A Christmas Message - Debbie Macomber


Zelda O’Connor Davidson

76 Orchard Avenue

Seattle, Washington

Christmas, 2006

Dear Family and Friends:

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Let me warn you—this Christmas letter won’t be as clever as last year’s. My sister, Katherine (whom you may know better as K.O.), wrote that one for me but, ironically, she hasn’t got time to do this year’s. Ironic because it’s due to the popularity of that particular letter that she’s managed to start a little business on the side—writing Christmas letters for other people! (She offered to write mine, of course, but I know that between her work doing medical transcriptions, her job search and her Christmas letters, it would be a real stretch to find the time.)

So, here goes. The twins, Zoe and Zara, have recently turned five. They’re looking forward to starting kindergarten next September. It’s hard to believe our little girls are almost old enough for school! Still, they keep themselves (and us!) busy. So do our assorted pets—especially the dogs, two Yorkies named Zero and Zorro.

I’m still a stay-at-home mom and Zach’s still working as a software programmer. This year’s big news, which I want to share with all of you, has to do with a wonderful book I read. It changed my family’s life. It’s called The Free Child and it’s by Dr. Wynn Jeffries. My sister scoffs at this, but Dr. Jeffries believes that children can be trusted to set their own boundaries. He also believes that, as parents, we shouldn’t impose fantasies on them—fantasies like Santa Claus. Kids are capable of accepting reality, he says, and I agree! (See page 146 of The Free Child.)

So, this Christmas will be a different kind of experience for us, one that focuses on family, not fantasy.

Zach and the girls join me in wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas. And remember, a free child is a happy child (see page 16).

Love and kisses,

Zelda, Zach, Zoe and Zara

(and a wag of the tail from Zero & Zorro)

Chapter One

It was him. Katherine O’Connor, better known as K.O., was almost positive. She squinted just to be sure. He looked identical to the man on the dust jacket of that ridiculous book, the one her sister treated like a child-rearing bible. Of course, people didn’t really look like their publicity photos. And she hadn’t realized the high and mighty Dr. Wynn Jeffries was from the Seattle area. Furthermore, she couldn’t imagine what he was doing on Blossom Street.

She’d never even met him, but she distrusted him profoundly and disliked him just as much. It was because of Dr. Jeffries that she’d been banned from a local bookstore. She’d had a small difference of opinion with the manager on the subject of Wynn’s book. Apparently the bookseller was a personal friend of his, because she’d leaped to Dr. Jeffries’s defense and had ordered K.O. out of the store. She’d even suggested K.O. take her future book-purchasing business elsewhere, which seemed unnecessarily extreme.

“K.O.,” Bill Mulcahy muttered, distracting her. They sat across from each other at the French Café, filled to capacity during the midmorning rush. People lined up for coffee, and another line formed at the bakery counter. “Did you get all that?” he asked.

“Sure,” K.O. said, returning her attention to him. “Sorry—I thought I saw someone I knew.” Oh, the things she was willing to do for some extra holiday cash. One witty Christmas letter written on her sister’s behalf, and all of a sudden K.O. was the most sought-after woman at her brother-in-law’s office. They all wanted her to write their Christmas letters. She’d been shocked to discover how much they’d willingly plunk down for it, too. Bill Mulcahy was the third person she’d met with this week, and his letter was the most difficult so far. Leno or Letterman would’ve had a hard time finding anything amusing about this man’s life.

“I don’t know what you’re going to write,” Bill continued. “It’s been an exceptionally bad year. As I explained earlier, my son is in a detention home, my daughter’s living with her no-good boyfriend and over Thanksgiving she announced she’s pregnant. Naturally, marriage is out of the question.”

“That is a bit of a challenge,” K.O. agreed. She widened her eyes and stared again at the man who waited in the long line at the cash register. It was him; she was convinced of it now. The not-so-good doctor was—to put it in appropriately seasonal terms—a fruitcake. He was a child psychologist who’d written a book called The Free Child that was the current child-rearing rage.

To be fair, K.O.