Jane spread out her map of Africa and picked up her medical text as she glanced out her dorm window into the gray afternoon. A blanket of snow veiled the dull landscape but dark clouds seemed to extinguish any spark of holiday spirit.
The Officer’s words still rang in her ears, “Jane, dear, your Daddy’s car slid on some ice…off Taken’s Bridge… your mother and sister, and brother… were all in the car… no one survived”.
The sound of the phone in the hallway startled Jane. She reluctantly answered, “Jones residence hall.”
“Jane? What are you doing alone in the dorm on Christmas Eve? Hasn’t anyone invited you home?” asked a familiar voice.
“Hi Abby... I’m ah, studying… and, well, everyone had plans”, said Jane.
“Well, I wonder if you’d be willin’ to help us bake dinner tonight at the mission. Mrs. Colbert sprang her ankle, and since its Christmas Eve we’re expectin’ a large crowd. Sorry to impose on ya’like this, but…”
All at once the Bible passage Jane studied that morning came to mind, how that if she would seek first God’s kingdom all these things would be added.”
“Sure” said Jane.
“Great! My brother Luke’s home, I’ll just send him over to pick you up, as soon as he gets the potato dishes from Mrs. Colbert’s. I’ve had the turkeys roasting for hours. When you get here we’ll just put together the bread, the cranberry relish and green-bean casseroles!” said Abby.
Later there was a knock at the door. “Sorry,” said Luke glancing at his watch. “I had a house call to make. You know Mrs. Colbert sprang her ankle.”
“Yes,” said Jane, “but I didn’t know you were a doctor. I’ll be a doctor this spring you know,” said Jane. “We get our robes in May.” Jane smiled faintly, aware of Luke’s dropped jaw.
“Mmm, does that smell good!” said Jane. “It reminds me of mother’s potato dish she always made for Christmas dinner.”
“Abby told me about your family,” said Luke. I’m so sorry.”
A tear slid down Jane’s cheek, “Thank you Luke. Now, what happened to Mrs. Colbert?”
Luke looked over at Jane softly, “Mrs. Colbert was loading her car with food when she slipped on some ice.”
“I’m glad she wasn’t hurt worse”, said Jane.
Luke looked at Jane and drove the rest of the way silently.
“It’s about time you got here,” said Abby as she helped the two carry in the heavy casseroles. They set the dishes promptly in the oven and set to work.
“I didn’t know your brother was a doctor,” said Jane stirring a huge bowl of fresh cranberry-orange relish.
Abby looked up from making a large tray of green-bean casserole. “Yes, he has a practice in Chattanooga. Did you two talk much on the way over?”
“He knows I’m graduating this spring if that’s what you mean,” said Jane, adding the flour to the pumpkin bread mix and stirring so rapidly the flour rose in a little puff.
Abby smiled meaningfully as she carefully set her casserole in the oven, making room for Jane’s breads. “Well, that’s the last of it.”
Jane looked around. “Where’s Luke?”
“He runs a clinic out of my office when he’s here. I’m sure he’d appreciate your help. The women’s league from church will be here to serve.”
When the tables were set, turkey and trimmings out Jane sought out the clinic. Walking up the creaky wooden stairway, past the long line of patients which wound down the hallway and in to Abby’s office, she found Luke, wrapping a just-set broken arm.
“Hi,” Luke said with a light in his eyes. “Would you like to triage?”
“Sure doc,” said Jane. “And I’ll take care of the patients with minor needs and send the hard cases your way.”
“Precisely,” said Luke gazing a little longer into Jane’s eyes then necessary.
All too quick the patients disappeared.
“Any plans for Christmas?” Luke asked as his car tires plowed through winter wonderland.”
Jane looked away, “I had better study. Finals will be here sooner than you know it and…”
The gentle touch of Luke’s hand on hers stopped her words.
“I hope you don’t think I’m forward. But I’d like to be your brother just now… and then, if you want… more. I’m headed for Africa this spring and well… would you like to spend Christmas day with my family?”
Jane smiled and a little spark of Christmas cheer sprang into her heart.
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