Christmas Storytime: Three Holiday Excerpts

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…and if here at Bethany House, we’re celebrating the season with a few holiday scenes from some of our recent novels. Although only one is set entirely at Christmas, these joyful moments show us how others make Christmas merry, and help us learn a little about the main characters, too. Enjoy, and have a very bookish holiday!

From An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen

Christmas 1822

A short while later, they all strolled down the drive and up the High Street together, talking softly amongst themselves as they went. Justina and Nicholas shared one lamp, as did Horace and Penelope, Rachel and Sir Timothy, Richard and Arabella, and Murray and Jamie, who seemed happy to be in their company.

Richard looked down at Arabella. “Are you sure you’re not too cold? We could have taken the curricle.”

“I am perfectly well, but thank you for your concern.”

He was concerned about her well-being, he realized. Dash it all.

She smiled, adding, “It was kind of you to invite Jamie.”

He nodded, then winked. “Let’s just hope he sings better than Timothy.”

When they reached the almshouse, the carolers clustered near the door and at Rachel’s signal, began singing, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.”

The front door opened, and the matron, Mrs. Mennell appeared. “Please come in!” she beckoned. “Not everyone is able to come to the door.

So the little troupe filed inside, squeezing into the entryway. In the small parlour sat the same elderly women and single man they’d seen on their last visit, lap rugs over their legs, and some with teacups in their gnarled fingers. They all turned eager eyes on the inexperienced but willing carolers, who next sang “The First Noel.”

As the last note fell away, the small crowd clapped appreciatively and Richard noticed tears in more than one pair of weary eyes. Something in his chest cracked, then loosened, and a tendril of joy sprouted in his heart.

From The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

Christmas 1946

Mrs. Stevens had given Millie an early Christmas gift—some money with which to buy fabric for a party outfit. Day and night for two whole weeks, Millie had dreamed up what to sew. Finally, she decided on a red and green floral that she ruched at the bust, with a full skirt and a trail of buttons along the neckline.

And, of course, her favorite cloche. She never went anywhere without it.

She’s used the last of her money on the fancy buttons, so she had to wear her scuffed-up black Mary Janes. But the goal, of course, was that the guests might be so enraptured by her dress they wouldn’t notice her shoes.

And by guests, of course she meant Franklin.

Two hours later, everyone had eaten their fill, and Mrs. Stevens played her new Benny Goodman record for anyone who wanted to dance.

Franklin wore suspenders, the new hat Mrs. Stevens had given him, and a grin that warmed Milled more thoroughly than the crackling fire beside them. He held out his hand. “Want to dance?”

He knew he needn’t ask. Millie had been less than subtle in expressing how perfect the skirt of her dress might be for dancing. A girl only got the opportunity to dress as a princess once in a blue moon, and Millie had every intention of enjoying her moon before it passed.

From Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

Christmas Present Day

The Avery Family Anniversary Christmas Eve Crab Feed could easily be considered last-meal-on-earth material. I’d never buy crab in a can again.

Sometime between Joshua tying a plastic bib around my neck and Emma singing “Jingle Bells” while using the shelled crab legs as her instrument of choice. . . I’d completely fallen in love with the lot of them. I’d laughed my oxygen supply out more than once, sucking wind so badly that my sides ached, especially after Joshua intentionally bumped my shoulder at the exact moment I finally got the perfect grip on the cracking tool. After such an unfair move, I shoved my entire pile of crab legs in front of him, declaring his punishment was to crack them all. He agreed without a fight, and his mother and Rebekah applauded my sass. “Good one, Lauren,” Elizabeth affirmed. “Don’t you let him get away with that.”

Stuffed to the point of not even wanting to discuss dessert, we concluded our evening with George reading us the first chapter of Luke. I could listen to his storytelling voice every day of the week and never tire of it. His baritone was as deep and distinguished as an Oscar-winning actor. Emma interrupted the passage multiple times, fluffing the ruffly skirt of her dress and asking questions like “Where did the wise men buy their gifts, Papa?” and “What kind of wood was the manger made out of—did it have splinters in it?” and “How could a star shine so brightly for all that time?” All the while, her baby brother slept soundly on his mother’s lap, instinctively sucking his fingers every few seconds. The scene burrowed deep into my subconscious.

Even now, hours after the last dish had been washed, dried, and stacked, and long after the fireplace had stopped crackling, I could still see them snuggled together, the image of mother and child. Why wouldn’t God just take my desire away already? If I was supposed to wait, supposed to press pause on my adoption plans, then why did I still feel like my lungs were being pummeled by an iron fist every time I saw a woman around my age with a child?

[Scene cut off here because SPOILERS and romance and such, ha!]

Can you think of a book that isn’t Christmas-themed from start to finish but that has a fun Christmas scene?

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