Home for the Holidays: Christmas Fudge
There wasn't a lot of space in the last minute flight out, but they were well on their way and in total agreement that San Diego's runway was going to be a good sight for eyes that had seen too much sand. Home, whatever it looked like for each, was their next destination.
Jay broke the latest silence with his out-loud thoughts. "We'll have to go through headquarters in D.C., but I can’t wait for that first morning back on the farm. It's hard to believe I'll be there.
"I'm planning a slow walk in some clean, crisp air. First, I'll head out to the barn where my horse used to be stalled. He was a beautiful animal, strong and brave and fast. When I finally stand in that doorway again the memories will oppose the frosted air with the power of a warm summer breeze blowing in from the meadow."
He was dreaming out loud of soaking up the smell of the cold barn wood, the sound of the few chickens that wintered inside, and of seeing the cats curled in the sun on window sills. Stray sunbeams from the cracks in the siding streaking across their backs all spelled home safe once again.
The men watched as he spread his arms and hands out wide to describe the scene, "Hushed with a blanket of snow, the farm will be real still in the frosty air. Icy diamonds glinting in the sunshine will dance to the blessed silence a snowfall brings."
More realistically he added, "Smoke rising from the chimney will call me back in when my parents get up, but I’ll need to roam around in the quiet for a while before breakfast."
They eagerly listened in on his daydreams, "I want to feel the snow crunching under my feet and hear my dog's breathing as she darts around. Chip will wag along beside me, watching my every step. See, when I was little she wouldn't let me leave our front yard and I guess she's never gotten over it."
He leaned out at them with a grin, putting his hand up like a preacher, "And before you say it, yes–I am very much aware that Chip is a boy's name. Try telling a 6-year-old boy that little thing matters, though. Everyone else calls her Maggie and she ignores them unless she's hungry, but she comes when I call her Chip. Explain that and I'll call her Maggie.
"Yeah," he leaned back again, "I need to ease through the old trees and breathe in the calm peace of the fields. There’s a small river between the woods and the main field I want to get reacquainted with." In a markedly lower voice Jay told them, "He and I are old friends, and I need to hear his rippling voice again.
"He shouldn’t be frozen through yet. Underneath a thin shell he’ll still be rumbling around rocks and logs, calling to the birds to come drink, and telling the world not to give up. His waters are really deep in some of the pools, but they are clean, clear waters that speak hope to creation."
He told them about how he would make his way back up the long driveway just about the time his Mom took her biscuits out of the oven, how it would be just the three of them, for everyone else had married and moved away from the farm. Wistfully he remarked as he looked them in the eyes, "I’ll wash the dishes with them when we’re done. Such a simple thing to look forward to, don't you think?"
"Dad’s been hunting for weeks and Mom’s hands are already promising the best food the countryside can provide. Man oh man, you just wouldn't believe her fudge! That afternoon will be as noisy as the morning will be quiet. They’re planning on all the relatives being there for supper, and that’s a heap of people!"
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As each of the other AUAs thought about their own families, Jay told more about his, "My brothers and sisters along with their families will stay through New Years so I want to make the most of the time home alone with our parents. They’re not getting any younger and I don't know when I'll get home again.
"Later on, I'll help the littlest kids pet the chickens, and I'll build snowball forts in the orchards with the rest of them. You can bet I’m going to eat dinner in the kitchen with the kids. Lying on the rug by the Christmas tree with the whole lot of them we’ll play I spy. If they only knew…but, I'm glad they don't.
"All shapes and sizes of them will be piled around me under the picture window and I'll have them looking out into the night for snow rabbits and stars. Then we'll talk about what they do in the cities they live in. They’re all south of the farm in a triangle from Dallas to Oklahoma City to Little Rock."
Mic asked him how he handled questions about their missions, "I just tell my family I can't talk about it, but there are times I wish I could give them something more to keep them from feeling shut out."
Jay thought for a minute, "I know what you mean. I do answer some of their questions about our work–sort of. They don't really know what kind of questions to ask so the Q&A time works itself out. Somehow they've come to think I’m a Seal and I just let them," then with a half smile he confessed that he was giving each kid a Navy Hoodie for Christmas.
Ordinarily that would have gotten him punched, but none of the men even groaned at the idea. They were thinking about their own plans for this much needed break, and Jay knew that, sadly, some were wondering whether they should even bother to contact their families.
"They’ll quiz me to no end," Jay went on. "'Specially the boys. I’ll answer as honest as I can, but carefully–I usually have to do a little fudging since they don’t know what our missions entail. When they start with their questions, though, I'll find my mom first to tell her I love her again.
"I'll give her another hug while trying to make her think I just want more of her Christmas fudge. If I don't look her in the eyes she might not know what I'm up to, but on the other hand, somehow she knows what I don't tell her."
More from this Home for the Holidays
Check out the other stories in this series and let me know which is your favorite:
• Fostering Care -- Home for the Holidays, Number 8
On Christmas Day our gifts were nice, yet, that day I realized that no present anyone could give in a box would equal what being accepted as one of their family members meant to me.
• Perfect Traditions -- Home for the Holidays, Number 7
Mom’s delight is to have her big get-together on New Year’s Day. She loves it that the whole clan has that to look forward to after Christmas has come and gone.
• The Favor -- Home for the Holidays, Number 5
There’s a small river between the woods and the main field that I want to get reacquainted with. He and I are old friends, and I need to hear his voice again.
• A Holiday Respite -- Home for the Holidays, Number 4
I’ll close my eyes in the safest place on earth, and open them again to familiar sights in the morning's light. Everything on this side of the world will be behind me--for a little while.
Just So Fudge For Christmas Or Anytime!
Christmas Fudge Poem Candy Wrapper Craft
• The Gift of a Lifetime -- Home for the Holidays, Number 3
Adam told her he had been listening to the children breathe as they slept. A snow-bound house full of children and grandchildren was just what he and Angie needed to give them the merry Christmas they wished for.
• Grandpa's House -- Home for the Holidays, Number 2
He’ll settle you around his tree by the fireplace. The gifts will be spilling out everywhere, but he won’t say a word about them.
• A Change of Plans -- Home for the Holidays, Number 1
Friends who used to run the groves and fields with me will show up. Some of them, anyway. Those who won’t be there, well, they’ll still be there.
More Christmas Candy
- Christmas Music of John Rutter
Words like talented must be preceded with breathtakingly in order to do justice to John Rutter's Christmas music.
- Scrabble Dip: A Recipe for Fun
An apple dip formulated as we played Scrabble turned out to be a great snack. Almond butter, Ghiradelli, and agave play well together.
- HotHands: The Gift That Will Warm Your Heart (and Your Other Parts)
Hot Hands provide the warmth, comfort, and even safety needed in cold temps. Having them on hand for the unexpected need is important, using them for personal comfort turns a brrrr event into an ahhhh affair!
- Christmas Candy Recipes - Fudge & Peanut Brittle