One word often describes the holiday season: magic. Even though most of us find ourselves running fast in an effort to keep up with the increased activities, entertainments, and events we want to believe in magic. Maybe it dates back to our childhoods when the sparkle of Christmas lights strung on the tree or the appearance of Santa Claus made magic come alive.
I suppose most kids believe in Santa at one point in their life although I’ve known a few parents who wouldn’t
let the legend live for their broods. My own belief in the jolly old elf exceeded the basic expectations but
then I have a very good reason for that – Santa Claus is my uncle.
My Uncle Bill Puett put aside his everyday life as a delivery route man for Just-Rite Dairy in my hometown of
St. Joseph, Missouri each December. Since he happened to be a large man year round, he fit the physical
description to perfection and his demeanor happened to be both cheerful and giving. He started out playing
Santa for some dairy promotions back in the day when Just-Rite featured special ice cream novelties for the holidays. Their individual serving size Christmas trees, Santa faces, and big ice cream cakes were a hit in northern Missouri and
Uncle Bill promoted them well.
He enjoyed the role so much he bought his own Santa Claus suit and before long, he filled those black boots
like the real deal. I bought into the entire Santa thing with a whole heart as a young child. Why wouldn’t I when on a routine trip to a local supermarket Santa Claus himself approached me and called me by name? Or how about the Christmas Eve evening visit from my Aunt Janet who just happened to run across Santa Claus out on the
walk and invite him to come in with her?
So I grew up believing in Santa, hanging onto the mystery and magic a little longer than most kids probably do. And even when I learned the story of Santa Claus embodies the spirit of love and giving, I still believed in the magic if not the man.
Believing in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is an important factor in my Christmas release from Rebel Ink Press. In Sing We Now of Christmas, my heroine is a young bride whose beloved husband fails to return from a Fourth of July fishing trip and is presumed dead. She doesn’t buy it and so she waits with hope in her heart for Christmas, the season when they first met for a miracle. If I hadn’t believed in Santa, then maybe I couldn’t believe in hope either.
He fit into his faded Wranglers as if they’d been made just for his long legs and his pearl snap button blue patterned Western shirt suited him. He towered above her, taller by several inches even without the worn cowboy boots he wore.
She inhaled his scent, a potent mixture of musky cologne, tobacco smoke, and beneath it all, Irish Spring soap.
His hands, still holding her arms, were warm against her bare skin and she was glad, now, that she’d worn the black silk halter top despite the cold instead of the red sweater she’d worn to school. Jessica made her voice work with effort, “Thank you.”
“No problem,” he said and she drank in his voice, strong and comforting with just enough Oklahoma twang to make it interesting. “Would you care to dance?”
“I’d love it,” Jessica said as he released his grip on her arms to grab her hand instead. “My name’s Jessica Martin.”
“I’m Johnny,” he said and she committed the name to memory, “Johnny Devereaux.”
He led her onto the tiny dance floor just as Mark began to sing the softer, sweeter vintage country song, Lookin’ For Love. The old Johnny Lee song she remembered from that movie, Urban Cowboy, now felt like a theme song. She recalled watching it one late night in college, hating the boot scooting dance moves and the mechanical bull riding but loving the scene where Debra Winger danced to this same music with John Travolta. Such a coincidence she mused, Johnny Lee, John Travolta, and Johnny Devereaux.
Johnny put his arms around her and she cuddled close against him for the slow dance. They swayed together, their easy motions in time with the music, and she felt safe. Jessica’s head fell short of his shoulder and so as they danced, she could hear the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. Above them, the stationary silver ball that must have once spun reflected the colorful Christmas lights strung above the bar and Jessica felt the strangest sense of coming home in his arms. She wanted to stay there forever, wrapped in that magic cocoon of his embrace, and hold this moment close to her heart.
From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I