of books I or someone else in my family has thoroughly enjoyed.  There is a list for each age group and if you are interested in a certain book, click on the title and the link will bring you to a page with more information.  Many if not all of these treasures can be hunted for and borrowed at your local fortress of literture (or library lol).

Books for Children of a Young Age (This is a list of books that my younger sister has especially enjoyed)

  

Soup Day is a delightful but simple book about one girl’s soup day from start to finish.  My sister read it in story-time once months ago and she hasn’t stopped reading it since.  She doesn’t know how to read, but since everyone in the family has read it to her trillions of times, she knows every word and can sit down and “read” it for herself.  There is something homey about this book.  Children thrive on routine, and the simple delight in this book with make this your children’s or siblings’ favorite book as well.  The illustrations are creative and fun.  They make me hungry for the warmth soup can bring, any time of the day.

This book demonstrates a quiet, simple life, which children love.  Once again, my sister has this book memorized! She “reads” it to me!  Her favorite lines from the book: “the bunnies bathed with daisy soap in silver bunny tubs, then wrapped in fluffy towels for mother bunny rubs”…”…the bunnies found a bungalow a cozy bunny home. They live there still, they always will, they made it all their own.”  This book is cozy and sweet and perfectly demonstrates a simple, family life full of the simple pleasures that are the most important after all.

A warm book full of beautiful poems written by the famous Robert Louis Stevenson.  The pictures, illustrated by Tasha Tudor, are full of imagination and color.  This is a breathtaking book which will introduce your youngest children to the wonderful world of poetry.  Every night, I would read these poems as my little sister drifted off to sleep.  This book contains some of the most well-known poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson, including The Swing, My Shadow, Bed in Summer, The Land of Counterpane, and many others.  The poems included in this book seem to be endless. 

  • “The Valentine Foxes” by Clyde Watson

Every year on Valentines Day, my mom borrows this book from the library.  This is a cute book, illustrating the joys (and frustrations) of day-to-day life.  The story is about a family of foxes preparing for Valentines Day.  The young foxes get carried away as they glue hearts and paper to everything in the dining room.  When mother fox is too busy with baby fox, the young foxes lend a helping hand and decide to make the special valentine cake themselves.  Not only is this a wonderful little story, there is a mouth-watering recipe for the foxes’ valentine cake in the back of the book.  Our family has made it a few times and we all agree that it is our favorite.  I encourage you to borrow this book from your local library next Valentines Day or any day of the year!

This book, full to the brim with music, has always been a favorite of mine since I was a young child.  The story includes a CD of musical accompaniment that goes along with the book.  The story will introduce your children to every type of music imaginable!  From classical, jazz, or blues, to opera, bluegrass, or country, the music is delightful and very beautiful.  I strongly recommend this book to anyone!

A List of Books for Older Children (This is a list of books that I have especially enjoyed)

My friend recommended this book to me and I eagerly read it shortly after.  It is an amazing true story about two young sisters and their journey of faith.  The girls are captured by indians and taken far away from their families to indian camps.  Their home is destroyed, their father murdered, and they are even separated, but they hold on to their faith during the hardest time of their life.  This book is exciting and attention-gripping.  It also demonstrates a faith in God that can never be broken.  I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.

  • “The Elsie Dinsmore Series,” by Martha Finley

Once I began this wonderful series of books, I couldn’t put them down.  They portray such an inward beauty in the main character, Elsie Dinsmore.  The books begin during Elsie’s girlhood years and end in Elsie’s last years of life.  The first two books are my favorite, but I enjoyed all of them with equal pleasure.  If you or your daughters have never read this series, I plead with you to do so now.  You will cherish these books once you have read them.  Elsie’s strong moral character and unwavering love for the Bible and her Father is heaven are a perfect example to young girls of all ages.  Girls will be inspired by Elsie’s will to never displease her heavenly father in any possible way, no matter what persecution and rejection she must endure.  This is what makes a truly beautiful person, inside and out. 

