Welcome to you both. Please introduce yourselves.
MANNY: Hello. My name is Manuel Blair, but folks call me Manny.
ABBY: Hi, I’m Abby. This handsome example of manhood is my husband.
I overheard you both talking about babies a moment ago. May I assume you have children of your own now?
ABBY: Yes. Thank God we made it through that period. Being “in the family way” was horrible for me. I think I was sick every single day for six solid months. It was a rough time, but Manny was my rock.
MANNY: I tried to help as much as I could. I felt so helpless watching her suffer so. Didn’t seem like there was much I could do for her except make her tea to soothe her stomach.
ABBY: Blech. If I never drink another mug of ginger tea again in my life, it’ll be too soon.
I can understand how scared you must have both been. Bearing children is not an easy task in the year of 1868.
MANNY: Besides Abby’s sickness, I was dealing with some old feelings of insecurity that showed back up once fatherhood loomed. I lost my dad when I was five, so I didn’t have an example to follow. No mentor to show me the ropes. I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. Lucky for us, Gabe showed up one day when I was chopping wood and offered to help. He stuck around and helped me complete the construction of the extra room on the house. I don’t know if I could’ve done it all on my own.
ABBY: You didn’t need to build that room. We would’ve managed without it.
MANNY: I wanted the best for you. And being able to bathe in a tub instead of a small bucket certainly made things easier for you. Plus, you didn’t have to tramp outside in the freezing sleet of February to use an outhouse. Admit it, Abby. The extra room was a good idea.
ABBY: You’re right. It was a good idea. And I’m glad Gabe was there to help us both. He turned out to have some hidden skills.
Sounds like Gabe has a story of his own. I can’t wait to hear more. So, Christmas ended up being a good time for your new family?
ABBY: Very good. We are so blessed. Christmas this year turned out to have more surprise gifts than ever in my life. And all of them were perfect. God showed us once again that he always has his eye on us and will never leave us.
MANNY: Right. A gift doesn’t necessarily come in a box. Sometimes, the best gifts of all are relationships.
What an awesome concept. I think we would all be happier if we focused more on the intangible gifts in our lives.
A fifth-generation Texan, Paula Peckham graduated from the University of Texas in Arlington and taught math at Burleson High School for 19 years. She and her husband, John, divide their time between their home in Burleson and their casita in Rio Bravo, Mexico. Her debut novel, Protected, was an ACFW Genesis semi-finalist in 2020. She also writes short stories, novellas, and poems.
She has contributions in the 2021 release Christmas Love Through the Ages, and Texas Heirloom Ornament.
She will take on the job of president of ACFW DFW in January, 2022, leaving the job of treasurer, and is a member of Unleashing the Next Chapter.
She has spoken at ACFW, Unleashing the Next Chapter, and the Carrollton League of Writers. For more about Paula and her books, follow her at paulapeckham.com.