Christmas Morning with the Vincent Family #TuesdayTidbit #Excerpts #Inspiration

In the following excerpt from Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, sixteen-year-old Natalie describes the wonder she and her ten-year-old sister and their dog experience on Christmas morning, not unlike what many young people go through that day.

***

The next morning, Sarah shook me awake before it was light. “Natalie, wake up. It’s Christmas! Let’s see what’s in our stockings!”

“You know we can’t do that. We have to wait until everybody’s up. That’s the rule.”

Footsteps sounded in the hall, and someone tapped on the door.

“Come in,” we said.

The door opened, and Grandpa stuck in his head. “Grandma’s making hot chocolate. You girls might as well come down.”

“Are Mom and Dad up yet?” I asked.

“No, not yet, so be quiet.”

We put on our robes and slippers. Squeakers jumped out of his bed and wagged his tail. Sarah picked him up. “Come on, Squeakers. We put a stocking up for you. Let’s see what Santa brought!”

In the living room, as we did every year, Sarah and I gazed in wonder at the blinking lights on the Christmas tree, the packages underneath it, and the bulging stockings hanging above the fireplace. Grandpa was in one of the armchairs, his nose buried in a newspaper.

I noticed a box on the mantle above my stocking with a note pinned to it. I walked over to take a closer look.

Without lowering the newspaper, Grandpa said, “Don’t you dare! Sit down, and let’s wait for your parents.”

“I’m just looking,” I protested. I spotted a brand name on the side of the box. “Olympus! It’s a camera!”

Grandpa lowered the newspaper. “Why don’t you girls go see if your grandmother needs help with the hot chocolate?”

“Okay,” said Sarah, turning toward the kitchen. “Squeakers probably needs to go out, anyway.”

I reluctantly followed her out of the living room.

A few minutes later, we were all sitting in the living room, drinking hot chocolate. Sarah and I were on the couch with Squeakers between us, and Grandma and Grandpa were across from us in armchairs.

***

So, does Natalie end up getting that Olympus camera for Christmas? What other gifts do she and Sarah receive? What happens when Mom and Dad come downstairs? Read the book and find out. Please see below for details on how you can get Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me and two of my other books free from Smashwords for the rest of this month.

 

Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography  

Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

 

I’m pleased to announce that from now until January 1st, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, The Red Dress, and My Ideal Partner are ABSOLUTELY FREE from Smashwords as part of its 6th annual end-of-year sale. Please visit my Smashwords author page to learn more.

If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my email list to receive my twice-yearly newsletter and other announcements. This is a one-way announcements list, meaning the only messages you’ll receive will come from me. So, you can rest assured that this list is low-traffic. Send a blank email to:  newsfrommycorner+subscribe@groups.io  You’ll receive a confirmation email. Reply to that with another blank message, and you should be good to go.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

 

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

 

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Joyous Jottings: Extra Extra! Abbie’s Books Now Free #SundaySurprise #Jottings #Inspiration

Joy is a fluffy gray and white cat with a pink nose and pink paw pads. The fur is long and mostly gray with white paws, a white chest, nose and white down the middle of her head. Her ears are pointed up, and she lies with her paws sprawled out in front of her in an open formation. Her head looks to the right of the screen. She’s on a brown wooden table. Behind her is a white wall and a basket of fruit.

Photo Resize and Description by Two Pentacles Publishing.

 

Hi, Joy here, I’m so excited I can hardly stand it! From now until January 1st, Abbie’s books are ABSOLUTELY FREE from Smashwords as part of its 6th annual end-of-year sale.

Now, I want to know. How do you smash a word? Okay, okay, Abbie’s giving me a dirty look. She might smash me if I don’t behave.

So, here’s the deal. You can visit Abbie’s Smashwords author page and download Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, The Red Dress, and My Ideal Partner at 100% off for the rest of this month. How about that? Happy reading!

