Junia had to be creative to fit two adults and four children into two spare bedrooms, which used to be John and Caitlin’s rooms. Baby Ava would be comfortable for a few more weeks in a cradle in the room with Caitlin and Ryan. The three boys could squeeze into the other small room if Corby slept on a cot. And to give them more space, Jas set up a small tent in the family room where they could sleep or play camping. He put a small string of Christmas lights around the frame and named it Snoopy’s house, because they had just watched the Charlie Brown Christmas movie and his dog, Snoopy had decorated his dog house with lights and ornaments.
Then Junia, not to be outdone, made a large bag of Puppy Chow, a snack made with rice cereal coated with melted chocolate and peanut butter and then dusted with powdered sugar.
Junia smiled as she handed the bag to Denver. “Kids, you can eat the Puppy Chow in the tent, but be very careful not to let the dogs get any because they’re allergic to chocolate. It would make them very sick.” The three boys dashed off to the tent and retrieved a large tin with lid, an empty popcorn container, they had been given earlier. Here they stashed the snack mix to eat later. Jas had brought out a box of John’s old comic books for them to read with flashlights inside the tent. Enough to keep them busy for a while.
Ryan and Jas had gone out to secretly shop for more games to give the boys for Christmas gifts, to replace games they had lost in the fire. It began to snow on their way into the store.
Ryan chuckled at memory of the last snow and turned to Jas and said, “I hope your car will start when we’re finished shopping…and let’s not store any gifts in the trunk this time.”
Jas raised one eyebrow as he looked at Ryan and then smiled. “Sounds like you’re wanting just a regular shopping trip…uneventful…boring…where’s all the joy in that?” Then he firmly patted him on the back. “I understand.”
“Nothing’s boring with you around Jas!” Jas laughed with his belly, a laugh that brought smiles to all nearby. Then coming up to the door where the Salvation Army Santa was ringing a bell, he pulled out a Christmas card with a dollar bill inside and candy cane attached and placed it in the bucket. He usually carried a few of these Christmas cards with him to hand out during the Christmas season.
One starry night long ago,
God came down,
A baby born in Bethlehem!
Hosts of Angels said to Israel – Go!
See The Lamb,
Wrapped in strips of cloth,
Lying in a manger!
The Son of God,
Perfect Lamb of sacrifice!
He will save his people from their sin.
Wise men from the East,
Gentiles came to seek the King,
Savior of mankind, their gifts to bring.
Every wise man will seek the King,
Their souls to save!
Again one day the King will come,
The King will come in
With healing in his wings!
Come Lord, Jesus!
It was only three days before Christmas and the Jasper household had decided to attend the Sunday worship service together at Caitlin and Ryan’s church, since the kids had a special choir presentation that day. John, Lynette and Jenna had traveled from Colorado to visit for the holidays, but were staying at a hotel nearby. They had arrived late Saturday evening but came by early in the morning bringing donuts for everyone and to help carpool to the church later.
Jas and Junia greeted them at the door with hugs when they arrived, followed by Caitlin and Ryan and then the new members of the family were introduced.
John shook each of the boys’ hands, including baby Ava’s. “So glad to meet you all, I’m Uncle John.” He then he pulled his wife, Lynette close beside him, hugging her around the shoulders, “This is your Aunt Lynette and over there, your cousin Jenna. Be nice to her, because she has the donuts.” Lynette and Jenna chuckled. “Of course, they will,” said Jenna. “Besides, they have the orange juice, right guys?”
Denver blushed. “I think Grand Jun made orange juice this morning.”
Junia smiled as she corrected. “Actually, it was Grand Jas who fresh squeezed the oranges this morning.”
Jas rubbed his hands together. “Alright everyone to the dining room for breakfast and Ryan will say a prayer.”
“Heavenly Father, thank you for our family and bringing us safely together once again to celebrate Christmas. Bless this breakfast and our time together. May we be a blessing to you at your worship service today. Amen.”
Later at the church service, God blessed the children with voices as angels, touching hearts, opening hearts of the congregation to worship and celebrate God’s goodness in sending his Son. Pastor’s sermon encouraged his people to seek first the kingdom of God and live righteously and everything needed will be provided.
Caitlin and Ryan were especially encouraged the next day when their social worker, Charlotte called and confirmed the kids could stay put through the Christmas holiday, until at least the first day of January. They got down on their knees and praised God for his faithfulness and thanked him for his intervention. They promised not to worry, but to enjoy the holidays with their families and trust him with the rest. Later that day, although cold, with the sunshine, it made a pleasant afternoon for walking. So Jas escaped from a house full of people and took a brisk walk, a walk alone with God. He thanked God for his family and bringing everyone together to celebrate the holiday. He thanked God for the privilege of being his child. He quietly enjoyed God’s presence, God hugging him with his love. He heard his phone ringing, but it went to voicemail before he could retrieve the phone from his pocket. He walked the remainder of the block to the neighborhood park and sat down on the bench to check his message.
(To continue reading: Return to Menu + Select Chapter Ten)
This story is a fictionalization. Any mention of historical events, people and places are used fictitiously and any likeness to actual events, places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.