Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a family...
Jessica Patterson has tried to put on a brave face, but she misses the joy that love can bring at Christmastime. Until a handsome stranger in need of a Christmas miracle touches her heart...
Single dad C. J. Hamilton has discovered fatherhood is a little harder than bachelorhood! But he's mesmerized by Jessica's enchanting beauty and sincerity. She's perfect with his daughter--is it possible she's perfect for him?
It's lucky that Jessica can't resist a plea for help, because C.J. has a twinkle in his blue eyes that suggests her Christmas dreams will come true...
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1 . Enjoyable holiday read
Posted December 26, 2009 by Teresa , S FloridaI enjoyed the storyline of a small town taking care of their own. It was a quick, enjoyable Christmas Day story!
November 05, 2007
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Excerpt from Miracle on Christmas Eve by Shirley Jump
Jessica Patterson was done with Christmas.
No buying of a pine tree that would shed all over her wall-to-wall carpet. No hanging of a festive red-bowed wreath on her front door. And no candy cane cookies on a gaily decorated platter with dancing snowmen who sported goofy stone-created smiles under their little carrot noses.
She'd done enough Christmases. No more, not for her.
"Where's your red suit?" Mindy Newcomb, her best friend for ten years, leaned against the counter of Jessica's toy shop, arms crossed over her chest.
"It's December nineteenth and you haven't even taken it out of the attic yet. The town Winterfest is in three days. And you don't have so much as a paper snowflake in the window. What's wrong with you?"
Jessica straightened a display of white teddy bears set up in the center of Santa's Workshop Toys. The pale color was all the rage this year in stuffed pals, so Jessica had made sure to stock up. "I told you, I'm not staying here for Christmas this year. I have a round-trip ticket to Miami Beach, a mega bottle of SPF 45 and a brand-new Speedo. I am not putting on the Mrs. Claus suit because I will not be here."
"I really thought you'd get over this by now."
"What do you mean, over this?"
"This...mood you've been in." Mindy waved a vague hand. "Come on, Jessica, you love Christmas."
"I used to love Christmas. I don't anymore." The clock chimed ten. Jessica crossed to the door, flipped the sign to Open then headed to the register and checked for the right ratio of quarters and nickels. She knew to start the day with a lot of small change, particularly now that school had let out for Winter Break. The children of Riverbend would be in soon, spending their allowances on the myriad of small items laid out on the dime and quarter table, biding their time until the ho-ho-holiday with super bouncy balls and new sets of jacks.
Mindy slid onto the stool behind the counter. When Jessica joined her, she laid a hand on her friend's, her eyes welling with sympathy. "I know the holidays have been pretty hard on you since Dennis died."
Jessica nodded and swallowed the lump in her throat. Two years and yet there were days when it felt like yesterday. "Christmas just isn't the same without him." She glanced at the pictures on the wall, a collection of images featuring happier days with Mr. and Mrs. Claus--Jessica and Dennis Patterson.
They'd started soon after they'd married fifteen years ago, donning the suits with padding, then as the pounds crept up on Dennis, he hadn't needed the extra pillows. He'd looked good as he rounded, like a teddy bear she could curl into.
But those very pounds had been his undoing, putting a strain on his heart that it couldn't handle. Yet he'd kept the doctor's warnings from her, ignoring the ticking time bomb in his chest because he loved being Santa. Loved his life. And hated anything that would put a crimp in it. He'd been all about being jolly--and never about anything serious.
She'd loved that about Dennis, until she realized that was the very thing that had cost her the man she loved.
Every year, they'd played the Mr. and Mrs. Santa roles, delighting in the smiles on the children's faces as they'd handed out toys and candy canes, putting on a real show at the annual Riverbend Town Winterfest. They'd posed for pictures, even built a sleigh and set up a little decorated house--a glorified shed, really--in the town park, where children could come and spend a few minutes visiting with Old St. Nick, telling him what they wished to see most under their Christmas tree.
After Dennis had died too soon at forty-eight, leaving Jessica a young widow at thirty-seven, she'd carried on the show for one more year, for the memory of her husband, for the kids they'd loved. But those kids had grown up. And the ones she'd seen in the past couple years hadn't exactly been the Norman Rockwell version of Christmas spirit.
Jessica turned away from the pictures. "The whole thing stopped being fun a long time ago. Besides, I lost my Christmas spirit after Andrew Weston defaced my Frosty."
"He was just a kid, pulling a prank."
"Mindy, he painted him green and hung him from the oak tree in the center of the town lawn. Said he was releasing Frosty into the wild or something. Then that Sarah Hamilton..." Jessica shook her head. "I try never to think badly of a child, but that girl knows exactly how to get on my nerves."
"She is a bit of a--"
"Brat," Jessica finished, then immediately felt bad because Sarah was really only a product of her unconventional upbringing. "And that's not a word I use lightly."
"She's been through a rough time, Jess. She only lost her mom, what, two months ago?"