Over the next few
days, they’d developed a routine. She’d learned about a plumb and
had breakfast waiting for him every morning when he arrived—usually
to the accompaniment of a Christmas carol.
This morning she’d
been singing Silent Night. He remembered her clear, sweet
voice. The clarity of her tone.
All is calm, all
Round yon virgin,
mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so
tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly
Sleep in heavenly
“That song has always
been one of my favorite Christmas hymns—although it’s rough trying
to get in the Christmas spirit when the temperature outside is in
She gave an easy
smile at his comment. “It’s actually an old Austrian song, but a
Florida Episcopal bishop was the person who translated the words
into English.” Her eyes held a twinkle. “And that’s your bit of
Florida history for the day. It’s hard to believe some of the old
songs have lasted as long as they have, isn’t it?”
“When they’re a
testament to God, they should last forever.” He was tentative. Maybe
he shouldn’t have said that. His faith was still too new to him to
talk about it much. He didn’t want to make a fool of himself. His
folks had taken him to church every Sunday when he was a child, but
until recently it hadn’t been something he’d pursued on his own.
What a fool he’d been to waste so much time running from God. Just
like I’m running from other things now.
* * * *
As he checked the
blue chalk line to ensure it was even on both sides, he felt her
enter the room. He didn’t need the click of heels to tell him she
was close. He could feel her. Sense her.
In just a few short
days she was becoming far too important to him. He hadn’t counted on
that. At times he’d seen her eyes grow misty, as if she realized
what was happening between them and it was too much for her, too.
He hadn’t asked yet,
but he was dying to know why she wasn’t married—or at least already
“I don’t want to
bother you while you’re so busy working, but I have a favor to ask,
if you don’t mind.” He turned at her words.
Today she wore her
usual jeans and a long sleeved white shirt with a Christmas design
embroidered on it. Mickey and Minnie Mouse were dressed in vintage
Victorian clothes, standing beside an old sleigh. He’d quickly
learned Mickey and Minnie were two of her favorite characters. From
what he’d already seen, he imagined she had enough shirts—even those
decorated for Christmas—with them on it to wear one every day of the
“Sure, what can I do
for you?” A smile tugged at his lips. He couldn’t help it. Being
around her made him happy.
“I’d like to start
putting up Christmas decorations, but they’re all up in the attic.
And I’m hesitant to go up there. It isn’t the safest place.”
He stood and dusted
the sawdust off his knees. “I can use a break. How ‘bout you point
me in the right direction and I’ll hand ‘em down to you?”
He placed the ladder
beneath the attic access and helped her climb up in front of him,
his hands bracing her on both sides. Something within him stirred.
After she’d scoured
the attic from the top of the ladder, she pointed toward the right
side. “That’s them. Way in the back. You sure you don’t mind going
He laughed. “Doesn’t
bother me at all. And if I’m going to be doing repairs, I’ll be
spending a lot of time in the attic.”
Soon the boxes were
all down and placed in the living room. Dan knew he should have gone
straight back to the remodeling, but the moment seemed bittersweet.
It had been a long time since he’d decorated for Christmas. Not
since . . .
He shook his head to
clear it of the memories. No, not now. This wasn’t the time to think
of that. Of them.
From the Anthology – Comfort and Joy