Christmas has always been a very special, magical, and wonderful time for me. So, of course, I have to include it in all my New Parish books. When Hannah goes to New Parish, it’s just before Christmas, she discovers what Christmas is like in New Parish, their traditions, and some amazing activities.
So, get comfortable, snuggle in with some hot chocolate, and savor some moments from Hannah’s first Christmas in New Parish…
Excerpt from Return to New Parish:
Chapter 4 – Mr. James’ Home
“… Upon entering the kitchen, Hannah witnessed organized chaos, there were kids everywhere, adults that were mostly dressed, and food in various stages of preparation. Sarah still had on her pj’s looking as if she was prepared to leave the area quickly, Myra was barefoot and had a towel wrapped around her head. Del had all her clothes on but was still very disheveled, with her long dark hair loose and in her sock feet. Max was sitting at the dining room table, pulling on his boots and smiled at her as she entered.
“How can I help?” she held back the laughter that was bubbling up because of the scene before her. She was quickly put to work. Leah, and the older boys helped her finish breakfast duty. Sarah, Del, and Myra quickly evacuated the kitchen, Max grabbed an already prepared croissant sandwich, which was loaded with egg, cheese, and bacon before leaving the area.
Hannah thoroughly enjoyed the in-charge moment and made sure all the kids got their fill of breakfast, then moved into cleanup mode. By the time the others were returning all the dishes and clean up were done.
“Okay,” Del announced, “Max is pulling the van around front.”
“… Hannah chuckled and said, “Hi,” awkwardly, she’d never been a huggy type person, but Sarah had warned her that it could happen. Myra, who hugged everyone all the time, had insured she was ready for these situations.
She relaxed a bit after she scanned the area and saw no sign of the old cowboy. Cilla took her hand and said, “I need you to help us with the decorations, we have the Fancy Room, to get done today, the girls have already started, well, they have been in there for a few moments.”
“Okay,” Hannah smiled thinking, “I can do decorations.”
Sarah gave her a look of encouragement and quickly squeezed her hand before she and Cilla went through the huge double doors into one of the largest rooms she’d ever seen in a house. “It’s ginormous,” she thought to herself in amazement.
Cilla gave her the tour along with the game plan of what they had to do. “We’re going to decorate that bay window, the boys will bring in the decorations in a jiffy,” she pointed to the wall on the left of where they were standing. The window was almost the length of the wall which stretched to the very ample French doors on the other end of the room. “This wall is where they’ll set up the tree and the tables and such.” Cilla pointed to the other wall which had a mural painted on it depicting prairies and mesas and mirrored the beautiful desert area she was becoming intrigued with. There was a huge Navajo rug, portraying an ancient Navajo village, hanging in the middle of the mural and two smaller Navajo rugs hanging on either side.
Hannah stood there not knowing what to say, the room was so amazing and unexpected, that it had caught her completely off guard. She finally got out, “Wow,” as she slowly shook her head.
Cilla laughed, “Yeah, it’s really something. I suppose I’ve gotten so used to it till I forget to appreciate the beauty. That big rug was given to Alex as a gift when he was a young man, by the Navajo people he was working with out on the reservation. The smaller ones he bought because they show the different plants the Navajo use to dye the threads. The big one actually has him woven into it.” Cilla walked over to the rug and pointed to a figure on it, “That’s him,” she turned to Hannah and smiled. “They really liked him so they included him in the village scene. They said that way he would always be with them and they with him, in spirit.”
Hannah smiled, still amazed, “Well, it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Cilla smiled and shrugged, “It’s been here longer than I’ve been here. Okay, let me introduce you to the girls.”
Hannah followed Cilla over to the bay window where the girls were sitting. She’d noticed them sitting there when she entered the room and smiled at them. She’d never been an introduce yourself kind of person. Hanging back and watching how things unfold was her thing, she’d analyzed herself on this, many times, but this time, it was just an automatic thing.
