Another Free Sample? Yes, Indeed!

Ah, Christmas. The time of giving. So, I’m giving you a free sample of my first Christmas book: Up on the Housetop. That way, you can read it and then buy copies for all your friends and family, because they are pretty inexpensive, yet still Christmassy.

Here you go…

I pronounced it as clearly as I could: “Hey, Com-pooo-ter, turn on the Christmas tree.”    The digitized woman’s voice emerged from the little box on the mantel above the fireplace. “Now playing “O Christmas Tree,” from the playlist “Christmas.” The music filled the room. 

“Hey, Com-pooo-ter, stop the music.” The music didn’t stop. I tried again, but louder: “Hey, Com-pooo-ter, stop the music!” This time it stopped.

I muttered to myself, “Yeah, right. Pretty dumb for an ‘Artificial Intelligence.’”

My wife, Amie, who was sitting cross-legged on the floor near the Christmas tree, put down the package she was wrapping and looked at me with an equal degree of frustration. Pointing her scissors at me, she said, “Maybe if you would just pronounce ‘Computer’ correctly, it would understand.”

“I’m trying to teach it to respond to ‘Com-pooo-ter,’ because that’s the way Gracie says it.”

“Yeah, but Gracie’s three. She’ll grow out of it before you do.”

“Maybe so. But it’s sure cute now.”

“True. But Sam, you’ve been messing with that stuff for hours, and I really need some help. Please?”

“It’s complicated!” I protested. “I have the thermostat, the outside lights, and the stereo all hooked up now. This is the last thing, and then I can help wrap presents.”

I heard Amie say softly, “By then I’ll be finished.”

It would have been smart to just stop, but I just had to get the last word in. That little voice in my head told me to bite my tongue, but I ignored it. “You know, Amie, you’ve been buying gifts since Halloween. You didn’t have to wait until Christmas Eve to wrap them.”

I instantly regretted it. Amie stopped and glared at me. “We don’t all hate Christmas like you do. Can you cut me some slack?”

“I . . . I . . . don’t hate Christmas per se.” Whenever you inject ‘per se’ into an argument, you know you are losing the argument. “I just get so exhausted about the run-up the months before, and it’s all the commercialization and the hassle—I think it kills the Christmas spirit.” It sounded disingenuous even as it came out of my mouth.

“Oh, so now you’re suddenly worried about the Christmas spirit? Fabulous.”

 “No, really! I hate the expense, and the stores, and the shopping, and the expense. And the stress,” I said.

“You said ‘expense’ twice, and I can tell where this is going.” 

“Well, my favorite part of Christmas is the . . .”

She interrupted me with a mocking tone, “. . . the day after Christmas, because then we can just relax, yada, yada, yada. You say the same thing every year.”

“I mean it every year!”

She didn’t respond.

There is an old saying: If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. I’ve never quite mastered that. I kept digging.

“So how much is Christmas costing us this year? You know the renovation is killing us.”

“I stayed within the budget that you agreed to.” 

“Whoa. Christmas miracle?”

She looked at me with exasperation. “I don’t get it. Do you sit around at work and think up hateful things to say to me? You seem to be getting better at it all the time. You can be such a . . .”

And she stopped.

“A what?” I prodded.

The tension in the room was equaled by the silence. I stared at the A.I. instructions on my phone as she pushed the last package under the tree, stood up, and said, “I’m finished and I’m going to bed.”

Before she left the room, Amie put her hands on the back of the couch. With a voice tinged with sadness, she said, “Will you at least go upstairs and check on the girls?”


She said one last thing, gently, sincerely: “Look, I know you have Christmas issues because of your dad, but you’re a dad now. Somehow you need to get past this. For eleven months out of the year you are wonderful, but I can’t live like this for an entire month every . . .” 

She stopped, dropped her head without finishing her thought, and continued down the hall to our bedroom. As she walked away, I thought heard a sniffle. No, I’m sure I heard a sniffle, but chose to ignore it. Had I known what was coming, I would have chased after her and tried to fix things. I didn’t, so I didn’t.

There you go – Christmas conflict!

The quickest place to get it is Amazon in paperback, kindle or audiobook. CLICK HERE!

Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

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