PostScripts from Blessing

The official blog of author Lauraine Snelling and the fictional town of Blessing, North Dakota

01-06-1904 The Unexpected Gift

The Unexpected Gift
By Danae Hiltner
Week 5

The Blessing Church glowed that evening as everyone gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve. Ella was grateful to be able to make it to the service.
"Do you feel all right?" Andor whispered in her ear.
"Ja, I'm fine." Ella replied. She glanced around the room. People filled the church from wall to wall. Ingeborg waved to Ella from a few rows up. Ella waved back, pleased to have met such a wonderful friend as Mrs. Bjorklund. You've given me so much, dear God. Thank you.
The crowd quieted as a boy and a girl, sheets of paper in their hands, stepped out and stood off to one side of the stage. The boy cleared his throat and began to read the story of Christ's birth, trading off turns reading with the girl.
Joseph, played by Josef, appeared on the stage, kneeling beside Mary at the manger. As they sat motionless, the angels stepped out onto the stage and began to softly sing, O Little Town of Bethlehem.
Ella spotted Freja near the front of the little group dressed in their handmade costumes and wobbly halos. She couldn't supress a smile as she watched and became lost as the schoolchildren acted out the wonderful story of Christmas, the re-telling of Christ's birth. When the story came to the part where the shepherds see the angels, Freja stepped forward and sang, Angels From The Realms of Glory with the other angels joining her in the chorus.
Ella's heart glowed with pride as she watched Freja smiling, singing with joy. The congregation joined in. Ella smiled at Andor. The angels finished, letting the last note linger.
The play ended and the crowd hushed, as the children all filed off the stage. Ella looked for Steven in the crowd of children but didn't see him. Where is he? Then she heard boots thumping onto the stage. Ella stared in amazement at Steven, who stood with his violin and bow in hand. She shared a look of wonder with Andor.
Steven cleared his throat then, lifted his violin into place under his chin. He placed the bow on the strings and began to stroke smoothly. The Christmas song O Come O Come Emanuel filled the silence. Chills raced up Ella's spine and down her arms as she listened. Tears filled her eyes as she again smiled at Andor.
The awestruck congregation began to sing as Steven played. "Rejoice, rejoice! Emanuel has come to thee, oh Israel."
Ella tried to sing but her voice was muddled by tears. Rejoice! I will rejoice in you always, dear God! Thank you for bringing me home, and for your blessings and everlasting love!
Andor handed her his handkerchief and she mopped her eyes. Ella sent him a grateful smile.
Steven played the last note, letting it linger. When he'd stopped, Ella could hear others around her clearing throats or sniffling. "Amen," a man murmured.
Steven met Ella's gaze and smiled. Ella realized he'd played the song just for her. Her tears ran faster.
Pastor Solberg stepped out beside Steven. Peace and joy were evident on his face. He stood without speaking for several moments, letting the silence continue. Then he raised a hand, rested it on the boy's shoulder, "Excellent job, Steven." The crowd murmured their agreement before falling silent again. Pastor continued, "Before we all go home, let us stand and sing Silent Night."
The children all gathered on the stage while the congregation stood. Pastor Solberg glanced down at Steven, who nodded. He played the opening chords and everyone began to sing, "Silent night, holy night. All is calm; all is bright."
Ella managed to sing without crying. Her mind kept shouting, Rejoice! Rejoice! The carol ended with everyone's voices blending on the final word. Pastor Solberg dismissed them all and folks turned and began to greet one another.
Ingeborg walked up and gave Ella a motherly hug, tears in her eyes. "You glow with joy. I can see it in your face."
"I'm home and rejoicing." Ella wiped her eyes again. Ingeborg leaned back, her smile growing wider. "I am so happy for you! Our heavenly Father has healed you for sure."
"Ja, He has indeed," Ella nodded. She caught a glimpse of Freja and Josef as they twined through the crowd. They reached Ella and both children hugged her. Ella hugged them back. "You both did a wonderful job!"
"Thank you!" Both of them grinned up at her. "Did you see me be an angel?" Freja asked. Ella smiled and nodded. "I certainly did. You looked beautiful."
"Thank you," Freja beamed.
"You did wonderful, children," Ingeborg smiled at the two. Steven walked up, smiling shyly. Ella gave him a hug. Steven hugged back, surprising her. "You sounded magnificent, Steven! You have such a gift!"
"Thank you," Steven smiled. "I-I hoped you'd like it."
"Like it? I loved it!" Ella hugged him again.
"Is that why you cried? You said you liked it!" Freja reminded her.
Ella laughed, hugging the little girl. "I loved it Freja. I cried because I'm happy."
"Oh." The little girl cocked her head to one side.
"Wonderful job, Steven, I think the entire church was in awe," Ingeborg patted the boy's shoulder, smiling.
"Danke—er, thank you, Mrs. Bjorklund," Steven stuttered. "My pa taught me to play."
"Did he? Steven, I'll bet he and your mother watched you from heaven tonight glorifying God with the angels." Ingeborg said.
"And Abe too," Steven added.
Ella smiled and nodded, "Ja, Abe too."
"Merry Christmas, everyone and God bless us all!" Freja's voice carried through the church, her grin bigger then the entire North Dakota prairie.
"Amen to that!" Andor picked her up. "You're a mighty pretty little angel, you know that?" Andor waited for her reply.
"Ja, I do." Freja replied. She burst into giggles. Those close by joined in the laughter.

As they walked out to the wagon, Andor held Freja in his arms, squeezed the little girl once. "What if…" he began.
"What?" Freja asked him one arm hooked around Andor's neck.
"If Ella and I tell you what one of your Christmas presents is?"
"Ja, please." Freja nodded, her braids bouncing, eyes bright and eager.
"What is it?" Steven and Josef stared up at Andor.
"Tell them, Ella." Andor nodded to her.
Ella took a deep breath and smiled. "Andor and I would like to adopt you three as our own children."
"Adopt us? Really," Both boys flung themselves at Ella, crashing into her, knocking her backwards. "Oh thank you, thank you!" they cried.
Ella slipped, Andor grabbed her arm to keep her from falling, but she and the boys ended up in a heap. Andor and Freja shook their heads and then all of them burst out laughing.
"Sorry!" The boys said as they scrambled up and then helped Ella stand upright too.
"Oh thank you, Pa." Freja hugged his neck tighter as she tried out his new title. Looking toward Ella, she added, "And Ma, too." Andor set her down so she could give Ella a hug.
"We got a new ma and pa!" Josef danced around them both.
Freja ran with him, her braids swinging. "Yea, we get new parents!"
"And you get us." Steven smiled up at the couple, violin case in his hand.
"We're a family now." Andor tugged on the boy's hat, making him laugh.
Back in the wagon, Ella sang quietly. "Rejoice, rejoice, Emanuel!" She raised her gaze to the star-filled sky, the light wind blowing strands of hair back off her face, and smiled. God had given her a wonderful Christmas. He'd blessed the three Edelmann children, too. So much there was to rejoice for tonight on this special night, but she'd rejoice in Him always, for the rest of her life.

Happy New Year, my dear friends. Don't you love stories with happy endings? I look forward every year to these stories Thorliff prints in his newspaper. And now blessings to you all as we step into this new year.