Gifts This Holiday Season

lorelei brush engagedThis season is an extra-special one for me, as I’m getting married December 27. I’m a little old to be entering into matrimony, but Bob Harris is the best match I’ve ever encountered. We share a host of likes (e.g., hiking, traveling, cooking, striving for a higher proficiency in a foreign language) and dislikes (e.g., being inundated by details, living in quarantine for weeks, computer programs that are not at all intuitive). Mostly, we love being together, supporting each other, and laughing at the vagaries of getting old.

Now, about the gifts of this season (in addition to this marriage). First, I’d like to invite all of you to watch the ceremony via a streaming service. Tune in at 10:50 a.m. on December 27 by clicking on the button below:

This connects you to the website of the Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ. If the URL doesn’t take you directly to the streaming service, click on Worship Livestream at the top of the website’s home page.

Second in the line of gifts is that to give me time to celebrate, I’m going to skip blog posts until February. Bob and I will have a honeymoon, if COVID allows, in January.

Third is the excerpt below of the beginning of my third novel, currently titled Butterfly Minds. I’d love to hear your reactions, especially whether you’d like to read more. Zip me an email. It’ll be a grand wedding gift!


June 1996

Catching the echo of clashing blocks, I rush down the honeybee yellow corridor of the church’s education wing. The heat of a blush crawls up my neck from the certainty it’s my Patrick throwing the wooden blocks at a bookcase or smashing whatever he’s built.

Ms. James, the Sunday School nursery teacher, greets me at the door, brushing wispy strands of hair out of her face. “Oh, Julie. He’s a little wild—”

“Mom, Mom!” My sweaty four-year-old flies across the room and nearly knocks me over with his hug. His dark chocolate eyes sparkle with enthusiasm, his sooty curls spring from his head, and his sturdy body quivers with the urge to jump.

Several children stare at him. One little tyke who was in his path huddles in a bookcase.

I dig my teeth into my lower lip.

Ms. James steadies him, her hands pressing down on his shoulders.

I squat in front of this sparking dynamo of mine. “Hey, you. Be gentle. You could have hurt me.”

“Mom, Mom, I made a picture.” He pulls at my arm, and I lurch forward to my knees.

“Patrick, stop it. Stop jerking me!” And then I chastise myself for losing my temper. But I’m flustered, embarrassed. When the minister told us to “Go in peace,” I’d taken a deep cleansing breath, so ready to embrace the world. That serenity has dissipated like smoke driven by the wind.

Ms. James turns him around and points. “Patrick, it’s over at the art table. You remember. Walk slowly.”

He takes off at a run, tromping on another child’s foot, and sweeps his picture from the table.

I stand, brushing off my navy slacks and straightening my blouse. “I’m so sorry. Is Tyler okay?”

She checks out the child’s startled look. “I think so. Just surprised.”

I retrieve my purse, on its side on the floor, and sling it over my shoulder.

“Mom, look, look.” Patrick thrusts the picture into my hand, waves his bent arms like a flapping chicken, and makes machine-gun noises straight into the paper.

I grimace and clasp one of Patrick’s bouncing arms, forcing the motion to stop.

He points at his picture. “Mom, Mom, there’s me and you and Dad. We’re at the beach.”

“Yes, I see that. But—”

“Mom, Mom, let’s go. I want to go now.”

I take a deep breath, searching for that inner peace. I love this child, but his constant chaos eats away at my innards. It’s even invading my dreams. Last night I woke up reeling from a nightmare in which I had the five bubbly children I’d wanted as a teen-ager, and all were miniature bundles of energy. They lined up along the edge of the roof, giggling, and dove head-first toward the ground, convinced they could fly. I woke in a panic before any of them slammed into the earth.

As I blink to erase that image, my one and only son whizzes past me on his way to the fellowship hall and its treats.

Ms. James says, “You’d better go after him, hadn’t you?”

Her words propel me down the corridor.

Fourth, please think about giving gifts of my books to those on your holiday list!