It really wasn’t until last night that it dawned on me why decorating the tree is one of my favorite activities. My teenager, for whom high-tech is a watchword, looked at the tree and said, “Why do you keep all of these old ornaments? Why don’t you get some new ones?”
To which I replied, “Each one of those ornaments holds a memory.”
Sure, I have the requisite number of store-bought decorative balls, the ones that come in the packs of six or twelve, but along with that is the stuffed elf that’s nestled amidst the branches because its hanger has long since disappeared—the very first ornament I received at the age of five. In another spot is a small black horse with a “real” mane and tail. I purchased that during a trip to a botanical garden and zoo when I was six. There are ornaments to commemorate pets, and ornaments that my son made in elementary school. There is an angel my father-in-law gave me that has a tag proclaiming “Class of 1937.” Each year when I put it in a prominent spot near the top of the tree, I remember the man who would slip me “a spot of money, just in case you want to make a pie and need to buy some apples.”
I still smile when I think about that.
My tree might not look like an interior decorator designed it. It certainly doesn’t have any “theme” to it—unless you count the memories of loved ones past and present—and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So last year, when I decided to write a Christmas story, I wanted to touch on themes that matter to me. In this case, a man raising money for charity for all the wrong reasons, and a woman scrambling for money for all the right reasons. That’s how Santa’s Helper, my holiday release from The Wild Rose Press, evolved.
Jack and Merry meet while he’s ringing the bell outside a mall after losing a bet, and she’s rushing in to a part-time job as a Santa’s elf, trying to provide some kind of Christmas for her young son.
Here’s an excerpt from Santa’s Helper:
Merry sipped her coffee and angled her head at him. “You know, the first night I saw you, you didn’t look like the bell ringer type. And even though you’ve changed out of the fancy clothes, you still don’t look the type. How did you end up doing it…and doing it every night?”
Jack laughed. “I lost a bet with my employees and had to take over all their shifts.”
He watched in fascination as color stained her creamy cheeks. “Well, I’m glad. I’ve liked being able to bring you coffee and getting to know you.”
“I have another week, Merry.”
Her eyes widened. Was that hope he saw there? Gladness? “You do?”
He nodded before touching the delicate skin inside her wrist. “I want to kiss you. Will you let me?”
He watched her hesitate, and then she nodded. He smiled and scooped the last bit of brownie and ice
cream. “Here. It’s yours.” Her eyes held his as she slid the sweet from the spoon. Jack dropped the spoon into the bowl. “Let’s go,” he growled.
Santa’s Helper is available from The Wild Rose Press. You can also find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I’d love to hear some of your holiday memories. Leave a comment. You can also check out my website: www.laurabrowningbooks.com for a look at some of my other releases. Most of all – I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.