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Authors: Thomas Kinkade

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BOOK: A Wish for Christmas
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“Yes, I did.” Digger nodded. “I took this sweater. And some other stuff. I gave you girls all the money, too. Most of it, anyways. Set some aside for my old age . . . and then another little chunk, just in case.” He looked down at the case and poked it with his toe. “I expect that’s what this here is. That little chunk I squirreled away. Sort of like an inheritance for you, Grace. A gift for taking care of your old man all these years. You were supposed to find it after I passed on.”
So, he did remember. Grace stared at him. His intentions were touching, but Grace couldn’t help but find fault with his plan. “After you passed on? How was that supposed to happen? Did you leave a note about it somewhere for me?”
“Not that I recall . . .” He shook his head, as if the effort of all this thinking was wearing him out. “But what are you complaining about, Grace? You found it, didn’t you? And I’m not even dead.”
Grace was momentarily stumped by this logic. She could see it was useless to argue the point any further.
She looked down at the suitcase again. “I guess I’ll have to bring that to a bank. Bet I get some good service when they see that deposit.”
“A bank?” Her father nearly choked. Looking the most animated she had seen him during this entire conversation, he shook his head. “No, ma’am. No banks.”
“Dad, what are you talking about? Of course we have to put it in a bank. Why in the world not?”
“Don’t trust them, that’s why. Open your eyes, Gracie. Bankers are . . . Why, they’re shifty-type people. I’m not letting them get their grubby fingers on a dollar of mine. I saved that money all these years. For you. I’m not letting it out of this house.”
Grace let out a long, exasperated sigh. “Do you think it’s safer in an old suitcase, stuck up in the rafters of the barn, than in a big, solid, bank?”
He didn’t answer, just frowned and started eating again.
“Anything could have happened to it by now, Dad. A leak in the roof . . . a fire . . . a robbery . . .”
The more calamities she listed, the less he seemed to be listening. “How about a safe-deposit box?” she asked. “It’s solid metal, and they give you your own key. It would still be hidden, and it’s very secure, Dad. Honestly.”
Digger picked up a bit of toast crust and popped it into his open mouth. “Oh, heck. The money’s yours now. Do what you like with it.”
“That’s not true, Dad. I don’t want to do anything with it that upsets you. I’m not going to make any decisions without your say-so,” she promised him. “I just want to be . . . reasonable about this. There’s a lot of money in there. It’s not safe sitting here in the middle of everything.”
“How much would you say is there, Grace? Just ballpark.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Grace leaned over and looked into the case again, studying the neat, thick piles of green bills. “At least thirty thousand. Maybe more.”
“A tidy sum.” Digger finished his toast and began cutting up an apple with his pocketknife. He offered Grace a slice on the blade, the way he always had when she was a girl.
“Yes, very tidy.” She bit down on her apple slice and chewed.
“It’s funny but I can’t think of anything I want to buy. Can you?” Digger asked her.
Grace thought for a moment. “No, I really can’t. We have all we need, thank heaven. We are very blessed, Dad.”
“Yes, we are, Grace, blessed indeed. I’m just thinking that maybe we could use some of that money to help some folks who don’t have so much as us. Being it’s Christmas coming and everything.”
Grace lifted her head and looked at him. “That’s a nice idea. It’s just found money. Really found money,” she added with a short laugh at her unintended pun. “We should give some to charity.”
“Yeah, sure. Charities are okay. But I was thinking more of folks we know, right here in town. Families are hurting. This one’s lost a job. That one’s got medical problems or the furnace broke down. You don’t have to look too far these days to find folks in need. I’m figuring a few handfuls of that money, sprinkled around the village, will go a long way to giving some folks a happy Christmas.”
Grace was surprised at her father’s proposal. She’d never even thought of it. It wasn’t that she didn’t like to help people. She did, if she could. She always volunteered at church and gave to the special causes, emergency relief for an earthquake or famine in some far-off corner of the world. She slipped donations into the mail for all kinds of charities—from cancer research to protecting polar bears. It was important to do that, Grace thought. If everyone helped just a little, the world would truly be a different place.
