I had a book signing over the weekend that I was particularly excited about. The last time I signed at this store (a grocery store), I sold over 20 books. This being the week before Christmas, I hoped to sell twice that number.
When I got to the store, however, I knew things would be difficult. A newspaper lady guarded the entrance, stopping customers and soliciting them to take a free newspaper (and listen to her fifteen-minute speech). If you made it past her, an American Idol finalist had set up a table with his CD and a huge display.
I made my way to the customer service desk and told the store manager I was here. Well...turned out that headquarters forgot to tell the store I was coming, and he wasn't prepared for me. He was kind enough to try to accommodate me, though the front of the store location was pretty much taken up. He didn't want to set me up a table next to CD man because that would block the bakery. So he took me into the store and set me up in front of produce.
I was fine with this, really. I figured I'd snag everyone as they came to buy their fruits.
I neglected to estimate how many people buy fruits and veggies on a Friday evening. Or I should say, how few.
I packed it up after about 45 minutes. Only five people had walked past me so far. I couldn't leave my table and books behind to wander the front of the store, and I didn't see the point in sticking around another hour when it was like this. I was very disappointed because let's face it, I'd been seeing dollar signs. But I learned a few important things:
1) I need to be in the front of the store.
2) Don't trust headquarters to notify people.
3) Make sure no one else is doing something in the store the same time you are.
I went to Goodwill yesterday because Mark and I have a Christmas party to go to tonight. And it's supposed to be fun and goofy, so we're all supposed to wear ugly sweaters. Well, really, who keeps ugly clothing? I don't. I figured the Goodwill would be a good place to buy something for us.
Goodwill is right next to my gym. So in between classes yesterday, I snuck out of the gym and ran to Goodwill. (Hey, the daycare was watching my kids. I couldn't beat a chance to shop without them.)
I picked out a sweater for Mark ($4) and a sweater for me ($4) and got in line. While in line, I spotted a middle aisle with an ugly Christmas sweater on it--much uglier than the one I'd picked out, which wasn't really ugly at all. Excited, I ran out of line, grabbed it, and got back in line. By the time I got to the check-out counter, I was already five minutes late for my next class at the gym.
So I did nothing but gape when the sweater rang up for $10.
$10??? Who buys clothes from Goodwill for $10???
I didn't have time to switch it, though. But I learned my lesson. Don't assume it's cheap just because it's at Goodwill.
Tis the season for cookies. Like last year, we're doing the twelve days of Christmas cookies.
Unlike last year, I don't have time to type up all the recipes and share them with you. Let me just say that I made Spice, Raisin and Walnut cookies on Monday and Almond and Toffee cookies yesterday. Yum.
If you need something more to read, I really like the post I made yesterday. Just saying... :)
I love the Christmas season. It starts right around Thanksgiving as the temperature gets cooler, and we put up the tree, then the lights start appearing on houses, the radios start with the Christmas music, and everything takes on a happy, surreal luster for me.
I love everything about it. From the shopping to the wrapping to the baking to the parties, but especially the reminders of Christ and the kindness that almost everyone seems to have.
I heard something on the radio the other day that made me pause and reflect, however. The guy talking said that we forget what this time period was actually like. In the days, months, and years leading up to the birth of Christ, people lived in a time of fear, repression, and despair. There was little reason to rejoice. It was a time of figurative darkness.
And then Christ was born, and with the appearance of that star in Bethlehem, a light came into the world. Both literally and figuratively.
To celebrate this, this used to be considered the advent season, or countdown to the birth of Christ. It wasn't a time of celebration, but a time of remembering the grave darkness that permeated the world. The days preceding Christmas were spent in quiet somberness with as little light as possible. And then on Christmas day, the lights came back, and the celebration began. For twelve days after Christmas, Christ's birth was celebrated.
Something about this felt so poignant to me. It shed a bit of a different "light" on my view of the Christmas season. While I'm not about to stop all my holiday festivities, we might "turn out the lights" for a few minutes with the children to help them really see what it meant when Christ was born. I get goosebumps when I think of the song "Silent Night." I'm glad we get an entire month to celebrate this occasion.
