The Thursday Night Club: Five college friends, three men and two women, have been getting together every Thursday night to share humble meals and an abundance of laughter. But when tragedy takes one of them, leaving the others to question the fairness of life, the Thursday Night Club decides to embark on a contest in the memory of the generous spirit of their fallen brother. The objective of the contest is simple: whoever performs the kindest deed by Christmas night wins the pot – four quarters. And there are only two conditions: the benevolent deed must be anonymous, and it cannot cost a single penny to pull off. As the four friends undertake the contest, the healing begins and they become inspired beyond their expectations. There might be a winner in this competition, but it is very clear there will be no losers.
A Christmas Wish: Steph is on a search for truth in her heart as she faces the prospect of real love for the first time. Brian is out to enjoy his favorite season in a way that doctors never thought he could. And at the center of it all is their grandmother, affectionately known as Mama, a woman of remarkable commitment and charity who knows something very important about making Christmas wishes come true.
The Tin-Foil Manger: Published in this volume for the first time, this is the story of Nancy, an elderly woman with little to live for and Jeanne, the caretaker who wants to believe that Nancy has more to live for. Together, they embark on a journey to the past – a past of modest Christmases, tin-foil mangers, and abundant love – to rediscover the time when Nancy felt truly alive. Nancy’s memories and how they touch Jeanne, will turn this Christmas into one for the ages.
Excerpt: The Thursday Night Club
The air was cold, and little Nancy got a kick out the steam that escaped her mouth when she talked. It looks like I’m smoking just like Papa. The sky was dark, but a pretty dark—gray mixed with splashes of pink and purple. “Feels like more snow’s coming,” Papa would say before turning up the collar on his woolen coat. He was like a fortuneteller because, not two minutes later, Nancy watched as the first snowflake fluttered to the ground—and then another. A minute later, there were thousands dancing around in the air, tickling her red button nose and blanketing the filthy ground.
After stopping at Jack and Harry’s—an old five and dime department store—to buy Mama’s Christmas gift, they returned home to the distinct smell of cinnamon filling the house. “Mama’s making her magic in the kitchen,” Papa said before taking a knee in front of the fireplace. Within minutes, small orange flames began licking the cold out of the living room.
Mama came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her faded red and green-striped apron, leaving behind two white-flour handprints. “So where did you two go?” she asked, looking directly at Nancy.
Nancy half-opened her mouth before looking toward her father for help.
“It’s our secret, Louise,” Papa said, “and you’ll have to wait until Christmas to find out.” He added a few more sticks of wood onto the growing flames before taking a seat in his worn armchair. He looked at Nancy. “What time is it?” he asked, grinning.
“Story time, right, Papa?” she answered, hopefully.
After a firm nod, he grabbed his thick Christmas book from the end table on his left. “That’s right,” he said, flipping open the front cover. “Now where did we leave off last?”