Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas with the Navy

It snowed yesterday (and all night) where I live. That's a picture taken last evening. Our first snow this year.

It seemed particularly appropriate as my Final Line Edits for my "Christmas" book, Winter Hearts, arrived today. Since it's coming 12/12 from Ellora's Cave, I was getting a tad nervous. Snow lightly drifting down outside while I listened to Christmas Carols inside (Josh Groban's Noel album--yummm) and not too many corrections on the book. It made for a nice relaxing day.

Christmas 1992. My second son's graduation from Navy basic training at Great Lakes Naval Base was scheduled for December 23rd. Not the best time, was it? It had been a very rough year. Our youngest daughter’s behavior had finally reached the point where we knew that we could no longer parent her effectively. Heartbroken beyond hurt, we placed her in a boarding school for kids with behavior problems. Our son left for the Navy on October 7th. Our daughter was taken to the Family School on October 29th. In a few short weeks, our family shrunk by half. I bitterly missed both of them.

Christmas was upon us. It was too soon for our daughter to be permitted to come home for Christmas. We had to make the impossible decision. Would we attend our son’s graduation? Or would we spend Christmas at The Family with our daughter? After discussing it with the staff at The Family and with our daughter, we decided to go to our son’s graduation.

I made arrangements for us to stay with my brother and his family in Chicago. They graciously included us in their Christmas plans. J and D our two remaining children at home traveled with us as we drove to Chicago, providing company and distraction. My plan was to spend whatever time we could with our younger son.

The ceremony was solemn and impressive. My son wasn’t my son anymore. It was so strange. He sort of looked like my son, but he didn’t have enough hair. The beard was gone. He sort of sounded like my son, but the “Yes, sirs” and “Yes, ma’ams” were a bit odd. The ramrod straight bearing was amazing.

We were allowed to take him back to Chicago for a few hours, so we went to an Italian restaurant to celebrate his birthday, which passed in early December. His uncle and aunt bought him a balloon bouquet as a surprise. I can still see him stalking down the street afterward in his dress blues, straight backed, head held high, with the colorful balloon bouquet blowing all around him. It’s one of my favorite memories.

At his request we went to Gary for the family Christmas dinner. It was good. I needed the love and support of my extended family. There were many tears, pouring out at the oddest times, because our daughter wasn’t there. Carol singing was impossible for me, but I listened, inexplicably comforted by the old familiar words as I sat with J’s arm around me. The crying made me feel silly, but I couldn’t seem to stop. Then Aunt Mary gently reminded me that all of them understood grief and tears.

Time was too short. The days flew past and soon we had to give our son back to the Navy. We came home, marveling over the changes, touched by his abrupt maturity. It was a Christmas of extreme highs and lows, happiness and sadness, laughter and tears. It reminded me that Christmas isn’t about money and gifts. It isn’t about getting or giving. It’s about togetherness and love… the most precious thing we can have.

A miracle.


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 with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. Deadline for answers is December 21st at midnight EST.

There will be three lucky winners.
The prizes –1st prize--6 books

2nd prize--4 books

3rd prize--2 books

All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly from correct entries received.
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
JacquƩline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

Don't forget to stop by Amarinda's blog at for her take on Australian life and then hop over to Kelly's blog at for more on first kisses and today's episode of the Saga. Blessings on your day.


  1. well, I can't top that so I won't try to

  2. Well said, Anny:) Families and love...that's what it's all about:)

  3. Anny, sometimes your bravery makes me so sad. Can you throw a tantrum at least once? Please? Just so I know you aren't completely perfect?

  4. Kelly. That was back when the turkey exploded.

  5. Anny, knowing you and your children, it's easy to feel the pain you felt. You all weathered it well and are an incredibly strong, close family. It was a rough road but appears to have been worth it at last. You always say it so well.