Greetings from Anita Mae Draper! What an honor to have another story chosen for the A Cup of Christmas Cheer collection. This year my story is a contemporary. It appears in Volume Four: Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Present. Instead of a horse and open cutter, we’ll be traveling in a warm SUV. But believe me, you’ll still need to bundle up tight.
“Here We Come A-Wassailing” takes place on a Christmas Eve road trip starting in Minot, Ward County, North Dakota, and traveling along Hwy 52 through Burke County, then onto Hwy 5 until you’re in the remote corner of Divide County.
“Here We Come A-Wassailing” is the story of Joan Rigler, a woman who recently lost her father and doesn’t want her widowed mother to be alone on this first Christmas without him. Joan starts out late afternoon on Christmas Eve despite blizzard-like weather conditions and is soon faced with the first of several stranded people who could thwart her Christmas goal. As the evening lengthens and her SUV slowly fills with an assortment of strangers, an uncomfortable childhood memory causes Joan to wonder how her mother will react this time.
A childhood memory started me thinking of how inconvenient it can be when people show up unannounced for an overnight visit. What if someone did it on Christmas Eve? I thought of the song, Here We Come A-Wassailing and how one version of wassailing is to go caroling from door to door, adding people along the way, and then ending with a hot mug of wassail. So, what if instead of carolers, they were strangers whose circumstances placed them in need of a helping hand on a frigid December night? How could I use them to show God’s love on a night when many are celebrating the birth of Jesus?
I hope my story shows readers that there are many people who could use a helping hand—and not necessarily money—at any time throughout the year. All it takes is an awareness of others around you, and an open heart to hear God’s urging. Along with that is my hope that you don’t turn away an offer of help due to pride, etc, because you never know who could have nudged someone to reach out to you.
Just for fun. What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions?
On our first Christmas Eve together, my husband and I started the tradition of writing a number on each present and putting corresponding numbered slips of paper into a Christmas hat. The tradition has given us an orderly time of family gift-opening where everyone ooh’s and ah’s over every present. And although it wasn’t our intent, it seems to have taught our children patience. This became evident one Christmas morning when we went to visit Grandpa in the hospital before opening gifts and not a murmur of complaint was heard from any of the kids. This brought a tear to Grandpa’s eye when he asked why we were there right after his breakfast. As the family photographer, opening the gifts one-by-one also gives me time to capture every candid expression while the gift is being unwrapped. It serves as a memory of who-received-what-from-whom.
Do you have a memory of a Christmas journey, visit, or wassailing experience? I’d love for you to share it here.
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Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. She writes cowboy stories set in the West, and Edwardian stories set in the East. Anita is blessed to have two short stories in Guideposts Books A Cup of Christmas Cheer collection which includes “Here We Come A-Wassailing”, published in Volume 4 Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Present, October 2014, and “Riding on a Christmas Wish” published in Volume 1 Tales of Faith and Family, October 2013. Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at www.anitamaedraper.com