Hello and welcome to the Joys of the Season blog hop! Loads of wonderful authors will offer their holiday memories and stories for your enjoyment…as well as prizes! Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter contest for a chance to win a copy of my romantic suspense Whirlwind Romance and other gifts.
When I was young our Christmases were full of ritual, joy, food, and family. We lived in a Victorian house with fifteen-foot ceilings. The dining room had a bow window that looked out on the sour cherry trees that lined the drive to the old stable. Back then tall Christmas trees were affordable even on a small income, so we filled the alcove with trees reminiscent of the one that grows in the Nutcracker.
The Foreigner tells the story of a strange being who brings the joy back into a family’s jaded Christmas. It's based in part on my favorite Christmases as a child. I wrote it many years ago. Here is an excerpt.
Excerpt: Christmas Past
The dream was filmy, like a sequence from Balanchine’s version of the Nutcracker. I floated a few feet above the action, watching as the perfect Christmas unfolded. In the kitchen my grandmother directed the basting of the turkey. Hannah, the cook stirred the corn pudding in the open fireplace of my grandparents’ Colonial-era house, while my mother chopped cranberries in the Cuisinart (nobody ever said dreams couldn’t be anachronistic). The Vienna Boys Choir sang softly outside the window. Their open upturned mouths spluttered now and then when snowflakes lodged in their throats.
My father was there, and Uncle Ed—both fresh from tennis and cheerfully shouting for hot buttered rum. In his study my grandfather sat at his desk (as he does in all my pictures), but I noticed from my vantage point that he was sneaking Christmas candy from a bottom drawer.
I floated from the kitchen (an amalgam of my grandmother’s colonial open hearth and the Victorian one of my youth) to the living room, where the remains from Christmas stockings were scattered about—tangerines under chairs, a squished chocolate reindeer, a broken candy cane. I could hear scurrying around upstairs and children calling down, asking whether they could come yet or not. At last came the booming voice of Uncle Ed. “Christmas is served!”
I floated up out of the way just in time. My son Oliver sand my brother Tad shoved each other down the staircase. Oliver, being taller and thinner, squeezed past my brother. It seemed perfectly natural that they be the same age. Then came my sister Jane, pulling my daughter Rosie (dressed as usual in black), down the stairs. I joined them in the living room, brought up short by a commanding hand. My father looked us over, pronounced us adequate, and dramatically rolled open the French doors in the dining room.
Everyone stood frozen as I downloaded memories into the dream. Of course, there was no question which Christmas I would use. I had been about ten, and when the doors opened there was the desk on which I wanted to write so desperately. Behind it leaned the bike I so desperately wanted to ride. And millions and millions of presents for everybody. Oh, but in this dream, I also saw the red rocking horse behind the fifteen-foot tree, the one I’d sneaked down to see at age three…but that had been in a different house, longer ago—hadn’t it? And wasn’t that the electric train Tad had asked for when he was seven? He would go on to build a 200-square-foot country for it. And Jane’s record player—the first in the family. Rosie started toward the presents but Daddy shooed her away. He would dole out the presents one by one, in order of age. I thought in passing that this might be more difficult than usual considering the mixed generations, but decided not to worry about it.
Rosie came first, then Tad. As the presents were handed round, I watched comfortably. I had begun to understand the dream and was happily living out the mishmash of perfect Christmases, when the scene changed.
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