(Releases September 24, 2018)
Personal note from Lisa – One benefit to having author friends, is occasionally having the honor of reading a book before it is released. That is the case with this novella written by my friend, Eva Marie Everson. If you have ever made decisions that you regret, if you have ever had those regrets replay over in your mind, if those regrets overshadow your days, and those days begin to darken, then you will find the The Ornament Keeper a light out of that gloom. Real characters who deal with real pain, and a real friend who points out the path to the light.
About the book
Award-winning author Eva Marie Everson wraps up a Christmas story of hope, love, and forgiveness just in time for the holidays. The Ornament Keeper, a contemporary Christmas novella, features Felicia and Jackson Morgan who are spending their first Christmas apart after twenty years of marriage. But a lifetime of gifted ornaments helps Felicia piece together the story of their marriage and the one mistake of unforgiveness she made before they said, I do. Can these memory-filled ornaments reunite this family before Christmas? Only time will tell.
Who might enjoy this book?
Young adult to older adult female
Tell us how we might identify with the characters in the story.
Jackson and Felicia Morgan are pretty much like any other couple … Or so they think. Forced to drop out of college in order to get married, they have built a 20-year marriage from scratch, have three beautiful children, and become successful in their work lives. But all is not well in the seemingly perfect home. When an old nemesis returns to town, Felicia finds herself facing a demon she had no idea lurked in the shadows of her heart–a demon called unforgiveness.
What do you hope to have your readers experience/take away?
I hope to show how the root of bitterness, when left unattended, can and will eventually shoot out of the soil…and then become a weed. This, of course, leads to the all-encompassing forgiveness and grace of Jesus.
Christmas Season 2018
I pushed the Keurig lever down on a decaf dark roast pod. “I’ve made a decision,” I said, hoping my voice sounded as sure as I wanted it to be. Because I had. More or less. Sort of.
“What’s that?” Sara, my nineteen-year-old daughter, sat at the breakfast nook table behind me.
The coffeemaker sighed, telling me that eight ounces of water had been poured over ground coffee beans and now waited in the mug. I lifted the lever, removed the pod, lowered the lever and pushed buttons for an additional four ounces of water to weaken the drink I found too strong for my taste. As it brewed, I added a teaspoon of sugar and then reached for the half-n-half Sara had left on the counter. I unscrewed the cap, sniffed the carton, and waited for the water to stop dripping.
I glanced over my shoulder. “Oh. Yes. Just a sec.” I poured creamer into the coffee and stirred, making a bigger to-do out of it than necessary. Even for me.
“I’ve decided,” I said, joining Sara, who hunched over a bowl of Cheerios, “to not put any Christmas decorations out this year.” I opened my eyes wide, daring her to object.
Her gaze met mine as a drop of milk escaped between her lips. She swallowed, wiped her mouth with a napkin she kept wadded in her left hand, and said, “Say that again.”
My coffee mug clunked on the old farmhouse table I’d restored when we’d purchased the rambling four-bedroom Victorian—the one with the mother-in-law suite located down a short hall from the kitchen.
Just in case.
Her head came up fully, thick blond tresses spilling over her shoulder as she did. California-sky blue eyes blinked at me in disbelief. “Because of Dad?”
I brought the coffee mug to my lips, blew, and took a tentative swallow while my eyes managed to find and travel along one of the scars within the table’s wood. “Yes.”
Sara picked up her nearly finished bowl of cereal and walked to the sink to rinse it and place it in the dishwasher. I studied her—the height of her—which she inherited from her father—the jutting hip bones—which she’d gotten from me—and the way her pajama bottoms barely hung onto them.
Fluffy sheep jumping over bright yellow stars.
I blinked, looking up as she turned toward me and leaned against the counter. She pushed the sleeves of a university tee to her elbows as though she’d suddenly grown hot, then brought the ball of one bare foot to rest against the top of the other. “So what you’re saying is that because Dad’s no longer with us, we’re not going to celebrate the most important holiday to this family.”
I leaned into the hard back of the spindle chair. “I just don’t have the energy this year, Sara.” Couldn’t she see that? Couldn’t my wise, oldest child take one look at me and see how difficult the past four months had been?
Sara threw up her hands as though in defeat. Strange, because we really hadn’t had the humdinger of a fight I’d expected. “Well, that’s just peachy, Mom. I guess without Dad here, Travis and Hank and I mean nothing to you.”
My brow furrowed. “Don’t even think that.”
