Authors: Rachel Rittenhouse
Tags: #family, #christmas, #young adult, #historical, #sisters, #diary, #christian, #traditions
A Woodsmall Christmas
, Rachel Rittenhouse has been writing for as
long as she can remember. At the age of 17, she published her first
dream of becoming a published writer finally came true. Since she
grew up loving to read, Rachel remembers the struggle to find
wholesome books worth reading for young girls growing in their
faith. She strives to write that type of book and because she loves
historical fiction, most of her books are set in a past time
period. In addition to reading and writing, she enjoys playing
clarinet, spending time with her family, going to her church youth
group, and babysitting some pretty adorable kids! Rachel is working
at her writing, while taking online courses through Liberty
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Copyright © 2015 Rachel E
All rights reserved. No
part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any
form or by any means — for example, electronic, photocopy,
recording — without prior consent of the author. The only exception
is brief quotations for reviews.
This book is a work of
historical reconstruction; the appearances of certain historical
figures are therefore inevitable. All other characters, however,
are the products o the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to
actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
My family — for our love of Christmas
Prologue - April 16, 1865
It should have been a day
of rejoicing and I guess in a sense, it was. The war between the
states is finally over. Poppa is home, and what a relief to see him
My sister is reunited with
her husband. Carolyn and Scott were married only a week before
Scott left for the war. Watching them together brings tears to my
eyes knowing how much my sister missed him.
But this is where it
stings. Albert didn’t come home to me.
When he broke off our
courtship before he left, I assumed that as soon as the war ended
he would be back. I never quit writing to him. In fact that was
what kept me going most days. Albert said he didn’t want to die and
hold me back.
What stings is that he
didn’t die. Nettie would have told me if that were true. Perhaps he
realized that he only had a childhood fascination with me. Maybe I
am just not important to him.
Or maybe I should keep
writing him and wait for him to come to me.
Poppa’s voice broke
through Bethany’s writing. “Now, where’s my Bethy?”
Pushing the mournful
thoughts from her mind, Bethany hurried down from the loft,
determined to put on a cheerful front. “Oh Poppa, I’m so glad
you’re home.” In an instant, she was pulled in a hug that
threatened to cut of all air flow. Not that she cared. Breathing in
his woody smell, Bethany was sure she would be happy to stay right
in his arms.
When her older brother
Jesse came home early from the war with his leg amputated, Bethany
began to imagine all sorts of things that might have happened to
Poppa and Albert. It was bad enough to hear when Henry was
As the rest of the family
went inside, Bethany sat out on the porch step to wonder and think
by herself. She wasn’t left out there long before Jesse was by her
Penny for your thoughts,
sister, though I can already guess they are miles away.”
How was it possible to
have a brother who knew you so well? “I am so happy that Poppa and
Scott have come home safe, truly I am, Jesse. But I am concerned
for Albert. If it is true that the war ended, why hasn’t he come to
I’m afraid I have no
answer for you, Bethy. You could always go into town and see if he
went to see his family first. That is always a strong
I can’t leave Poppa when
he’s just returned.”
Then why are you out
Bethany thought about what
Jesse said and then she stood. “How right you are, Jesse. Here I
am, worrying for nothing, when I should be inside with Poppa.
Albert will come and see me soon enough, of that I am
Jesse’s face relaxed some,
but Bethany doubted the words that she uttered. Would Albert really
come? If he didn’t come right away, did he not care for her after
being away almost two years?
Into the evening, Bethany
continued to look out the window, but still no sign of Albert.
Would he ever come?
November snow was beginning to fall lightly as Bethany hurried into
the main part of town. Of course, the one day when she decided to
walk instead of ride, it would begin to snow.
Hurrying into the post
office, Bethany shook off the bits of snow that clung to her
bonnet. Upon seeing her, Mr. McCrutchen greeted her with a loud
hello. “Hoping the snow doesn’t continue on, ey, Miss Bethany?
Though we’ve had storms blow in at times earlier than
Bethany couldn’t help but
smile at the friendliness of the Irish postman. “That it is, sir.
By any chance would you have a letter for me?”
The man’s eyes dimmed,
“Sorry, lass, there still be nothing. I wish I could bring you
better news one of these days.”
Despite the disappointment
looming, Bethany tried to put on a cheery face. “Thank you
anyways.” She handed the letter Momma asked her to mail and
departed the post office.
Tears stung Bethany’s eyes
as she hurried down town. Eight months since the war ended and
seven months had passed since Albert wrote her saying that he was
to stay in Washington D.C. a while longer. But even that letter
came after weeks of waiting for him to show up at her door. A heavy
weight settled on her heart. What was she to even think or feel?
Perhaps she should have gone to look for him the next day. Beg him
for answers - to love her again. But what would that matter now. He
was all the way on the coast and he hadn’t written her
Something hard in front of
her caused Bethany to begin a downward descent but two hands
reached out to grab her. Bethany looked up to see who it was that
His gray eyes lit up when
he saw her and the beginnings of a smile quirked at his mouth.
“Bethany. I wasn’t planning on running into you today.”
She straightened, vaguely
aware of the realization that she was still in Jeremy’s grasp. “I’m
sorry, Jeremy, truly. My thoughts were elsewhere.”
It’s of no matter.” They
continued walking as the snow continued to grow thicker and
Well, thank you for
catching me. I had no desire to land on the ground. I really should
be going though before the snow gets much worse.”
Let me drive you, Beth -
please?” The way his eyes brightened, Bethany found that she
couldn’t refuse. Pretty soon, they were in his buggy heading back
to her place.
Bethany struggled to come
up with something to say as she could very well just sit in
silence. “It appears I am indebted to you twice in a day, Jeremy.
The snow seems to be getting much heavier and it would no doubt
have been a long walk.”
I’m just glad to be of
The way he said it caused
tingles to travel down Bethany’s arms and she pulled the blanket
tighter around her lap.
Actually, Bethany, I
wanted a chance to talk to you.”
Oh?” Hearing the words
surprised her and she wondered what Jeremy would possibly want to
talk about with her.
I know you probably
consider us just friends, at least, I would hope I’m a
Of course I consider you
a friend. Don’t ever not think such a thing.” She clamped her mouth
shut then, realizing that she just succeeded in interrupting
I’m glad to hear that. I
don’t know what happened between you and Albert, well actually, I
know some of it. I also know you’ve had a long time to get past
that, I hope.” Jeremy paused and Bethany noticed that he regarded
her quietly, probably to gauge her reaction.
Not sure what to say,
Bethany waited. “Yes?”
Jeremy stopped the buggy
then and turned to Bethany. He grasped her hand in his and gave it
a squeeze. “I was wondering if we could learn to be more than
friends, Bethany. I’ve cared for you for the longest time and I was
hoping - praying - that perhaps you might have some feelings for
Bethany felt her head was
going to spin off with this new-found revelation. Eight months
could hardly be considered a long to time move on from someone whom
she had loved. Besides, she had only ever thought of Jeremy as a
dear friend. “I hardly know what to say. This is all rather