Book of the Week - Grace

Welcome to this week's Book of the Week blog. I'm featuring Grace, a sweet story of family and a special holiday.

Blurb: Grace Winston yearns for one last family Christmas before she leaves for England, but first she has to convince her brothers and sisters it's worth their while to come home. While her parents are happy that she's been accepted at Oxford University, they are pining for their family to gather together for the holidays. Grace talks her older brothers and sister into coming home, but then they must convince their other siblings: a brother who attacked their father to get money to feed his drug habit, and a sister who recently gave up alcohol and is raising her four young children alone. While Grace manages to bring them all together, she is soon wondering if this was really worth all the trouble she's gone through, especially when no one acknowledges her efforts to make this a Christmas to remember--until she receives an early gift that leaves her certain that everything will turn out all right.

I've lived in quite a few places, grew up in California, spent eleven years in the Air Force, moving from California, to Texas, to Illinois, back to California, then over the Atlantic Ocean to Germany. After more than five exciting years experiencing the Christmas traditions of Europe, I returned to the United States, to Arizona, up to Colorado, and finally I settled in Georgia.

Everywhere I went, there were special traditions, but none have given me as much pleasure as those I discovered in the South. Family is first and foremost here, often requiring the preparation any bridal planner would find too much to handle, when one has to consider not only immediate family but also those extended members, or a spouse's family. It's not unusual for adult children to spend the whole day going from grandparents to great-grandparents, to parents, and then repeating the same routine for their husband's or wife's relatives.

The meals are coveted, with each person attending these gatherings working hard to bring their most special holiday dish, or perhaps a luscious looking dessert they discovered over the previous year.

Let's not forget the gift giving, a moment when the carefully decorated Christmas tree, with its loads of packages coming undone. There's not much more conversation than "Oh, it's great!" or "Just what I wanted!" and always includes everyone exclaiming "Thank you!"

Perhaps the best part of a Southern Christmas is the closeness. Nothing that has happened in the past is allowed to intrude on this gathering. Those who only exchange "Well, I never." during the year, will greet each other like they haven't met since the last Christmas. Forgiveness is rampant.
So goes this sense of tradition in Grace, from the opening, to the reunion, to the ending that is a beginning of a far better future.