She leaned against the countertop, arms crossed, thick pink lips pursed. Another feature she’d gotten from her father. I raked my teeth across my own to keep from thinking about Jackson’s. The way they felt when he’d kissed me. Especially that first time . . . and the last.
If I could remember it.
“Sara, between keeping the house and going to work and—and just dealing with your father not being here . . . I’m tired, sweetheart, and I don’t—I don’t know if I have the energy this year to—to go get the tree. To cut it down. To get it home. To string the lights. To . . .” I couldn’t finish.
Sara crossed the room, taking the chair next to mine and wrapping me in an awkward but tight hug. “Mom. I know. I do.” She squeezed as she whispered words of encouragement, then sat back, taking my hands in hers, long fingers entwining. “Look. I know this year will be hard. The hardest. But . . . but, look. I’ve got my own truck, you know.”
Yes, I knew. Again, so much like her father. Why buy a car when Ram made trucks? he’d always say . . . .
“Travis and Hank and I can go to Steadman’s Christmas Tree Farm. We can cut the tree. We can haul it home, and Travis and I will even get the lights up.”
I stared at our hands, still laced together at their fingers. “But, Sara . . . the ornaments.”
“Mom,” she said. “Look at me.”
I did. When had she grown into such a woman? When had she become my heart’s protector?
“Mom. I’ll help you. The boys and I both will.” She grinned. “And let’s see if Washburn’s is selling that tinsel this year. Let’s make it the most traditional tree it can be.”
I attempted to smile. “I don’t think department stores have sold that stuff in years.”
“Then I’ll order it off Amazon.” She grinned at me. “You know they’re not just about selling books only, right? They sell everything from books to bras.”
My shoulders sagged as I tried not to laugh. “Sara . . .”
“Mom. Come on. If not for yourself and if not for me . . . for the boys. Especially little Hank. Won’t this year be hard enough on him?”
She had a point. “All right,” I conceded. “But make sure the tree is a good one.”
Sara released my hands and gave the world a fist-pump. “Fat and tall. Not thin and squatty.”
“I know, I know.” She stood, pulled her sleeves back to her wrists. The bands had stretched and I frowned. That tee had cost nearly thirty outlandish dollars. “And stop looking at the bands of my sleeves,” she ordered. “They’ll go back as soon as you wash them.”
I gave her a half-smile. “Will they?” I asked. Did anything ever really “go back” after it had been stretched out of shape?
She planted a kiss on top of my head. “They will. Promise.” Sara started out of the kitchen. “I gotta go get ready for work.”
“When will you get the tree?” I asked, now feeling ready to get the whole ordeal over with.
“After work. I’ll come get the boys and we’ll go.”
A half hour later I took the final sip of tepid coffee as Sara returned to the kitchen. She wore a pair of skinny jeans and hooded sweatshirt over her work tee. The one that advertised Morgan’s Auto Parts Store. The Champion of Auto Parts . . .
Jackson’s store. No, Jackson’s life.
“Are the boys still asleep?” I asked.
“I can only assume. I haven’t heard a peep out of either of them.” She opened the pantry door and pulled a packet of cheese and peanut butter crackers from its box. Her go-to snack. “Tell them I’ll pick them up around five-thirty.”
Sara squeezed my shoulder. I looked up at her and smiled. “You smell good,” I said.
“It’s a Vince Camuto,” she said. “Billy got it for me.”
Billy. The boy she’d dated since they’d met each other at their university a year earlier. They’d been infatuated with each other, really. Which worried me all the more. And made me glad she still came home on weekends to work in the store. “Well, it smells nice.”
“Thanks. You gonna be okay?”
I nodded. “I’ve got a lot of laundry to catch up on. Some bills to pay.”
Sara pulled her iPhone from her back pocket and checked the time. “I gotta go. You know how the boss man gets if I’m late.”
Did I ever . . . “Okay.”
“Anything you want me to tell him?” she asked from the door leading to the garage. Her voice sounded hopeful. The expression on her face, expectant.
“Uh—tell him—tell him I said—tell him I said I hope he has a nice Saturday.”
Her face fell. “Good one, Mom.” She opened the door, swept through, and closed it behind her.
“What was I supposed to say?” I asked the air around me. “Merry Christmas?”
About the author
Eva Marie Everson is a bestselling, multiple award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International and the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference and North Georgia Christian Writers Conference. She makes her home with her husband of nearly forty years in central Florida.
Learn more about Eva Marie Everson at her website EvaMarieEversonAuthor.com
Other books by Eva Marie Everson