Hot Chocolate, Cookies, and Caroling

By Linda Porter Carlyle

MacKenzie Isabelle Evans slammed shut the fat book on her lap. She slid out of the big overstuffed chair by the wood stove. The book slid to the floor.

Mac hurried into the kitchen. “Ummm,” she breathed. “It sure smells good in here! I’m hungry!”

Her mother smiled as she looked up from the pot of soup she was stirring. “It’s minestrone,” she said. “And there is cornbread in the oven.”

Mac twirled across the kitchen. “I love winter!” she exclaimed, ending up at the window where she pressed her nose against the cold pane and tried to look out. Then she turned back to her mom. “I love the smell of the Christmas tree. I love the decorations all over town. I love the cold days—even the rainy ones! And I love minestrone and cornbread! Can I invite Joseph and G.M. over for supper?”

Mrs. Evens looked at the pot of soup with a measuring eye. “Sure,” she answered. “Call them up.”

“Where’s the phone?” Mac asked.

Her mom glanced around the kitchen. “I don’t know,” she answered. “Cordless phones are certainly a blessing, but it’s a pain looking for ours when I have forgotten to put it back in its place.”

“I’ll find it,” Mac said. And she did. In the bathroom.

“They’re coming,” Mac announced as she hung up. “G.M. is bringing over warm cookies. She made those round molasses ones that she rolls in sugar. I love those cookies! She’s glad we invited her. She said she got so caught up in baking that she forgot she had to fix supper.”

Her mom laughed. “That sounds like G.M!” she said.

Mac opened the back door and looked across the yard. “What’s taking them so long?” she wondered aloud.

“I think you should ask for patience for Christmas this year,” Mom commented.

Mac giggled. She shut the door.

Soon everyone was gathered around the supper table—Mac, her mom and dad, Joseph, and G.M. Everyone held hands while Mr. Evans thanked God for providing the food and asked Him to bless it.

“Amen!” Mac exclaimed. “I just love Christmas time!” She looked at G.M. “Your cheeks are all rosy from baking cookies. You look pretty. And you smell spicy.”

G.M.’s cheeks became even rosier. “Thank you,” she said politely, buttering a piece of cornbread.

“I have to agree with Mac,” Mr. Evans said. “I love Christmastime too. And I like remembering past Christmases. I think everybody fondly remembers what Christmas was like when they were children.” He ladled soup into his bowl. “I especially miss one thing we used to do every year when I was a boy,” he went on. “Caroling. We used to go caroling from door to door. We’d sing the old favorite songs like ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘We Three Kings.’ I loved it. I haven’t been caroling for years.”

“That’s right,” G.M. put in. “We went caroling every Christmas when I was young. Even when I wasn’t so young” she added. “I wonder why that tradition got discontinued.”

Mac looked up. Her face glowed. “That’s a great idea!” she exclaimed. “Let’s go caroling this year! We can pick out the songs we like the best and practice them. We could even learn more than one verse of our favorites. And then we could go all over the neighborhood and sing at everybody’s door!”

“I don’t really sing that well,” Joseph mumbled, stirring his soup to cool it down a little.

Mr. Evans laughed. “That’s OK,” he assured him. “We’re not going to be making a CD. We just want to share a little Christmas joy.”

“Maybe I could dig out my old flute,” Mrs. Evans said suddenly. “Maybe I could be the accompaniment.”

“Can you really play the flute?” Mac asked, amazed. She put down her spoon. “Why didn’t you tell me you know how to play the flute? Will you teach me?”

A shy little smile hovered on Mrs. Evan’s lips. “I haven’t played the flute since high school,” she explained. “But I always kept it because I thought maybe someday I would play again. It’s in the attic.”

“That’s so exciting!” Mac said. And Dad can take his guitar and accompany us too.”

“Maybe Trevor and his family could go caroling with us,” Joseph suggested.

“Great idea!” Mac agreed. “This is going to be so much fun! And after caroling, we can come back home and have hot chocolate with marshmallows—I love hot chocolate with marshmallows-and cookies.”

“You seem to have an unending appetite for cookies,” her father commented.

“Well, cookies are a great Christmas tradition!” Mac sat up tall and straight. “And it’s not a tradition that has been discontinued! What are you staring at?” she demanded, looking at Joseph.

Joseph’s eyes were focused on the window. “I think it’s snowing,” he answered.

Mac jumped up, dashed to the door, and flung it open. Feathery white flakes drifted straight down from the black sky. “It is!” she shouted. “Mom! It’s snowing! Can we go outside?”

“Sit down and finish your soup,” Mr. Evans directed. “Then maybe we’ll all go outside for a walk.”

“We can look at everybody’s decorations,” Mac said. She shut the door. “It will be so pretty seeing them through snow! And when we come home, can we have hot chocolate with marshmallows and cookies?” she asked with a happy Christmas smile.

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