Throughout every room of the Jasper household the ambiance of candlelight, pine fragrance mingled with spice, acapella voices softly singing, “Silent Night,” announced a special celebration taking place. It was Christmas Eve. Denver had been given the honor of reading the Christmas story from the Bible.
The golden glow of candlelight from the table next to him softly framed his face as he read from the book of Luke.
“…that night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby…suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared…he said, I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior, the Messiah, the Lord, has been born today in Bethlehem…”
The entire Jasper family, including Ryan, Caitlin, Denver, Benjie, Corby and Ava; John, Lynette and Jenna had gathered in the living room to celebrate the Lord’s advent. Each one had been given a card with a scripture to read, a scripture to tell of the Lord’s birth. Each read in turn, Caitlin read for baby Ava, who was cradled in her arms, with the final reading by Corby. He slowly pronounced each syllable perfectly.
“For nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37.”
After singing several Christmas carols together, Jas closed with a prayer. He stood above Junia, placing his hands on her shoulders.
“Father God, words of mine cannot even begin to express all that is in my heart, thankfulness for all that you have done for our family. Besides the best gift of all, yourself, Lord Jesus. Salvation. Immanuel, God with us. Thank you. Bless the meal we’re about to share together. May you be blessed with honor as we celebrate your birthday. Amen.” And everyone said. “Amen.”
Junia stood and kissed Jas on the cheek, then turned to everyone with instructions. “Alright everyone, in the kitchen you will find three crockpots of soup, each one labeled with what kind of soup. There are plates, bowls, utensils wrapped in a napkin, different kinds of bread, crackers, cheese, summer sausage, and a vegetable tray with dip. Help yourself, it’s self-serve. Don’t touch the cake yet, that’s for later, Jesus’ birthday cake.” Everyone gathered to form a line into the kitchen then out to the dining room. Jas had set up the “Jesus of Nazareth” movie on the big screen to play muted along with Christmas music playing softly in the background.
“Mom,” said John. “Thank you for making my favorite soup. Love the way you make potato soup.”
Junia winked at Caitlin. “Thank you John, but Caitlin made the potato soup. It’s my recipe…taught her how to make it years ago, but she made the potato soup today. I made the chicken soup.”
John smiled and nodded his appreciation to Caitlin, while Lynette added. “The chicken soup is great. I’ve never had the patience to make home-made chicken soup, maybe you can teach me how to make it, Jun.”
Junia chuckled, “I know what you mean. Seldom make home-made chicken soup myself. I’ll write out the recipe for you. It’s easy, but it takes time.”
Jenna asked who made the vegetable soup. “I’ve never had vegetable soup made with hamburger…it’s delicious!”
Junia quickly said, “Guess? You’ll never guess who made that soup.”
Benjie spoke up, “I know! It was probably Ryan. He made soup like this at our house. You know, the other house.” He frowned,
“I mean before it burned down.”
Ryan grinned. “Benjie wins the prize.”
Benjie perked up. “What prize did I win?”
Ryan thought for a moment. “Uh, four candy canes. One for you and one for each of your brothers and Jenna. Because you know you have to share.”
Benjie was happy with that.
After everyone finished dinner and cleared the table, Junia brought out the Christmas cake with candles. Everyone gathered around singing, “Happy Birthday” to Jesus, nibbling on spice cake and sipping hot apple cider.
Then Jas announced for everyone to gather in the living room to open gifts. He handed out each gift according to the name tag. Everyone was happy to watch the kids opening each gift with surprise and delight, even the adults, until the living room became a sea of wrapping paper.
When everyone became quieter, relaxed, thinking all the gifts were opened and the celebration was winding down, Jas stood up and announced, “Wait…wait everyone, I forgot one gift. Just kidding…no way I could forget this one.” Grinning a non-stop smile, he picked up an envelope off the table and handed it to Caitlin, then to Ryan and then back to Caitlin. “It’s to both of you.”
Caitlin looked puzzled, but carefully opened the envelope, then she handed it to Ryan, “Here, you read it, forgot my glasses.”
Ryan read the letter inside the envelope quietly to himself. His jaw dropped open, stunned, he turned to Caitlin, “It’s…it’s a legal document. It has our names…along with Cornelius and Junia Jasper.” He paused and looked again to be sure. “Owners of the house at Oldfather Lake.”
Caitlin looked up at her parents, dumbfounded. “Mom, Dad, what does this mean…if it means what I think…how did we get that house?”
Jas still smiling, “We won the bid for the house…I asked to have your names added too…so now you have a house to move to right away…you don’t have to wait for your old house to be rebuilt.”
Tears of joy began pouring down Caitlin’s cheeks as she hugged both her Dad and Mom, whispering in their ears, “Thank you.” She looked at Ryan whose eyes brimmed with tears, “Not sure how all this came about, but thank you.” He looked up toward heaven. “Thank you God!”
Junia’s eyes glistened with tears too. “Yes, do thank God, it’s a miracle, no other explanation.”
Everyone else in the room had quietly observed the moment, but now began to chatter with each other about what it all meant. John, Lynette and Jenna had heard stories about Oldfather Lake from Jas, but had never been there. Jas explained how they had discovered the house on their road trip in June and then the kids had fun telling about their camping trip to the lake in July, and then actually ended up staying in the house because of the storm.
Jas wanted to still doubts and questions for the moment so he offered to take everyone to Oldfather Lake the next day, Christmas day. Jas looked somber for a moment, at Caitlin, then to Ryan, the kids and around to everyone in the room. “There are many details still to work through, but bottom line, we placed our hope and trust in God, when it looked like our kids could lose everything, especially those dear to them, and God came through, right on time.”
(To continue reading: Return to Menu + Select Chapter Eleven)
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.