an excerpt from Courage of the Heart:
The Christmas Eve service was traditionally a candle-lit service. Members of the choir and vestry carried candles and other religious adornments to the front of the church in a processional. As a very young child she remembered sitting on her mother’s lap in the Episcopal Church her family went to and pointing to all the lit candles and holiday ornaments. She was spellbound by the candles’ twinkling and once or twice even disrupted the good Reverend’s sermon with her commentary to her mom.
Davie had asked Adam, on the way into church, about his religious upbringing. It was something they had just never discussed before. He told her that he had been born Catholic but his first, and only, communion had been the last time he remembered being in church except for friends’ weddings and funerals. His mother had made sure he attended religious classes until he was able to receive the holy sacraments. On the day of his communion, while all the other kids were having big family parties thrown in their honor, his mother took him out for an ice cream cone before depositing him back home and going off to her barmaid job. His father had gone on another drinking binge and had never even made the church service that day.
Adam had never had occasion to go to any church services after that, his mother was always working or sleeping with a new beau and his father was always drunk. It was just a few years later when his mother left town with a new lover. When his father heard from strangers that his wife had left town, he came home and beat Adam accusing him of keeping secrets. Adam hadn’t known anything about his mother’s desertion, he just knew that he was the only one left to suffer from his father’s wrath. All the good church people of his town turned their backs on him when he needed them. Going to church would have reminded him of his mother’s abandonment so he never bothered.
Davie admitted ruefully that she didn’t attend as often as her parents would have liked. Her family always included the church in every holiday. Davie could see that this was all new to Adam. She wondered how he was going to feel when she told him that not all her cousins had made it home yet and would be appearing tomorrow at her father’s house. The holiday tables, definitely in the plural, would be stretched from room to room and would still be overcrowded.
She chanced a look at Elizabeth sitting beside Albert and marveled about how easily she had assimilated into the Prescott community. Her father had been one of nine children and except for an older brother who hadn’t come back from Korea, they all lived in the area. Many of her cousins had also settled nearby to raise their own families. A few, like her, lived several hours away. On major holidays almost everyone who had claim to Prescott blood descended on Cape May County. Everybody who ever lived in their small town was either related to or a good friend with somebody in the Prescott family.
Reverend Williams was ascending the pulpit to begin his sermon. The choir was singing from Handel’s Messiah, she could hear her Aunt Rose’s voice. She had always wondered why Aunt Rose with the beautiful voice hadn’t become a professional singer. Davie noticed that Adam had been following along with all the prayers and hymns. She hoped that this Christmas was going to be memorable for both of them.
“Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people.” The reverend spoke of the greatest gift, the love and the child; he said the story of Christmas was about the poor and the outcast. He warned the congregation not to hide behind “gruff exteriors or a mask of self-sufficiency” for that would only multiply feelings of loneliness and of being outcasts.
Adam squeezed Davie’s hand as the homily continued.
“Christmas is a story about all of us receiving that which we most want and need: love; deep, strong, unconditional love.” Reverend William wished everyone a wonderful Christmas filled with family, love and faith.
After the service was over, Adam and Davie were separated in the throng of activity. She caught occasional glimpses of Adam as he was introduced to other members of her family by relatives that had just met him an hour earlier. Davie was captured in embrace after embrace of relatives who exclaimed how long she’d been gone even though she’d seen most of them at Thanksgiving. Her aunts and uncles pulled her to the side to ask questions about Adam. Her female cousins took turns swooning over his good looks. Davie heard her dad and Elizabeth asked if there was going to be a double wedding in February.
They finally managed to reach each other and Davie grabbed Adam’s hand so they wouldn’t be separated again.
“I am sorry about that.” Davie apologized.
“Don’t worry, they are all kind of nice. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to grow up with so much family around.” He leaned close to her ear and whispered. “How many of these people are actually related to you?”
Davie took her time looking around before she turned back to Adam with a grin. “The Reverend isn’t.”
For a moment Adam didn’t know whether she was mocking him or not. Then she laughed.
“Alright, there are a lot of people here who are related to me.” She shrugged. “It’s a big family.”
“Well, now I know where you got your people skills.” He put his arm around her shoulder and noticed that one older woman, maybe one of Davie’s aunts, gave a look of approval. “Uh, do they wear name-tags tomorrow by any chance?” He had no idea how he was going to keep who-was-who straight.
“The easiest way to sort it all out tomorrow is figure if they are in the house, they’re family. The oldest folks are grandparents, doesn’t matter who’s, middle aged are aunts and uncles, you know my dad and Liz. The people our age and teens are cousins, except for Robbie and Allan of course. The little ones are children of the cousins.” She laughed. “It’s really very easy.”
in e-book formats
Sometimes love is the only cure for the very deepest of emotional wounds. The story of the two lovers takes a series of unexpected and fast paced turns where lives, sanity and love are put in jeopardy. Their commitment to one another results in a spirit that binds them together and helps them to overcome physical and emotional dangers
(originally posted on Lindsay’s Romantics)