I can't remember for sure, but I think this scene got cut from Perilous, if not the entire scene, at least parts of it. The biggest reason was that we decided to remove most of the religious elements from the book and take it mainstream. This scene shows Detective Hamilton's indecision about God and religion. I did take out names so there's no spoilers. :)
Quite unlike the stereotypical day for a funeral. Carl squinted against the bright sunlight coming from the eastern side of the graveyard. A few colorful leaves drifted around the hole in the ground, indicating that fall was close behind.
It looked like the whole town of Shelley had showed up. Probably had, actually. Carl swallowed and worked hard to keep his face straight.
Kristin glanced at him and took his hand. She was one of the only people wearing a black dress. Didn’t Mormons wear black to funerals? Apparently not.
The pastor, or whoever, finished up his words, closing his Bible. Then he led them in a prayer. Carl tuned the words out. He didn’t want to hear. The tears still stung his eyes as he watched them lower the white casket into the ground. He knew that a young, beautiful girl lay in there, cut off before her time was done. How unfair.
Beside him Kristin wiped her eyes. Mrs. Nichols gathered her younger children around her and sobbed, her lower lip shaking as the tears rolled down her plump cheeks.
A line formed to pay their respects to the Nichols. Carl waited his turn. He had news from his trip to Canada. He hoped it would be some sort of condolence.
Kristin touched his arm. “I’ll wait at the car.”
He nodded, not looking at her. “Okay.”
The line dwindled down. He put on his best business face and approached the Nichols. He hesitated just shy of them.
Mr. Nichols saw him first. “Detective Hamilton.” He reached out and clasped Carl’s arm, then pulled him closer. “Thank you for coming.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Nichols said, her blue eyes shining like sapphires.
He sighed. “I’m sorry we couldn’t find her before this happened.” He hoped they knew how much he meant it. He took it personally every time they lost someone. Especially a youth.
Mr. Nichols inclined his head. “So are we.”
Carl followed them to the car. “I’ll be leaving for Canada in the afternoon.”
“Flying this time?” Mr. Nichols asked.
“Yes. The flier we found in Alberta had a Montreal phone number. Too far to drive.”
Mrs. Nichol’s eyes flicked ahead. Carl followed her gaze to see Mr. and Mrs. Murphy getting into their blue Toyota Camry. “Do you think the other girls are still alive?”
“If they are, we’ll find them. We know they were at the time the flier was printed, which was less than a week ago. Obviously they’d escaped. At this point they could be running, or someone may have turned them in. Hopefully Montreal will have some answers for me.”
Mr. Nichols began herding the children into the car. Mrs. Nichols stopped and looked at him, a sad smile on her face. “We can’t thank you enough, Detective. I hope you will stop by sometime.”
He gave a short laughed, feeling a little uncomfortable. “Don’t put yourself out, Mrs. Nichols. I know you have a lot of things to deal with right now.”
“She was a good girl. I know she's with Jesus.” Her nostrils widened and tears filled her eyes again.
Carl didn’t say anything. He wasn’t going to dispute her faith. Especially if it gave her peace.
“Don’t you believe in God, Detective?”
Carl looked up at the sky. God? “It’s not that I don’t believe in God, Mrs. Nichols. I believe in Him. But He doesn’t bother with my life and I don’t bother with His.”
She stared at him a good moment, her blue eyes intent on his. “Have you ever gone to church?”
He focused on her. “I was raised in the Baptist church, Ma’m,” he said, his Alabama accent slipping out at the mention of his upbringing. “But I haven’t stepped foot inside in years.”
She glanced at the van behind her. Mr. Nichols sat in the driver’s seat, waiting. “Well, I happen to know the pastor to a Baptist church on Main Street. I’m sure he’d love for you to visit.” She heaved a sigh. “Anyway, it was good talking to you, Detective. Don’t be a stranger. Please let us know what you find.”
Carl nodded. “Will do.”
He watched them drive away and stood a long time in the graveyard.