Camping for Christmas

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Chapter 4

Dinner was simple, but delicious and filling. It was fun to roast their own hot dogs around the fire and to converse with the church members. Emily had no idea what time it was; in her worry over getting Rylan something to eat, she had left her phone at her tent. She usually wore a watch, but it had broken while she was packing up the car at their condo to go camping. It was oddly freeing not to be controlled by the time or her devices.

“Are you ready to head back to your campsite?” A familiar voice asked her.

It was Ranger Hicks! How had he got there?

He must have seen the confusion on Emily’s face when she turned around.

“We always patrol all the campsite trails around the clock to make sure everyone is okay. Camping can be dangerous,” he explained. “I’m taking first watch while Ranger Ogle gets some sleep. I’ll show you the way back, if you’re ready.”

Rylan would have talked to the other campers all night, but Emily could tell they were ready for bed.

“Lead the way,” she told Ranger Hicks.

On the way back, Michael tried to talk to Emily about the stars, but it wasn’t going so well.

“Over there is Orion’s Belt,” he pointed vaguely up and then realized it was too cloudy to see. Embarrassed, he backtracked “I guess it is a little cloudy tonight. You can’t really see it.”

Emily wanted to change the subject, stargazing was a little too romantic for her taste.

“Good thing it wasn't cloudy the night Jesus was born!” She joked.

Surprised, Michael answered, “Yeah, that might have made things difficult for the wise men. God really knows what he’s doing. Are you a Christian?”

This was the first time Emily had indicated she might be religious. It made Michael feel more hopeful. He would much rather discuss Jesus than the stars. He only knew enough about astronomy to pass his ranger test.

“I am, but we don’t attend church regularly or anything,” Emily began to feel more uncomfortable. Maybe the stars were a better topic.

Thankfully, they reached her campsite so the ranger didn’t have much opportunity to press the subject further. Rylan was already half asleep.

They bid each other a goodnight and he went back to his rounds. Emily snuggled up in her sleeping bag with Rylan and thought about how nice it felt to hold her little girl close.

There was something nagging in the back of her mind. What was it?

They had eaten a lovely dinner, and-
That’s it! Dinner!

The cooler!

She would have to ask the rangers about that tomorrow.
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