Christmas Scrapbookby Philip Gulley
It's autumn in Harmony, and Pastor Sam Gardner has vowed to be ready for Christmas. Determined to redeem a dreadful history of gift giving, Sam enrolls in a scrapbooking class to make a Christmas gift his wife will never forget. However, Sam's absence from their home every Wednesday night, coupled with his fishy alibi of attending a men's group, raises her
It's autumn in Harmony, and Pastor Sam Gardner has vowed to be ready for Christmas. Determined to redeem a dreadful history of gift giving, Sam enrolls in a scrapbooking class to make a Christmas gift his wife will never forget. However, Sam's absence from their home every Wednesday night, coupled with his fishy alibi of attending a men's group, raises her suspicions.
Meanwhile, Sam struggles in the class and must attempt to complete his project with only the help of his faithful secretary, Frank. As Christmas fast approaches and rumors of Sam's Wednesday night absences swirl along with the snow, a series of mishaps leads to a Christmas no one will soon forget.
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The Christmas ScrapbookA Harmony Story
By Philip Gulley
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Philip Gulley
All right reserved.
Barbara Gardner had been suspicious of her husband, Sam, for some time. Her doubts had begun in September, when he'd been absent from their home on Wednesday evenings, purportedly to attend a men's group over in Cartersburg.
"What kind of men's group?" she'd asked him when he'd told her his plans.
"Oh, you know, a men's group. Hey, it's not all that easy being a man these days," Sam said, a note of defensiveness creeping into his voice.
Sam Gardner has never been a good liar, a serious detriment for a minister, who must often fudge things a bit in order to keep people happy.
"So what does one do in a men's group?" Barbara asked.
"Uh, well, we talk."
"Oh, you know, plumbing and garages and power tools mostly."
In fact, Sam Gardner was enrolled in a scrapbooking class, making a picture scrapbook for Barbara for Christmas.
In early August, he'd read an advertisement in the Harmony Herald about a scrapbooking class at the community college in Cartersburg and the next day, determined to redeem a dreadful history of gift giving, had enrolled in the class.
Unschooled in the methods of trickery and deceit, he hadn't crafted a reasonable excuse until it was too late. When, on the first night of class, Barbara had asked him to explain his absence, the first thought that came to mind was the men's group. He wished now he'd told her it was a Bible study, then suggested she attend also, which would have nipped her curiosity in the bud.
It hadn't taken Sam long to realize he'd made a serious mistake. He was the only man in a class of twenty. His teacher, a Mrs. Hilda Gruber, had been a drill sergeant in her previous life (Sam reckoned for the Nazis), and the other students avoided him like the plague, lest by taint of association they incur Mrs. Gruber's wrath.
In early October, she'd asked Sam to stay after class.
"It pains me to tell you this," she said in a grim voice, pronouncing each word with Teutonic precision, "but you are in grave danger of failing this class."
"Failing? How can I fail? I thought this class was just for fun."
"It that so? Well, perhaps that explains your problem. Scrapbooking is a serious artistic endeavor, not to be undertaken lightly." She opened Sam's scrapbook. "Just look at this. Your glue work is atrocious, and your scissor performance is simply deplorable."
"I never was very good with glue," Sam admitted. "When I was in the fourth grade, I accidentally glued my hand to my head. They had to take to me the hospital to get me unstuck." He pointed to a faint white scar on his forehead. "See that?"
Mrs. Gruber clucked her tongue in disgust. "If I don't see an improvement in the next several weeks, I'll have to give you an F."
"Perhaps I could do some extra credit?" Sam suggested.
"Mr. Gardner, your scrapbooking deficiencies are such that no amount of extra credit could improve your standing. Your only hope is to discard," she paused, searching for the right word to properly convey her revulsion, "this abomination and start anew."
"Throw it away? You want me to throw it away?"
"It would be the Christian thing to do, so as not to inflict it on anyone else."
