This week I will be sharing a Christmas story with you in six parts. It is an excerpt from my first book, REMEMBERING WHEATFIELD BRIDGE, now available in paperback. Click here to get your copy. Feel free to share the story with others as it enfolds each day. You may also visit my website jonivannest.com for more information, and be sure to like my Facebook page – jonivannestauthor. Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!
CHAIN OF LOVE
By Joni VanNest © 2016
The Young Couple
It had been six months to the day – a beautiful wedding, the most wonderful day of their lives. Dianne’s memories of the occasion were just as vibrant on that cold winter evening as they had felt on that bright sunny morning. Recent comments from an older friend regarding their “monthaversary” still played in her mind. “Six months? Honey, you’re still on your honeymoon. Come talk to me after you’ve had at least a decade under your belt.” Dianne looked forward to that and many more joy-filled, and perhaps even challenging years ahead. On this particular evening, she saw the future in her husband Kenny’s eyes, by candlelight at a small Italian restaurant in the village.
A waiter placed heaping bowls of pasta on the table; steam rose from them into the twilight of the room. As if by instinct or ritual, she joined hands with Kenny across the table while he prayed. “Thank you Lord, for six outstanding months and for the many years still to come. We ask you to bless this food to our bodies that we may be strong for you and for each other.” A duet of “Amen” concluded the blessing. Their eyes met one last time before they turned their attention to the waiting food.
“Mmm. I think I died and went to heaven.” Dianne savored the marinara sauce, letting the rich flavor linger in her mouth before washing it down with a drink. “So, have you thought about what we’re going to buy everyone for Christmas? I have some ideas about my side of the family, but I’m at a loss as to what to get your Mom and Dad.” Dianne loved Christmas. She had tempted Kenny with her visions of sugarplums since Halloween. The question was just one of the many things they had to work out for this, their first Christmas together, as they were still learning the finer details of how to create a family.
“You know, I really haven’t given it much thought, but there is something I wanted to run by you.”
Dianne put down her fork to give full consideration to her husband.
“I’ve been thinking, this whole year seems to have gone by in such an amazing whirlwind: the wedding, the island honeymoon, moving into the apartment together, getting that promotion at work. I just can’t help but feel that I, that we,” he corrected himself, “have been blessed beyond compare.” There was no doubt, things were certainly going well for them – so well, in fact, they were even considering the possibility of starting their family earlier than planned. “So I thought maybe we could share a little of that blessing with someone else this Christmas. I know it sounds hokey and it doesn’t have to be anything major, I just feel that I want to give back a little – you know, to make Christmas special for a needy kid or something like that.”
Dianne sighed and looked at her husband with deep admiration. This was why I married him. “I think that’s a wonderful idea. In fact, I saw one of those Toys for Tots barrels the other day. We could start with a donation there.”
They finished off the meal with a tiramisu for two and decided to walk off the damage by going for a stroll around the green before heading home. Linked arm in arm they window shopped along the way. Village Toy Shoppe was just getting ready to close as they stood looking in the window.
“Oh honey, isn’t that adorable? And look, she’s got on pink bunny slippers.” Bonita Bunny caught Dianne’s eye and heart. “We have to get it for Toys for Tots. Come on!” Kenny was not given an option. She grabbed his hand and yanked him into the shop.
“Well hey, if it isn’t the two lovebirds.” Dianne’s childhood neighbor and local toy merchant peered out over half glasses. She looked as if she’d had a long day and was ready to call it a night. The two greeted one another with over-the-counter hugs. “Gee, five more minutes and you would have missed me. I was just closing up.”
“Oh, we won’t keep you. We know exactly what we want.”
“Dianne, let her close up. We can come back another time.” Kenny then turned to Caroline. “Every now and then I find myself rescuing people from my wife’s impetuous nature.”
Dianne pouted in her husband’s direction and implored Caroline, “Please. We need to buy that purple bunny in the window; it’s for a special little girl.”
“Well, don’t let it be said that I’d ever keep a toy from a child.” Caroline went to the front of the store and locked the door before pulling the rabbit out of the window display.
“Bonita Bunny. I have to admit, I thought she was something special when I first saw her.” The woman carefully wrapped the little rabbit in white tissue paper, taking care not to cover its face. She placed her in a gift bag, feet first, so her head would stick out.
“So, who’s the special little girl?” Caroline inquired as she rang up the sale.
“I don’t know,” Dianne blurted out, only realizing afterward how silly it must have sounded.
Kenny came to her rescue. “We want to give a gift to a toy drive. I’m afraid Dianne fell suddenly and madly in love with this doll. But I think it would be perfect as well.” He smiled at Dianne and she in turn kissed him.
“Two hearts, one mind.”
Caroline paused to look at Bonita Bunny before passing the bag to Dianne.
“This probably sounds silly, but I’m a bit sad at seeing this little rabbit leave the store. I’ve grown quite fond of her since her arrival. I suppose I’ll have to be appeased knowing the doll will soon be in the arms of a deserving child.” She finished ringing up the purchase and joined the couple’s generosity by giving them a discount on the price.
As Caroline locked the door behind them, Dianne and Kenny walked out into the crisp night air. Snow flurries filled the space between them but their love for each other and for a little girl they would never meet kept them warm.
…TO BE CONTINUED. Be sure to like my Facebook page, JoniVanNestAuthor, and to visit my website, JoniVanNest.com to read the previous installments of Chain of Love. Please support Toys for Tots this Christmas.