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My Holiday Joy
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Joyann Reese has just moved from her home in New York City to the small town where she spent most of her summer holidays as a child. The great-aunt she hadn’t seen since her early teens, the only adult who’d taught her to love herself, extra curves and all, had died and left her the only place she’d ever felt safe. Moving to a small town opening up her own bakery, all around the holidays was already a bit harrowing, so she didn’t need the extra bother of a love interest.
As a plus size, ‘big girl’ she knew well her limitations and one look at the dreamboat next door told her that he was way out of her league, but that never stopped a girl from dreaming. If only he wasn’t so overbearingly perfect…
Devlin Monroe took one look at his new neighbor when she showed up at his door with her baked offering and smelled trouble. It didn’t take him long to decide that she was a nuisance and a pain not to mention an unwanted distraction in his otherwise ideal existence. He’d had a good thing going in his small hometown until she moved in next door.
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I smiled my way out of a deep comfortable sleep at the sound of the wintry wind knocking insistently against the windowpanes in my bedroom. I adore that sound, always have, and especially here, where it’s not expected, it’s even more welcomed.
The smile became an almost grin when I cracked my eye open just the slightest bit and saw the falling blanket of white outside my window. The first snow of the season!
I love waking up to mornings like this. When the snow has been falling gently and steadily throughout the night, covering everything as far as the eye can see, and bringing that sense of newness after the snow cleans away the dirt and grime.
Here, I have the added bonus of the boughs of the old birch tree hanging low enough to scrape against my window and the side of the house. It’s been a while since I enjoyed something as simple as that. One of the vagaries of becoming an adult.
I was almost tempted to stay just where I was in the cozy comfort of my warm bed. I actually closed my eyes again liking the idea more and more, but reality kicked in right on the heels of that thought and I remembered that I had a ton of things that needed doing.
Another quick peep across the room from beneath my lashes showed the fire in the gas furnace still going strong, the orange and blue flames dancing merrily, as if they too knew it was the season of perpetual joy.
It’s my favorite time of year. When everything and everyone seems shrouded in merriment. When nothing dark can creep in and spoil the mood that lingers in the air for weeks following the Thanksgiving holiday.
I know my friends and family get a kick out of my Susie Q attitude once the season rolls around, but I just can’t help it. It’s always just grabbed me by the heart strings, since early childhood, and even after I outgrew that wide eyed innocence that made me believe.
No matter what disappointments or setbacks I’ve faced throughout the year, the smell of pumpkin pie, the twinkling of lights and elaborate decorations in store windows and the sweet strains of holiday music on the car radio, always seem to wipe it all away.
This year things were a little bit different, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me. Not only had I traveled a long way from my home, but I was having a little bit of culture shock if you will. Almost like I’d moved to a foreign country instead of just a few states cross the country.
I rolled over onto my back with a sigh and looked up at the painted white ceiling in my new bedroom. My aunt Nell had died a few months ago and left her home to me.
No one was more surprised by this than I seeing as how I hadn’t been here since I was a teen. I hadn’t exactly forgotten the time spent here, but I certainly hadn’t expected that the woman who’d been such an influence in my life before my visits stopped, would think enough of me to leave me her precious home.
But I guess my aunty had never forgotten how much I loved the little clapboard house with its many twists and turns and what seemed like hundreds of windows that sat in the middle of the most beautiful cottage garden anywhere.
I’d wiled away many a summer day in that garden, with my nose stuck in a book or having a garden tea party with the friends I’d made here. Those were some of the best times of my life.
They were the only friends I’d made as a teen come to think of it. Maybe that’s why the place still holds such fond memories even now, all these many years later.
Its bright yellow color, freshly painted every couple of years gives one the feeling of warmth and joy. It stands out among its neighbors like a beacon of welcoming beauty.
As a young impressionable girl, the place had fit right in with the fairytales I still believed in. It was a place that nurtured a young girl’s dreams. A girl who spent most of her days in a fantasy world of her own making to escape from the reality of her true existence.
It was a far cry from my childhood home, this southern haven off the beaten path. There were no glaring lights and wild nightlife just around the corner like there was back in my hometown in the heart of New York City.
Maybe that’s why I’d been so drawn to the place as a child. Ever the outsider, the loner, this place had offered refuge during some of the harshest days of my life. And what’s more, I remember the warmth of the woman who’d lived here, the aunt who’d shown me more love and care than anyone else.