Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Favorite Christmas with Kay Springsteen

It was 2007. Life had just changed dramatically for about the tenth time in ten years. I'm not talking "got a dog" kind of changes, but the life-altering event kind of change. The kind of change when you learn your first child has a birth defect, or when that child dies kind of change. In 2007, our family completely split apart. Not in a bad way, but because my four living children were all so close in age, the nest emptied with the suddenness of four baby birds flying for the first time in mid-summer. My eldest moved to Michigan to help my elderly mom with whom she was close. My youngest got married. My middle two, who happened to be twins, stayed home but not for long. And through all of this, the economy became so bad that I was on the verge of losing the townhouse I had purchased in 2002. I had JUST managed to get out from under it with enough profit to put a chunk down on a smaller house in the country - but it was hardly the profit I could have made only a year earlier (when I couldn't sell and move because some of my kids were still in school). I didn't know it, but we were about to embark on the kind of adventure movies are made out of. When we moved, I grossly underestimated the amount of truck space we'd need to get all of our stuff moved, and overestimated the amount of space I would have in the new house to fit all that crap into. So we moved rapidly, tossed a TON of stuff (not, in itself such a bad thing) and ended up making not one 450-mile one-way trip with one truck, but two and a half such trips. My older daughter couldn't help, but my twins, my son, and his new wife all dove in and made the move. On December 21, we began, and on December 24 we were finished. I'd slept approximately 6 hours in pieces through that time, but eventually the trucks and our stuff were in the new home. I drove my son and daughter-in-law back from Virginia to Maryland so they could celebrate their first Christmas together. So at 7:30 on Christmas Eve, I found myself and one of my twins, Dora, driving home to our new house in Pamplin, VA. About then, I realized I hadn't gotten anyone a Christmas present. So we stopped at the only place we found open. A Barnes and Noble book store. Books and CDs and DVDs for Christmas, and Godiva chocolate for stocking stuffers. Dora shopped for her and Mary's gifts to me and her own gift to Mary, and I shopped for my gifts to them and something Mary could give Dora - somehow we avoided each other all the way through to the checkout. We arrived home about 11 p.m. Mary had set up a pre-lit Christmas tree a friend had given us that year on top of some of our moving boxes. When we got home we used brown packing paper and packing tape to wrap the presents, and then we used some markers from Mary's art kit to draw on the paper. We set the presents under the tree and went to bed. We had brought a ham with us from our freezer in Maryland, so the next morning when I woke up, I put it in the oven. Only to find out the oven did NOT work.We opened the presents - some really cool surprises there! And we dug out the DVD player and set up the TV and played the DVDs we'd picked out. The problem of dinner loomed, and I really hoped Walmart or some grocery store would be open, so I drove the 15 miles to the nearest town while the twins slept. All I found open was a Sheetz convenience store/gas station. But on the way home, I noticed that a Huddle House restaurant was advertising Christmas dinner. I raced home, grabbed the girls and we went out to Christmas dinner at a local diner. Even though my older daughter wasn't there, nor were my son and new daughter-in-law, and though I had a steak from a diner for Christmas dinner instead of the ham I really wanted, this signaled the fresh start I had needed since discovering I was going to lose our home to the failing economy. And it was one of the best Christmases EVER.

Lady Ivy Plumthorne, elder daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Wythorpe, is a worry to her parents. Desiring only that she be as happily wed as her younger sister, they've spent the past year parading prospective suitors in front of her. When she finds none of the suitors… suitable, her parents despair she will ever find the perfect husband. With Christmas approaching, they find one more prospective suitor, the Duke of Greenbriar. Only problem is, Ivy's already met the man of her dreams… and he's a toymaker.

Noel Phillip Vincent Greenstone, the Twelfth Duke of Greenbriar, wasn't cut out to be a duke. He preferred crafting toys that made children happy. So that's just what he did. And as Phillip Green, he traveled freely about, visiting shops and orphanages, and making no child went without a toy of his or her own. But a few chance meetings with Lady Ivy and he knows he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. The problem is, she needs to marry a nobleman and she only knows him as Phillip the Toymaker. He needs a plan, and fast. The world needs to meet the reclusive Duke of Greenbriar, so Phillip plans his own coming out. But how will Ivy react when she learns the truth?


  1. Wow, sounds like a very INTENSE holiday that year. I'm quite impressed by your strength, resourcefulness, and positive attitude throughout those grueling circumstances.
    I've moved a LOT of times and it's never pleasant, even in the best of situations with maximum assistance. But when you're doing 75% of the work and getting 6 hrs of sleep over 4 days ... it can grind you into the pavement.
    So glad that you prevailed.

  2. You are a strong woman Kay! Kudos to you! A remarkable story for sure! :)

  3. Sometimes the best holiday memories are of things on planned. I am glad it all worked out in the end. Who could complain about chocolate and books and movies?
    The Toymaker sounds like a book that would induce good memories also.
    Merry Christmas
    kimbre15 at aol

  4. Kay, I've walked some of those roads myself and know it isn't easy. You are remarkable. What a great example you give your children. Merry Christmas to you and your family!