When I was in junior high, my siblings and I attended school in the same building (or next door to) where my mom taught English, so we all commuted together each day. One day in early December, when our tree was up and even had a few gifts beneath it from eager givers, we got home after school and we all swarmed through the front door to get inside. The first thing I noticed was that the coat closet door had been left open. I thought, “Someone left in a hurry this morning.” I pushed the door closed as I passed by to go farther into the room. I noticed a drawer pulled out of the hutch in the dining room. When I saw a piece of furniture out of place, it prompted me to look around in a new way, taking in the whole room.
When the kids were little, we were poor. Not poor like people living in war-torn or famine-hit countries who live in dirt-floor huts or tents and whose highlight for their day is fetching clean water. I can’t wrap my head around what kind of poor that is. But we were the kind of American poor where we qualified for Medicaid and WIC (Women, Infants, Children). At least one of us was always working, but the wages didn’t go very far. The year I got pregnant, our income was about $10,000. Surprise sacks of groceries on our front porch got us through several meals that would otherwise have been beans and rice. We’d bought our car with cash and our apartment cost $325 a month, utilities included. The rent plus my COBRA insurance premium used up pretty much everything each month.
Many years ago, on a Thanksgiving Day when I had to work the holiday at Children’s in Chicago, it was no ordinary day. While two of my sisters and a brother-in-law were visiting from out of town and home with Jason, holding off dinner until I got home after 3:30 p.m., I was in the NICU with a newborn baby who was dying. Her father was at her bedside, but her mother was in another hospital, trying to recover from a difficult delivery. Her baby had been swept from her side and transported to Children’s in hopes of being saved. The baby’s father was driving back and forth between the two hospitals, trying to hold his family together.
Number One: Can Chloe save Horatius
and change back the timeline to what it’s supposed to be?
Today is the day before my book launch, day Number One for the “Top Ten Reasons to read Chloe’s Odyssey,” a series of artwork designs Spencer created to go with little glimpses I’ve written about what a reader will discover in the third book of the series. As I finish my count down, Advent begins its count up to Christmas. Today is the first of four Sundays in Advent. I’m so excited that Chloe’s Odyssey is coming out right now, at the beginning of the Christmas season. The timing couldn’t be better because Chloe goes to the first Christmas and sees the Nativity, plus meets the shepherds and wise men. It was simply serendipitous and lucky that I got the book finished in time to launch in Advent, plus it was an accident that Chloe ended up at the first Christmas. That wasn’t in my original outline, but it worked out well when she and Kaitlyn decided they needed to get there.
Number Two: Kaitlyn and Chloe have been through so much together, but can their friendship take even one more blow?
This morning Spencer and I were talking about a loved one who had a deeply meaningful experience in their life that has brought about the significant healing of emotional hurt. It reminded me of my own journey, and how those moments of deep healing are sometimes hard to articulate or define, but one knows that something profound has taken place in the center (or spirit) of one’s being.
Thanksgiving 1992, I was on bedrest and couldn’t go anywhere. My parents and siblings were going to make food and come over and see Jason and me, and we were all going to have dinner in our little apartment together. But then they all came down with the flu. I remember my dad ringing the doorbell, standing back to avoid spreading any germs, and handing over a sack of food to Jason without coming in. He was the most upright of all of them, so he was designated to come over and bring what they’d managed to cook up so we wouldn’t go without a Thanksgiving meal. We propped a camera on a chair and took this picture of the two of us. I was starting to really balloon at that point. Just a week later I went into the hospital to stay until the kids were born in late January.
I’ve mentioned before how Cyndi and I didn’t get along until suddenly, when I was 29, all our contention evaporated. Up until that point, the absence of peace between us wasn’t from lack of trying. We did try, and no matter our determination, we’d end up angry and we’d be grumpy at each other. (At least by our mid-twenties we’d stopped punching each other.) She spent some of her vacations to come see me and we’d try to be nice. It never completely worked.
Number Five: Can a nasty demon named Satarel really be trustworthy? (As if we couldn’t guess.)
If you pre-order CHLOE'S ODYSSEY in ebook today, it will be delivered at midnight the morning of November 28.
Don't miss this adventurous Christmas story!
This morning when I went through the garage to go swim, I noticed a wet trail from the freezer disappearing beneath the car. This can never be a good sign. I called to Spencer and asked him to investigate because I needed to leave and I couldn’t cope with the problem. We opened up the freezer and found all the food in it thawing. Spencer took over for me so I could leave, and he dealt with getting the food—what would fit—transferred into the freezer in the kitchen. At least we’re already thawing the turkey for Thursday. It reminds me of a thanksgiving when we didn’t even have a freezer of our own.
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