This is a exciting yet heartbreaking book about a young Christian Jew during WWII.  Adolph Hitler’s ominous statements seem only a distant threat to eleven-year-old Rudi Kaplan. But when the Nazi forces invade Poland and bomb his home city of Warsaw, Rudi finds out that he is Hitler’s enemy not only because he is a Pole but also because he’s a Jew and a Christian.The next few years change Rudi’s life forever. With only his imprisoned father’s promise that they will be reunited after the war, Rudi must learn how to survive in hiding, how to be truly brave, and how to overcome the hatred of his enemies. He must learn to die to himself and to trust the God who is mightier than any army.  Can Rudy put trust in his father’s promise, or even more importantly, his Heavenly Father’s promise that He will never leave him nor forsake him.  I have read this book so many times both by myself and with my family.  I encourage you to read it for yourself.
  • “Letters From Rifka,” by Karen Hesse

My mother read this book to my brother and I about two years ago.  It has been one of my favorite books since.  I remember listening intently to every word.  Rifka’s story is inspiring and I love how she wrote everything down between the margins of her Russian poetry book.
 Twelve-year-old Rifka’s journey from a Jewish community in the Ukraine to Ellis Island is anything but smooth sailing. Modeled on the author’s great-aunt, Rifka surmounts one obstacle after another in this riveting novel. First she outwits a band of Russian soldiers, enabling her family to escape to Poland. There the family is struck with typhus. Everyone recovers, but Rifka catches ringworm on the next stage of the journey–and is denied passage to America (“If the child arrives . . . with this disease,” explains the steamship’s doctor, “the Americans will turn her around and send her right back to Poland”). Rifka’s family must leave without her, and she is billeted in Belgium for an agreeable if lengthy recovery. Further trials, including a deadly storm at sea and a quarantine, do not faze this resourceful girl. Told in the form of “letters” written by Rifka in the margins of a volume of Pushkin’s verse and addressed to a Russian relative, Hesse’s vivacious tale colorfully and convincingly refreshes the immigrant experience. Ages 9-12.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
 
There are so many more books that I could list on my top favorites, but I couldn’t possibly post them all here.  For more lists of books I recommend, please visit my Books page.

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To Daydream

 

“To Daydream”, By Me

To wonder and dream, to ponder many things

To let your mind wander to and fro 

Down a path were roses grow

And thoughts take flight on golden wings.

In the night of winter, nature slept as soundly as a bear in its cave.  But as spring was born, the fields bloomed with rich color and the glow of Marigolds.  The air carried the scent of sweetness wherever it roamed and the clouds allowed the sun to peek over their gloomy curtains.  I longed to lay in the tall grass among the buds and pretend I lived right there with them.  The thrasher called to me from among its little hollows in the overgrown grass.  The bullfrogs and crickets beckoned me to bury my toes in the moist, fertile dirt.  The rabbits played among the wild flowers and begged for me to join them.  But still I could not answer their call.  For life’s duties held on to me strongly and would not loosen their grip.  Perhaps I would find time for the frolic of daydream in near future.

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Three Little Kittens

The crisp, autumn breeze traveled along a small, winding path which could be found inside a little wood.   The whispering trees swayed with the motion of the wind and sent fluttering leaves to the root-covered ground.  Tiny, very unnoticeable drops of rain sent a mist from the sky, as the friends gathered close together under their single tattered covering.  A large umbrella the color of the smokey clouds overwhelming the sky.  Playful kittens created burrows in their little laps.  Although a storm stirred the sky and sent worries to cloud their hearts, their faces beamed with the peace that a true friendship brings.  No matter what their circumstances may be, they would always stick together.  Sunny days would come and go, but they would always be together through thick and thin.  That’s what a true friends proves to be… someone who will be by you no matter what.

 [friendship+poem+copy.jpg]

 

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A Day in Sweden: My Story

This is a story I wrote last Christmas about a young girl celebrating winter in Sweden.   Even though  I am not a purebred,  I have a Swedish heritage  and love learning about their customs.  Every year my Grandmother (Mormor) hides an almond in the rice pudding which you will learn about late in this story.  I hope you enjoy reading it.  Maybe it will get you thinking about Christmas now that Thanksgiving has come to an end. 

