A Christmas Home

A Christmas Home

by Greg Kincaid


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307951977
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 10/30/2012
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.34(w) x 7.58(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

Greg Kincaid, author of A Dog Named Christmas and Christmas with Tucker, is a practicing lawyer who specializes in family law mediation. He is also an active advocate for literacy and for the humane treatment of animals. He helped to start the Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays program that has found homes for tens of thousands of shelter dogs. The father of five children, he lives on a farm in western Johnson County, Kansas, with his wife, two cats and two dogs.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

One Year Later

People would look at the old black Lab and say, "Christmas. That's an unusual name for a dog." In the beginning, George would explain how the Lab was supposed to have been a temporary holiday guest, a brief fostering project to help out the local animal shelter. His youngest son, Todd, thought the name Christmas was a good fit. Now, nearly four years later, the dog had found a permanent home with the McCray family, and George was inclined to lean down, hug his canine friend around the neck, and say, "Best Christmas present I ever got!"

Christmas was resting his head on Todd's lap in the backseat of the car as they drove down Main Street that evening. George's wife, Mary Ann, and Todd chatted back and forth about the weather--lightly falling snow, smoky gray skies, and a low howling northwest wind. George, a pragmatic sort, smiled at the notion, but wondered if they shouldn't have named the lab Elmer, like the glue. The dog bound and knitted his family together.

The elder McCray tried to park in the small municipal lot that flanked the west side of Crossing Trails Town Hall, but it was already jammed with cars. The turnout for that night's town hall meeting was going to be huge, particularly for a town of less than two thousand residents. So much was hanging in the balance.

George turned back onto Main Street and drove north for two more blocks before finding a space in front of what had been the barbershop but was now a Dollar General Store--a sign of the times. Though many older businesses like the hardware store and the diner had managed to hang on, the growing number of discount stores suggested that the town's better days were visible only in the rearview mirror. Once within this tiny six-block area they still called "downtown" there had been a bakery, a movie theater, clothing stores, a Ford dealership, a furniture shop, and much more. Still, the Crossing Trails Chamber of Commerce boasted thirty-four members. The town just had to survive, George thought. Right? Any other answer seemed inconceivable.

Many of the original stately brick buildings had survived, but there were also plenty of newer, cheaper-looking steel-and-concrete structures, quite a few sporting for rent or sale signs. George was continually amazed at the way the town had changed, particularly in the last several years as the exodus of young people from the rural farming community continued. At least his children, all living within driving distance, had not strayed too far from the McCray homestead. Todd was closest of all.

"Looks like a good turnout for the meeting," George observed.

"As it should be. People are worried." Mary Ann buttoned up her coat and collected her purse from the floor of the car. She turned around and poked at her son's knee. "Let's go."

Todd undid his seat belt and started to get out of the backseat with his headphones still attached and his iPod playing a Scotty McCreery tune that he did his best to adopt as his own. Once completely out of the car, he broke out with the chorus, "I love you this big!" As Todd stretched out his arms, Mary Ann stepped into his embrace, and they repeated the lyrics together. Mary Ann smiled at life. Being a music teacher and having a tone-deaf son was beyond ironic.

George opened the other rear passenger door. When Christmas jumped out, he snapped a leash on the dog's collar and gave him a gentle pat on the head. "Good boy. You've got work to do tonight, don't you?"

There was an unusual urgency to that night's town hall meeting. Earlier in the week The Prairie Star--Crossing Trail's newspaper, once daily, but now weekly--had reported that the mayor would discuss the town's latest economic setback. After fifty years, Midwest Trailer and Hitch had officially called it quits. Horse ownership was at an all-time low, as were trailer sales, and the town's largest employer was going out of business.

The survival of Crossing Trails was being threatened by a combination of factors that could be overcome only by an intense collaborative effort. Severe cost-cutting measures were inevitable, and everyone knew it. The lead story in The Prairie Star indicated that services that had once been taken for granted were now at risk. Like a virus at a day care, the rumors spread up and down Main Street in the close-knit town. People had moved right past worried and were dashing toward panicked.

The McCrays and other families had watched as smaller rural communities in the surrounding counties had eliminated or consolidated fire and police departments, closed schools and libraries, shut hospitals, and all but died. They couldn't help wondering if the same spiral had been set in motion in their town.

George, Todd, and Mary Ann walked south down Main Street as a light fog settled in. Christmas loitered, sniffing at the occasional fire hydrant. The outside temperature on this early December evening was warmer than the snow-covered ground. The slushy sidewalk was dangerously slick and uneven in places, so they walked carefully, with Todd in the middle, holding on to his parents' hands with a firm, youthful grip that kept them from slipping.

