Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cathy Elliott | Spread the Christmas Joy

A Turn-about Christmas

I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas that year. Earlier in May, my eleven-year-old son, Chris, had been killed in a tragic accident. An unspeakable sorrow colored everything. Though lovely ones surrounded me on my painful journey and God Himself carried me often, the last thing I wanted do in December was deck the halls or make merry. But one look at my little nine-year-old Heidi, her eyes shining with Christmas lights, said I must.

But how?

Knowing I couldn’t bear to experience our old traditions without Chris, my folks offered an idea. Why not pack up the car and travel north to spend the holiday with my brother and family on Whidbey Island, Washington? To do something different? Make a new memory? Though I didn’t grasp it at the time, they’d suffered, too. We all needed a change.

I feigned sleep in the backseat to disguise my weeping. How could anything ever be right again? But all seemed a bit righter when my brother welcomed us into their beautiful home, cheerfully decorated in anticipation of the big day. Ever the perfect hostess, my sister-in-law prepared a tasty turkey with cornbread stuffing so delicious, I bought the cookbook. My family pampered me with kindness and I rested in their loving embrace. Daughter Heidi had a blast with her cousins. It was good to hear them racing through the house, shrieking and giggling. Almost normal. Still, I sort of sleepwalked through it all, a huge lump in my throat.

After we had opened gifts and had dinner, etc., my folks announced a surprise. They wanted to do a little extra to make merry, so they handed out envelopes to each kid and grandkid. Inside, we found cash. Each child (like me) received $100 and each grandchild $50. The plan? To go to the day-after-Christmas sales as a family and spend the unexpected money on ourselves. What? An excitement infected us. Even me. And I was shocked to find myself thinking about something beyond getting through Christmas.

We did go shopping the next day, all together, the kids darting into Macy’s toy section first. I bought a very cool coat. I think I had to put a little money with it, maybe $25, but it was on sale and a great buy. Something I wouldn’t have bought on my own. How I loved that coat! Each time I slipped into its furry luxury, it felt like a warm hug from Mother and Daddy. I got hugs all winter long.

It’s been a long while since I’ve thought of that Christmas. In the midst of a heartbreaking year, Christmas turned out to be a light unto my path. A rescue. It took becoming a devoted grandmother to realize how much my parents own hearts must have shattered after their beloved grandson’s early departure. In spite of their sadness, they thought of me, and of their other kids, as always. They reached out past their pain to help us create a happy Christmas memory.

Now that the folks have both joined my son in heaven, I remember that particular Christmas as one of the sweetest. Daddy and Mother’s wisdom and thoughtful generosity blessed us all and we made very merry, indeed.

Merry Christmas, everyone. 

Author and speaker, Cathy Elliott, nourishes her night-owl habit by creating cozy mysteries and more on her trusty laptop in Northern California. In addition to various articles and anthology contributions, she has authored three novels: A Vase of Mistaken Identity, Medals in the Attic, and her latest mystery - A Stitch in Crime.

Website & Occasional Blog:
Facebook: Author Cathy Elliott
Twitter: @CathyElliott10 

A Stitch in Crime
Thea James thought working as co-chair for Larkindale’s first quilt show extravaganza would be a natural extension of her antique business. But while organizing the busy week’s premiere events would make anyone frayed, she doesn’t expect a complete unraveling!
At the opening soirĂ©e, local matriarch Mary-Alice Wentworth is knocked unconscious and robbed of her diamond brooch. Soon a rare quilt—the main attraction and a rumored key to great riches—goes missing. Those who signed up to help Thea are strangely no help at all. What more could possibly happen?

Amid a cast of colorful characters and a tight schedule of garden galas, tea parties, and televised socials, everything is falling apart at the seams – and nothing is quite what it seems. Can Thea sew everything back together?
"...Fans of inspirational fiction will enjoy the funny, feel-good whodunit."
Publishers Weekly Review - November 7, 2014

“…There is mystery and laughter, and Elliott’s characters are strong, confident and determined to make their mark….Fans will want to add this gem to their keeper shelf.” RT 4-Star Review November 12, 2014

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