It was dusk…

A gust of frosty wind plowed through me, as my horse and I took off at full speed.  I leaned forward slightly and brushed a strand of my blond hair from my face.  My hands firmly held the warm mane of my colt, as the rolling, white hills of the field sped past us.  A snow-flurry or two clung to my eyelashes and tickled my nose that my scarf now exposed.  I shifted on the bareback of my steed, and nudged my boots into her side.  With that she took a giant leap over a fallen fence and her hooves kicked up the icy snow behind us.  I giggled and pulled my shawl tightly around me.  My dress was damp, my nose was numb.  I buried my face in the warm brown hair of my Nordsvensk Häst or North Swedish Horse.  Her coat had the scent of fresh hay and oats.  I imagined my cozy, red farmhouse.  It was lit with candles in each window and the glow of the fire-place flickering and cracking.  Mother would be baking saffron buns, and the sweet tasty smell would fill the house.  Tomorrow was December thirteenth, St. Lucia day.  This year I was the honored girl that had been chosen to dress up as St. Lucia.  Mother had assisted me when I had neatly woven holly and pine branches together for my wreath-crown.

“Oh Flicka,” I whispered softly to my horse.  “I can’t wait for Christmas Eve dinner.  Maria and Britta will come, and so will Uncle Carl.  I will sneak you a ligonberry or two.  How does that sound?” Flicka puffed and began to slow down a bit.  I rubbed her neck softly and smoothed her chestnut hair.  The towering, leafless aspen trees stood with snow-covered tops, and in the middle of a wide clearing stood my farmhouse.  It was painted red with white trim.  A stilted fence closed in the wide yard.  A ways behind the house was our barn.  We owned a few cows and sheep, and a little white barn cat that had recently had kittens.  Flicka’s gallop diminished into a trot as we neared the barn.  I leapt off and brushed the ice from my dress and boots.  Then I escorted Flicka to her stall.  The oat and water bucket had been filled that morning.  I gave her a gentle pat on her nose.  Her toasty breath warmed my frozen hands.

“Emilia!” called my mother from the house.  “Please hasten, and come inside.”  I lifted my skirts and ran for the door.  When I entered the kitchen the warmth from the stove penetrated every part of my body.  I stole a deep breath of Christmas scents.  I heard singing from the living room.  It was time for our Christmas carols.  It had always been a family tradition to sing Christmas carols the night before St. Lucia Day.  I scrambled to the stove and removed my leg warmers and boots.  A puddle of melted snow had begun to collect on the wooden floor.  I warmed my hands for a moment and then scurried into the living room.   I joined my family in song as we sung the last stanza of one of my favorite Swedish Christmas carols.

“Stilla natt, heliga natt!
Allt är tyst, Klart och glatt
Skiner stjärnan på stallets strå
Och de korade helgon två,
Som kring Guds Son hålla vakt
Som kring Guds Son hålla vakt.”

