Tanya Eavenson is our guest blogger today. Tanya is a bestselling and an award-winning inspirational romance author. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. You can find her at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.
by Tanya Eavenson
For years growing up our tradition was to gather with family on Christmas Eve. Aunts, uncles, and cousins I hadn’t seen since the year before would flock together for this one day. Even now, I can picture the older men sitting at their squared card tables playing dominoes and smoking cigars. No matter where you were in the house, the sound of shuffling and clinking tiles could be heard.
This is a memory I will never forget, and was a precious time growing up. But when my first daughter came into the world around Christmas time, I told my husband I wanted to start my own family tradition, one that would help our children understand what Christ did coming as a babe. My husband knew how important this was for me since I hadn’t grown up in a Christian home. So the next year we began our own family tradition.
Every year on Christmas day, whether we go home for the holidays or not, we make a birthday cake for Jesus. The kids get up in the morning and help me make the cake, from stirring the ingredients to layering the icing on thick, and yes, they like a lot of icing. Then after dinner we bring out the cake, light the candles, and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. Now, you might be wondering who blows out the candles. We all do because Jesus came for all.
I pray when my children get older, they will have their own traditions, but they will always remember praising and worshiping Christ on Christmas day. Even with something as simple as a cake.
To Gain a Mommy
They had a plan, but will it work?
Thirteen years ago, pediatrician Hope Michaels was the fool-hearted girl who came home from college to learn the man she loved was engaged to her twin. But now to move on with her life and accept a proposal of marriage, she must confront the one man who holds the key to the wounds of her past.
Fire Captain Carl McGuire can put out any flame, except for the one Hope sparks within him. As she stirs up his life and heart, Carl knows some things never change. Even a past he’d rather keep hidden.
When a new neighbor moves in across the street who would be a perfect fit for their family, Mary and Brody form a plan to bring their dad and Hope together. But how will it work if Hope keeps pushing him away?
Excerpt from To Gain a Mommy
Carl McGuire smiled and shook his head as his eight-year-old son, Brody, held the sheer curtain and stared out the window at some poor, unsuspecting woman across the street.
Brody pointed, excitement dancing in his wide eyes. “Did you see the dog? He was standing by the palm tree a minute ago.”
“No,” Mary huffed, moving her younger brother to the side, swiping the tan fabric from him. “What does she look like?” She followed his stare out the window.
“She’s golden brown. And how do you know the dog is a girl? You can’t tell from here.”
“I’m not talking about the dog. The lady. What does she look like?”
“Who cares about her? Look at the dog.”
Carl leaned back in his desk chair, setting his phone down. The woman had no idea what she was about to encounter being their neighbor, but if she did indeed own a dog, she’d find out soon enough. Perhaps he could go over and warn her before it was too late. “Why don’t you give our new neighbor some privacy?”
Mary perked up and turned from the window. “I have a better idea. Why don’t we go over and say hi? It’s the neighborly thing to do. Love your neighbor as yourself, you always say.”
How conveniently she recalled scripture when it suited. Only last week she totally ignored his comment to ‘obey your parents.’ Even if there was only one parent, it still applied.
“Yeah, dad!” Brody pushed past his sister to stand near the door, so if Carl agreed, he’d be the first out. “I’m sure she’ll let us play with her dog while she moves her stuff from the truck.”
Carl had actually thought about going over to introduce himself and his children when the moving truck had first pulled into the driveway earlier that day, but several phone calls later, the fire department’s fundraiser was finally underway. As captain, he had an obligation not only to the townspeople and their safety but also to raise money for needed improvements to the fire fighters’ “home away from home.”
He glanced at the list of numbers he still needed to call. “Maybe tomorrow. We can take some cookies or something.”
“But Dad, it’s a golden retriever.”
As if the breed of the dog would change his mind. “Sorry, buddy. I still have too much to do.”
Mary released the curtain. “She has blond hair, but that’s all I could tell.” She rounded the couch and plopped down in the recliner. “You know, if you’d just get him a dog, it might cure his dog fascination.”
“Thank you, Mary. I’ll keep that in mind.” Even though his daughter stayed silent, he sensed she wanted to say more but held her tongue, something she’d been doing more often lately.
Being a single parent wasn’t easy, but he’d always known where he stood with Mary and what was on her mind. Now he wasn’t so sure and it bothered him. She’d be a teenager in less than six weeks and was growing up much too fast. Every day he’d been noticing little things that reminded him of Faith, memories of what he used to have before she was taken in a hit-and-run. Some days like today were painfully real.
“…are you listening? We’re hungry.”
Carl blinked twice, pushing his thoughts away as he glanced at the time on his phone. “What do you want to eat?” He stood and slid his cell into his pocket.
Mary linked her arm through his. “Can I go to Tiffany’s house Tuesday for a sleepover?”
Brody ran past them into the kitchen and opened the freezer. “I thought we’re going to Grandma’s?”
“You are. I’m on shift.” He patted his daughter’s hand as it slid from his arm. “Maybe next week.”
“Why I can’t go? I’m a teenager now. I can take care of myself. Besides, it would be easier for Grandma if I wasn’t there. One less mouth to feed.”
“You know how I feel about staying together while I’m on shift. I don’t have to worry about your safety. And besides, Grandma fixes us food regardless or sends it home with us. Speaking of”—he opened the refrigerator—“are you in the mood for leftovers?”
Brody yanked out a pizza. “How about pizza?”
“Not pizza again.” Mary sank to a barstool. Her lips protruded slightly into a pout.
“Okay.” Brody stuffed the pizza back in the freezer and held out two more options. “We have pizza rolls or pizza pockets. I like either one.”
Carl chuckled, swiping his wallet and keys from the counter. “Grab your shoes. We’ll get something to eat.” He went into his room and put on his running shoes, but as he was walking out, the picture of Faith on his dresser caught his eye. The ache in his chest dimmed over the years, but never quite vanished. She gazed back at him, her smile brilliant. Breathtaking. And a mirror image of—
He shook his head to focus on the present and his two hungry children. Walking back into the living room, he yelled, “We ready?” The front door was open. They must be waiting for him by the truck.
In an instant, an ear piercing scream cut through the air, straight down the center of his heart.