Mary Ann liked it that her adult son would still hold his parents' hands. For some it might be considered a sign of his disability, but for her it meant so much more. When he was little, he held her hand for physical support; when he was older, he did it for emotional reassurance. It was his way of checking to make sure that his mother was there for him as he navigated through a world that did not always make sense to him. Later still, holding his parents' hands became a simple and honest way to show his unabashed love. While his grip still sent some of these ancient family messages, it was not lost on her that there was something new going on. Todd was using his strength to hold them up. She wondered if George was having anywhere near the same thought, or if Todd had an inkling of how the roles of parent and child were constantly being renegotiated with the passage of time.

In the storefront windows many of the merchants had made some effort to showcase their Christmas goods. Green holly and blinking white lights hung from the wood poles and brass rings that previous generations had used to tie off their horses. Falling under the dim light, cast by the old-fashioned streetlights, were little bits of intermittent snow blowing through the dark night sky.

With his jet-black coat, Christmas was hard to see as he tagged along, content, with his family.

The dog was a local legend in Crossing Trails. It was hard to know where the truth about Christmas ended and the exaggeration began; both George and Todd were inclined to embellish his exploits. Whether Christmas had really taken on a mountain lion and won, understood more than fifty words, or could read your thoughts didn't matter to most people. What they loved most about the dog was the joy he brought to the McCray family and every other human he met. That was magic enough.

Both Todd and George described Christmas as "my dog." However convenient, this was not entirely accurate. Like blue skies, small children, and the air we breathe, dogs can be shared, loved, and enjoyed but not owned. Partnership, yes. Ownership, no. That's the way it has always been between dogs and humans.

The foursome entered the crowded meeting room of City Hall. Todd's boss at the shelter, Hayley Donaldson, had promised to save them seats near the back, where Christmas could rest out of the way before he went to work. The McCrays looked around but could not find Hayley, so they claimed four chairs at the back of the room and sat down.

Todd took the aisle seat and gave the command for Christmas to sit, out of the flow of traffic. He pulled an index card from his pocket with a list on it. Hayley loved lists. She was always giving him lists. Todd smiled to himself as he thought about the lists. He would often tease Hayley by greeting her with his hand extended. When she looked at him quizzically, he would say, "Waiting for my list!"

Earlier that day she had written on an index card the things she wanted him and Christmas to do at the town hall meeting. At times it irritated Todd that she made so many lists telling him to do things he didn't need her to tell him to do. When he complained about it to her, she just said, "I make lists for me, so what's wrong with making them for you?"

Todd stuffed the index card back in his pocket, and as he did a funny thought caused him to laugh out loud. Tomorrow he would make a list and give it to Hayley. It would say, "Quit making lists!"

George looked up at his son wondering why he was chuckling. "What's so amusing?"

Sometimes other people did not find the same things funny that Todd did, so he had slowly grown guarded about sharing his sense of humor--even with his mom and dad. He was afraid that it did not make him look smart. "I was just thinking about something at work."

George smiled reassuringly, picking up on Todd's reluctance to explain himself further. In fact, as someone who loved to laugh when he could, George very much enjoyed Todd's sense of humor and didn't care whether or not his son looked smart.

George returned his attention to the room. No one had bothered to plug the Christmas tree lights in on the mayor's Christmas tree. Fake gift boxes had been haphazardly spread about the base. All the faux gifts were wrapped in the same green paper, and most were ripped in several places. Many of the bows and ribbons had slipped off. George took one look at the pathetic tree, went over to the wall socket, and plugged in the lights. It looked only marginally better. He shrugged and returned to his seat between Todd and Mary Ann.

The McCrays spotted many familiar faces as more people began to stream into the increasingly crowded room; it seemed that most of the families they knew in Cherokee County were represented here tonight. This meeting had definitely captured everyone's attention. While George said his hellos to friends and neighbors, Mary Ann turned around and glanced at the entrance to watch the people coming in. Then she caught sight of a scene unfolding in the small glass-walled conference room across from the main meeting hall. She nudged George. "Look out there," she said softly.

Though they could not hear the conversation, it was obvious to the two of them that Hayley Donaldson was having a heated discussion with the mayor and the city manager. She was throwing her hands up in the air as if to say What gives? She was a tall, self-assured, and confident woman--fit and strong from handling dogs. "That looks bad," George said quietly, while thinking to himself that he wouldn't want to be on the receiving end in a heated exchange with that young lady.