 

Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography  

Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

 

Abbie, here. If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my email list to receive my twice-yearly newsletter and other announcements. This is a one-way announcements list, meaning the only messages you’ll receive will come from me. So, you can rest assured that this list is low-traffic. Send a blank email to:  newsfrommycorner+subscribe@groups.io  You’ll receive a confirmation email. Reply to that with another blank message, and you should be good to go.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

 

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

 

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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A Nursing Home Through the Years #MondayMusings #OpenBookBlogHop #Inspiration

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “Tell us about something local to where you live. Have you ever made it part of your stories?”

For fifteen years before I started writing full-time, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home. When I started there in 1989, it was called Eventide. Later, the name was changed to Sheridan Manor after the name of our town. That name recently changed to Big Horn Rehabilitation & Care Center. Big Horn is the name of the street where the facility is located, but we’re at the base of the Big Horn Mountains. So, it could have been named after one or both, but since I quit working there when I married Bill in 2005, I don’t know why the name was changed. I digress, though.

Three months after Bill and I were married, he suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side. He was airlifted to a hospital in Billings, Montana, but when they determined they could do nothing for him and suggested he be placed in a nursing home, I didn’t hesitate to ask them to transfer him to Sheridan Manor. You can read more about this in my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

I used the facility in my latest novel, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning, where sixteen-year-old Natalie tells us about this place where her grandmother lives.

***

I hated walking with my mom and sister down that long, bright hallway in the nursing home where my grandma lived. The white tile floor and the ceiling covered with fluorescent lights reminded me of school. The only difference was that there were handrails on either side that old people could hold onto while they walked, so they wouldn’t fall.

The blare of television sets from just about every room we passed, laughter and chatter from the nurses’ station, and announcements over the PA system made me wonder why Dad called this place a rest home. The sharp aroma of disinfectant reminded me of the monthly trips I’d made to the dentist years before to have my braces adjusted. I nearly gagged as I remembered the goop they put in my mouth so they could take impressions of my teeth before the braces were put on. The stench of poop and piss from some of the rooms was overpowering.

***

So, what happens when Natalie visits her grandmother in the nursing home? Read the book and find out.

How about you authors out there? Is there a place in your hometown that you’ve used in any of your stories? You can click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ responses.

 

Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography  

Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

 

If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my email list to receive my twice-yearly newsletter and other announcements. This is a one-way announcements list, meaning the only messages you’ll receive will come from me. So, you can rest assured that this list is low-traffic. Send a blank email to:  newsfrommycorner+subscribe@groups.io  You’ll receive a confirmation email. Reply to that with another blank message, and you should be good to go.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

 

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

 

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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From Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me #TuesdayTidbit #Excerpts #Inspiration

1

Natalie

 

I hated walking with my mom and sister down that long, bright hallway in the nursing home where my grandma lived. The white tile floor and the ceiling covered with fluorescent lights reminded me of school. The only difference was that there were handrails on either side that old people could hold onto while they walked, so they wouldn’t fall.

The blare of television sets from just about every room we passed, laughter and chatter from the nurses’ station, and announcements over the PA system made me wonder why Dad called this place a rest home. The sharp aroma of disinfectant reminded me of the monthly trips I’d made to the dentist years before to have my braces adjusted. I nearly gagged as I remembered the goop they put in my mouth so they could take impressions of my teeth before the braces were put on. The stench of poop and piss from some of the rooms was overpowering.

We finally reached Grandma’s room, and for once, there was silence and only the smell of her perfume. Her bed was next to the window, and she sat in her wheelchair, wearing white pants and a blue, checked blouse. Her curly gray hair was cut short and pushed away from her face. She had a roommate, but the other lady wasn’t there. It was just us.

When we walked into the room, her head was hanging down, but she raised it and gave us a blank look. My mother, as she did every Sunday when we came to visit, went up to her with a smile, kissed her cheek, took her hand, and said, “Hi, Mom.” Then she said, “Oh, I see you’re wearing that lovely blouse I got you for your birthday. It looks nice on you.”

Mom always complimented Grandma on the clothes she wore, most of which she had bought for her. It made me want to throw up.

She sat on the bed next to Grandma’s wheelchair and smiled as she said, “I’ve brought Natalie and Sarah to see you today.”