I gazed at the serene snowflakes out the big window.  I knew that angels were singing with us in heaven.  Christmas was most definitely my favorite time of the year!

~~~

Early the next morning, I woke to the sound of muffled voices.  It was still dark out.  I glanced at my little sister, Astrid, who was still fast asleep.  Quickly, but quietly, I escaped the bed and tip-toed into the hall.  There on a blue trunk was the white St. Lucia dress with the wreath of candles.  I had prepared them the night before.  After rapidly dressing by candlelight and braiding my hair into long straw-colored braids, I made my way down to the kitchen.  As I neared the kitchen door, I heard my older sister, Inger, humming a Christmas tune.  Her blue eyes sparkled with the spirit of Christmas.

“Inger,” I whispered. “Help me light the St. Lucia candles.” I pushed the kitchen door wide open and rushed through.  Inger relieved my full arms by grabbing the wreath and candles.

“I have already set the St. Lucia tray.  It is complete with saffron buns and holly.  You must hurry now Emilia.  It will be dawn before we know it.”  She gently placed the garland on my head and lit the tall, white candles.  Then she cautiously gave me the tray of steaming Glogg and saffron buns.  Before long, I began my rounds.  First, I softly tapped on my parents’ door.

“St. Lucia invites you to breakfast,” I announced.  The silent sound of ruffling could be heard from all of the rooms down the hallway.  My family, one-by-one, opened their doors and gasped at the lovely sight.  I gave treats to everyone as Inger sung the traditional St. Lucia song.  Her stunning, clear voice rang through the air.

“Santa Lucia, thy light is glowing

Though darkest winter night, comfort bestowing

Dreams float on dreams tonight

Comes then the morning light

Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia.”

“Oh Emilia, You are so pretty,” gasped Astrid.  A smile spread across my face.  “You’re lucky.  I hope I will someday get to be St. Lucia!”

“Of course you will,” Mama smiled. “You just have to be patient.”  Little Valter wiped cinnamon from his gleaming face.  The whole house glowed with candlelight.

~~~

The dim light of the gray sky barely revealed the thick sheets of snow that were dropping, and producing large bumpy piles of endless, colorless powder.  I sat by the large family room window unenthusiastically staring blankly into the white dust.  Father slammed the kitchen door tightly shut and shuffled into the kitchen.  After removing his snow-shoes and smoothing his beard he guzzled down a mug of coffee and addressed the family.

“It’s a blizzard out there.  I barely got home without being trapped in the snow drifts.  The post office received word that a man had been found buried in the snow just a few miles from town.  The weather is even worse up north.”  A small spark of melancholy lit in my heart.  I would be forced to stay indoors that day.  I wouldn’t be able to take Flicka for a ride.  I shrugged.

“To interrupt this gloomy episode I believe I have good news,” Mother declared.  “In the mail stack there is a letter from Uncle Carl.”  I jumped up with excitement.

“Is there a letter for me?” I asked curiously.

“There is a letter for each of you.”  Inger replied as she entered the living room with a stack of envelopes.

It was never often that we received word from Uncle Carl, but when we did it was always an event to discover the goodies he had sent us.  Uncle Carl traveled all over Sweden.  He sent me photographs of famous castles, or landscapes.  Although the photographs were black and white and fuzzy, I could still make out the picture.  I eagerly tore into my envelope and revealed a photograph of the Linköping Cathedral.  I had heard of this cathedral before, in school.  It was the tallest building in Sweden.  I had always wanted to visit the magnificent city of Stockholm, and explore the amazing structures.  Uncle Carl inspired me to do more with my life than just sit around all day at home.

~~~

The blizzard continued for three days.  In that time I had not seen Flicka once.  Father had tried to venture out to the barn to feed the animals one time, but had sprained his knee trying.  When the snow turned into flurries, Mother allowed me to go out to the barn to feed Flicka.  Impatiently, I tried to run in my snow shoes, but soon gave up trying.  It seemed like it was the longest trip to the barn I had ever taken, but when I finally got there, I was relieved to see that the cows had not thinned much.  Only a few bones poked out on their sides.  When I approached Flicka’s stall I removed a carrot from my pocket.  I expected to see Flicka peek over the stall door any minute, but when I opened the stall door my heart felt as if it had left my chest.  Flicka was gone!  The stall door latch had been broken.  I dashed out of the barn and began calling Flicka and searching everywhere, but she was nowhere to be found.  After exhaustively collapsing on the porch steps, I began to sob uncontrollably.  Tears rolled down my flush cheeks.  At that moment, I had no idea what to do.

