Today marks the final chapter of the 2020 Christmas Story. I hope you have enjoyed your visit to a simpler time in Lupine Valley. If you would like to read the rest of the story or any of the Christmas stories from previous years, you will find them all here.
I hope you a happy Christmas, in spite of all the craziness in our world. I read these words somewhere this week: “Just because the world is aflame doesn’t mean my world has to be on fire.” And how true this is for those who are saved. God has been so faithful to His own in 2020 and we know He will continue to be faithful as we head into 2021. So keep sharing the Gospel with the lost and keep encouraging and edifying fellow believers as we wait for the day when we will be caught up in the twinkling of an eye to experience glory forever!
On to the conclusion–
Christmas Day dawned bright and clear. Grace was fixing breakfast while Clara sat on the rocking chair, watching the fire. Baby Edward lay sleeping in the old cradle that Henry had retrieved from the barn loft and then tenderly cleaned and polished.
Conversation flowed freely between the two women as Grace set the table. In the center of the table she placed a small and treasured Christmas figurine of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus.
“How nice to have our own Christmas baby this year,” she said happily.
Clara looked over at the cradle where her baby lay and smiled. She already loved him more than life itself. Her smile dimmed as she remembered that he probably would grow up without a father. The thought of this made her heart so heavy. Imperceptibly, she gave her head a little shake. She wouldn’t think about that today. After all, it was Christmas Day and she would soon be leaving these new and dear friends who had been so kind to her. She wanted to enjoy this day. There would be plenty of time to think about the future tomorrow.
“I wonder why Henry isn’t in from the barn yet,” Grace went to the window to look out, “Well, I’ll be…”
“What is it?”
“Someone is outside with Henry. Who in the world would come visiting on Christmas? I hope nothing happened at the McCullough farm,” Grace worried as she thought of the large, needy family that lived about a mile from them.
Henry started walking towards the house. A stranger, left arm hanging useless and awkwardly at his side, walked beside him. It definitely wasn’t Mr. McCullough.
Grace went to the door and opened it for the two men. As they walked through the door, a loud and joyful cry was heard.
“Eddy? Eddy!” Clara leaped off the chair, despite the fact that she had just had a baby.
Eddy and Clara were in each other’s arms in seconds. Henry and Grace looked on wonderingly. Why, it was their own Christmas miracle.
Clara, with tears streaming down her face, finally spoke. “I thought you were dead, Oh, Eddy, I thought I’d never see you again. How did you find me?”
Eddy held on to his wife tightly until he spotted the cradle.
“Is this our baby?” He said with awe. He moved to the cradle and gently bent down to touch the little hand that had flung itself out of the blanket.
“Meet Edward Henry,” Clara said proudly and then she added, “We may want to call him Henry now that his daddy is around.”
“Henry is a right fine name,” He looked at Henry appreciatively as he said these words.
“Come, come, let’s eat breakfast. There is plenty,” Grace’s words encouraged them to the table where a veritable Christmas feast was laid out before them. Bacon, sausage, eggs, flapjacks, and sweet rolls all gave off a wonderful fragrance, while a basket that held a few big oranges sat nearby. This treat had become a Christmas tradition and Grace always looked forward to her first bite into the luscious, round fruit.
Henry thanked the Lord for the food and then, as Grace poured cups of strong coffee, Eddy started to fill them in on how he came to be with them on Christmas Day.
His division had been fighting the enemy on French soil when he had become injured. He had been knocked out cold and, in the fray of the chaotic retreat from the battle, he had been left for dead. When he awoke he was in the home of a family who lived high in the mountains. Though they couldn’t speak a word of English, the family both protected and nursed him. He spoke of them fondly as he explained that it took several months to recover from his injuries.
“Unfortunately, my arm will never be the same,” he said this soberly as he looked at the helpless limb hanging by his side.
“I don’t care. I am just glad you are here. That’s all that matters,” Clara stated this with fervor.
Eddy smiled tenderly at her and then continued. He had stayed with the family until just a month ago, when he was finally able to communicate with the war office that he was alive and needed to get home.
When he arrived home, it was to find out that Clara was no longer there and had not even received the information that he was still alive. Not knowing what to do, he had traveled to her parents, hoping to find her there. Thankfully, they had heard from her just a few weeks earlier and could tell him exactly where she was. When Henry had arrived at Oak Ridge that Christmas morning, he had knocked on the door of the church parsonage where Pastor had kindly directed him to his little family staying in Lupine Valley.
Clara sighed with contentment, “I still can’t believe you are here.”
The rest of Christmas Day was spent in joyous celebration. It was a special day to be remembered by all.
Late in the afternoon, Henry brought the wagon around, so that he and Grace could head into town to have dinner with Jack and Martha. Eddy and Clara decided to stay home with baby Henry and enjoy some time together as a family.
As Henry and Grace made their way to town, they went over their exciting day. To think that Eddy was still alive and reunited with his little family! How amazing!
Little did they know that they had their own surprise in store.
They were soon in front of Jack and Martha’s house. James and John, with little Millie not far behind them, came out shouting “Grandpa! Grandma!”
But who was this? Another child stood shyly in the doorway. Why, was that their granddaughter, Caroline, all grown-up? But no. It couldn’t be!
“Mom! Dad! Surprise!” And out rushed their son, their daughter-in-law, along with their three children. And, there, behind them, stood Jane!
Grace’s eyes welled up with joyful tears as she surveyed the happy group before her.
With smiles and laughter, they told Henry and Grace how they had been planning this special reunion all year.
Christmas dinner was crowded and oh, so noisy and Henry and Grace loved every second of it. Soon, it was time to go home. Many happy plans were made for the coming days and, with assurances of seeing one another again soon, they took their leave.
As they drove home under a clear sky full of stars, Grace sighed contentedly, “I believe this is the happiest Christmas I have ever had.”
“I would agree with you on that, my dear. God is so good.”
And with those words, Henry reached his strong arm around Grace and hugged her as the horses led the wagon back to the little cottage in Lupine Valley.
Eddy, Clara, and little Henry left a few weeks later. They had become like part of the family during those weeks and Henry and Grace watched them go with sad hearts. Letters and visits were promised as they gave each other parting hugs.
Henry had placed a well-worn Bible in Eddy’s hands before they left.
“Young man, this has been an invaluable and irreplaceable source of guidance to me here on earth, as well as showing me how I can be saved for all eternity. I hope that you will read it and take it seriously.”
Eddy took it soberly and promised he would.
As Henry and Grace watched them climb into the train, it was with hope in their hearts that they would soon be part of the family of God.
“We’ll just have to keep praying. God is so faithful,” said Grace.
Henry squeezed Grace’s hand as they started off for home. It had been a Christmas never to be forgotten in Lupine Valley.
If you enjoyed this year’s story, would you consider letting me know? It is so helpful as I plan for next year. Thanks so much!