Christmas Letters (Blossom Street Series #4)by Debbie Macomber, Renee Raudman
Katherine O'Connor often spends her days at a cozy cafe on Blossom Street in Seattle, where she writes Christmas letters for other people. She's good at making their everyday lives sound more interesting. More humorous. More dramatic. But for Dr. Wynn Jeffries, who also frequents the cafe, Christmas means lies and deception. In fact, the renowned child psychologist
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Katherine O'Connor often spends her days at a cozy cafe on Blossom Street in Seattle, where she writes Christmas letters for other people. She's good at making their everyday lives sound more interesting. More humorous. More dramatic. But for Dr. Wynn Jeffries, who also frequents the cafe, Christmas means lies and deception. In fact, the renowned child psychologist recommends that parents "Bury Santa Under the Sleigh." Katherine, however, feels that his parenting philosophy is one big mistake-at least, based on her four-year-old twin nieces, who are being raised according to his "Free Child" methods. She argues with Wynn about his theories, while he argues that her letters are nothing but lies. They disagree about practically everything-and yet, somehow, they don't really want to stop arguing. As the days-and nights-move closer to Christmas, Katherine and Wynn both discover that love means accepting your differences. And Christmas is about the things you share.
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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' 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. was single and not a mother. The only child-rearing experience she'd had was with her identical twin nieces, Zoe and Zara, whom she adored. Until recently, anyway. Overnight the five-year-olds had become miniature monsters and all because her sister had followed the "Free Child" rules as set out by Dr. Jeffries.
"My wife," Bill said, "is on the verge of a breakdown." K.O. pitied the poor woman—and her husband.
"We've written Christmas letters for years and while life wasn't always as perfect as we—well, as we implied..." He let the rest fade away.
"You painted the picture of a model family."
"Yes." Bill cleared his throat and offered her a weak smile. "Patti, that's my wife, chose to present a, shall we say, rosier depiction of reality." He exhaled in a rush.
"We never included family pictures and if you met my son, you'd know why. Anyone looking at Mason would know in a minute that this kid isn't a member of the National Honor Society." He released his breath again and shook his head sadly. "Mason's into body piercing," Bill added. "He pierced his eyebrows, his nose, his lips, his tongue, his nipples—"
K.O. stopped him before he went any lower. "I get it."
"You probably don't, but that's lucky for you. Oh, and he dyed his hair green."
"He wears it spiked, too, and he...he does this thing with paint." Bill dropped his voice.
K.O. was sure she'd misunderstood. "I beg your pardon?"
"Mason doesn't call it paint. It's some form of cosmetic he smears across his face. I never imagined that my son would be rummaging through his mother's makeup drawer one day."
"I suppose that is a bit disconcerting,"K.O. murmured.
"I forget the actual significance of the black smudges under his eyes and across his cheeks," Bill said. "To me it looks like he's some teenage commando."
Yes, this letter would indeed be a challenge. "Have you thought about skipping your Christmas letter this year?" K.O. asked hopefully.
"Yeah, I'd like to, but as I said, Patti's emotional health is rather fragile. She claims people are already asking about our annual letter. She's afraid that if we don't send it the same as we do every year, everyone will figure out that we're pitiful parents." His shoulders drooped. "In other words, we've failed our children."
"I don't think you've necessarily failed," K.O. assured him. "Most teenagers go through a rebellious stage."
"Did you pierce anything?"
"Well, I had my ears pierced...."
"That's not the same thing." He peered at her earrings, visible through her straight blond hair, which she wore loosely tied back. "And you only have one in each ear—not eight or ten like my son." He seemed satisfied that he'd proved his point. "Then you'll write our Christmas letter and smooth over the rough edges of our year?"
K.O. was less and less confident that she could pull this off. "I don't know if I'm your person," she said hesitantly. How could she possibly come up with a positive version of such a disastrous year? Besides, this side job was supposed to be fun, not real work. It'd begun as a favor to her sister and all of a sudden she was launching a career. At some stage she'd need to call a halt— maybe sooner than she'd expected.
Her client shifted in his seat. "I'll pay you double what you normally charge."
K.O. sat up straight. Double. He said he'd pay double? "Would four days be enough time?" she asked.
Okay, so she could be bought. She pulled out her DayTimer, checked her schedule and they set a date for their next meeting.
"I'll give you half now and half when you're finished." That seemed fair.Not one to be overly prideful, she held out her hand as he peeled off three fifty-dollar bills. Her fingers closed around the cash.
"I'll see you Friday then," Bill said, and reaching for his briefcase, he left the French Café carrying his latte in its takeout cup.
Looking out the windows with their Christmas garland, she saw that it had begun to snow again. This was the coldest December on record. Seattle's normally mild climate had dipped to below-freezing temperatures for ten days in a row. So much for global warming. There was precious little evidence of it in Seattle.
K.O. glanced at the coffee line. Wynn Jeffries had made his way to the front and picked up his hot drink. After adding cream and sugar—lots of both, she observed—he was getting ready to leave. K.O. didn't want to be obvious about watching him, so she took a couple of extra minutes to collect her things, then followed him out the door.
Even if she introduced herself, she had no idea what to say. Mostly she wanted to tell him his so-called Free Child movement—no boundaries for kids—was outright lunacy. How could he, in good conscience, mislead parents in this ridiculous fashion? Not that she had strong feelings on the subject or anything. Okay, so maybe she'd gone a little overboard at the bookstore that day, but she couldn't help it. The manager had been touting the benefits of Dr. Jeffries' book to yet another unsuspecting mom. K.O. felt it was her duty to let the poor woman know what might happen if she actually followed Dr. Jeffries' advice. The bookseller had strenuously disagreed and from then on, the situation had gotten out of hand.
Not wanting him to think she was stalking him, which she supposed she was, K.O. maintained a careful distance. If his office was in Seattle, it might even be in this neighborhood. After the renovations on Blossom Street a few years ago, a couple of buildings had been converted to office space. If she could discreetly discover where he practiced, she might go and talk to him sometime. She hadn't read his book but had leafed through it, and she knew he was a practicing child psychologist. She wanted to argue about his beliefs and his precepts, tell him about the appalling difference in her nieces' behavior since the day Zelda had adopted his advice.
She'd rather he didn't see her, so she dashed inconspicuously across the street to A Good Yarn, and darted into the doorway, where she pretended to be interested in a large Christmas stocking that hung in the display window. From the reflection in the window, she saw Dr. Jeffries walking briskly down the opposite sidewalk.
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Meet the Author
Debbie Macomber is one of today's leading voices in romance and women's fiction and the author of the popular Cedar Cove series, the Blossom Street books, and the Angelic Intervention series.
Actor and voice-over artist Renée Raudman has performed on film, television, radio, and stage. A multiple Audie Award nominee, she has garnered several AudioFile Earphones Awards, a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award, and numerous starred reviews.
- Port Orchard, Washington
- Date of Birth:
- October 22, 1948
- Place of Birth:
- Yakima, Washington
- Graduated from high school in 1966; attended community college
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