Kelly Long, author of A Sleigh Ride on Ice Mountain
The last Christmas Eve I shared with my mother, Marie, remains a staple in my consciousness and I often think of it with a mixture of melancholy, joy and hope. My mom was diagnosed with widespread breast cancer on Christmas Eve of 2010; she died on February 22, 2011. I remember looking at the CAT scan and the mets in her liver and thought their perfect symmetry was like row upon row of tree decoration balls—I think we even laughed about that together. The God–given gift of laughter was the frankincense of the evening, and we stayed up all night together. She was in a hospital bed and I was sitting, punch drunk from lack of sleep, in a hard, armless chair. I remember hearing the hospital announcement that the gift shop was running a sale on all Christmas items at 90 percent off. I left her for a few minutes to wander down the rather bleak corridors to find an extravagant shop tucked in a corner with a cheerful, wizened volunteer who was only too happy to show me the array of available Christmas items. I went back to my mother’s room loaded for bear—a miniature Christmas tree, tiny manger, a stuffed penguin (which she incidentally was cremated with), lights, festive chocolates, and an odd wooden Santa. Everything soon adorned the bed and moveable table as we prepared to celebrate the Birth of our Savior together. I think we talked of Christmas past…I took notes on what else needed to be wrapped at home… and I watched my mother absorb the beginning concept of both death and eternal life while incandescent red and green lights illuminated her red hair like a halo. It was—by far—the best Christmas Eve of my life.
A SLEIGH RIDE ON ICE MOUNTAIN
For solitary toy-maker Sebastian Christner, hiring Kate Zook as his new housekeeper is simply the right thing to do. Now she can support her special-needs brother. But one taste of her independent spirit is showing him undreamed-of holiday joy—and making him long to give her a home for always . . .
Amy Lillard, author of A Mamm for Christmas
Christmas. I love Christmas. I love Christmas music—I have over 14 Christmas CDs and manage to buy another one each year. I love my snowman collection that goes up on my mantle each year. And I love Christmas ornaments. There are entirely too many to count, but it’s safe to say that if an ornament falls off my tree—and that happens often with three cats—it’s next to impossible to find where it fell from. Yes, there are that many. But even more precious are the Christmas memories… Even harder to count than my no-two-alike collection of ornaments. But as I thought about my favorite memories, one tradition kept resurfacing.
I grew up in the country with no more than fifty yards separating my parents’ house from my grandparents’ house. Every year at Christmas my older sister, my older brother, and I would ease into the living room to see what Santa had brought. The unwrapped present from Old St. Nick was the most special gift of all. And it was the gift that we got to play with while we waited for our grandparents to come down. We knew when they go there we would be able to open all the rest of the gifts. That was the longest wait of my life, filled with Christmas excitement and waiting for adults to finally get up, dressed, and down to our house. I still feels like hours that we had to sit there surrounded by wrapped presents just begging to be opened. Mama and Daddy let us have the contents of our stockings while we waited. There was always an orange inside. To this day, I love an orange on Christmas morning. Even more than the candy canes and chocolate bars.
But looking back now, I realize that the truly special part was spending this time with my family. My grandparents are gone now, my dad too. My brother and sister have their own families. Weather and work have kept me from traveling ‘home’ for the holidays. But those memories are still there and still as precious.
In my story A Mamm for Christmas, a part of The Amish Christmas Sleigh, my heroine’s name is Bernice. It’s no coincidence that it’s also my grandmother’s name. And writing that story gave me one more Christmas with her. Well, as close as I’ll get these days. I hope you enjoy this Christmas with Bernice. And Jess and his girls as well. Merry Christmas!
A MAMM FOR CHRISTMAS
Bernice Yoder has far too much to do to entertain holiday dreams. Even if she can help Jess Schmucker outwit his three mischievous young daughters, it’s impossible to imagine the handsome widower can see her as anything but a scolding schoolteacher. He never guesses how a magical Christmas Eve will open his eyes to love or how Der Herr will awaken their faith and hope.
Molly Jebber, author of An Unexpected Christmas Blessing
A tradition we’ve had in our family for years has been for each of us to offer a prayer of thanks to God, enjoy our traditional meal, read the Christmas story of Jesus Christ’s birth, open our presents, and then have “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake.
My favorite Christmas was when I went to the hospital to have my daughter, Misty. It was freezing outside, but I didn’t care. I was thrilled I was finally going to hold the baby I’d wanted for so long. She wasn’t born on Christmas, but at 5:30 a.m. the very next day. She was still my best present of all!
AN UNEXPECTED CHRISTMAS BLESSING
As much as Charity Lantz’s children need a father, the young widow isn’t sure her new neighbor Luke Fisher can ever be the right choice. They’re having more disagreements than snowflakes in December. Besides, he’s never given a sign he wants to be more than friends. Can Gott show them a way past their misunderstandings to a forever love?
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