My younger sister walked up to Grandma without hesitating and took her other hand, as she always did when we visited her. “Hi, Grandma,” she said with a smile.

Grandma’s face broke into a big grin. “Sarah, how lovely you look today. How old are you now?”

“I’m ten,” answered Sarah with a grin of her own. “And my sister, Natalie, is here, too.”

She turned to me, but I stood where I was. I knew what would happen.

Grandma gave me one of her blank looks. “Who?”

“Mom, you remember Natalie,” my mother said. “She just turned sixteen last week. Natalie, don’t just stand there staring. Come say hello to your grandma.”

As I did each week, I walked up to her and said, “Hi, Grandma.”

She smiled, but I could tell she still didn’t recognize me. She said, “Martha, she doesn’t look a bit like you. Was she adopted?”

This conversation happened every week, but it still made my face grow hot.

“Of course not, Mom. Don’t be silly. She just takes after her father’s side of the family.”

“Bill?” Grandma’s brow furrowed.

Who was Bill? I didn’t know, and I didn’t care.

Mom smoothed Grandma’s brow with her other hand. “Sit down, girls. I’ve got something to read to you all.”

Without a word, Sarah and I sat on either side of Mom on Grandma’s bed, facing the old woman in her wheelchair.

Every week when we visited, Mom brought something to read to us all that she thought Grandma would like. Usually, it was an article from Reader’s Digest or one of the women’s magazines she liked. Today, she pulled her iPhone out of her purse, made a few gestures, then said, “Here, Mom, this blog post has some quotes from Erma Bombeck.”

It was all I could do to keep from groaning. Just the previous week in my English class, we’d had to read an essay by Erma Bombeck and write about it. Yuck! I could have written a whole book about Lorde, but that didn’t matter to my English teacher.

Anyway, Grandma smiled and said, “Oh, yes, Erma Bombeck writes some good stuff.” She’d apparently forgotten that Erma Bombeck was dead.

While Mom read a long list of quotes, Sarah and I shuffled our feet and twiddled our thumbs until one quote got our attention: “Your grandmother pretends not to know who you are on Halloween.”

“Halloween’s on Tuesday!” said Sarah, smiling at Grandma. “I’m going to be a mermaid when I go trick–or–treating.”

“How lovely,” said Grandma with a smile. “I’d love to see you in your costume.”

“I saw a poster in the lobby advertising your Halloween party,” said Mom. “There’ll be games for the kids, and they’ll give you candy to hand out. Won’t that be fun?”

“I’m sure that’ll be nice,” said Grandma.

“Grandma, I love butterscotch candy,” said Sarah. “So be sure you have some when I come, okay?”

“I’ll see what I can do, love bug,” said Grandma, ruffling Sarah’s long blond hair.

“Daryl and I have play rehearsal that night,” Mom said, “but the girls will come.”

My heart sank. I was hoping the director of that play would give my folks the night off. Taking my little sister trick–or–treating was the last thing I wanted to do, especially when I’d been invited to the Halloween party of my best friend, Katrina.

Unable to stop myself, I said, “Grandma doesn’t know who I am even when it isn’t Halloween.”

“Natalie, don’t be rude,” said Mom, giving me one of her disappointed looks.

Grandma sighed. “She’s right, dear. I don’t remember her. But Natalie, that’s not your fault. Nobody chooses to be put on this earth.”

That was the grandma I remembered from when I was little. She was always telling me that nobody chose to be put on this earth. As far as I knew, she’d never told Sarah that.

My little sister now said, “What do you mean, Grandma?”

It was Mom’s turn to sigh. “Honey, your grandma is trying to say that God created us and we had no say in the matter.”

Grandma wrinkled her nose as if she could smell the poop from the room down the hall.

Our house was only a few blocks away from the nursing home. Later, as we walked home, Sarah said, “Mom, Grandma doesn’t like God, does she?”

“Honey, your grandma doesn’t believe like we do,” said Mom.