But easing the burdens of people they knew, that was another thing altogether. She would never be known about town for showing her feelings openly to others. That just wasn’t her way, had never been and never would be.
Grace knew very well some people thought she was cold and unfeeling. Just because she was uncomfortable calling attention to herself, it didn’t mean she didn’t notice or lacked sympathy.
She had certainly had her share of problems in life. They had not been big earners, she and her father. But they had been careful savers and made good investments. She now had plenty to retire on when the time came and enough to take care of her dad for as long as he lived.
It seemed that so many now were falling on hard times. Just the other day she heard two women talking while they browsed in her shop. One said that her husband had been sick and lost his job, and now they were buried under a pile of medical bills. The couple was thinking of selling their house, but maybe even that desperate move wouldn’t solve the problem.
Grace had felt so sorry for her. When the woman asked the price of a bone china teacup she had been admiring, Grace insisted that the price tag said two dollars, when she knew very well it said twenty. When the women seemed confused, Grace pointed out an imaginary chip and claimed she had to mark it down. It was a small gesture. But she hoped the pretty piece would bring the woman some pleasure.
What her father was proposing would be a real help to people. An answer to their prayers.
“So, what do you think, Gracie?” Digger prodded her. “Should we do it?”
Grace nodded quickly, a lump in her throat. “I think we should, Dad. I think it’s a fine idea. I’d like for us to be anonymous, though. I don’t want any attention for this. You know this town. All you have to do is offer someone a tissue, and your picture winds up on the front page of the newspaper. That doesn’t seem right.”
Digger laughed. “That’s the same way I feel about it. I don’t want anyone to know. I don’t want anybody to feel beholden to us. That’s the way it ought to be, giving for giving’s sake.”
“Right.” Grace nodded, then shut the suitcase. “That settles it then. We have some figuring out to do, I guess.”
“Yes, we do. What do you plan to do with the money in the meanwhile?”
Grace thought a moment. It would be best, under the circumstances, she thought, to keep the money handy.
She walked over to the cupboard and took out a roll of foil and a box of Ziploc bags. “I’m going to wrap it up and put it down in the deep freeze. It will be safe there. God forbid we have a fire. No one will find it under all that fish, that’s for sure.”
Her father had been a commercial fisherman all his life, the fastest, most successful clammer in the area. Sometimes he claimed he could hear the clams under the sand, trying to hide from him. Sometimes Grace believed that, too. But her father had been no stranger to fishing boats either—out in every season, in all kinds of weather, casting his nets on the choppy waters.
In his retirement, Digger fished for pleasure and not even much of that anymore, though his friends Harry Reilly and Sam Morgan would take him out from time to time in the summer. Her father always brought home such a large catch that Grace suspected Sam and Harry were contributing, filling their deep freeze with enough fish to last all winter long.
Her father nodded approvingly as she began wrapping stacks of bills in foil. “Good thinking, Grace. I like that idea better than some old bank. Maybe you could bring up some scrod while you’re down there and cook it up for dinner?”
“Yes, Dad. That’s the least I can do, seeing how you’re making such a grand gesture with your windfall.”
Digger laughed. “I always liked dressing up as Santa when you and your sisters were little. That’s why I kept this long beard.”
“All you need now is a red hat and a sleigh.”
It was good to see her father so happy and animated, his mind engaged in such a worthwhile endeavor. Grace knew in her heart, her father wasn’t going to be around forever. But this was going to be a special Christmas. One she would always remember.
 
 
 
AS EMILY DROVE TO HER MOTHER’S HOUSE ON SATURDAY MORNING, SHE reminded herself that she knew this day was bound to come. Well, here it was. No avoiding it. Sara was moving.
Why did it feel like such a shock? Emily had known for weeks now. Actually, she had always known it would happen, the possibility hovering just around the corner, ever since Sara had appeared in her life, an amazing, second-chance miracle.
They’d had six years together now. It had been a challenge in many ways to suddenly jump into the role of mother to a grown daughter. Sara had been angry with her at first, rightfully so. And there had been some tension with Sara’s adoptive family, who couldn’t understand Sara’s need to remain in Cape Light.
