My son is a man on a mission. He’s been nagging me for what seems like weeks already to go Christmas shopping, posting his list in a prominent place on the refrigerator where I will be sure to see it each and every time I open the door. He knows his “big” gift is already in the house—somewhere—and because I went shopping again last evening, he also knows some of the other things he wants are…somewhere.
So I know that as soon as he’s left alone in the house for any length of time, the great Mission Gift Search begins. How do I know this? Not because he’s given himself away…well there was the incident last night with the flashlight in the room where the tree’s located…but because I did the exact same thing every single year growing up.
I found them in the trunks of cars.
I found them in the cedar closet in our basement.
I found them in my Dad’s Army footlocker (thanks for already wrapping them, Mom).
But then came the year of the bicycle. I had asked for a ten speed. And I knew my mother well enough to know that she would never wait until the last minute to get a gift. After all, this was the woman who documented in a little notebook any toy trades or sales between siblings, which we then had to sign so no one could argue over what belonged to whom. This was the same woman who yawned at day-after-Thanksgiving shopping because she was already through. So I knew the bicycle must be somewhere around our house.
I looked everywhere I could think of, even questioning neighbors and friends to see if she might have sneaked it over to another house. I finally had to draw the conclusion that I just wasn’t going to get the bike I wanted. Another thing my parents were strict about was budgeting, and the bike was on the upper limits of what they would be willing to spend on any one child.
Christmas morning arrived. I promised myself that no matter what was under the tree, I would be happy with it. When I reached the bottom of the steps and turned the corner into the living room, there sat a gleaming white and chrome ten speed bicycle, parked right in front of the fireplace.
In the garage, where I had looked many times, sat our ski boat with its canvas cover in place. I had looked under it, behind it, and on top of it. I had just never pulled the cover off to look in it. You got me, Mom.
So, Jacob, search away. This year your presents are buried.
The issue of presents plays a role in my holiday release, Santa’s Helper. The heroine, Merry, is working three jobs to support herself and her son, but also in hope of being able to provide him some sort of Christmas. Jack, the hero is ringing the bell for charity outside the local mall where Merry’s working part-time as an elf.
Despite the fact she’s short on cash, Merry’s not short on the idea of Christmas giving as you can see:
“I thought you might like a cup of coffee.”
Jack looked down for what seemed like forever to a pair of bright blue-green eyes and curly red hair sticking out from beneath…an elf’s hat? He blinked. Was he delusional? Had the cold gotten to him to the point where he was imagining elves?
Her smile disappeared as she bit her lip. “I noticed you when I came in to work. I thought you might be cold if you were still out here. And we—we had some leftover coffee.”
He took the cup from her. “Thanks.”
She shifted from one foot to the other. “Right. It’s black. I hope that’s how you like it.”
“It is.” Jack knew he was making her nervous, but he couldn’t resist. He remembered her now. She
was the woman in the tailored overcoat who’d been so cheap…tossing in just a buck. And here she was
dressed like an elf.
She hadn’t entered the mall to shop; she’d arrived for work. The woman in the tailored camel hair coat was working as an elf.
A small shiver shook her slender frame beneath the costume.
“You’ll freeze out here. You should go in unless elves have some sort of magical protection.”
This time she blushed, as if only now realizing she still wore her elf suit, and nodded. “I should go inside.”
She turned to hurry away from him.
“Wait!” She stopped and glanced over her shoulder. His gut clenched with sudden desire. “What’s your name?”
She blinked. “Merry.”
“Merry—like Merry Christmas.”
And that is exactly what I wish for all of you. Santa’s Helper is available through TheWild Rose Press.
If you’d like to check out my other releases, you can visit my website www.laurabrowningbooks.com.