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Kathie and Cousin Mandy VI - Christmas

Jackie tells of the many adventures and emotions of a little girl growing up in a large family in the fifties.

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is at the door. Mandy's father will be there to pick her up at any time. There are no phones to know exactly but he has sent a letter and he will be there and the time does not really matter. No one is watching the clock or even questioning his arrival. It will be when it will be.


Thrills of Country Life

Kathie’s mom, Mary, would make wreaths as soon as the two girls found her the ground pine and Katie knew just where to get it. It was in dips in the forest floor under tall trees. Shaded and moist was the ground pines favorite home.

As they gathered it up they also searched under the pines for beautiful cones that they themselves could make into decoration but also let Mary use some to fancy up some of her wreaths. She also used pretty fabric or ribbons weaved around and tied in bows.

The general store in town would sell them for her and keep part of the money. Mary gave Kathie and Mandy cash in their hand for every one that sold and although there was absolutely nothing either wanted or needed, it was a thrill to see how working could earn you money. Mary sewed them both up a little satchel with a drawstring to put their coins in. It was fun to make it jungle with the more that went into it each time.

The ground pine was plentiful and seemed never-ending. There was beautiful moss on the fallen logs nearby being a great place to sit and rest before heading home. They used Kathie’s brother's wood cart, which was neither very long nor wide, with wheels. They could pile it so high and take turns pulling it back with the other watching for stray strands that might fall off. That was rare to happen though unless they started romping and racing which only happened a time or two. They had plenty of time for play earlier in the day while Mary did all her chores to see how much time she would have to work on the wreaths.

Mandy loved every minute of every day and it was so thrilling when they would come upon wildlife in the woods. Especially the ones that seemed to take as much interest in Mandy as she did them. Some did not run away but would freeze looking back at Mandy, giving her plenty of time to soak in their beauty. How could anyone want any life other than this, she wondered.


Work and Play Makes a Fun Day

As soon as breakfast, clean-up and chores were done they were free to run what seemed like hours. Many times, they would take shortcuts by their new friend Callie’s farm. Almost always she could talk a little while and then sometimes she could go with them on their search for beautiful pine cones. Callie had started to collect some too for her family’s decorations. She had shown them new trees and new pine cones that were so beautiful unlike any they had ever seen. Mary had a surprise planned to make Callie’s mom a wreath for her mantle with a beautiful ribbon and wonderful smelling pine cones of every kind.

Kathie was so tickled at Mandy and how much fun she had helping in everything. Kathie had not appreciated their farm and all the storing of the foods until seeing it through Mandy’s eyes. She knew she was so lucky to live here and have her family and would never want to trade places with Mandy.

Mandy did do fun things Katie would probably never get to do. Thankfully, Mandy would get to spend many summers with her and neither could see the end of these summers that would eventually come, as each ventured into lives of their own.

Yet for now, there was nothing left to do but have adventures and play until Christmas came and brought the end to an extraordinary long summer vacation that would surely not happen just this way, ever, again.


Harvest and Preservation

Mandy loved gathering the warm eggs every morning and would perhaps miss this chore most of all of them. How could it even be considered a chore?

Mandy loved gathering the warm eggs every morning and would perhaps miss this chore most of all of them. How could it even be considered a chore?

A Christmas Feast and Small Miracles

Christmas dinner was always such a feast and this year was no different. Aunt Mary could not help but laugh out loud at Mandy and her big eyes as all the foods where piling high all around the kitchen even before the table was set.

As everyone was seated and prayer was ready to be said Katie's dad asked Mandy if she would like to say it, being her last day? Kathie loved Mandy and of course she loved her dad but somehow this made her feel so hurt that her dad once again seemed to be putting Mandy first and not paying Kathie any attention as was the usual way of him. Quickly Kathie brushed it all aside, for this was not a day for feelings like that and what good did they do her? Things would always be this way, she just had to accept them.

Mandy said a beautiful prayer and Kathie felt so bad to ever be jealous of her, especially with that mother of hers. Kathie just rightfully agreed with her dad when he bragged about Mandy's sweet prayer for it really was and everyone put an Amen to it, agreeing completely about the family and food to be thankful for. Kathie knew how much Mandy loved them all and how much she would miss them and be missed, by everyone.

The plates were so full of so many things it seemed impossible to get some of all on it but everyone planned to try. The conversation was about Mandy's father who would be there soon to pick her up. Everyone would miss her so very much and the only thing keeping it from being so very sad was knowing she would be back next summer! A little bigger and a year older!

Mary told Mandy they would save her dad some of everything for him to eat tomorrow when he got there and that she would make a large tray of food for him to take home. There would also be fruits, nuts and candies and Mandy said yum about it all as she was busy with the feast in her plate.

Kathie's dad was laughing at her and told her how rosy and full she was looking after this visit with them. Katie tried not to listen because she hated the way it made her feel when her dad seemed to have more nice things to say to Mandy than to her, his own daughter. The jealousy just wouldn't stop as hard as she tried. He seemed to go out of his way to hurt her feelings and no matter how her mom tried to make excuses for him it just did not make it better.

