Christmas has so many facets--the fantastic food, joyous music, long traditions, and big shopping adventures, to name a few. For many of us, the holiday remains firmly rooted in a faith tradition, for others, it's a nice long break from school or a chance to enjoy the winter weather.
Growing up, Christmas for me was about seeing the siblings who'd left the nest. I am the sixth out of seven, and thus have siblings six, ten and thirteen years older than I am. Even after my older siblings married, for a few years, there was a chance I'd get to see those loved ones at the holidays.
For my fourth Christmas story, What A Lady Needs for Christmas, I focused on another aspect of the holidays we don't like to talk about as much: The holidays can be stressful. Cold weather means we're crowded together indoors more. Wassail freely consumed can result in things we wish we hadn't said (or heard), and that shopping... Finding the right present, staying in budget, braving the crowds, finding a parking spot that's not within mushing distance of the North Pole... All very challenging!
My hero, Dante Hartwell, and heroine, Lady Joan Flynn, have added to their holiday burdens by becoming engaged. Joan needs a husband, preferably one without a title. Dante wants a wife with aristocratic connections... it seems like a good idea at time.
Then family starts getting nosy, the mistletoe seems to hang from every rafter, and the nasty elf from Joan's past lurks behind the Christmas tree.
What's a newly married, stressed out, couple to do?
The same thing we're all supposed to do at Christmas: Turn toward the love, and the light, toward the laughter and hope.
Dante and Joan start off with a solid foundation of liking and honesty. They add to that goodwill, some humor, some patience with each other. More than a dash of attraction takes roots, and when family becomes too bothersome, Dante and Joan close ranks, and protect their marriage--and each other--from the worst of the holiday storms.
Throw in some children, some good food and drink, a few loose rabbits, and holidays that loomed as an ordeal turn into the beginnings of excellent memories and a happily ever after.
To two commenters, I'll send a signed three pack of Christmas titles: Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish, Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight, and Lady Jenny's Christmas Portrait. I'll sign them to YOU, or to anybody on your Christmas list!
What's your favorite part of the holidays? What's the hardest part?