Wanderers – 3

Note: There are 12 sections to this story that will be posted starting December 26, ending on January 6, the day of Epiphany. “Wanderers” can also be found in my book “My Best Christmas and other stories of the season” at Amazon.com.


Weather didn’t much affect what Betty Williston did on a Saturday morning. Rain or shine, moon shine that is, at 3 AM she woke up, got ready for the day, tossed her Yankee’s hat on over her gray mop of hair and headed to the diner- her diner. It was Betty’s ever since Harry sold the place to her, his best employee, a few years back after she worked for him for many years.

The place opened at six and she needed to get her locally world-famous, warm and fresh, larger-than-average, sweet, sticky cinnamon rolls ready for her faithful morning customers. Everyday, she baked cinnamon rolls and then took care of the customers while Arnie handled the griddle duties in the back.

Her routine was pretty much set.  She knew the regulars quite well by now.  For instance, there was the Monday crowd, mainly looking for a cup of dark brew that would wake them up and help them start a new week.  Wednesday’s crew included the retired farmers, seed caps, Case IH sweatshirts and John Deere jackets. Fridays brought in the staff from the church down the block, making plans for saving lost souls. Every day was unique, and every group of customers was different.  The folks came mainly from the neighborhood, each with their own stories, and Betty was privileged to be given a glimpse into some.  However, for Betty’s story, there were only a few with whom she felt comfortable to share.  

That Saturday, Betty surveyed her domain.  She brushed her gray locks from her forehead.  She smiled a grateful smile and unlocked the front door.  She turned and rolled her eyes up to the ceiling and beyond and quietly said her morning prayer, “Thankyou.”

She knew things could have, should have been so different. She knew firsthand that life wasn’t always all coffee and sweet rolls. She also knew firsthand that like that rain soaked morning, the sun would poke through again. These were the days she looked for rainbows and often found them.

Wanderers- 2

Note: This spring, 2020, during the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, I found myself with a lot of at-home time. During that time this story was completed. There are 12 sections to this story that will be posted starting December 26, ending on January 6, the day of Epiphany. “Wanderers” can also be found in my book “My Best Christmas and other stories of the season” at Amazon.com.


The continuing Saturday morning drizzle provided a dreary, wet greeting as Ruby and her grandfather Thomas welcomed a new day. The day’s sun, low in the sky, shyly hiding behind sheets of low, gray clouds, didn’t add much to the promise that awaited them. However, Thomas would have none of that. He added his own sunshine. “This is the day that the Lord has made.” Thomas croaked out a line from a song he’d learned in Sunday school long ago.

“Grampa?” said Ruby as she tried to focus through the sleepy haze still permeating her twelve year old brain that drippy morning. She resisted her grandpa’s bright outlook and embraced the gloom, milking it for all it was worth.  “Grampa?  Wha-a-a…?”

 “Good morning, Sunshine!!”  With a knock on her bedroom door and a song, Thomas Start, grandfather of Ruby Jensen, made a feeble attempt at morning irony as he greeted his I’d-rather-be-sleeping-in, granddaughter.

Ruby’s parents, Thomas’ daughter Meira and son-in-law Ben, were away for the weekend. Thomas offered to keep Ruby safe, warm, fed and occupied while they were gone.  To that end, that morning Thomas would be fitting Ruby into his early Saturday morning routine of breakfast at the diner. 

“Where are we going so early?  It’s Saturday!” she said.

With a perky grin, Thomas said, “The diner.”  Ruby tried rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “I know, I know… You’re not used to getting up before, what is it, noon on Saturday?” Thomas said.  “These are the best hours of the week. Besides, this is for breakfast, the most important meal of the day.” Thomas grinned at a sleepy Ruby, her red hair flattened by her nighttime battle with her pillow.

It wasn’t long and both of them were ready to face the day after some coaxing, prodding and putting in more effort than Thomas was used to expending.  Ruby grabbed her hat, an ancient Red Sox hat that Thomas had given her once when they were playing ball in the backyard.  Old and faded with a dime sized splotch of red paint on the bill, Ruby crammed her hat over her unruly red hair and Grampa crammed his Cubs hat over what was left of his barely there hair.  In the dark living room they slipped past the sparkling Christmas tree topped with a bright star that gave them all the light they needed to proceed.  

Thomas grabbed the keys to the old pickup from the hook by the back door.  They tossed on their jackets, walked out the door, waded through the puddles and piled into the pickup parked next to the house.  They poked along in the early morning gloom and headed to the diner that was Thomas’ Saturday morning spot for breakfast, coffee, conversation and companionship.

The windshield wipers kept pace with the morning drizzle. The beat of the country Christmas tunes blaring from the truck’s radio didn’t deter a groggy Ruby, face plastered against a steamy window, from trying to grab a few more minutes of sleep. Glancing at Ruby, Thomas’ smile expressed deep gratitude for her and how she came to be in his life. Buried beneath the smile was the knowledge that it wasn’t always that way. Things could have been a lot different. A lot different.

Now Available!

Here it comes, a shameless self-promotion…  I humbly offer my apologies before I even start.

You see over the last 30 years I’ve written more than a few short stories, a lot of them about Christmas.   I wrote them mainly for my students back then.   Some of them were even good enough to be published in a few educator’s magazines.

So with that little bit of fleeting success, I decided long ago that I’d like to see them published, put into a book.  I tried back then.  However, after only a few tries to get some real publishers interested, the stories stayed in my file, on my computer and in my mind …  until recently.

After hearing about the whole concept of self-publishing a while back, the idea of putting my stories together in a book started percolating again.  Self-publishing… hmmm … The cool thing about self-publishing a book is that, really, only one person needs to like it …  in addition to one’s mother.  (I must say that when my mom was alive, she liked my stories, too.)

So over the course of the last year or so, I investigated the process, dusted off the old stories, reformatted them, wrote some new ones, had someone check them over and submitted them.  Lo and behold both the paperback and eBook versions were accepted by Kindle Direct Publishing.

Now available at Amazon.com

I want to make it clear that I’m not in this for the money or to make someone’s best seller list.  Although, with this blog readership of about six, who knows what might happen. Things might just take off.

I wrote most of the stories mainly for my students and the people closest to me.  And, I had fun doing it.  Besides, even after all these years, I still think these stories, in their quirky little ways, still belt out a pretty strong message about Christmas and it’s true meaning, which, of course, is that Jesus was born, Immanuel, God with us.  That, my friends, and not some flashy newly published book … is today’s Gift.


If you want to see the blurb at Amazon.com, click on this link.  If not, that’s fine, too.