Stories of faith, life, and love

Tag: Christmas fiction

What I’m Reading Christmas: While It Was Snowing

Trust me. I know. Fall hasn’t given way to winter, and Thanksgiving deserves its time in the spotlight. While I am a supporter of Thanksgiving, there aren’t a lot of Thanksgiving themed reads out there. Besides, if I’m reviewing books so you can find ones to add to your TBR Christmas list, I need to start now.

Today’s book isn’t the first Christmas book I’ve read this year, but it is the one I finished most recently. It also happens to be the one I’m currently most excited about. Let me tell you why.

While It Was Snowing, by Tari Faris, has all the makings of a great, feel-good holiday story. On the surface it may seem like a tried and true friends to lovers story, but it mixes it up a bit right from the start.

Danielle Fair isn’t a girly girl. Raised by her father and older brothers, Danielle doesn’t even use her full name. Instead, she goes by Dan, and it isn’t just at home. So used to being one of the guys, she’s known as Dan everywhere she goes including on the job. Her job just happens to be in her father’s garage as the best mechanic he has. Of course, she has to prove that as her father seems unwilling to leave her the business when he readies for retirement.

The story starts with Dan being drafted into her friend’s wedding. Can I repeat here that she isn’t a girly girl. She doesn’t do dresses or makeup or hair. Coveralls are more her style. But she is loving friend, and she steps in despite her discomfort at being transformed into a princess for a day. Maybe it will even give her the chance to impress her best friend Gideon.

Gideon and Dan have worked together for years and become best friends. Gideon is gorgeous and catches the eye of every girl in town, including Dan’s. But he sees her as everybody does, one of the guys. Until he sees her dressed up for the wedding. Suddenly their easy going, share everything with each other friendship is thrown off kilter.

Dan finds herself in the position of proving to her father that she’s the best man for the job while trying to show Gideon that she’s the woman to win his heart. Coveralls and cover shoots don’t exactly mix, and Dan isn’t sure she has what it takes to be a desirable woman and a capable woman in a male dominated business at the same time. Is it even possible?

Gideon loves his friendship with Dan and doesn’t want to risk losing it. But after seeing her at the wedding, he can’t get her out of his mind. He begins to wonder how he has been so blind for all the years of their friendship. Sure, she’s attractive in a dress, but her coveralls don’t make her less of a woman or less beautiful. As he considers their friendship through the years, he starts to realize he loved Dan before he saw her as Danielle for the first time. He loves all sides of her. Now if he can only get her to see it isn’t the dress that makes her desirable, it’s who she is in her heart.

Throw in a snowstorm, a holiday, work drama, and a little bit of jealousy to complicate their journey to realizing their love for each other, and you have a fun Christmas story to start off your holiday reading. Plus, there are several moments with all the feels. (Those moments that leave you actually feeling excited or disappointed for fictional movie or book characters even though you know they aren’t real.)

My rating: 4 out of 5 Christmas angels. This is a contender for my favorite Christmas book of the year. Come back closer to Christmas to see if it wins.

What about you? Do you enjoy the friends to lovers scenario in books?

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What I’m Reading: Catching Christmas

Those who’ve been regular readers know my family has been dealing with my grandmother’s declining health. The last three weeks were particularly stressful with placing her in a memory care facility, her stroke and fall, and watching her decline. On Tuesday, November 19th, my grandmother saw her prayer to be free from the brokenness of her mind answered when God took her into her eternal home.

We miss her, but we are happy for her. She was always Grandma, but she wasn’t the grandmother of my childhood anymore. Watching her decline daily over the last five months as her day time caregiver I learned several things. First, dementia is a horrible disease. I knew that, but I didn’t KNOW that until I lived it beside one of my loved ones on a daily basis. Second, I would much rather loved ones die without warning than watch their slow decline. The third goes along with the second. I want to let my loved ones know that I love them every day so if they go without warning I have no regrets. And though these are only the highlights of things I learned, I have one more to share today.

Even in the hardest times, there are blessings to be found. Over the last five months I’ve collected memories with Grandma from her daily care. My extended family has found a new appreciation for each other, and family hurts have been healed. The power of prayer, scripture, and communion have been reinforced in my life. I’ve had the gift of seeing the spirit continue to thrive even as the body wastes away. With that has come the opportunity to see Grandma touch lives for Jesus even when she was incapable of normal interaction. I got to see her live with purpose, and when that purpose was complete I got to see God take her home to be with Him.

With all these blessings and lessons fresh in my mind, it was with a greater understanding that I read Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock. I’ll be completely honest, if I’d refreshed myself on the subject matter, I might have skipped reading this one this Christmas. I’m glad I didn’t.

Miss Callie’s granddaughter, Sydney, is a busy lawyer who loves her grandmother but is unable to give her the care she needs due to a demanding job as a lawyer. Not understanding how desperately Miss Callie needs daily care she’s content to arrange for cabs to take her grandmother wherever she needs to go.

Finn is the first to pick Miss Callie up for a doctor’s appointment, and he immediately becomes the only one she will call for a ride. His frustration at becoming not only a ride but a substitute caregiver is off-set by his guilt over leaving his mother to die alone because he couldn’t handle the emotional demands. Miss Callie is a chance to change that. he quickly grows to care for her even when her verbal filter doesn’t work as it should and when she leads him on a quest to find a date for Sydney in effort to make this the best Christmas ever.

Finn reaches out to Sydney in frustration but learns there’s more to her than a neglectful granddaughter. As Finn works to give Miss Callie the wonderful Christmas she desires, his friendship with Sydney grows through their continued interaction. It will take both Sydney and Finn to give Miss Callie a wonderful Christmas.

Miss Callie has dementia, a mission, and a soft spot for “that nice young man” who drives the cab. She loves the Lord, and even in her altered state it comes through changing both Finn and Sydney. She lives with purpose whether her mind is clear or not. It’s this purpose that keeps her and Finn on the go from page one to the very end of Catching Christmas.

While Catching Christmas was especially touching for me, the story will be sweet, funny, and meaningful for anyone reading it. Full of reminders to chase after what’s important, live with purpose, and find the blessings in life no matter what I hope it moves readers into action this Christmas season and throughout the coming years.

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