Once upon a time, there were three sisters who lived among the rolling hills of a faraway land. The Bradford sisters were, in fact, identical triplets. They caused quite the stir when they entered the world twenty-five years ago one wintry night. The town had never seen such beautiful babies and to have three at once! Their birth was declared a miracle as the last one was born just as the clock struck twelve on Christmas Eve.
Elizabeth, the eldest and considered the brightest was a tenured professor at the university teaching Economics. Catherine, the middle child, was blessed with great sex appeal. Although all the girls had long flaxen hair, pale blue eyes, and beautiful, shapely bodies, Catherine was the runway model, and she could charm the pants off any man—literally. Finally, there was Alexandra, or Alex, as she preferred to be called. She was the youngest, and though accomplished in her own right, she couldn’t be more different than her sisters. Her dad called her his “free spirited” daughter.
Alex was infinitely creative and always open to trying new things. In her late teens, she played guitar in a band and became good enough to perform at respected venues, but she soon tired of the scene and left the band on the eve of their debut tour. Next, she took up photography and excelled at it. Her landscapes were featured in National Geographic with a sold-out show in Paris. When other galleries came calling, she suddenly decided she’d had it with taking pictures and sold all her camera equipment. Her latest venture was baking, and she quickly became successful at it. Her “delectable edibles,” as she called them were sold to local businesses, and she had difficulty keeping up with the demand. She had started baking purely on a whim (like everything else she did), and now her kitchen resembled a baking factory.
* * * *
“Honestly, Alex, why don’t you open up your own shop?” Catherine said, as she sat on the couch wrapping presents. She and Elizabeth had come by to exchange gifts and to pick up Alex en route their parents’ house for Christmas Eve dinner.
“I like baking in my own kitchen. Besides, I don’t want to become a storeowner. I sell to shops and restaurants, and that’s fine for now.” Alex carefully stacked colorful cupcakes, brownies, and cookies on a giant crystal platter, creating a pyramid shape. Next she set the platter atop cellophane, wrapped the arrangement, and finally secured it with a bright red bow at the top.
“That looks amazing,” Elizabeth said. “You know Bill is going to die when he sees those brownies!” Bill was her fiancé and had quite the sweet tooth—it showed.
“I’ve made boxes for each of you to take home,” Alex said, “so tell Bill to hold back tonight! This is just enough for everyone who’s going to be there for dinner.”
And what a dinner it would be. Each year it seemed there were more and more guests. Between her immediate family and their cousins’ families, her parents also invited some of their friends and neighbors. That was the wonderful thing about where they lived (in this faraway land), nobody ever had to spend Christmas alone.
Alex finished packing more of her goodies into tins as her sisters gathered bags of presents and piled them by the door.
“We’re going to load up the car,” Catherine said, slipping on her boots. “Good thing Larry has a big truck!
“Ha! You’ve always loved men with big trucks,” Alex said.
“Well … he has a brother with a truck too if you’re interested.” And with that, Catherine swung open the front door and a cold gust blasted her in the face. She grabbed two parcels in each hand and headed outside.
“Hurry up, Alex!” Elizabeth yelled while balancing the dessert platter in her hands. “It’s starting to snow.”
“I’ll be out in a minute, just tidying up.” Alex grabbed a dish towel and wiped the flour-caked counter. She was happy Elizabeth had Bill, and Catherine had … well, she always had several men on the go. “Larry with the big truck” would be another in a long line of men who had graced their family Christmas table, and unlikely to be the last. Alex, on the other hand, never brought a date. She didn’t need it with the pressure of the holidays, especially when her family worried that she never made time for anyone in her life. Alex preferred creative conquests and baking had been the biggest challenge yet. She’d been waiting three years (a long time for her to be doing the same thing) to receive affirmation that it was what she was meant to do with her life. She was beginning to wonder if she’d ever get a sign. Tonight was another chance to find out.
Setting aside any pessimistic thoughts, she gave one final look toward the kitchen before stepping out into the cold.
* * * *
Alex opened the door to her house and dropped the bags of gifts she had received. The dinner was a huge success, as usual, with enough food to feed a small village. Her mom even sent her home with leftover turkey to make sandwiches. She was just happy to be home now and looked forward to getting out of her dress. As she walked by the kitchen toward her bedroom, the sweet smell of cinnamon filled her nostrils.
Alex stopped in her tracks and gasped. The mug she had left next to the pot of apple cider had been moved, and the plate of cookies on the counter was now bare, save for a few crumbs. She ran to her desk and flipped open her laptop, signing into her e-mail. With bated breath, she read the note she’d been wishing for.
| Dear Alexandra,
Thank you for inviting me into your home. The past couple of years have been extremely busy traveling the world for the children, so my apologies for not visiting sooner.
After hearing all the wonderful things about your baking, I knew I had to make a special trip. The cookies were as you described—exquisite, and the cider really hit the spot!
I appreciate your continued belief in me at a time when so few believe anymore. You have a true gift to see the world through a child’s eyes, and I hope you never lose that wonderment for all that life has to offer.
From that day forward … Alex baked happily ever after.
~ The End ~
*A special message for my readers*
No matter what you believe in at this time of year, I wish you peace, health, and happiness. All my very best to you and those you love this holiday season,