Thursday, August 18, 2005

More on meeting Mrs. Claus (part 2)

“Do we tell her to stay away,” Peter asked.

“No, she is only taking a little honey,” I said. “I wonder what she does with it?”

I found out a few days later.

Peter and I had to go into Kringlesburg. We needed to buy a few things. I also wanted to measure the need there, the first town in the area we would try to help.

I visited the town’s Catholic Church to say a few prayers, and to find out when the Masses were.

I noticed with satisfaction that the church was clean and well-kept, but simple. There was a beautiful carved wooden statue of the Holy Family – something I had rarely seen. There were a few other nice carved statues in the church as well.

A woman was visiting the church at the same time I was. As she left, I hurried out after her.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I couldn’t help notice the lovely statues in the church. Where did they come from?”

“They come from the baker and his family,” she said. “He and his boys like to carve.”

“They are quite nice,” I said.

“The baker is good,” the woman said. “His oldest son, Nicholas is very good.”

I smiled. “Nicholas?”

“Yes, after the holy bishop who helps children,” she said.

I thanked her, and thought I would try to find this baker.

It was easy.

I walked down the main street. I passed a side street, and saw just a few shops down it a beautiful carved statue of a woman with a bird perched on her finger.
I recognized the woman immediately.

I walked to the statue, and entered the bakery it stood outside.

The smell of fresh bread washed over my face.

I took a deep breath.

I looked at all the loaves of bread and rolls on shelves.

I also noticed a number of carved statues.

A man who made me look thin (!) stepped out from the back room.

“May I help you?”

“Yes,” I said. “I wanted some bread. Four loaves.”

I pointed to the shelf behind him.

He turned and got four loaves and put them on the counter. I sniffed them.

I nodded to him in appreciation.

Smiling, he said in a friendly way, ”New in town? Or traveling through?”

“Here for a while. I bought a place just outside of town along the road to Nielfink.”

“Ah, the old Muenster farm. He was a good man. All his children died before he did, so there was no one to help keep up the farm. It’s sad when a man’s children die before he does. Not right.”

“True,” I said. “Do you have children?

He laughed heartily. ”Do I have children? Ten of them.”

“Ten? No wonder you have to bake so much bread.”

“Yes, I am lucky. Everyone needs bread, so I am able to keep food on our own table. The famine is hurting so many families.”

“How do people pay in these hard times,” I asked.

“Well. Some can’t. But they are neighbors and friends. Enough do to keep me going.”

“What happens with the ones who can’t pay?”

“Oh, they will. Some day. Or with what they can do. I never have to worry about wood for my ovens. Or wild game from the forest. They do the best they can. And if they can’t, well, God never asked to be paid.”

“Amen,” I said. “You are a good man.”

“I am a baker. Now, are you one of those who can pay, or do we need to work out an arrangement?”

I took out my coin purse. “I have money.”

I counted out much more than the bread cost.

“I can’t make change for that,” he said.

“Then consider it a payment in advance.”

I pointed to one of the statues.

“I understand you carve as well.”

“Oh, a little. My boys are better.”

“I couldn’t help but notice the statue out front.”

“My son Nicholas did that. It’s of my oldest daughter.”

He turned to the back room and called, “Anna Kristina.”

She came out. It was she. Her eyes flashed. My heart fluttered.

“This is my Anna,” he said. “She helps here in the shop.”

“A pleasure to meet you,” I said. “My name is Nicholas.”

She smiled broadly. “Like my brother.”

Her voice sounded as musical when she spoke as when she sang.

“Yes,” I said. “It’s a name my parents liked.”

“I am glad to meet you,” she said. “But without being rude, I need to leave.”

“Are all the loaves ready?” the baker said.

“Yes, I just put the last in the basket when you called.”

The baker nodded. Anna Kristina looked at me and flashed a beautiful smile.

“Until we meet again, God be with you,” she said.

She went into the back room. I saw her pick up a basket full of bread, wrap herself in a red shawl, and go out the back door.

I looked at the baker.

“She is delivering bread to the convent. The good sisters take in orphans. There are so many children without parents these days.”

“It is a hard time for children,” I said. “I take it that you have an arrangement with the sisters.”

“The best. They pray for my eternal soul. That’s better than gold.”

“Amen,” I found myself saying again. Twice in one conversation. But he inspired that.

So did she.

“Does she just take them bread?”

“Oh, no,” he said. “Sometimes she makes them honey cakes if it’s a special day like a birthday or a feast day. And toys that my boys and I have made.”


I took my bread and left.

An orphanage to check into.

But that was not the only thing on my mind.


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