Todd, oblivious to the scene, pulled Christmas close to him and checked his pockets to make sure he had remembered the training treats. That was number four on Hayley's list. He grinned again.

The door to the conference room flew open and Hayley stepped out into the hall that separated the smaller room from the main hall. She saw the McCray family in the last row and moved quickly toward them, greeting Todd and Christmas briefly before taking the seat next to Mary Ann, who sensed her distress the moment she saw her. "I'm so darn mad, I can't talk," she whispered to Mary Ann. She continued to glare out into space, and soon angry tears began to stream down her cheeks.

Mary Ann took her by the arm. "Hayley, what's wrong?"

In high school Hayley had been one of Mary Ann's favorite students, in every way a responsible and dedicated young woman. She had been one of the stars on the debate team and had never lost her composure easily. Mary Ann tended to remain protective of her former students. She tried again, "What happened? Tell me."

"You're not going to believe this. I can't believe it."

"What?" Mary Ann pleaded.

Hayley nodded her head in Todd's direction and then leaned over to whisper in her favorite teacher's ear, "They want to close the shelter. Like, now."

"No!" Mary Ann gasped. She could not help her own reaction but didn't want Todd to overhear. "Come with me," she said, standing. Todd and George looked up as the two women stepped into the aisle. Mary Ann clutched Hayley's elbow and said, "Just a quick trip to the ladies' room before this meeting starts." George looked at Mary Ann and nodded, knowing full well that something else was going on.

Once in the hallway, struggling to keep her voice even, Mary Ann continued, "Why in the world would they do that?"

Hayley spoke softly and tried to sum up her conversation with the mayor. "As usual: it's all about money. The county is no longer willing to fund its half of the shelter's expenses. The town has its own money problems. Mayor McDaniel told me that they want us to close. We're done."

Mary Ann's voice rose uncontrollably. "That's impossible. Where will the dogs go?"

Several people milling in the hallway began to notice their conversation. Hayley led Mary Ann a few steps farther away from the meeting room and continued her explanation. "Mayor McDaniel may know something about real estate, but she doesn't know squat about animal shelters. She must think that we can put fifty-plus dogs and cats on the corner and someone will just pick them up. I had to scream at her just so she would agree to let us stay open till the end of the year."

"Why is the county backing out?" Mary Ann asked.

"The shelter needs lots of repairs. The roof, the plumbing, the heating, and the air-conditioning are all old."

"So why can't they just fix it?"

"They needed the money for other things, so they sold our building. We have to vacate by December 31. They are going to demolish the shelter to make room for a convenience store! I'm just so mad I can't stand it!"

Mary Ann looked toward the meeting room. "Does Todd know?"

"No. I just found out myself."

"They gave you no warning?"

"A couple of months ago, and then again several weeks ago, the city manager told me that there were money problems and problems with our lease, too." Hayley again started to choke on her words. "They never told me this could happen. I thought they would work it out. I just didn't take the whole thing seriously." She calmed herself. "I should have seen it coming."

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Fans of Kincaid’s A Dog Named Christmas will welcome another story featuring the McCray family and their rescue dog, Christmas…. Dog lovers and anyone looking for a heartwarming Christmas story will enjoy Kincaid’s latest.” –Library Journal
A Christmas Home is a heartwarming read and not just for the holidays. It shows the deep connection and love between humans and animals, and how anyone, no matter their limitations, can find their passion. Well written and uplifting, this story is sure to please animal lovers.” —New York Journal of Books

“In A Christmas Home, Greg Kincaid again treats us to a story rich in the courage of people who, in overcoming their own limitations, teach us a lesson in how to prevail, no matter the odds, no matter the trials.” – Steve Duno, author of Last Dog on the Hill

