Today I’d like to welcome Nancy O’Berry…
Why does one write a Christmas story?
I can’t think of a better time to write about the anticipation, the wonder, and the spirit of the season. Christmas carries its own special magic, whether it is in the anticipation we see in a child’s eyes or if it’s just something in the air, but it is there. We remember the wide-eyed innocence of being children and waiting for that night when Santa would come down the chimney. The anticipation of that event was far more exciting that actually getting the gifts. Oh, as adults, we might complain about the “commercial” aspect of the season, but if we stop and we think about our own youth, we recall the joy in hearing those first ho, ho, ho’s, which heralded the season of giving.
In A Cordial Christmas, I hope to capture the spirit of our youth through the eyes of Lucy Watson, a young girl coming to her grandfather’s home with her aunt for her “first” Christmas and contrast it with the dire despair of the hero Dobson Winters, who feels he has lost it all. This story has the feel of It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. As I wrote, the one thought that came back to circle in my mind was the quote on the front cover. “When a man thinks he has nothing to live for, life as a way of coming full circle”. Christmas brings us all back to that central question, “What do I have to give? Will my contribution to the world really make that much of a difference?” The fact is, without our knowing, our lives do make a difference. The smallest act of kindness never goes unrewarded, even if we can’t see the benefit of our actions. This is what the season is about.
This story reminds us, how important it is to be there, in the present, passing on the hope, the ideas, the dreams to the future generations. Dobson Winters’ life will come full circle in a way he never expected. When an old enemy tells him on his deathbed that he’s planned a way to redeem his soul whether he wants it or not by writing in his will, he must marry his daughter Holly.
I hope you’ll enjoy A Cordial Christmas just as much as I enjoyed writing it. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our house to yours.
And here’s a sweet extract from Nancy’s Story:
Dobson Winters was not the kind of man that celebrated things. He didn’t celebrate his birthday, the Fourth of July, or Thanksgiving and he wasn’t about to lend his blessing or his money to the town of Cordial, Texas to decorate the square for nothing. Christmas was a holiday best left alone.
“Just a few decorations, Mr. Winters,” the banker began. His eyes nervously darted to the bowler hat sitting quietly on his lap.
“The answer is still, no.”
“But, Mr. Winters, sir, the children will be most disappointed. They look so forward to the holiday. The decorations are old and faded.” the preacher in black, sitting next to the banker spoke.
“Look here, Reverend,” he began. “Christmas is a holiday created for the likes of Sam Russell at the General Store and those self centered pious folks, who step inside your walls to pray for the fortune when they should be hard at work bringing it in. I got over ten thousand head of beef to answer to. I got no time or extra wealth to pay for decorations used one day out of a year.”
The thin little minister sitting beside the banker blanched and tugged at the white collar around his neck as if his words suddenly made it grow too tight.
“Really, Mr. Winters, have you no heart?” the banker scolded. “Think of your wife she loved the holiday. Why not a day goes by that we aren’t reminded-“
The banker’s words proved the last straw. “Gentleman, our meeting is over.” As he spoke, he rose to his feet. Stepping back, his hand closed around his father’s double barrel shotgun he’d cleaned just that morning. The two men who sat before him scrambled to their feet.
“Now, Mr. Winters.” The Reverend’s eyes grew wide.
“Dobson,” the banker cautioned. “Be reasonable.”
His eyes narrowed. He flipped the breech latch and broke the gun open. The men began to sweat as he glided two cardboard shells home. “You know, my daddy once told me a seat full of buckshot deters most highway men from pickin’ a man’s pocket.” The click of the barrel as it closed sent the two men into action. Tripping over their feet, Reverend Thomas of Cordial’s First Presbyterian Church hurried toward the front door, followed closely behind by Thomas Carter.
The banker slammed his bowler onto this head and cut Dobson a hard glare. “The town council will hear of this – about how you treat your guests. Just because you founded the town, don’t give you a right to be rude.”
“It gives me every right,” he snapped, his upper lip curling back, so the men might see the white of his teeth. “I didn’t tell you to set up your tents or build homes around my stockyards. But, you did it. Nor did I request any sheriff to monitor the saloon you all invited in to town. Yet, I put up with it.” He shoved the barrel against the banker’s backsides. The man let out a yelp as he and the preacher wrestled with the front door. “Oh, I pay my fair share of taxes and usually keep my mouth closed. In fact, until today, I’ve lived up to the town’s motto, never a discouraging word. Well, not today boys, I will be damn if I pay another dime.”
In their hurry to leave, both men collided, their shoulders wedged as they tried to press through the door in unison. Squeezing out the entrance, they lengthened their strides as they moved toward the buggy.
“But your wife,” the minister called over his shoulder. “She wouldn’t want the town to go without a Christmas.”
His heart constricted. How dare they. How dare they bring her up! “Don’t you ever go there, you two bit Bible thumper.” He could feel his face grow red from the heat of anger as his eyes bore into the Reverend. The little man’s Adam’s apple bobbled as if it were a boulder being tossed downstream through a rapid. “Now, git!” he bellowed. Moving to the edge of the porch, he turned the gun barrel skyward curled his index finger over the trigger, and let loose one shot.
The percussion of the gun echoed in the still air. Both men let out a yelp like a wounded dog. The speed of their retreat increased. They fumbled, their feet slipped, yet somehow they managed to scramble aboard and turn the horse around. “You haven’t heard the last of this,” Thomas Carter shouted as the Reverend brought the lines down upon the horse’s back. The iron rims hissed against the ground as they left at a fast trot.
“Damned fools,” he snarled. In the quiet of the ranch grounds, he watched them pass the barn and caught one last look as they tossed him a glare mixed with fear and pure hatred. He broke open the barrel and pulled the empty shell from the smoking gun. By golly, they got the message that time. Tossing the spent shell onto the ground, he pulled the unused ammunition out and returned it to his vest pocket. He turned and stared at the empty doorway of the two-story log home he’d built. A momentary expression of hurt rolled across his face deepening the lines next to the grim turn of his lips. She should be here. By all rights, Miranda should be there, standing in the doorway, waiting for him.
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