Sara’s adoptive parents thought Emily had pressured Sara to stay in town and work on the newspaper. But that had been all Sara’s idea. Emily had rejoiced, of course. And after Sara and Luke were married, Emily secretly wished the couple would find their own home in town and put down real roots. Maybe even start a family?
But in her heart, she knew Sara too well to ever believe it would be so simple. Her daughter was born to be a newspaper reporter. She thrived on the pace and pressure of deadlines, loved digging up the story, seeing her words in print, then rushing to write the next story.
The truth was, it was amazing Sara had stayed so long, reporting for the
Cape Light Messenger
. As Emily’s husband, Dan, had pointed out, “The question has never been ‘Will Sara leave for a better job on a bigger paper?’ It’s always been ‘When?’ ”
Since Sara had found her, every day had been a gift, and one Emily believed she never took for granted. She would not have traded one single hour of her time with Sara for anything. Today, of all days, she had to be grateful for what she’d been given, even though she had a sudden, uncontrollable urge to cling to her daughter.
Now Emily pulled up to her mother’s house to find her brother-in-law Sam’s truck parked in front, packed with Sara and Luke’s belongings—a few pieces of furniture, a few lamps, boxes, and suitcases. Sam would be driving to Boston to help them move in, but Jessica, who was too pregnant to be loading and lifting, was staying behind. Besides, she had the boys to look after. Emily saw her nephews playing on the front lawn with Sam, tossing a football back and forth, making too much noise for their grandmother, she was sure.
She waved to Sam and walked up the driveway where Luke’s SUV was parked, tailgate open and full of boxes. Sara came out the side door, carrying a big carton.
“Here, let me help you,” Emily offered.
“That’s okay. I’ve got it.” Sara heaved the carton into the truck with a grunt. “Luke said he should have known better than to marry a brainy woman. He’s going to be hauling boxes of books around his whole life.”
“I think he’s still got the better end of the deal,” Emily said, leaning over and hugging her. “Oh, boy, I’m going to miss you.”
She was trying not to cry but it wasn’t easy.
“I’ll miss you, too.” Sara hugged her back. “But we’re not moving far. I’ll be back all the time, and you’ll come into the city to visit whenever you want.”33
“Yes, of course we will,” Emily agreed, though she knew it wasn’t true. Once Sara and Luke became entrenched in their new jobs and new life, they wouldn’t come back to Cape Light very often. Nor would she be running into Boston, with her demanding job as mayor and Jane to care for.
But she didn’t say any of this. She hugged her daughter fiercely and quickly pulled away. If they’d had a normal parent-child relationship, she would have been through this before—Sara going away to summer camps and on trips, then off to college. She would have gotten the hang of it by now, Emily told herself.
But when she stood back and looked into her daughter’s lovely face, Emily knew parting with Sara would have never become easy or routine.
She forced a smile. “So . . . anything else to bring out?”
“I guess there are a few more boxes,” Sara said.
“How is your grandmother doing?” Emily asked as they walked into the kitchen. The truth was, Emily had been so wrapped up in her own feelings this morning, she had barely given her mother a thought. For once.
“Grandma is very . . . quiet. She’s acting as if there’s nothing unusual going on. I think she’s still mad at me.”
“She has nothing to be mad at you for,” Emily insisted.
“I know. But—” Sara shrugged. Emily could tell that Sara understood Lillian’s reaction but still felt hurt.
“She’ll get over it. Don’t worry.”
“I just hope she’s okay here on her own. It would break her heart to leave this house.”
“I know. We’ll just have to see what happens, honey.”
They both looked up as Jessica walked into the kitchen, carrying a laundry basket of miscellaneous items. “This looks heavy but it’s very light,” she quickly explained. “But we need to cover it before you can put it in the truck. Luke said everything else is packed and he’s ready to go.”
So soon? Emily had hoped for a few more minutes with Sara before they took off. “A big trash bag should do it, right?” she asked.
She went to the pantry and found a bag then helped Sara and Jessica cover the basket. Jessica, with her very pregnant stomach getting in the way, was not much help and finally stepped back, laughing at her awkwardness.
BOOK: A Wish for Christmas
11.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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