When I was a little girl, I had some definite ideas about what I wanted my life to be like when I became an adult. I planned to have seven children, and I vowed to get married on Christmas Eve. I had seen Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and I remembered the part when the narrator described Christmas Eve as ‘the holiest night of the year’. Somehow, that captured my imagination. I had even picked out wedding colors – hunter green and cranberry. My bridesmaids would carry cozy muffs instead of bouquets. Poinsettias would fill the church, and I’d be head-to-toe in winter white covered in sparkly crystals. I had no idea what my groom would look like, but he’d vaguely resemble Pierce Brosnan, and he’d be taller than me.
There’s something about Christmas that is essentially Romantic. ‘Romance’ with the big ‘R’ is defined as ‘a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life’. The sparkling lights, the beautiful decorations, the goodies, and the anticipation of presents all combine to create an enchantment of sorts. But you’ve got to sign on to it. It’s far too easy to give in to the stress of the season and end up a Scrooge (pre-haunting).
I think when you forget that this whole month-long party is to celebrate the birth of Christ, you leave yourself open to Scrooge-ification. You strip the best part of the mystery and excitement away when the only point of Christmas is to please your relatives with the perfect gift, attend every party, and make your kids happy without gaining weight or going broke. We like to embrace it all – Advent wreaths to Twelfth Night revels – while being careful not to lose the meaning in the mayhem.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few lessons, such as volunteering to bring the paper goods to the school party instead of food items is much less stressful, stockpiling small gifts throughout the year beats shopping ’til you drop in December, and letting go of ‘perfect’ brings contentment. I will not manage to get the kids to smile nicely all at the same time for the Christmas photo. I will probably forget a present or two until the last minute. One year I even forgot about stocking stuffers until Christmas Eve and had to get super-creative at the local drug store. It was fine. It will all be fine. Christmas is about how great God’s love is, not how great I am.
This is something I’ve accepted as a writer as well. I will not be perfect. Not everyone is going to love what I write. Instead of aiming for perfect, I aim for truth and rely on God to guide me. And that’s Truth with the big ‘T’, since I write fiction. I love to create realistic worlds for my characters to live in. In my debut, The Broken Trail, I made sure to squeeze in Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, so I made sure my heroine got to enjoy a little holiday cheer as well.
My advice to us all at this time of year is to embrace it, deck all the halls, enjoy all the sparkle, all the wonder, and remember what it’s all for. God loves you – yes, you! He loves you enough to have sent His Son into a world that would not welcome Him, into a world where He would struggle and suffer. Psalm 51:5 is clear about us humans being born into sin, and so in need of a savior. God sent His Son to sacrifice His life to save us, to offer us eternal salvation. That’s quite a good reason to celebrate!
Blessings on you all, Christa MacDonald
Christa lives in New England with her husband and three children. After a career in the corporate world she returned to her first love, writing. The Broken Trail is her debut novel.
Christa with her sleeping son.
Katherine Grant takes a job at Sweet River Christian Academy hoping a small town in the wilderness of Maine will be a vacation from her high-powered career and a break from the emotional toll of the secrets she has buried deep. With the school director on a power trip and evidence of shady dealings, there’s nothing relaxing about it. Maybe it would be easier if she wasn’t so distracted by Captain MacAlister, the local cop she can’t get along with, yet can’t get out of her head. She didn’t trek up to the middle of no
where to lose her heart.
Mac doesn’t need the kind of trouble he believes Katherine will bring. He’s got enough to deal with from poachers to drug crime. Mac has rules to maintain his faith, like avoiding the pull of an attractive woman who doesn’t fit his life. But when he meets Katherine, he’s drawn in by her intelligence and strength, despite getting burned by her quick temper.
When he’s injured in the line of duty, Katherine reveals her feelings, and Mac doesn’t hesitate to respond. If only their scars, both seen and unseen, didn’t threaten to tear them apart. Two wary hearts must soften and two steel wills bend if they have any hope of making it down the broken trail to love.