Christmas is next week, so today we are checking in on our friends in Bannoch, Oregon to see how they are planning to spend this Christmas. It should be interesting because for Bunny and her friends in the First Ladies Club Christmas is a highlight of the year.
Bunny (Bunny Elder Adventures series) is packing today for her trip to Boise, Idaho, where she will spend a white Christmas with her sister, Linda and family. She smiles as she tucks a small nativity set made of seashells and driftwood into her bag to add to Linda’s collection. It is sure to bring back memories, fond, not-so-fond and hilarious, from the sisters’ trip to Italy to acquire a special Neapolitan crèche. (You can read about their adventures in Vain Pursuits.)
Across town, in the Bannoch Community Fellowship parsonage, Bunny’s good friend Naidenne Davidson (The First Ladies Club) is happily baking gingerbread men with her small daughter, Talitha Joy, while husband and father, Scott, with the help of his brother-in-law, Len Spurgeon, wrestles the family Christmas tree into place in the high-ceilinged, old-fashioned dining room .
“We’ll miss you and Rosie this Christmas, Len,” Scott says, standing back to check the tree. “I think it could be just a hair straighter, but it’s a real beauty!”
“It should be, after lugging it half a mile down the hillside,” Len replies. “but you’re right. When it’s decorated, it will be a stunner. Rosie says you absolutely must take dozens of photos of the tree, the Christmas Eve service, Christmas morning and all…and she wants you to post them on Facebook, so we can see them right away.”
“Are you sure you two want to travel all the way to Southern California for Christmas?” Scott asks. “My sister has never had a Christmas away from home, you know.”
“Oh, I know, but this is Rosie’s idea. Ever since she was a youngster she’s dreamed of Christmas at Disneyland. My brother’s family live in the area, too, so we will get to fulfill her dream and catch up with my family at the same time.”
“Oh, Mommy! Come look at the tree! It’s so big…it didn’t look so big when we picked it out,” Talitha cries, running into the room and flinging her flour-covered arms around her father’s legs.
Scott sweeps his daughter into his arms with a laugh.
“As soon as we are through with the baking…and get washed up…we can decorate the tree,” Naidenne says, walking into the room wiping her hands on her apron. “Will you need help bringing the decorations down from the attic, Scott?”
“Can I help, Daddy?” Talitha asks, patting him on the cheek.
“I thought you wanted to finish the cookies, first,” Scott says.
“It takes too long. Mommy can do it. Right, Mommy?”
“Sure. You have been a big help with the baking, but now it’s Daddy’s turn to have a helper,” Naidenne grins at her husband as she speaks.
The happy family continues with their holiday preparations just as many of their Bannoch neighbors are doing.
Few of the town’s ministers and their families will be traveling during this special Holy season. Their lives will center around their church, congregation and the special services of celebration. There is no need to remind any of them of the true reason for the season.
Rev. Merrill Bishop (A Body in the Belfry) and her nephew, Ryan, are in the grand First Baptist Church sanctuary where Merrill is helping the ladies decorate the pews and altar rail, while Ryan and his friend and church musician, Peri, practice the special music for the Christmas Eve communion service.
In the midst of this happy work, a woman staggers in from the foyer, backwards. She’s pulling something. Dressed like a gypsy with a many-layered full skirt and flowing shawls, she tugs a large wicker basket up the aisle.
“Judy! What have you got there?” Merrill cries to her friend, Judy Falls, wife of the Presbyterian church pastor (read Judy’s story in A Corpse in the Chapel coming in 2016).
“Do you need help?” Merrill asks.
Giving a last mighty tug and losing her grip, Judy plops down on her backside with a laugh before responding.
“I’ve been trimming the wild holly bushes for the hanging of the greens and seem to have gotten carried away. We have all we can use at my church, so I’m toting the bounty around to see who else can use it. It would be criminal to snatch these beautiful branches from their home in the woods and then just throw them away.”
“You’ve come at just the right time. Look ladies! More greenery, just what we needed,” Merrill calls to the other women.
Joyful scenes like these are taking place in all the churches and parsonages in town as these friends from the First Ladies Club share the special happiness each experiences in her own way while celebrating the birth of their common Savior.
May I join them in wishing you all a Blessed Christmas and a spirit-filled New Year!
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