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A Christmas Home 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
I confess, I like sappy Christmas movies and that’s how I was first introduced to Todd and his family and friends, especially the Labrador retriever that came to mean so much to him. The Hallmark movie was ” A Dog Named Christmas” and I have enjoyed it several times since it first came out in 2009. What I didn’t know until I received this ARC is that the movie was based on a novel of the same name. A Christmas Home is the third of a trilogy, following Christmas with Tucker. The storyline of A Christmas Home follows that of the first book, concentrating on Crossing Trails’ animal shelter and, in this volume, its loss of public funding at a time when communities across the nation are struggling economically. At its heart, though, is the tale of two people with disabilities and how they learn to “fly”, to move on and to dare to do the impossible because they believe they can do so. It is also the tale of the families and friends who care so deeply for them and must find the courage let go, to have faith that they have instilled the strength and confidence needed for these two young people to live full lives despite their disabilities. Such a storyline can hardly hope to be anything other than ultra-sweet but author Greg Kincaid handles it well and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a fine example of what “comfort fiction” really is. I took a good deal of pleasure in spending a little time with folks—and animals—I would be happy to call friends and to experience, if only for a little while, the humanity and caring of Todd’s community.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another fantastic story by Mr. Kinkaid. Cried reading this one as well. There are so many life lessons in this book that is an enjoyable, easy read. Highly recommend!!
Shoemouse More than 1 year ago
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crown Publishing for the purpose of review. The review is my honest opinion and I was not paid for this service. A Christmas Home is a wonderful tale about Todd and his black lab Christmas. Todd is a special needs young man who works at an animal shelter that is in the process of being shut down. Despite Todd's apparent disability he is living proof that anyone can attain any goal once they set their mind to it. He refuses to allow his disability to govern his life and has an almost normal life. He works a job, lives on his own and has an amazing talent as dog trainer. He trains an equally talented dog named Gracie to help his special needs friend, Laura. Laura is another amazing character who also does not allow her disability to hold her down. Author Greg Kinkaid is an amazing writer. He pulls you into the story from the very beginning and keeps you until the very last page of the story. This is one book that was hard to put down as you just want to keep reading to find out what happens next. The story was very heart-felt and easy to identify with. He makes you fall in love with the characters to the point where you feel as though you are a part of their very lives. The story was very descriptive and very well written. The author's natural ability to tell a heart-warming story only intensifies his ability to capture his audience. Anyone who enjoys a heart-felt story about a young man and his dog is bound to enjoy this one. I recommend this book as a must read; you definitely won't be disappointed. I rate this book with 5 stars out of a total of five.
ReadYourWrites More than 1 year ago
A Christmas Home is the third book in a series by Greg Kincaid, featuring a young disabled boy named Todd and his incredible dog, Christmas. I didn’t read either A Dog Named Christmas or the Prequel, Christmas with Tucker. One of the best things about this book is that you don’t have to know anything about the other two books in order to get drawn into this one. This book is different from the other books I generally read. I’m more of a romance reader, but I found A Christmas Home to be very sweet and touching. While reading the book, I kept thinking, “this should be a movie”. I looked up the author and found out the first book was turned into a movie. A Christmas Home deals with issues a lot of people are facing today. These issues being a poor economy, having your house foreclosed on and having to leave a beloved pet behind, and local governments forced to decrease or cancel services because there isn’t enough money to fund them all. Gracie is a four-year-old retriever who is abandoned by her family, not because they didn’t love her, but because they couldn’t afford to take care of her. In a mad dash to probably try to locate her family, Gracie is hit by a car driven by Laura. Gracie is then taken to the local animal shelter and taken care of by Todd. It turns out that both Todd and Laura are disabled. Todd has a mental disability and Laura has rheumatoid arthritis. Todd and his family live in a very small rural farming community called Crossing Trails. With the bad economy, businesses are closing up and thus the town is losing revenue. The decision is made to close the animal shelter with less than a month’s notice. This leaves Todd and his boss Hayley with forty-eight dogs and cats to find permanent homes for. In what seems like a monumental task, Todd manages to pull the town together and do the right thing for the animals. A Christmas Home is more than a story about a dog at Christmas time. It’s a touching, heart-warming story of a young disabled man finding his way in this world while showing incredible courage and strength. It’s a story of letting go and allowing a “butterfly” to find its wings and fly away. Reviewed for Read Your Writes Book Reviews Source: NetGalley
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story is about a disabled young man and his dog . The animal shelter he works for is being forced to close and he tries to find homes for all the dogs and cats that he has lovingly trained and cared for.
InTheBookcase More than 1 year ago
Greg Kincaid's books are dear treasures that I will immensely enjoy for years to come. The third installment of his series about the McCray family, "A Christmas Home", is beautifully written, as expected. Before reading this story, you really must read both of Kincaid's previous books, "A Dog Named Christmas" and "Christmas with Tucker". Todd McCray, the family's youngest son, is growing up. He is a young man now, attempting to become his own man, even though the challenges he faces may be considered harder than other people's. For a mentally challenged person, simple tasks can turn into much more meaningful, life-altering steps. I so enjoy the down-home, small town emotion is so easily evoked through the words in the story. Kincaid's writings are to be cherished, shared, and read again. Perfect for the whole family to enjoy together. I certainly don't want the story about the McCray family to end here. I hope the author will continue writing! I, for one, will certainly be looking forward to his next publication.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