~~~

After days of searching, everyone had pretty much accepted the fact that Flicka had probably been buried in the snow somewhere; everyone except me.  I had the determination to find her, but as Christmas approached, my stubbornness seemed to fade away.  My mind still held on to the memories of her.  Her playful figure had been engraved in my memory.  I often thought of the day Flicka had been born.  It had been my birthday.  I had claimed her as my own from the moment I laid eyes on her.  I cannot recall the countless visits I paid her that night.  I would rub her neck to make her feel safe and made sure that her blanket was always around her small, shivering body.  I had been her second mother, and she would always have a special place in my heart.

~~~

I awoke one morning and inched out of bed.  It was two days before Christmas Eve.  A Waxwing chirped on the tree branch outside my window.  I listened intently to the shrill singing for a moment and then clumsily got dressed.  The bird seemed to call me from his perch in the fruit tree.  I leaned out of the window and took a gasp of fresh air.  My face was warmed by the bright sun, that had forced its warm rays of light to break through the stubborn gray winter clouds.  I grabbed a sturdy limb and clambered out, tearing the burgundy hem of my dress.  I dangled for a moment and then landed in a cluster of bushes.  I paused to catch my breath and then trotted along after the bird.  I don’t know why I followed the bird, but something compelled me to.  The sun looked like melting wax on the horizon.  The shallow, melting snow allowed me to walk freely without the burden of snowshoes.  I skipped gaily to the beat of the bird’s melody.  When the sun had completely risen, we neared the woods.  I stopped for a moment.  Father had instructed me to never enter the forest alone, but my curiosity got the better of me, and soon I found myself ambling through the dancing shadows of the trees.  There was no echo of the brook, for it had froze in the blizzard.  Everything was unusually quiet.  I wasn’t accustomed to the winter stillness that now haunted the usually cheerful hide-out that I had wandered in the spring.  The wind whispered through the frozen trees, but other than that, everything was silent; until a noise grabbed my attention.  The whinnying of a horse echoed through the trees.  I listened more keenly.  After several paces I could see a small shack in the distance.  Branches bowed over the rough roof.  I heard muffled voices from behind the hut.  I could barely make out the words.

“She’s so pretty, Daddy.”  I heard a small weak voice.

“But we can’t keep her,” the kind voice of a father replied.  “She must belong to somebody.”  I ducked and tried to get a closer look.  A tall, strong man gently held a fragile little girl.  She was stroking a horse with chestnut brown hair.

“It’s Flicka!” I gasped.  Clouds of breath escaped my nose.  I watched closely and quietly, but on the inside, my heart was pounding louder than a drum.  How I longed to ride my beloved friend through the meadows once again.  It took every ounce of my self-control to keep myself still.

“Do you think we could keep her…just for Christmas?”  The little girl asked hopefully, her voice shaking.

“I’m not sure. I’m sure her master misses her dearly.”  The little girl sighed and rested her head of golden curls on her father’s shoulder.  The two disappeared through the little front door of the shack.  A thin line of smoke wisped through the chimney.  The hut looked cold and lonely.  The only sign of Christmas was a small hand-made wreath nailed to the door.  I slipped around the back-end of the house.  There was a tiny opening that looked something like a window.  I overheard the little girl praying, and I couldn’t help but listen.

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all that you have given us.  Please keep me and my daddy safe and sound.  For Christmas I don’t ask for a Christmas tree decorated with that shiny tinsel.  All I want for Christmas is for me and my daddy to stay together always, but if there was only one more thing I could wish for, it would be a friend.  Someone who doesn’t care that I can’t walk or run on my own.  Someone who will have fun with me even if I can’t go and play amongst the pine trees.  Oh…and I don’t know if this is too selfish of me to ask, but please…please make the horse be able to stay.  In Jesus Name, Amen.”

I paused for a moment and swallowed hard. “Flicka,” I said in a voice softer than a whisper.  “It’s Emilia.”  Flicka panted and put her front hoof in the air.  I crawled quickly over to mollify her.  Her warm breath was refreshing.  A couple of tears fell from my eyes.  I knew I was making a very quick decision, but I clearly knew what would make the little girl happiest.

“I can’t take you home.  You must stay here.” I choked.  “This family needs you…they…they need you more than I do; especially the little girl.  You’ll be the only Christmas present she will probably receive this year.”  I rubbed Flicka’s soft chestnut hair for the last time, and disappeared amongst the trees.

“Goodbye Flicka,” I said beneath my breath, “Goodbye.”

