Reflecting over the past sixty plus years, I’ve proven that life can be falling apart but traditions will not be ignored. An example: I remember my mother being half-dead with pneumonia and insisting we take her to Walmart to buy my sister a cake and gifts for her birthday. It was not acceptable to give me the list because she had to do the shopping herself. In my story, the family insists life will go on as normal at all costs when tragedy strikes before a holiday.
Christmas in the Clouds is the movie that inspired me to write Christmas with the Clouds.
In the movie, a Native American son, Ray has just returned from college to run the ski lodge in Utah that his father once managed. A comfortable environment where employees’ children play in the lobby and the handyman hits on guests, the lodge isn’t four-star travel guide material. So when Ray learns that a representative from a famous travel guide is coming to inspect, he makes a complete overhaul of the hotel. Getting his father to stay out of the way is a minor issue, shadowed by dealing with the eccentric staff, which includes the vegetarian chef who takes pleasure in naming the animals diners are eating.
Despite Ray’s careful plans, everything goes wrong. Beautiful Tina arrives at the lodge and Ray mistakenly thinks she’s the travel writer and sets about giving her the royal treatment while the real travel writer is ignored and is subject to hilarious hotel bungling. Read the review on Rotten Tomatoes here.
Although my story, Christmas with the Clouds is not a comedy, there are some parallels with the movie. The action takes place in Utah, but the family returns to their roots at the Indian Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho after a tragedy ruins their Christmas. What happens next is unexpected. My heroine, Tracy’s presence with the family seems to make their grief turn around. Because of Tracy’s small child, Jasmine, they decide that Christmas cannot be canceled. It becomes a healing, almost joyful time for everyone. For the story, I drew on an experience of a year ago. Preparations for my granddaughter’s birthday loomed ahead. Ponies, a taco truck, and a lifeguard for the pool were all arranged when my son received a life threatening diagnosis the morning of the party. My desire was to get into bed and stay there for the rest of my life. My daughter-in-law said, “no way.” The show would go on.
The bouncy house and water slide were installed and inflated. Relatives from Michigan and Pennsylvania arrived from the airport; friends from all over California showed up by noon. Soon, their backyard was filled with twenty children and their parents, nannies and helpers. I was overwhelmed by the chaos. The ponies were hysterical, wearing headdresses of flowers. The taco truck was the perfect accompaniment. For a few hours, our worry and pain were alleviated by a child’s birthday party.
In Christmas with the Clouds, it takes a year for the characters to cycle through their grief. Finally, by the following Christmas, although they will never forget their loss, something wonderful ensues and they take the next step in moving on with life.
In our instance, a year later as life had returned to our new normal, my granddaughter’s next birthday approached. The celebration was just as chaotic, but without the dread. We all marveled that we’d weathered the year, and had some good news with which to rejoice.
Love Christmas, 2 was the perfect vehicle to get me to write the story that had been simmering away for a year. The holidays provide so much for us, in spite of the busyness. The danger is allowing the gift buying and meal preparations to overshadow the fun – getting together with our friends and families, reinforcing traditions for our children to carry on, and just the break in routine. If you celebrate the holidays, what are you planning?
I especially love to hear about the traditional foods served; everything from ethnic favorites to all time American dishes like green bean casserole. Our free recipe book has new dishes to try this year.
Next week, our release party for Love Christmas, 2 is at Facebook on October 16th and 17th. Be sure to stop by here and say you’re going! We’ll have lots of giveaways and gifts to share.
One of the giveaway prizes at this event is a Love Christmas 2 book cover bracelet!