She had about blocked out all he was saying to tease and make Mandy laugh to keep from showing her feelings but was soon very glad she had not done that completely. Did she even hear that right?

Dad had told Mandy she was getting as healthy looking and as pretty as Kathie. If Kathie had been up walking she would have surely fallen down! She stopped everything in mid-air to grasp what she had just heard. Mandy was thanking him and laughing about all the good food while Kathie was getting over the shock of a lifetime. Her dad thought she was pretty? She could not help but smile and look at her mom who smiled back and winked.

She leaned over around Mandy at her dad, with new loving eyes. Well... this was the only Christmas present she could ever want or need!

Mandy, ready to go home to the city.

Mandy, ready to go home to the city.

Sharing a Family

© 2018 Jackie Lynnley


Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 16, 2020:

Interesting narration. Flowing and captivating.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on January 23, 2020:

Thank you Devika! Yes I have had major surgery and moved to another state so I have been extremely busy. Hope to get back soon, though. Hope all is well with you.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 23, 2020:

Hi Jackie it has been too long how are you? I loved your story a beautiful description here take care now!

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on October 31, 2019:

Dora, sorry to have missed this!

I did have major surgery and then packing up to move north this Saturday!

Very excited about the move but will sure be glad when all the labor of moving is done!

So sweet of you to have missed me. God bless you!

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on October 30, 2019:

Hi Jackie, This was a lovely story. I love your descriptive way with words. Makes me feel like I was there. I miss seeing you. I notice this post was from 9 months ago. I hope you are alright. I'm thinking about you. I wish you many blessings.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 27, 2019:

Jackie, thinking about you. I hope that you are just taking a break and that you're okay otherwise. God's blessings on you, anyway.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on March 09, 2019:

Thank you, Peg! Means so much to me to have someone understand them and my story. Guess that makes us kindred spirits!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on March 05, 2019:

This nostalgic and beautiful story had me remembering all kinds of wonderful family holidays, that at the time seemed so ordinary and expected. Now, these years later, they stand out in my mind as amazing and special. You've certainly captured the essence of the little girls as they grow smarter and stronger and more understanding. Loved this.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on February 04, 2019:

Thanks, Nithya! Glad you are a fan of Kathie's. Great to have compliments from great writers!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on February 04, 2019:

A compliment from her dad put Kathie on top of the world! Loved the story beautifully written. I became a family member as I read the story.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on December 31, 2018:

Oh, no, Eric, you sound like my mean little brothers!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 31, 2018:

This series just puts me back in time. Thank you so much as back in that time I was so happy.

I loved doing the pine cone thing.

(confession; we would cover them in snow and use them in our snowball fights - so wrong)

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on December 30, 2018:

Thanks, Peggy, and I agree. I even collected some beauties myself this year but never got around to using them. They looked nice just sitting in a big bowl though and smelled wonderful!

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on December 30, 2018:

Thanks, Bill. I have 6 chapters, think I will end it there. You never know but I do have something else in mind if I ever get time for it!

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on December 30, 2018:

Thanks Linda, sometimes parents just don't realize how little it takes to make a child feel loved.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 30, 2018:

Kathie's Christmas was made whole with that one compliment from her dad. Lovely! Picking up all of those pinecones was very relatable as I have done plenty of that through the years. It is amazing how many sizes of pinecones exist. Lovely story.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on December 30, 2018:

The story so nicely, and a bit unexpected, I might add. Thank you, Jackie. Is there going to be another chapter?

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 29, 2018:

The ending is lovely, Jackie, as is the whole story. I'm glad that Kathie received a compliment from her father.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on December 29, 2018:

So glad to hear that Dora. Cousins can be so much like brothers and sisters.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on December 29, 2018:

Thank you, Kim, pleased you enjoyed it.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 29, 2018:

Beautiful ending after that touching bout of jealousy from Kathie! But love and jealousy seem to be a common mix between girlfriends. Even when jealousy surfaces, the love does not disappear. I know from experience. Relatable family story!

ocfireflies from North Carolina on December 29, 2018:

Beautiful story. Resonates in so many ways. If I am not mistaken, my county is the largest producer of Christmas trees, so my guess is we are also up there with wreathes. Thanks for sharing such a sweet and poignant story.


Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on December 29, 2018:

Thanks, Pamela. A great compliment I really appreciate.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on December 29, 2018:

Thanks, Lori. You are right and I know many parents how such small words and actions can affect their children who love them so much. Great to see you.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 29, 2018:

This is such a heartwarming story with that surprising end. Collecting the pine cones sounded so real. This is such a beautifully written story.

Lori Colbo from United States on December 28, 2018:

I found myself feeling sorry for Kathie then thrilled for her in the end. Amazing how one kind comment from a parent who is not usually forthcoming with compliments and affirmations can change a heart.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on December 28, 2018:

Wow, LJ, thanks so much!

LJ Scott from Phoenix, Az. on December 28, 2018:

"How could anyone want any life other than this?" Beautifully written I felt myself there...and isnt that true writing.

...? Very nicely done...

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