The central coast of California's yearly
rainfall averages about 20 inches, and Christmas day is usually warm and sunny.
So it is hard to imagine on Christmas Eve in 1846 a rainstorm heavy enough to kill horses almost devastated Fremont’s battalion as they marched over the Santa Ynez Mountains during the Mexican- American War.
José spent that unhappy night sheltered
from this terrible storm in a cold, dark cave.
After his parents separated, Christmas for Tim McGrew was not happy either.
Geema pulled a fluttery-winged angel out of the box and held it up to the light. It looked like a huge, silver firefly. “This wishing angel belongs on the top. Every Christmas, Pop always topped the tree with it to wish on. Tim-Tom, you’re the man in the family now, so it’s your job.”
A baseball-sized lump felt stuck in my throat. Me? I’m just a kid. I wasn’t supposed to be the man in the family? Not me. Dad should be here.
Geema’s hair was twisted in a crazy topknot and decorated with a blue Christmas bow. She smiled at me, but her eyes looked kind of sad. She must miss Pop. My chest ached where my heart was supposed to be, and I took a deep breath, swallowed the glob of anger, and went to get a stepladder.
As I climbed up, Geema steadied the ladder and handed me the angel. “Make sure it’s straight,” Betz said. With four women bossing me, I fastened the angel on the twiggy top.
I clambered down and then took the stepladder back to the hall closet where Pop’s old jacket was hanging. The smell of his pipe tobacco still clung to the sleeve. If Pop were here, he’d know what to do about Dad.
What was up with Dad anyway? Didn’t he miss us? He was away on the road a lot, but our family was always together on Christmas. He’d drive us around the neighborhood with my sisters “oohing” and “ahhing” over the bright Christmas lights, the rearing reindeer, and the Santas and elves.
In the living room, the string of lights was plugged in, and the tree shimmered red, blue and green. On top, the angel’s silvery wings glowed. I squeezed my eyes shut and wished that Dad and Mom would get back together, and we’d be a family again.
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I had a wonderful time at the Nipomo Library visiting with family and friends who helped me celebrate the release of my latest young adult novel, Remedy.