Having checked all the likely places, I stood in the middle of our bedroom, and stroked my beard as I turned in a circle to see every corner of the room. “What did I do with my green suspenders?”
Becoming more desperate, I got down to look under the bed and only found Anya’s trunk. I wondered, “Could she have put them in there?”
Opening it, I did not see my suspenders; however, I noticed a packet of old mail tied with a red ribbon. “What’s this?” I thought aloud. Picking up the bundle, I sat on the bed, untied the bow, and began to read one.
My Dearest Anya,
It has been far too long since we last saw one another. I miss your company and hope that you will be visiting your cousin soon…
“Um hum! Find something interesting?”
Surprised, I looked at Ms. Claus and then back to the letters on my lap. “I was looking for my green suspenders and came across these,” I finally said.
Anya walked over and sat next to me on the bed. “You wrote to me often before we were married. I like reading them from time to time. I can’t believe that next year it will be 200 years since we met.”
“Without your cousin, that might never have happened,” I chuckled.
Anya’s cousin, Jonathan, became one of my J.A.T.S. (Jolly Assistants to Santa) in 1815. He accumulated a large fortune as a ship builder and helped me expand the toy-making production at the North Pole.
“Jonathan always had a big heart and liked doing things for people without them knowing,” remarked Anya, as she laid her head on my shoulder. “I always thought that he believed we were a good match and arranged for us to meet without suspecting his intentions.”
“Ho! Ho! Ho! You are so right. He never admitted to anything. As I recall, he needed someone to pick up his cousin at the railroad station that day and asked me to help.”
* * * * * *
Arriving early, I found a place to tie up the horse and buggy. When the train pulled into the station, I dashed towards the platform. Watching as the passengers exited, I carefully looked for a slender woman with blue eyes and dark- brown hair, carrying a small red bag.
“You must be Nicholas von Klaus,” a woman behind me said. As I turned to see who it was, she continued, “From Jonathan’s description, I’d know you anywhere.”
Shocked, I took off my hat and bowed slightly. Noticing her red bag, I smiled. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Broughton.” Then I offered her my arm and escorted Jonathan’s cousin to the buggy. After seating her in front, I put the trunk in the back. “I hope you don’t mind riding with the wind in your hair,” I said beaming. “Fortunately, we have no rain today.”
“That’s good because I have no umbrella,” she chuckled. “Besides, I love riding with the driver in an open buggy. I can see everything.”
I tapped the reins, and the horse responded moving the carriage away from the station. Focusing on the road ahead, I thought how women often liked to be pampered, but Miss Broughton appeared to be more adventurous, and I liked that.
“Since we have a bit of a ride ahead of us, allow me to explain how your cousin and I know one another.”
“Oh, Jonathan has written so much about you to me that I feel I already know you, Mister von Klaus,” she remarked before I could begin. “Besides, please call me Anya, and I hope you will give me permission to call you Nicholas.”
Her straightforward manner made me grin as I flicked the reins to encourage the horse to pick up his pace. “Certainly,” I finally responded. “Nicholas and Anya it is.”
Sharing stories about our backgrounds and families, we commented on how enjoyable the ride was. Rounding a curve in the road, Anya let out a squeal of delight. “What a beautiful lake. Could we stop for a short walk?”
“I’d like that,” I replied nodding. Helping her down from the buggy, I remarked, “You seem to enjoy the outdoors.”
“Always,” she replied and picked up her pace as she made her way to the dark, bluish green lake.
Standing on the shoreline, we began admiring the beautiful water lilies when the sound of someone crying startled us. Cautiously walking around a huge willow tree, we saw a young boy and girl sitting on a rock at the edge of the lake, sobbing.
“What seems to be the problem?” I asked.
Sadly, the young girl explained, “Our dog Curly got away from us to chase a rabbit. Now we can’t find her.”
“We’ve been calling her name for a long time,” the boy continued, “but she hasn’t come back.”
“You look worried,” Anya responded as she knelt in front of them, holding their hands to comfort them. “Would you like us to help?”
Both children quickly nodded. “Thanks,” the boy said. “I’m William and this is my sister Julia.”
“I’m Anya and this is Nicholas,” she told the children. “I’m sure together we can find your pet. If you two go around the lake to the north,” Anya said pointing to her right, “we’ll look for her along the lake to the south.”
Splitting into two groups, the four of us began to call for Curly. While Anya searched along the lake, I checked the bushes on the hillside. Thinking about how compassionate, patient, and encouraging she had been to the children, I murmured, “She would fit right in at the North Pole.”
Suddenly I heard a splash and turned around to see Anya make her way towards a very wet dog whose leg was caught in a tangle of water lilies in a small cove.
Watching her carefully untangle the young hound, I called out, “Need some help?” No sooner had I said that, then the pup jumped into Anya’s arms, squirming with delight. Knocked off balance, Anya fell backwards and landed half in and out of the water.
Unable to control myself, I began to laugh. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” Realizing how inconsiderate I sounded, I quickly controlled myself. “Sorry,” I said reaching the cove. “Let me help you.” Extending my hand to help Anya, I heard the children behind me yell, “Curly!” Bolting toward her owners, the dog rushed by me bumping my leg. Losing my balance I fell into the water.
“Now who needs the help,” chuckled Anya as she scooped up her dress over her left arm and stood above me offering her right hand.
* * * * * *
“I’m not sure who laughed the loudest, you, me or the children. But I do know that my cousin was shocked when we finally arrived- late, wet, and smiling. What a wonderful memory,” giggled Anya, giving me a hug.
“I think that’s when I began to fall in love with you,” I remarked, kissing her cheek. “When we married on Valentine’s Day in 1824, my life was complete.”
“As was mine. Your letters remind me of the good times we had during our courtship,” my wife responded as she re-tied the ribbon around the packet. “Oh, and by the way,” she added, returning the love notes to her trunk. “I found your suspenders on the floor and put them on the hook attached to the back of the door. Maybe if you put your things away, you would know where they are,” Anya said grinning.
Notes From Santa
I hope you enjoyed today’s story. I will post another one next Monday. If you have any comments or if there is something you would like me to tell you about, please feel free to leave me a comment. Until next week . . .
To read more about the J.A.T.S. please check out:
To read more about Ms. Claus please check out:
With A Little Help From My Friends – July 1, 2019
Ms. Claus Gets Some Help – November 11, 2019
Sensitive Letters – November 18, 2019
A Gift For The Elves – February 24, 2020
The Great Cookie Bakeoff – July 6, 2020
Ms. Claus Gets The Blues – November 23, 2020
A Surprise For Santa – December 7, 2020
I Think We Can – February 1, 2021
A Surprise For Bernard – March 1, 2021
Special Stuffed Animals – April 12, 2021
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