~~~

On the day of Christmas Eve, everyone had the joy of Christmas in their hearts.  Gingerbread men decorated the mantel, along with fresh pine branches that filled the house with the scents of the outdoors.   An eye-catching young spruce tree stood in the corner of the living room.  Its branches were adorned with straw angels, Swedish flags and the glow of shimmering candlelight.  Friends and Family would come and celebrate.  I lent a hand as we prepared the smorgasbord.  My mouth began to water as I took in deep breaths of the delicious smells of the food.  As the firsts guests arrived, the excitement began.

“God Jul! God Jul!” Their voices rang like the Christmas bells that would ring at midnight on Christmas day, and would chime through the church walls and all over the streets of town.

“Merry Christmas to you!” I sang back.  A bright star sparkled in the black sky.  The children played, the adults danced and laughed well into the night.  I kept my eyes on the rice pudding.  Maybe this year I would get the almond.  If I got the almond in my bowl of rice pudding, I could make a Christmas wish.  I craved the dried codfish and ligonberry jam at the end of the table.  The cheerful sound of children laughing filled the room; I turned to see Uncle Carl.

“Uncle Carl!” I exclaimed.  “I’ve missed you so much!”

“How’s my little niece doing?” he asked.

“Just fine!”

The night continued to go well. Soon enough, desert was served.  Mother allowed me to spoon up the rice pudding.  Valter began fishing around for the almond.  The cousins each groaned with disappointment.  As I slowly put my spoon in the pudding, my heart skipped a beat.  I had found the almond!  I closed my eyes and wished for the thing that had been on my mind all that evening.

All too soon, it was time for the guests to depart.

“God natt!” they called through the frosty air.   As Uncle Carl planted a kiss on my forehead, he tossed me a bundle.

“What’s this?” I asked with curiosity.  He didn’t answer.

“Goodnight to you all!”  He hollered as he walked away into the snowy night.  I unwrapped the gift and examined a beautifully painted horse.

“It’s a Dala horse,” my mother told me with a twinkle in her eyes.

“What is a Dala horse?” I asked, but somewhere inside me I could feel that I already knew.

“Well,” she began, “A horse is a creature of great value, a faithful friend who pulls loads in the forest during the winter, works in the meadow when spring and summer arrive, and gallops through the vast fields of nature with her best friend.  That’s why Sweden created the Dala horse, a symbol of a friend who will always be special to your heart.” My mother gave me a wink as we climbed the stairs.  I held the Dala horse close, and with my imagination, I was riding in the fields of white once again.

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A rose by any other name…

What if a rose was a skunkcabbage?

There is a saying that states, “A rose by any other name, wouldn’t smell as sweet;”  and if any of you are familiar with Anne of Green Gables, which I’m sure you are, you know what I mean.  What is your opinion?  Do names really matter?  Does it matter what you look like on the outside, as long as your inside is pure and right?

I decided to write a short story on the subject, that hopefully you will find quite interesting.

The Thorn and the Rose

The sun smiled down upon the little town of Hedgehill, it smiled at the children, both notty and nice, it smiled at the families both poor and rich.  It grinned at the rust-colored fields and the green ones too.  And it smiled upon two particular children as well.  Their names were Adelaide and Bertie.  Now Adelaide was a very respected name during the time.  It came from the richest of rich and from ancestors who had lived in royal castles.  On the other hand, Bertie was considered to be the oddest name around.  The school kids laughed at Bertie, but she didn’t mind.  She minded her own business, and gave kindness back to her enemies.  Adelaide pretended to be polite to her elders just to receive all of the things she might want, but she had a wicked heart.

Bertie grew up to be a succesful lady, who became admired all over the country, but Adelaide grew up alone, being admired for nothing but the history of her royal name.

Now, one might want to imagine, things another way from what they are.  Just what if a bird would have been called a hippo instead?  But as you can see, it doesn’t matter what something looks like or even what they’re name is, it matters how they are on the inside.

So the answer to our question is:

A rose by any other name…is still a rose.

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