Remember the song, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas? I’m happy to say that it’s not looking like it around here — at least as far as dire winter temperatures and snow everywhere goes. Not a typical Montana Christmas at all.
Last year we had that Christmas look from the last week in October until the middle of May.
This year – grass!
Probably won’t last, but it’s made life a lot easier, the roads less icy, and dog walking less precarious. The skiers among us aren’t thrilled, but they remain philosophical. There’s still plenty to do.
Somehow, though, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time for writing. That’s probably just as well as I’m rewriting a scene set on a cruise ship in the middle of summer. The powers of imagination are getting a workout.
I remember it being that way when I was writing The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle, too. Something about the publishing industry lends itself to things being seasonally out of whack. Authors are forever writing winter scenes when it’s sweltering outside or beach scenes after we’ve just shoveled half a foot of snow off the walk.
I was thinking about that while I was walking the dog a little while ago. I was also thinking about how Christmas memories knit together over the years. My husband and I shared lunch this afternoon with one of our sons – the one who inspired a scene that gave rise to The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle.
He was a year-and-a-half old that Christmas and as it was the first year he was really engaged in what was going on, he was amazed by and enchanted with the lights and the Christmas tree — so much so that a couple of days after we put it up and decorated it, I awoke in the middle of the night to discover a faint unexpected glow of light coming from the living room downstairs.
Going down to investigate, I found him kneeling on the floor staring up in awe at the multi-colored lights on the Christmas tree – lights he’d managed to find and plug in by himself in the dark after having climbed out of his crib and coming downstairs to do so.
As long as I live, I will never forget the expression on his face.
He doesn’t remember doing it, of course. But he understands those sorts of memories now because he is a father himself.
If I go back today and re-read that scene, I experience all over again what it was like to see him as a small boy, to recall his expression of awe. I remember, too, the joy I got when I wrote the scene when Deke and Erin found Deke’s little son, Zack, doing the same thing in The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle.
Talking to my son about it today, we found ourselves reminiscing even more, weaving together other memories of Christmases past – like the one where we walked through snow past our knees to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and the one where dear friends gave the boys an ET sock-em inflatable that they absolutely loved, and the one where seven of us went to choose a Christmas tree, and all of us — amazingly — agreed it was perfect, only to carry it all the way home to discover it wouldn’t – couldn’t! – stand up! So we walked it back and traded it in on a short fat tree that resembled a cross between a furry green tumbleweed and a popcorn ball. Not all those memories made it into books. But the one that did brought back a host of other memories as well.
That’s the gift of writing – and reading – I think. We have the opportunity to remember, to reimagine, to retell stories, to reconnect the past and the present and so many moments and people in between.
When I wrote The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle, it connected me to memories of my children, and to my own childhood. Telling that story connected me, through Deke and his sisters and their relationship with their own dad, to family tensions that as a child I sometimes felt and didn’t understand.
Not everything is perfect all the time. Yes, holidays can bring a lot of joy. But they also have the potential to bring sadness, misunderstanding and hurt. Deke and his father caused a lot of that for each other over the years. They might have gone on doing it if they hadn’t faced the past – and each other — if they hadn’t dared to share more of themselves than they’d ever dared to share before. It wasn’t easy. I’m not sure they ever would have done it without Zack.
Christmas wasn’t easy for Erin, either. Widowed now, with three young kids, she had a lot on her plate. She brought a lot of memories back home that winter, most of them good. It wasn’t the past that was hurting Erin. It was the future that looked bleak.
Deke and Erin helped each other. Erin’s children and Zack helped them both.
Christmas is a time to look with awe and wonder at possibilities just as my son did all those years ago – just as Zack does in The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle. It’s a time to take a deep breath, to cut each other some slack, to smile more often, to wish each other joy, to remember the good things with gratitude, and to face the future with hope.
I wish you all the joys of the season however you celebrate. Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your day with me. If you exchange gifts, I hope you get lots of books, lots of happy endings, and lots of love!
About the Author.
Years ago someone told Anne McAllister that the recipe for happiness was a good man, a big old house, a bunch of kids and dogs, and a job you loved that allows you to read. And write. She totally agrees.
Now, one good man, one big old house (since traded for a slightly smaller house. Look, no attic!) a bunch of kids (and even more grandkids) and dogs (and one bionic cat) and seventy books, she’s still reading. And writing. And happier than ever.
Over thirty plus years Anne has written long and short contemporary romances, single titles and series, novellas and a time-travel for Harlequin Mills & Boon and for Tule Publishing. She’s had two RITA winning books and nine more RITA finalists as well as awards from Romantic Times and Midwest Fiction Writers. One of the joys of writing is that sometimes, when she can’t go back in person, she can go back in her mind and her heart and her books.