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By:Shelley Shepard Gray

“Then we could’ve relaxed, too!” Katie said with a laugh.

Primly, her older sister clucked her tongue. “You two needed me to watch over you. At least Mamm did.”

As their mother looked at all three of them, she shook her head. “Come, Rebekeh, come sit with me for a bit in the front room. If you stay here much longer, Katie and Henry will tease you even more.”

Henry whistled low. “Katie, should we tell everyone about the time Rebekeh made us set the table twice?”

Katie laughed at Rebekeh’s expression. “We’d better not. Go sit down, Rebekeh. We’ll take care of things here.”

Laughter echoed through the inn as Rebekeh followed Katie’s directions and followed their mother to the front room. As the men moved to the couches near the fire, Katie motioned to Mary and Hannah to help her carry dishes to the kitchen. “We best get these dishes cleared and washed. They won’t get finished without our hands.”

“I’ve got the carrots!” Mary proclaimed.

Hannah rushed to keep up. “I’ll carry the basket of rolls.”

“Do be careful, girls,” Katie called out.

Beside her, Winnie picked up an almost empty dish of potatoes. Katie thought she’d been especially quiet all evening. As they walked far more circumspectly to the kitchen, Katie murmured, “Are you all right?”

“Oh, jah,” Winnie replied, though Katie noticed that her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes. “I am just glad to be home, and am excited about my new job in town.”

“I’m sorry things didn’t work out with you and Malcolm.”

“I am, too.” Winnie shook her head. “Oh, Katie, that Malcolm was nothing like his letters. I guess Anna really was right when she said that nothing takes the place of conversations face-to-face. In person, I found him to be difficult and inattentive. I’m verra glad to have my new job.”

Almost the moment Winnie returned from Indiana, she’d informed Jonathan that she was going to take a position at the Crazy Quilt. Jonathan, knowing that she was hurting and needed to move on, understood.

Katie had moved back home, but now went to Jonathan’s the few afternoons that Winnie worked late. During those visits, she spent time with the girls, fostering their relationship and working on the quilt together. Sometimes she stayed and visited with Jonathan for an hour or two before returning to the inn.

After four more trips to the kitchen, Winnie, Anna, and Katie were put in charge of sorting leftovers while Irene, Mary, and Hannah carried cakes, pies, and dessert plates to the dining room.

When they were once more alone in the kitchen, Anna said, “Katie, Henry told me you received another letter from Holly. What did this one say?”

“All kinds of good things. Holly has met someone, and even went on a second date.”

“I hope she’ll bring him over soon,” Anna said. “We’re going to need to approve.”

“Something tells me she’ll wait to bring over any of her dates, though she did tell me she wants to come over soon and spend the weekend with me.” When Winnie and Anna looked at her in surprise, Katie announced her news. “She wants to make a quilt!”

Winnie burst out laughing. “You’ll have everyone you know quilting soon, Katie.”

“Maybe I will! All I know is that Holly’s letter and good news was a wonderful Christmas present.” So was her friendship. That, truly, was what made her heart sing the most.

Jonathan peeked his head in. “Katie, are you almost done? I thought we could maybe take a walk outside for a bit.”

His gaze was so warm and loving, Katie felt her cheeks heat. “Yes. I…I’m almost done, Jonathan. I would most certainly enjoy a walk with you,” she replied quickly, ignoring the giggles of her girlfriends.

Anna playfully bumped Katie with her shoulder. “While Holly’s news is wonderful good, I’d say you received a far better Christmas gift, Katie. Jonathan Lundy is mighty attentive these days.”

Even Winnie chuckled. “He acts like it’s not blustery and cold outside, he’s so anxious to be alone with you. We better hurry with the dishes.”

Katie hastily rolled up her sleeves with a smile. Yes, Jonathan’s love was a wonderful present. He’d given her joy and his family, and a reason to be herself. Most of all, he’d reminded her that by the grace of God, every one of them was blessed and special in the eyes of the Lord.

And that was, indeed, a most wonderful present to receive…. especially on Christmas Day.