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We have yet to trim the tree this Christmas. Every year we take out the ornament boxes and my children hang their favorites on the tree. Between Thanksgiving and December 25th, they each get a new ornament which we label with their name and the year. When they grow up and marry, we will wrap these special ornaments for them to hang on the Christmas tree in their own homes.
It's bittersweet as the ornament collection grows and the days pass quicker between each holiday. I couldn't pick a favorite. Each object holds a memory, of gingerbread men made, trips to the nearby Hallmark store, or even to Target to pick that year's special ornament. Paper decorations hang heavy with glitter and glue, gracing the tree along with the outlines of hands made into reindeer. These are my treasures, growing whispy with age...the ones not perfect enough to make the cut to be carried to new homes, but those that I will keep and hold close to my heart.
Enjoy an excerpt from my newest release A Christmas Coffee, now $0.99, from Astraea Press. Meet Sarah and Parker and Parker's little boys, Strawn and Marco at a villa in Sicily at Christmas.
The boys were content listening to Chef Antonio tell them a story of a Christmas past and a grand adventure through a snow-covered mountain. Their eyes slipped lower and lower as they leaned back against the cushions of the couch.
Soon they were asleep, taking long deep breaths. The group paused in their conversations to watch the little boys. Their straight black bangs hung close to their eyebrows as dark lashes fell against chubby cheeks. There was nothing like the gift of children and the life they added to a celebration.
Sarah moved to Parker’s side at the glass windows. He faced her and gave her a lopsided grin, clasping her hand and opening the door to the patio. He pulled her gently through and closed it behind them.
“We…can’t,” Sarah said, her lips trembling.
“Don’t be embarrassed. It’s just time for…goodbye.” His grin had faded, and he grew serious. “This seemed the appropriate place.”
Holding onto her hand, they crossed to the chairs standing in the darkness of night with a cloud-covered moon.
She sat down, their hands separating. The air cooled her moist palms and ruffled her hair. Parker continued to stand, his shoulders squared. “It’s been…unforgettable.”
Sarah nodded, then realizing he hadn’t seen her agreement, said aloud in a breathless whisper, “Yes.”
“I want you to know you can call me anytime.”
“And you as well. I’ll be around…at the bakery and, eventually, school.”
Parker voice stilled the air. “And I want to just say on the death of your…”
“Husband,” Sarah said, her voice catching and the blood rushing to her head.
“I’m so sorry. Your husband.” He pulled a chair close, facing her, and sat. He tilted her chin up, so her eyes gazed into his. “Lean on God instead of away from Him. And…you can lean on me too, as a friend or…someday, maybe more.”
Tears made his image waver. She closed her eyes, the drops falling heavy against her cheeks. He bent forward then, brushing his lips against hers with the barest pressure. She was breathless. Her heart and her head warred.
She pushed against him with her hand and stood. “I can’t feel…not again. It’s too painful.”
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