songbirdsue More than 1 year ago
I really got into this story and enjoyed every minute of it. It brought to my mind how those with disabilities can work to overcome them and function in society smoothly. It also showed me how much work it takes to do so. I love how the town’s people are so supportive and work together. This is a story of perseverance and unconditional love both between people and their faithful canine companions. Todd is brave, tenacious and hard-working which pays off in the end. As a mother, I feel for his parents and how they want him to succeed and yet are apprehensive at letting him do so for fear of him getting hurt. The fantastic ending is full of mixed emotions. I thoroughly enjoyed the service dog portions that describe in detail how a service dog works and is trained. This book is good for everyone and is appropriate for tweens and above.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you liked the previous stories by Kincaid, you will love this as well.  terrific!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boosie1921 More than 1 year ago
A Cheery Christmas Tale A Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid is perfect December reading. This book is a great way to escape the hectic pace of the holidays. It is filled with both goodness and happy endings. The story is about an animal shelter that may be forced to close due to the struggling economy. Todd, who has a disability, works at the shelter. This is a sequel to the equally fine book A Dog Named Christmas. Both books deserve your time. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book to read...I enjoyed it so much had to read it again....
VillaSyl More than 1 year ago
At the heart of A Christmas Home is a town struggling to survive. People and pets are losing their homes. With no other financial means, a lot of sweet dogs end up in the shelter run by Todd. The city is running out of money, which leads to a limited amount of funds for the shelter and an overwhelming amount of animals are being abandoned. Todd has multiple challenges ahead of him, especially if he loses his job. Todd tries to overcome his own disabilities and maintain an independent life, which is threatened if the shelter is forced to close. There is a light romantic interest for this young man which also has to fit into this puzzle. As in many small towns across America today, Greg Kincaid's characters show the will to overcome their limitations with rich courage and bravery. In doing so, they share with us a story of perseverance. This is a story of unconditional love. It’s a story of a family with unconditional love and the love between a man and his faithful canine companion. I highly recommend this book. A Christmas Home is a perfect book for animal lovers, like all Christmas novellas, it's still a perfect read for anytime of the year. You will want to keep it around and read again and children will love this story. It shows the deep connection and love between humans and animals, and how anyone, no matter their limitations, can find their passion. The story sounds like it could have been based on a true story, overall, a sweet and sometimes funny Christmas story! The ending is emotional and unexpected, brought tears to my eyes, a perfect ending. I received this book in a giveaway from Crown Publishing a division of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group through their Blogging for Books program for my review.
Jutzie More than 1 year ago
A Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid Book 3 Todd McCray may not be the smartest young man around due to some learning disabilities but he definitely has a gift with animals. Especially dogs. Todd loves working at their local shelter and actually teaches the dogs tricks. When hard times hit the small town of Crossing Trails, Kansas, Todd is pushed into some tough choices. As are his parents who want to protect their special son but realize it’s time to set him free instead. Laura Jordan knows how special Todd is. He has trained her remarkable dog, Gracie, to help Laura because of her rheumatoid arthritis. As Todd helps Laura out at the Wellness Center and she volunteers at the shelter once a week they become best friends and perhaps even more. This book brought tears to my eyes from the get-go. Starting out with a real life situation of folks losing their home and having to give up their dog. A definite real life situation. The author has you inside the minds of most of the characters throughout the book but never in a confusing way.  The story centers around the shelter but also the people. How the lady feels who has dementia, Todd’s parents letting go, Todd’s confusion at times sorting out life. I won’t give any more away. I really enjoyed this book but would highly suggest reading A Dog Named Christmas to have the details of what happened before this book.  Book 1: A Dog Named Christmas (this also became a Hallmark movie)  Book 2: Christmas With Tucker **Crown Publishing, a division of Random House
Joneal More than 1 year ago
Great Book!
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
This is the third installment in some innovative books about dogs, human passion and determination , and the Christmas season. Todd is now a young man working in the town's animal shelter. Though he is 'book slow', he definitely has a way with animals. His job at the shelter has caused these talents to blossom into training dogs to met human needs. Todd has met Laura, whose arthritis has been less bothersome since she got her dog, Gracie. The nursing home is more joyful for it's inhabitants with pet visits. Then the bad news---the shelter must close from lack of funds. What will happen to all the homeless pets? Can Todd find another satisfying job? This book has creative and heart warming happy endings. If you haven't read the first two books in this series, you'll be 'blessed if you read them before finishing with this one!! CHRISTMAS WITH TUCKER and A DOG NAMED CHRISTMAS are the first two books. Though A DOG NAMED CHRISTMAS has been made into a wonderful Hallmark movie, as with most all books, the book is even better!!! Great books to share with your kids too!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago