Dear Santa: A New Tradition

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On another edition of Dear Santa!, we have Amber Roettger. She’s here to share a short story with us titled A New Tradition. She’s a new (to me) author, but I’m so glad to have her on the blog today! Enjoy!

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A New Tradition

When Andrea was 12, her brother and father passed away three days before Christmas. The holiday season was never quite the same after that. She and her mother, Sarah, just couldn’t find cheer and happiness in decorating the tree (her father’s favorite part), going around town to see the lights (her brother’s favorite part), or even exchanging gifts.

They still tried, but to Andrea it had always felt like they were going through the motions. Doing what was expected of them. Her favorite part of the holiday season was when it was over, and she knew her mother felt the same relief.

When she turned 19, Andrea had enough. “Mom, what if we went away this year?” she asked one day in early March while they were cooking dinner together.

The experience of losing half their family might have broken them, but she was grateful for how close she was with her mother. Most of her friends were constantly annoyed at their parents. Andrea never let it get to that point.

Sarah shook her head, confused. “What do you mean? We take a trip every year.” True, every June they tried to take a short road trip to somewhere nearby. But Andrea was thinking bigger.

Andrea stopped chopping the onion and turned to look at her mother. Same brown eyes and brown hair as her own, but the resemblance stopped there. “No, I know. But what if we went away for Christmas instead?”

She could see the realization in her mother’s eyes, what she was offering up. No sad Christmas in the house that they couldn’t bear to move out of. No more going through the motions with the rest of the family. “We could do something big, every year. France, Japan, the Maldives…”

Sarah was nodding her head in agreement. And thus began a new tradition. While other people were trying to decide how to fit in two or three, or even four Christmases with the in-laws and extended family, Andrea and her mom were planning their next big vacation to some unknown locale.

The first year, they spent a few days in Hawaii. “I’ve always wanted to go,” Sarah had told her. “Let’s get away from the snow at least once.”

The second year, they spent a week in France. They prepared the whole year practicing French and silly accents to get each other laughing.

Andrea was grateful. It was a fun, playful side to her mom that she had never seen before. And she loved it.

They attempted to learn Japanese for the third vacation, but it proved to be more difficult than they ever imagined. Her mom just shrugged it off. “Well. I’m sure we’ll meet at least one person who speaks English over there. And we can just apologize profusely for being dumb Americans,” Sarah joked with a wink.

It was almost a Christmas miracle, Andrea decided. Something that she hadn’t believed in since she was 11. The new experiences brought the two of them closer together, and her mom seemed more alive than ever before, something she didn’t really think was possible.

After Andrea and Conner married, there was one last trip. Conner understood, he practically pushed her into the airport himself. He knew how important these trips were to the two of them, plus there was an extra special gift that Andrea couldn’t wait to give her mother.

During the take-off, Andrea leaned over to Sarah and whispered, “Mom, I’m pregnant,” into her ear.

Sarah squealed and through her arms around her daughter and started making plans for the next year. “We have to take her to see Santa, oh and get her some of those lovely little dresses.”

Andrea laughed and cut Sarah off. “You’re so certain it will be a girl?”

Sarah smiled and shrugged. “I always imagined you with a little girl who looks exactly like you. Same bright eyes and beautiful smile. Same sense of adventure.” She leaned her head against Andrea’s shoulder and sighed. “These last few years have been great, but I think next Christmas will be the best one yet.”

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For more from Amber, check out her book, The Road Home.

the-road-homeAll Emily Morris wants is to be happy. She has a great life and a great boyfriend in Chicago, but it all changes when her best friend needs to move back to their hometown of Berlin, Indiana.

While in Berlin, Emily is forced to confront secrets that come out. Discoveries that could change the way she feels about her own past.

As Emily works through this, she has to decide where she will be happiest, with her boyfriend in Chicago…Or back in Berlin with the ones she left behind?

Where to Buy  The Road Home

Amazon / Barnes and Noble

About Amber

profile-pictureAmber Roettger is an author of New Adult, Young Adult, and Fantasy novels. When not writing, she enjoys hanging out with her dog and her boyfriend, and volunteering at the local animal shelter. Her favorite book ever is The Secret Garden, which she rereads at least once a year.