“If she doesn’t believe,” I said, “why does she always tell me we don’t choose to be put on this earth? She doesn’t tell Sarah that.”

Sarah shook her head, and Mom said, “Well, she doesn’t believe in God, necessarily, but she believes that a being of some sort chooses whether we’re born.”

“I don’t think so,” said Sarah. “I chose to be born to you, Mom, because you’re so pretty.”

“Oh, you silly girl,” said Mom. They stopped walking, and she and Sarah hugged each other.

Disgusted, I kept going. I’d wasted an entire afternoon when I could have hung out at Katrina’s. We could have done each other’s nails and listened to the new Lorde album that Dad had given me for my birthday. But no, I had to visit my stupid grandma, who never knew who I was anymore, and listen to my mom read stupid quotes by a stupid author. And now I’d have to take my stupid little sister trick–or–treating on Halloween instead of going to Katrina’s party. It was too much.

***

Can Natalie get out of taking her sister trick-or-treating and go to her friend’s Halloween party? Who’s Bill? Read the book and find out. See below for details.

The above excerpt appears in the current issue of Magnets and Ladders and can be read here along with other great stories, poems, and essays. The aforementioned quote by Erma Bombeck inspired me to write this book.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography

Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my email list to receive my twice-yearly newsletter and other announcements. This is a one-way announcements list, meaning the only messages you’ll receive will come from me. So, you can rest assured that this list is low-traffic. Send a blank email to:  newsfrommycorner+subscribe@groups.io  You’ll receive a confirmation email. Reply to that with another blank message, and you should be good to go.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Where’s Wendy’s? #MondayMusings #OpenBookBlogHop #Inspiration

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “Do you use real or fictional cities in your writing? How do you incorporate them into the story?”

I’ve always used real cities in my work, and I seriously doubt I would use a fictional town. That having been said, I often use fictional restaurants and other establishments, including a disclaimer that says if a place sounds like an existing business, it’s purely coincidental.

However, in my latest, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, I stretched the truth as to locations of certain establishments. For example, in the below excerpt, Daryl picks up his sixteen-year-old daughter from school early because of a snowstorm and takes her to Wendy’s for lunch. In Sheridan, there’s no Wendy’s near the high school. It’s clear over on the other end of town. There’s a McDonald’s closer to the high school, but it’s out of the way. Given the story’s timing, I didn’t want to slow things down. Some of us authors have a method to our madness.

***

I called Marti and let her know about our rehearsal being canceled, then eased out of my parking space and made my way through the snowy streets. When I passed a Wendy’s, I realized I hadn’t yet eaten lunch.

The loading zone in front of the high school was a jumbled mass of cars, school buses, and students. I spotted Natalie and honked. Her face broke into a grin, and she dashed toward my car, her feet slipping on the newly fallen snow.

When she opened the passenger side car door, I asked, “Why didn’t you wear your boots, silly?”

“I didn’t think it would be this bad,” she said, knocking snow off her shoes before climbing in beside me with her backpack and closing the door. “Yuck!”

She turned to me and smiled. “I couldn’t believe it when Mom called and said you were picking me up.”

“Why wouldn’t I pick you up? I certainly couldn’t let you walk home from the bus stop in this, especially with those shoes. Buckle up. Are you hungry?”

“Yeah,” she answered, fastening her seatbelt. “We had meatloaf here, but it wasn’t as good as Mom’s.”

“How about Wendy’s? I saw they were still open when I drove past. We’ll pick up some stuff and take it home.”

***

Who is Marti,, and what rehearsal is Daryl talking about? Why wouldn’t Daryl pick up his daughter? Read the book and find out. See below for details.

How about you writers out there? In your fiction, are your cities real or imagined? Click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ responses.

 

Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography

Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my email list to receive my twice-yearly newsletter and other announcements. This is a one-way announcements list, meaning the only messages you’ll receive will come from me. So, you can rest assured that this list is low-traffic. Send a blank email to:  newsfrommycorner+subscribe@groups.io  You’ll receive a confirmation email. Reply to that with another blank message, and you should be good to go.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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