Tom knew Clara and the children would be disappointed, but there was nothing he could do about it. Animals had to be fed and cared for every day of the year – even Christmas Eve. He couldn’t put off the blizzard any more than he could stop the coming of a new foal tonight. He’d rather be in the warm cabin with his family singing Christmas carols and drinking apple cider than sitting out in the cold barn, but this foal was important to them. Eventually it would replace the buggy horse that was growing old. Without the horses, he couldn’t plow the fields and plant the food that kept them alive all winter. The farm wasn’t only a lifestyle they loved. It was a livelihood. They were fortunate to have food and a warm bed when so many were cold and hungry. They were fortunate to be healthy when so many were sick.
All that fortune came with a price. In this case, it was hard work with no days off. Tom wouldn’t trade their life for a plush home in a castle, but the children didn’t always understand. He and Clara had always tried to make them understand that food and warm clothing weren’t available to everyone. They agreed, but did they actually understand? When they grew older, would their roots stay on the farm or would they do as so many young people were doing now? Many young women and men were giving up farming for an easier life in the city.
Tom’s toes and fingers were numb with cold. He checked the mare and headed for the wood pile. They had a wood stove in the barn that they had put there for this purpose. The stove wouldn’t keep the barn warm, but it would keep the foal from freezing. They had spent most of the summer accumulating enough wood to keep them warm through one winter. Maybe next year they could buy some coal to burn.
At the point that he decided the stove was not doing any good against the blizzard, the howling wind stopped. It would get colder now, but it wouldn’t feel as cold. An hour and another load of wood later, the area around the stall was warm enough that he could no longer see his breath. That was when the barn door opened and in marched Clara and the four children. Each of them was carrying something. Clara had warm apple cider and cups, and the children were carrying hot cookies.
“The children thought we should join you here in the barn, since you couldn’t be with us.”
Their youngest was only five, but his comment gave them hope for the future of their children.
“Daddy, Jesus was born in a stable but I bet they didn’t have cookies and apple cider.”
“Or a stove to keep them warm,” The oldest observed.
The conversation went from the things Jesus and his family didn’t have to all the things they had. Thus they spent Christmas Eve, thinking about things that might not have occurred to them if they hadn’t spent it in the barn. Hard times could be an inspiration if a person studied on them in the right perspective.