An Amish Christmas with Friends releases on November 17 in eBook on Amazon.com. Preorder it today!
Even with Christmas being just a week away, it didn’t feel like Christmas at all. At least not to Katie King.
Not without Ivan Yoder.
Sitting in her mother’s rocking chair, a simple crocheted blanket tossed over her lap, Katie stared out the window, too aware of her mother bustling about the kitchen. Katie knew she should be helping her mother with the morning chores, but she couldn’t tear herself away from watching the pretty scene that had developed overnight outside. Everything was covered in a fresh coat of snow, making the pastures look clean and pure. There were no tracks of mud or cow prints yet. Of course, that would change as soon as her father and younger brothers would finish the morning milking. The cows would then be let into the field and, within minutes, they’d wander around the pasture leaving hoof marks in their wake over the immaculate and pristine snow covering.
And it would no longer be pretty but yucky. Just like how she felt at the moment.
“Oh, Katie, now!”
Sighing, Katie tore her gaze from the window and turned to look at her mother who clearly sounded as exasperated as she felt. “Ja, Mamm?”
Karen King hurried into the sitting room, her arms carrying a plastic basket filled with sheets and towels.
“You can’t just sit there and mope all day,” her mother said, giving her a stern look that lacked so much as a hint of compassion. Surely that had disappeared over a week ago when Katie had begun mourning the loss of Ivan.
“Why not?” Katie asked in a surly tone. “Not too much to be joyous about. Not for me.”
Setting the basket on the edge of the sofa, Karen walked over toward her daughter and knelt before her. She reached out and took Katie’s hand. “There is quite a lot to be joyous about, Dochder. And you know it. Why, in just seven days, it will be Christmas, after all.”
Katie made a little noise and rolled her eyes back toward the window.
“Now, now,” her mother said, reaching up to take her daughter’s chin in her hand, forcing Katie to look back at her. “It’s a sad time that Daniel Yoder moved his family away. I understand that.” Her tone softened. “But you’re only twenty years old, Katie. And, given enough time, you’ll forget about Ivan and start courting another young man, I’m sure.”
Katie bristled at the remark. As if she could just flip a switch and forget about Ivan! What did her mother know about such things, anyway? After all, her mother had been married at nineteen and started having babies at twenty. She’d married the first man who took her home from a singing. She’d never felt the sting of having to say goodbye to a special friend like Ivan Yoder.
Her mother stood up again, her knees cracking as she did. “This has gone on for almost a month, Katie. It’s time you snap out of it.”
Had she heard her mother correctly? “Snap out of it?” Katie repeated, the words tasting like spoilt milk passing through her lips. How simple to say, yet how difficult to do! Surely her mother understood that? “It’s not that easy, Mamm! It’s not as if I can put a Band-Aid on my heart!”
Holding up her hands, Karen fended off the rebuttal. “Now Katie, I know you’re disappointed, but that’s no reason to take it out on me,” she said.
Slumping in the chair, Katie rested her cheek against her hand. Oh! The weight upon her chest felt heavier with each passing day. “I just don’t understand why they had to move in the first place. And to Clearwater?”
Karen took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Katie could tell that her mother was trying to find a proper response to the question. Unfortunately, there was no answer. None that could be spoken aloud, anyway.
Daniel Yoder wasn’t the first man in the Gibbons Road Amish church district to move his family, not just to another church district but another state. Land had become too expensive in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to just relocate. Also, the conservative nature of the district’s new bishop was a contributing factor in chasing people away.
It all started with the complete ban on technology. Some of the farmers didn’t like that the bishop refused to permit milking machines. Milking entire herds of cows by hand severely limited the volume of output. Then, when the bishop said a loud, resounding “No!” to the Internet, some of the smaller business owners run by Amish men in the district started to grumble. Without the Internet, Yonie Lantz couldn’t place orders for the synthetic material he used to make horse harnesses or receive new orders from clients in other states or even foreign countries. And he had a duty towards not just his family but those of the five employees working in his harness shop.
The last straw, however, had been when the bishop prohibited cell phones. Every other neighboring district was allowed access to cell phones, strictly for work purposes.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with the Gibbons Road district for their bishop, Bishop Peachey, had refused to budge.
“It’s just not fair,” Katie said.
“Life is not fair,” her mother replied with a sigh. Katie knew that they, too, had been hurt by the bishop’s refusal to sway even just a little on any issue. “But God has plans for you, Katie King.”
She made a face. “I think this has more to do with the bishop’s stubbornness.”
Her mother caught her breath. “Katie! You know that Bishop Peachey only means well. He knows the impact of worldliness on people and he’s trying to protect us—”
Katie thought she could do with a little less protection, thank you very much.
“—and you simply cannot keep moping around like this. You need to start somewhere and that somewhere is here. Today.” Her mother walked back to the laundry basket and picked it up. “Helping me with the laundry.”
The last thing Katie wanted to do was wash laundry. It was cold in the basement where the washer was located next to the old ringer dryer. And she always felt claustrophobic down there. The rafters barely missed the top of her head and it was hard to hang the sheets when the clothes line was so low. But in the wintertime, it was the best place to dry the clothing. Outside, the air was too cold and damp from the snowstorm.
But she knew better than to say that to her mother.
Reluctantly, Katie got up and took her time folding the blanket. She laid it over the back of the chair. I’ll be back soon enough, she thought to herself. Keep my spot warm.
Be certain to preorder today!
An Amish Christmas with Friends releases on November 17 in eBook on Amazon.com.