Sam hung his head. "I was making it for my wife for Christmas," he said dejectedly.
Mrs. Gruber sighed.
"Last year I got her a ceramic pelican," Sam volunteered.
"To set on the windowsill over the kitchen sink. It holds a dishwashing sponge in its bill."
"That poor, poor woman." She closed the offending scrapbook, then pointed her finger squarely at Sam. "Mr. Gardner, I want you to arrive an hour early next week and plan to stay an hour after. I'll see if I can't salvage this scrapbook. But do not get your hopes up. One person can do only so much, after all."
Sam drove home, despondent over this turn of events. He'd been deeply pleased with himself for securing a gift for his wife so far in advance. His usual custom had been to stew for the months preceding Christmas, then, still clueless, descend on Kivett's Five and Dime on December 24, where he would paw over the dregs no one else had wanted. But this year had been different. He'd stayed up late, after Barbara had gone to bed, rummaging through the shoe boxes where they kept their photographs, picking the cream of the crop for the scrapbook. He'd had duplicate copies made at a one-hour photo shop in Cartersburg so she wouldn't be the wiser.
Weeks of scheming, lying, gluing, and cutting down the drain.
Barbara was seated at the kitchen table working a crossword puzzle when he walked in the kitchen door. "Hi, honey," she said. "How was your men's group?"
"Fine, just fine."
"So what did you talk about tonight?"
"Uh, riding mowers."
"You spent two hours talking about lawn mowers?"
"Well, not just that. We had to take attendance too. And pay our dues. And . . ." He paused to consider what else might conceivably happen at a men's meeting. "And we talked about football some too."
"That sounds odd. I was talking with Deena Morrison about it and she said men's groups talk about their feelings and have book discussions."
"My group doesn't do much of that."
"She also said they play drums and run naked in the woods. You haven't been running naked in the woods, have you, Sam?"
"Don't be silly."
"So how long will these men's meetings last?"
Sam thought for a moment. "I think it runs until Christmas, but it might go a bit longer. It all depends on whether or not we're finished. We still have cars and baseball and hunting to talk about."
She studied him warily.
He stretched and yawned. "Well, I think I'll head . . ."
Excerpted from The Christmas Scrapbook by Philip Gulley Copyright © 2005 by Philip Gulley.
Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Philip Gulley is a Quaker minister, writer, husband, and father. He is the bestselling author of Front Porch Tales, the acclaimed Harmony series, and is coauthor of If Grace Is True and If God Is Love. Gulley lives with his wife and two sons in Indiana, and is a frequent speaker at churches, colleges, and retreat centers across the country.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This is a story that will lift your spirits and tickle your funny bone. Philip Gulley has a magic touch for telling a great story. It is so well written that the story is great even if for anyone who hasn't read all the rest of the Harmony Series. Perfect Christmas gift.
Pastor Sam Gardner knows he's clueless about choosing Christmas gifts for his wife, Barbara. Even after 17 years together, he still winds up buying her potholders and suchlike. This year, though, Sam's determined things are going to be different. He enrolls (secretly, of course, to avoid spoiling the surprise!) in an adult education scrapbooking class, to make Barbara a gift she's sure to treasure. Things go awry, to put it mildly, as Barbara tries to figure out where her husband is going so secretively every Wednesday evening. She moves from one mistaken conclusion to another, and before long the entire town of Harmony - a Norman Rockwell sort of community - is playing that old parlor game favorite, Gossip, with hilarious results. Sentimental and cliched at times? Sure it is. But it's got one memorably original character in Sam's church secretary, Frank, an elderly and crusty war veteran. It's also got the Christmas spirit as it ought to be. Generally speaking, I hate cute. I hate sentimental. I hate inspirational. And I loved this story just the same!
This book was so funny and I found myself reading and laughing. I could just picture this man's efforts in my mind. It is definitely a quick read for someone that wants something not too long.
Verry funny though