Table of Contents
The Cape Light Titles
A GATHERING PLACE
A NEW LEAF
A CHRISTMAS PROMISE
THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL
A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER
A CHRISTMAS VISITOR
A CHRISTMAS STAR
A WISH FOR CHRISTMAS
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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Copyright © 2009 by The Thomas Kinkade Company and Parachute Publishing, L.L.C.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
eISBN : 978-1-101-14907-2
1. Disabled veterans—Fiction. 2. Cape Light (Imaginary place)—Fiction.
3. New England—Fiction. 4. Christmas stories. 5. Domestic fiction. I. Spencer,
Katherine, (date) II. Title.
This book is dedicated to the men and women in the U.S. military
and to their families. With humble thanks for their great
service and sacrifices.
ILLIAN WARWICK HAD INVITED HER ENTIRE FAMILY TO celebrate Thanksgiving at her house this year. In fact, she had insisted upon it.
This was despite the fact that Lillian was many years beyond entertaining and could no longer shop, clean, or cook. Or even arrange the table with her treasured set of heirloom china, her sterling silver flatware, and the lace-trimmed table linens that she had bargained for in the streets of Florence on her honeymoon, decades ago.
The truth was, Lillian had never expended much energy or interest in such homely tasks. For the better part of the matriarch’s long life, there had been dutiful servants to carry out these mundane chores. Though Lillian had always been quite enthusiastic in directing exactly
things should be done.
And still was, her oldest daughter, Emily, knew well.
When Lillian had extended the invitation—more like a decree—to her two daughters, their husbands, and all her grandchildren, Emily knew that her own daughter Sara would be shouldering the lion’s share of the work. Sara and her husband, Luke, had been living with Lillian in the looming, mansard-roofed Victorian on Providence Street for the past three years. The grand old house was certainly large enough to afford everyone their privacy, though Emily knew that her mother was so nosy and opinionated, it probably felt like very close quarters to Sara and Luke.
But this was the last holiday that Sara and Luke would spend as part of Lillian’s household. They were moving to Boston the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Sara had found a new job, as a reporter for the
, and they had signed a lease on a charming apartment in Cambridge.
Sara had broken the news to her grandmother in early November. As everyone had expected, Lillian had not taken it well. She had pouted and sulked ever since, making Sara feel very guilty. As if her granddaughter were abandoning a sinking ship.
Surely, Emily thought, her mother realized the young couple could not live there forever. The arrangement was originally meant to be temporary, some family help while Lillian recovered from a fall, but it had somehow solidified and dragged on.
“Your grandmother will have to make some adjustments. It’s well past time,” Emily had told her daughter. “I know you love her, but she’s not your responsibility. She’s mine. Mine and your aunt Jessica’s, of course. Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.”
Emily had hoped her words had eased Sara’s guilt and concern, or at least been a buffer to Lillian’s dark looks and sulky silences.
The truth was, this Thanksgiving could be everyone’s last holiday in the big house. Who knew what would happen once Sara and Luke left? Emily and her sister had been mulling over the possibilities for a long time. It definitely seemed time for their mother to downsize, which was a pleasant way of saying Lillian had to sell the place, move to some senior community, or move in with one of her daughters. But none of that had been discussed yet.
As her husband, Dan, drove up to the house and parked in the driveway, Emily could see they were the first to arrive. Carrying covered dishes and trays, they walked up the path to the side door, which led into the kitchen. Her mother hated it when guests came in through the kitchen.
“Dinner guests enter through the front door. Not the back, like servants or a delivery service.”
But the etiquette faux pas could not be avoided. There was too much to carry. Sara was a wonderful cook, but Emily wanted to contribute something to the meal and had ended up assigned the salad and hors d’oeuvres.
Her younger daughter, Jane, who was only four, carefully carried a bowl of artichoke dip, which Emily hoped would make it to the kitchen intact. “Try to hold it straight, Janie,” Emily told her.
Nearing the house, they found Sara outside, snipping sprigs of rosemary from a large bush near the kitchen door.
Emily kissed her cheek. “Hi, sweetheart. How’s it going?”
“Grandma’s driving me crazy. Luke and I have been cooking for two days, and nothing is right, of course.”
Emily had expected as much. “Let me handle her. You did your part.”
“And more, I’m sure,” Dan added. He grinned at Sara, balanced a tray of stuffed mushrooms with one arm, and swung open the side door with the other. “Here we go, ladies. Ready or not.”
Emily led the way into the house and soon found her mother in the kitchen. Lillian stood at the sink, holding a crystal wine goblet up to the light.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Mother.” Emily placed her foil-covered dishes and trays on the table. “Wow, it smells delicious in here. What did you cook? Let me see . . .” Emily glanced at Sara with a proud, approving smile as she walked over to the stove where pots and pans covered every burner.
“Happy Thanksgiving,” Lillian said absently, still turning the glass. “Or it would be if the table was set properly.” She looked over at Emily. “These glasses are dirty. Spotty stemware ruins the whole table setting. You have to be more careful, Sara.”
Before her exhausted daughter could reply, Emily stepped between them. “Here, let me see.” Emily took the offending goblet in hand. She could not see a spot and doubted she would be able to find one even with a magnifying glass. But she made a good show of rinsing the wineglass under warm water. Before she could dry it, her mother snatched it away.
“I’ll do it. The
way,” Lillian insisted, wiping the glass carefully with a paper towel.
That was her mother for you. She not only saw the glass half empty, it was marred by a hideous spot.
“You had better check the rest, Sara,” Lillian said. “Bring the dirty glasses in here to me. Hurry, the others will be here soon.”
“I’ll go,” Emily offered. She walked into the dining room. “Oh, look at the table,” Emily called back to Sara and her mother. “It’s so beautiful, like something out of a magazine.”
It was no exaggeration. The table really did look splendid. It must have taken Sara hours—polishing the silver; rinsing off the Wedgwood china dishes that were hardly ever used; ironing the cloth napkins, which had been folded into fan shapes; and even making the centerpiece, a combination of autumn-colored flowers and leaves and swirling vines.
Sara had even bought a chocolate turkey for each of the children, which she set next to their place cards. Emily expected Janie would want to eat hers before dinner; her grandmother would certainly have something to say about that.
Emily heard the chimes in the foyer sound and Luke calling out that he would get it.
Then she heard the door open and the voices of her sister Jessica, her brother-in-law Sam, and their two boys, Darrell and Tyler, all talking at once as they came in. Emily picked up two wineglasses and went back into the kitchen.
“They’re here. It’s about time.” Her mother sighed, looking as if she were preparing herself to face some irksome but unavoidable duty. Hardly the doting grandmother, cheerfully greeting her offspring on a holiday.
Lillian smoothed the white satin cuffs on her gray wool dress and adjusted a cameo that hung from a gold chain.
“We had better get out there before the barbarians storm the kitchen,” Lillian warned. “Children aren’t taught any manners these days.”
“Oh, Mother,” Emily said with a laugh. “This isn’t a state dinner at the White House. It’s Thanksgiving.”