Connect with Amber on Facebook.

Dear Santa: An Avalon Christmas Carol

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Today on Dear Santa!, we have Danielle Shipley. She’s been on the blog many-a-time before, and I’m a huge fan of anything of hers! She recently published her Christmas novella, An Avalon Christmas, Outlaws of Avalon Book 1.5, just this week. And, she’s graciously given us an excerpt of the book!

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Merlin entered his bedchamber – at which time a warming fire bloomed in his grate – and exchanged his daytime robe for a nightgown. Then, above the crackle from the fireplace, he heard a clanking noise; a sound unmistakably like rattling metal chains. He scarcely had time to wonder what the clatter might portend when the source came on through his door – his closed door, mind – and passed into the room before his eyes. The body was tall, well-built, and fully transparent, Merlin’s gaze easily penetrating flesh and bone and armor of mail that caused all the clang and jangle.

“Arthur,” said Merlin, incredulously, for the face and form of the phantom appeared every bit that of Camelot’s lord, save for the see-through quality. “Is that supposed to be you?”

“Ask me who I was,” the specter said in a moaning version of Arthur’s voice.

“All right… Who were you, then?”

“In life, I was your king,” he moaned again. “Arthur Pendragon.”christmas-carol-cover-w-text

In life? But Arthur was alive – at least, he had been the last Merlin had seen of him, over dinner. And there was no call for him to have died in the meantime, not in Avalon. What purpose, then, in feigning death? What point to this ghostly charade?

Merlin’s eyes narrowed as the pieces began to fall into place. Scarlet’s strange dress and calling him “uncle”; Gawain laboring in a dismal cubicle; now Arthur clanking around like a wraith. Yes, at last, it all came clear.

“You don’t believe in me,” Arthur observed.

“Of course I don’t,” said Merlin briskly. “I’ve obviously been dreaming since Scarlet’s entrance in a top hat, or earlier. I should have known it the moment Robin brought up the movie on television: We were all of us watching a holiday special like this, today (or maybe yesterday, by now); a film based on that novella by Dickens. You’re nothing but a product of that viewing, none of you; nothing but figments of my subconscious.”

At this, the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook his chainmail with such a dismal and appalling noise that Merlin was tempted to knock the noisemaker over the head, never mind if he did look like his king.

“For pity’s sake,” he snapped, “what are you carrying on about?”

“It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men,” the spirit howled, “and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in second life, it is condemned to a doom as good as death. It is doomed to wander within but apart from the world – oh, woe is me! – and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!”

Merlin blinked at the flow of the ghost’s words. Arthur had been known for many excellent traits, not among them any especial eloquence. His was a royal heart with a common man’s tongue, and was not prone to flowery speeches. For the sake of the novelty of it, Merlin gave the romantic ravings ear.

“Oh, captive, bound, and double-ironed, not to know,” the spirit lamented, “that ages of incessant labor, by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such are we! Oh, such are we! I am therefore here tonight to warn you, my old friend, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate.”

“To what supposed fate are you referring?” Merlin demanded – forgetting, in his agitation, that this was but a dream, and so this lecture was surely not to be taken as seriously as its deliverer would have liked. “You are alive and well, Arthur! – that chance and hope of second life of my procuring, it seems I am obliged to remind you!”

The ghost went on as if the wizard had never spoken. “You will be haunted by Three Spirits,” he pronounced. “Without their visits, you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls One.”

“What bell?” said Merlin, in a mood to pick at nonessentials. “We’ve never had a bell to toll the hours, here.”

But the apparition vanished before his eyes, without reply.

“Humbug,” Merlin growled, then slapped a palm to his forehead at recognition of the catchphrase.

***
About the Book
Merlin was asleep, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that…

And yet, when you’re a wizard with a legendary gift of prophecy, who can tell whether a dream may be something more?

In the tradition of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic, join Camelot’s court and Sherwood’s outlaws on a spirited holiday journey through Avalon’s past, present, and future.

Where to Buy
About Danielle
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Danielle E. Shipley is the author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas, the novel Inspired, and several other expressions of wishful thinking. She has spent most of her life in the Chicago area and increasing amounts of time in Germany. She hopes to ultimately retire to a private immortal forest. But first, there are stories to make.