A Plain & Fancy Christmas
From the book
"You forgot the raisins, didn't you?"
Rachel Yoder made a pained face. "I did, and I'm so sorry."
Annie King allowed herself the smallest of sighs as she considered the shredded carrots and mayonnaise in the wooden bowl before her. She glanced over at her sister-in-law, and made sure to keep her tone even. "Well, we have a lot more supper to cook, so let's not waste time. Maybe we can use the carrots some other way."
"No, no, I'll go home and get them." Rachel turned away from the kitchen counter where the two women had been working. "It will only take a minute."
She was out the door before Annie could protest. Supper that night was to be at her brother's and Annie's house, and the two women needed to work efficiently to have food for twenty-four people ready in time. Rachel started down the long path from the front door toward her house across the street, appreciating the unusually warm April afternoon. She saw a neighbor's horse and buggy approaching, and she reached the road just in time to wave and call out hello. Once across the street, she headed toward the kitchen door, but looked over at the sound of her name being shouted from the barn. Her father stood in the wide doorway, a cloth in one hand as he polished some shining object.
"I need more rags here," he called out. "Can you bring some?"
She nodded, picking up her pace. "I'll be right back."
Perspiring by this point under her long, dark blue dress beneath a black apron, she went inside the house, grateful for the relative cool in the dim kitchen. Her mother stood near the sink with Rachel's daughter, eleven-year-old Katie. Rachel's mother was grating and bottling horseradish with Katie. The women in the family preserved large quantities of fruits and vegetables, much of which they sold, and Katie shared the responsibility for this job with them. For now, she was still learning, but she would be expert at it by the time her grandmother could no longer do it herself. That day was still a long way off, however; Rachel's mother was of less-than-average height but strong and sturdily built, and behind her silver wire-rimmed glasses, her light blue eyes seemed to take in everything. She and her granddaughter spent many hours together, especially in the summer, making all different types of preserves, jellies, and pickled vegetables.
Katie turned at the sound of the door opening.
Rachel couldn't resist going over and putting an arm around her daughter's slender shoulders, leaning down to give her a quick kiss on the cheek. "You smell like peaches. And sunshine," she said to her. "No, wait-like summer, if summer were a little girl."
Katie laughed and hugged her back. "Silly."
Leah King watched, frowning. "Something wrong? Aren't you making supper at Annie's?"
"I came back for raisins. And Papa needs some rags."
"Take the rags in the hall closet, bottom shelf," Leah said. "Katie, mind that you don't hit anything with those tongs."
"Sorry, Grandma." The eleven-year-old snapped back to attention, anxious to avoid her grandmother's disapproval, which was quick to appear and slow to fade.
Rachel opened a cabinet and took down a large glass jar of raisins, measuring out the three cups she needed into a clean bowl. Leaving the bowl on the counter, she went to a closet full of cleaning supplies and took four rags from a neatly folded stack, remnants from old sheets that could no longer be used or salvaged.
She paused on her way out, thinking she might persuade her father to take a break if she brought him a glass of water; it would be good for him on a hot day.
Stopping at the...
Fredericksburg Free Lance--Star
"This little book is a holiday charmer young and old will find appealing."
- Lincoln Journal Star "This simple, compelling tale feels fresh like a brisk winter morning."
PublisherBooks on Tape
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