Title: Christmas Wishes and Holiday Kisses
Author: Kelly McDonough
Published in Decamber 2006 by Publish America
It’s a sad Christmas season for the Abbott’s. Three years ago Jason’s wife passed away from cancer, this year his mother is terminally ill with the disease. Jason’s faith in God is conflicted as well, as he watches his family fighting for life, but only to die. The single bright light in his world is his six year-old daughter, Angel. Without knowing, placing the ad for a caregiver brings another angel that will offer a brighter light, and forever change his life.
Eliza is a progressive angel as Heaven joins the technology era. She can tear down a computer and rebuild it in under an hour, while communicating with her superior, Glory via cell phone. Before accepting her next assignment, Eliza scopes out the Abbott household. She accepting this angelic mission, which entails helping Vera Abbott transition into Heaven while aiding Jason in finding a wife. Glory adamantly stresses that Eliza is not to become romantically involved with Jason, and to ensure that she doesn’t her superior promises a reunion her long dead parents. Hired minutes after of the interview, Eliza moves into the Abbott home where in a few hours she has Angel laughing; something her father hasn’t heard steadily in a long time. There is one dilemma Eliza must overcome - she doesn’t know how to cook. Her first morning Jason and Angel eat toast and cereal however, she didn’t know that coffee beans need to be grounded and water poured in the coffeemaker. Eliza meets Jason’s mother, Vera where she confides in the woman that she cannot cook. With Vera’s promises to teach her, although from the bedroom, Vera tells Eliza how to prepare Shepard’s Pie.
On her second night at the Abbott’s, Eliza serenades them with her harp as Angel begs to learn to play the instrument. Even Jason enjoys the melodic sound that makes him notice Eliza as a woman; an observation he has not done since his wife’s death. As the days pass, Eliza settles into a comfortable rhythm with the family winning them over so much that they wish she was a permanent part of the family; like a mother, daughter-in-law, and wife. Jason feels confident in leaving his mother and daughter in Eliza’s hands; knowing they are safe and well cared for. Vera is comforted to know that her passing will leave her son and daughter with someone that will cherish them as much as she does. Angela wants a mother who will play dolls, help pick out clothes and make sure her daddy never gets lonely. Eliza knows she cannot be all that they want so doesn’t encourage them further. Yet, she thinks about how her feelings are changing towards everyone too; especially her longing for Jason in a more intimate manner. She discovers Jason feels that same sensuous pull when he comments that she is as beautiful as the angle ornaments hanging on their Christmas tree.
With Vera deciding to not resume chemotherapy, she feels better so helps Eliza to cook the family meals from the kitchen instead of her bedroom. After playing games with Angela and helping Vera to bed, Jason and Eliza have a moment to themselves. He invites her to go horseback riding but when he inquires about her boyfriend does Eliza sense a more intimate reason for the request. Her growing fondness towards Jason has her calling Glory for guidance; still, their talk doesn’t ease her strong affections for Jason. He, too, notices his attraction towards Eliza, and prays to God to send him a message that its time to marry again, but thinks maybe Eliza is that message. In the meantime, Eliza starts to believe that God is intervening as she Christmas shops for Vera, Angela and Jason, the perfect presents are easily purchased. Then upon returning home she finds Jason in his mother’s room when they announce that Vera is in remission. Later in the week Jason makes his interest clear. Inviting her to share a glass of wine he expresses a readiness to marry again. His kiss at first surprises Eliza though she savors the sensation of his lips. Remembering God’s assignment, Eliza reluctantly ends the moment.
She knows God specifically chose her for this mission, but feels confident His intentions do not include her falling in love with Jason; Glory made that clear from the beginning. Still, she yearns to see her parents again, but the Abbott’s are a temptation she never expected, especially Jason. All Eliza wants for Christmas is to stay with the Abbott’s AND see her family again. Will God grant her that wish?
With its strong religious theme, which is apt since it’s a Christmas story, Christmas Wishes and Holiday Kisses is charming with its natural, merry plot where an angel aids a family in emotional pain. The characters are honest and pleasing. Jason is a dedicated father and a loyal husband and son; first caring for his wife during her cancer, and now his mother. Eliza is a sensitive woman who picks up on other people’s emotions. Knowing the Abbott’s are having a rough time of it, she helps Vera come to terms with her passing and how her family will continue living, surrounded by her memory. Eliza comforts Angel, a sweet, caring little girl, who fears loosing her father too, since now grandma is preparing to die. She also helps Jason realize that he needs to move on and consider remarrying; for himself as well as for Angel. The Abbott’s are obviously a loving family who warmly accept Eliza into their home, as well as in their hearts. With a sweet romantic spin, Ms. McDonough writes a splendid though touching story that fully captures the true meaning of celebrating Christmas with family.
A dedicated reader,