Hope for the Holidays: What we think we know…

We think we know people. We think we understand what places and seasons and even holidays mean to us. Then in an instant something shifts that changes our lives forever. We see so much of that these days, on TV news and the Internet and social media. Lives changing with so little warning the new directions they take are riviting and heartbreaking AND inspiring to watch. What do I see when I look at scenes like this? Hope. I see people learning how to come together and become stronger for the community and families they’re making stronger…and learning how to hope in the midst of what should be breaking them.

hope hand candle jar

Holidays can be hard, especially for people who need that “perfect” holiday experience more than others. These are times when we’re looking for a shining light to lead us. We’re wanting a reason to believe. We’re hoping…and praying we won’t be disappointed.

Those are the holiday stories I see and try to tell. The ones where heroes rise out of difficulty and find a way to keep fighting and wanting and believing. As much as pure escape would be nice, it wouldn’t be my ideal. Reality is always there, and I’m looking as a reader and a writer for a reflection of what life is really like when it’s hardest, and THEN what it becomes when we push our way through a difficult time to that rewarding, hopeful moment when we’ve proven to ourselves and the ones we love that everything actually is going to be okay.

hope rhinestones

Christmas on Mimosal Lane is built that way. It’s not a straight ride from a page one to a happy ending. There are bumps along the way and reversals and moments when you don’t see how these wonderful characters are going to stick things out until all ends well. In the opening we don’t see everyone already on the road to recovery. We see people fighting and failing and racing toward a black moment that they can’t seem to veer away from. But they’re not giving up hope, and they’re not quitting, and their holiday WILL be whatever perfection means to them, or they’re going to break themselves trying to make it that way.

That’s life to me. That’s heroic. That’s the human spirit that inspires me and makes me dream and hope that I can get through whatever I have to get through, too.

Below is a bit more about COML. I’m sharing new excerpts every week. I hope they charm your socks off, but I’m also wanting them to help you believe in your power to make it to your own happily ever after come true. 

hope christmas tree

Yes, I’d love to know what you think about the story. But if you wanted to comment about what the holidays feel like for you and how you’re making them the very best they can be for your family, regardless of the real-world stuff that’s trying to get in the way, I’d love to hear that, too!


Pete Lombard and his daughter, Polly, are in for a rough Christmas holiday they’d just as soon forget even before it begins. Then Mallory Phillips becomes a reluctant part of their lives and shows them a new world they hadn’t known they’d been missing all along…

He stepped into a room overwhelmed by an artificial, ornament-filled tree. It was like Christmas had swooped in and attacked the poor plastic thing, inflicting forced cheer on anyone who caught a glimpse of it. Standing there he felt himself drowning in the festive holiday season he’d been trying to fake for Polly’s sake.

Fake…That’s what the monstrosity was screaming—every mass-produced inch of it. Looking around the room he realized there wasn’t another decoration in sight. Just Mallory Phillips’s christmas, Christmas, CHRISTMAS tree.

The small home’s family room stretched the entire width of the house, and sparse would be too generous a word to describe its decor. There was a soft-looking oversize cream couch, a brass lamp with a beige shade, and a sad-looking recliner covered in a tweedy kind of plaid that for some reason made him think it was secondhand. Probably because there’d been something like it tossed into the corner of his fraternity’s front room. They’d needed furniture because visitors had to sit somewhere, but his college buddies hadn’t really cared what any of it looked like. Clearly, neither did the elusive Mallory Phillips. Even her floor was covered in a nondescript oatmeal berber.

I-give-up carpet, Emma had called it when he’d hastily picked something similar for their place in the hope of skirting her out of the store and home to work on making the baby they’d been so desperate to have.

“Hello?” he called, louder this time.

“Hey—” Across the empty dining area to his right a butler’s door pushed outward, flashing a glimpse beyond of a kitchen filled with crazy colors. A tousled-haired blonde burst into the room in plaid Disney pajamas that made her look ridiculously young, tempting him to smile for the first time since spring.

For a moment he didn’t recognize her. At school, Mallory kept her hair pulled back. She dressed in boxy scrubs covered in outlandish cartoon animals. So far no one in the community had gotten much of a look at her in anything else.

She didn’t tend to her own yard like the rest of their neighbors—she had a guy come over once a week to do the bare minimum. The entire time she’d lived in Chandlerville she’d only attended a single Mimosa Lane get-together, a Sunday-night barbecue at the beginning of the school year that she’d arrived at late and had left after less than ten minutes, hardly speaking to anyone. She’d made herself scarce each evening and weekend and most recently during the Thanksgiving holiday, though no one had seen her pack her car for a trip.

It was as if Mallory Phillips were living amongst them, only she wasn’t.

Her silky hair was down now, bouncing about her shoulders. The softness of her purple-plaid nightclothes accentuated generous curves that weren’t the least bit childlike. Basic politeness said Pete shouldn’t be staring at the swooping neckline of her pajama top, but he couldn’t help himself. She clearly didn’t realize or didn’t care how she looked just rolled out of bed, or how a man could find himself reaching for something that warm and inviting and never want to find his way out of it.

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2 Responses to “Hope for the Holidays: What we think we know…”

  1. jeni edmonds says:

    Lovely. Hopefully, those of us who celebrate this holiday find it in most places when we need it the most. Christmas, for those of us who cheris it, can find it every day of the year – Christmas, at times, will find us when we least expect it, buying an extra coffee for someone, paying for lunch for the guy behind us at Wendy’s, or leaving a generous tip for the waitress who looks so tired you wish you could take her home and let her take a secret nap. Christmas, for those of us who think it is for children only – are the ones who look out their fingerprintless window and sigh as they watch anyone that might be in living in the moment (of Christmas) and wish for one second that the snowball would hit the window and they could see feel the sparkle of such a glorious season.

  2. Janet G. says:

    I love the story. To me the holidays are all about family. Right now my husband and I are able to spend Christmas, at least, with our sons and their families. But the time is coming when our grandchildren will be going off to college, or starting their own families, and we’ll all be spread in different directions. Not that I’ll mind having a bigger family. It will be fun to continue the family traditions with the next generation.

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