“This is Sophia, Isabella, and Cassandra, but we call them Sophie, Bella, and Cassie. I just like to say their real names every now and then.” Cilla introduced the girls who in turn smiled brightly and said, “Hi.”
Hannah returned the smiles and their greetings, noticing that the girls shared many of the same features, “One could definitely tell they are sisters,” she thought. They each had long dark brown hair, milky white skin, and somewhat familiar blue eyes. Sophie had her hair parted on the side and hanging loose, it reached almost to the bench she was sitting on. Bella had her hair pulled back into a ponytail which Cassie had emulated. Bella was almost the same size as Sophie but Cassie was much smaller.
“Mommy! I have a box of stuff!” a voice came from behind a box that had walked into the room.
Cilla laughed again, “Okay, Papi, put it over at the window please.”
Hannah laughed as the box headed toward the window, “So I guess there’s a small person behind that box?” she mused.
“Yes,” Cilla smiled at her. “Liam, say hello to the nice lady,” she told the now present boy who had sat the box on the floor in front of the window.
“Hi!” he said brightly cocking his head slightly to the side as though he was sizing her up. He had thick black hair that was cut short and parted neatly on the side, it contrasted greatly with his pale milky skin. His blue eyes smiled warmly all on their own. He was thin and looked as though he were about to grow too tall for his denim pants.
All in all, Hannah thought he looked the picture of a miniature cowboy, “Hello,” she returned, trying to suppress the laughter that almost escaped as she watched the small boy. “Are you sure you should be carrying a box that big?”
“I can do it,” Liam said with confidence, “I can handle the big jobs just like my Dad.”
Hannah laughed now, she couldn’t help it, “So who’s your dad?” she asked, wondering where this enchanting little boy came from.
“My dad is Alex James,” Liam said. “He built this ranch with his bare hands.” He held out his hands to give expression to what he was saying, which made Hannah think of Peter Pan.
The cogs in Hannah’s brain started to turn, he had called Cilla “Mommy” he was her son, so of course, he was Alex James’ son. Why hadn’t she put that two and two together? She wondered as she stood there looking at this incredibly adorable boy, who she now recognized as looking a lot like, his dad.
“Okay, Papi, go get some more decorations to bring in please,” Cilla chuckled at him.
“Yes, ma’am,” he smiled and ran out of the room.
“He’s so cute,” Hannah chuckled.
“We like him okay,” Cilla said, with some pride in her voice, then continued with the tour. “This is where the outside or overflow will be,” she led Hannah down to the other end of the room and out the double French doors. There was a beautiful rose garden which had desert landscape, flowers and plants dispersed throughout it, just off the deck.
“Wow! I love roses. What colors do you have out there?” Hannah couldn’t help the question, horses and roses had always been weaknesses for her.
“I don’t know really,” Cilla admitted, “there must be about every color and some are mixed colors. You’d have to ask Patty, this rose garden is her baby, well she used to work in it all the time, but lately she’s been having the girls help her because of her arthritis.”
“It’s lovely,” Hannah smiled.
Cilla chuckled and said, “Patty will love to tell you all about it – she’s really easy to talk to. So anyways, the guys will be bringing the space heaters and placing them out here so that the guests won’t get too cold and they’ll do most of the outside decorating so we won’t have to worry about that.”
A loud shout of, “Mommy!” came from inside the “fancy room” and they both ran inside to see what had happened.
“What Papi?” Cilla asked with concern in her voice.
Liam leaned around the box he was carrying, smiled a very innocent smile and asked, “Do you want this one by the window too?”
Cilla sighed in exasperation, “Yes, Papi,” she said, sounding a bit annoyed.
Hannah did the fake cough to cover the laughter that tried to escape, “This boy is so cute,” she thought to herself.
Cilla shook her head and smiled at Hannah, “I blame his father, that man is the biggest tease in the world. And if he knows he can get to you, well, nothing entertains him more.” She fanned the air in front of her as if to wave the tease out of the air and said, “So let’s get started over here.””
Find Return to New Parish, New Parish, and Brigham Tea Magazine on Amazon.com at the link below: