Christmas 1960. A bleak, un-Christmasy year. My mother died at the end of May in an automobile accident in the midst of our move to Gary, Indiana where we were strangers. We had family there but I felt disconnected and lonely. It wasn’t Christmas without my mother and our own family rituals. I did not like snow and cold weather when it wasn’t a novelty. I didn’t like the schools. I didn’t like the teachers or neighbors. Most of all I didn’t like the kids that made fun of my soft, gentle Arizona accent.
My grandmother was living with us, keeping the house together, cooking and cleaning. She noticed that I felt left out. One day, she gave me a miracle. It was the miracle of belonging.
She invited me into her bedroom and shut the door. On her bed, heaps of wrapping paper, bows and boxes overflowed. Shopping bags on the floor bulged with any number of secrets and surprises.
“I need a helper,” she confided, “so that I will be ready for Christmas, but it must be a very special helper—one who can keep secrets no matter what the cost. Would you like to be my helper?”
My heart squeezed tight within my chest. Absolutely positively! She patiently taught me how to wrap presents, cut the paper, miter the corners, remove the price tags, mark the names on the gift tags… Looking back, I know she could have wrapped them in half the time it took to teach me, but oh! what a gift she gave me when she trusted me to keep her secrets. For several years, on and off, I wrapped her Christmas gifts. It was my contribution. It meant that I belonged.
Grandmother is gone now. Every Christmas as I wrap presents, I use every skill that she taught me, including her most important one: to look around and notice the person on the fringes of the family celebration and draw them into the heart of the family by allowing them a “special” responsibility.
As my children grew up, each traveled through the “lonelies”—times when they were on the outside looking in. I tried to take care to ask them to serve in a “special” capacity. Individually, they decorated the tree or house, wrapped presents, shopped for the whole family, baked cookies, assembled toys that were labeled “no assembly required.” Each year Grandmother’s legacy lingers in the memory and in the heart.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Five Faithful Companions!
Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.
Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners. The prizes –1st prize--6 books2nd prize--4 books3rd prize--2 books
Entries must be in by December 21st at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.
Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves
Yesterday on the Saga, Amarinda left me in the lurch with...
“I suppose you want it as well?” She chewed her cheesy snack thoughtfully.
“You know me Maudie, I’m always up for treasure.”
Maud pinged a Cheeto at a man who was leering at her. “I’ll tell you what, you announce to the bar your true identity and if you can get out of here alive then I’ll give you the key.” Maud smirked at her mischievously.
Oh crap. Emmeline knew her true identity would kill her.
She also left me with a terrible craving for Cheetos. But revenge is sweet isn't it?
“Well,” Maud speculated, “I suppose you don’t really need that key after all.”
“You are a witch, Maudie Crabapple. A dyed in the wool witch.”
“Yeah? And?” Maudie asked indifferently. “What of it? At least I’m not the secret Mistress of--"
“Romantic Erotica!” Maudie finished triumphantly. “Hey, guys! Emmeline is really Melody Valentine, an erotic romance writer!”
A shocked silence fell over the Gutted Frog. Then Beaky jumped down from the table where he’d been holding forth and trotted over to Emmeline. “Hey, Emmie! Are you really Melody Valentine? Will you autograph my copy of The Naked Menage?”
Another filthy pirate rushed up with his grimy dog-eared copy of Two Lovers in a Hot Tub. “Here! Sign mine! I love this book.”
Emmeline stared down at the battered book in wonder, but declined to touch it. Who knew where that book had been? “Eh, how would you like a new copy?” she asked hopefully. “I’ll sign it especially for you.”
“Oh, wow…” the pirate declared gustily with beer laden breath. “That would be fabulous.”
In a flash, the bar patrons were jostling for space in a ragged line that ran around the room. “Me!”
“Hey, no shoving!”
“No cutting in line!”
Emmeline stuck two fingers in her mouth and whistled shrilly. There was instant silence. “If you don’t behave, there will be no autographs,” she said sternly. “Now someone clean a table and chair for me. Do you think I want to sit in some puddle of ale?”
Stop by Kelly's Place and Amarinda's Report for some more excellent reading!
http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ and http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/
Blessings on your day!