Love Finds You in North Pole, AlaskaBy: Loree Lough
He hung his baseball cap on the hook behind the door as she added, “And when you’re finished with that, get busy writing a want ad.” Almost as an afterthought, she tacked on, “’Cause I’m leavin’ next week whether you have help or not. Got it?”
“If anybody answers it, will you do the interviews?”
Olive harrumphed. “ ‘If,’ the biggest little word in the English language.”
As Bryce headed for the back room, he envisioned the first line of the ad: WANTED: PART-TIME MANAGER. Just don’t send me a woman, Lord, he prayed, because of all the things Bryce didn’t need right now, yet another heartache topped the list.
Squinting, Sam adjusted the visor to cut the sun’s glare. If only her rowdy brothers could see her now, steering a twenty-five-foot RV down a major highway with the skill of a professional semi driver.
They’d given her a hard time on Easter Sunday, when the family had gathered at her parents’ house for dinner. Scott, the eldest, had dropped his fork when she announced her plans.
“Are you crazy?” he’d asked. Then right on down the table it went, with Seth, Shane, Steve, Spence, and Stu nodding like a row of bobble-heads. Only her youngest brother—named Bill when her mom had run out of S names—had given Sam a thumbs-up.
“Dad,” Scott had implored, “talk some sense into her!”
“Don’t look at me,” the family patriarch had said. “She’s more stubborn than your mother. When she makes up her mind to do something…”
Sam had read all about the candy-cane-striped lampposts and fire hydrants that decorated North Pole, but seeing them in person as she rolled into town nearly took her breath away. An excited giggle escaped her throat as she slowed to gaze at the gigantic Santa statue. In Sam’s mind, this was the perfect place to settle down.
From the day in second grade art class when she’d created her very first Nativity card, Sam had always felt an intense passion for Christmas. It had been Sam who’d roused the Sinclair family’s holiday spirit every year by decorating the house. She’d have started the day school began in August, if her mom would have allowed it, but she curbed her enthusiasm by beginning on Thanksgiving night. By the time she’d turned twelve, her dad had put the brakes on the ornaments and garlands Sam bought with her babysitting money.
“You’ve filled every nook and cranny in the house with doodads and knickknacks,” he’d told her. “If this keeps up, we’ll become known as ‘That Crazy Christmas Family’!”
When she got a place of her own, Sam quickly filled the basement of her townhouse with snowflake-decorated boxes of Christmas adornments. Selling them to make the move to Alaska had been one of the hardest things she’d ever done.
The whole mess surrounding her move faded from memory as she drank in the sights. She’d have more than enough time to muse about it once she settled in at her new job.
Thoughts of running her own kitchen energized her despite the dozen hours she’d spent behind the wheel. She had worked long and hard, earning her bachelor’s degree in culinary arts, and growing up the only girl among seven siblings had helped her develop traits her classmates envied, such as leadership skills and a natural ability to make and maintain peace.
Two years as the assistant chef at a popular Baltimore eatery whetted her appetite for bigger, better things, and after much thought and prayer, Sam began a serious search for a kitchen of her own. When she found nothing in the area to suit her background or her dreams, she paid a visit to church and fired a heartfelt plea heavenward, asking God to lead her to the place and the work He thought best fit His plans for her life.
As it turned out, the Lord made His will known in the dentist’s office, as Sam watched a home and garden show on the fuzzy screen of the TV affixed to the reception room’s ceiling. When the program featured an annual ice sculpture festival in North Pole, Alaska, it was all she could do to tear her eyes from the glittering pictures when the hygienist called her name. Then, while waiting for the doctor to give his final approval to her newly shined molars and bicuspids, Sam paged through a travel magazine and nearly squealed out loud when colorful photos of the town leapt from its center pages.
Sam couldn’t wait to get home and type “North Pole, Alaska” into her computer’s search engine. Item after item popped up, each making her more certain that God wanted her there. She didn’t question why the Lord would invite a girl who’d never been a fan of cold weather to a place like this. But if He wanted her in North Pole, then her new motto would be “Alaska, here I come!”
And now, as she turned off the motor, the excitement that had been building during the long trip to her new home threatened to flag her as a wet-behind-the-ears youngster—the last image Sam wanted to project when meeting her boss for the first time! So she darted into the back end of the RV for a quick change of clothes and some fresh makeup, praying the entire time that Mr. Edmunds would recognize, as they talked, that she only looked younger than her twenty-six years. Grinning as she fluffed her curls, Sam told her reflection, “Doesn’t matter what he thinks today, because tomorrow—and every day after that—you’ll show him what you’re capable of!”