I’ve recently taken down my old web site about The Christmas House, so I’m including its story here:
When I was a little girl my parents signed me up for piano lessons. I had a series of kind teachers, who never yelled too loudly at me for not practicing. One of the many reasons I found it difficult to practice was that one of my little sisters had a terrible aversion to my playing. Above the sound of my wrong notes echoing through our house floated audible signs of her exasperation. You can imagine, then, that I have never thought of myself as the sort of pianist anyone would actually care to listen to. Still, I cannot help it. I love to play.
One evening, after a normal day of teaching fourth grade, I opened the front window to let in the cool breeze before I sat down at the piano. I was playing a Christmas carol (as I often do no matter what season it is) when I felt, unmistakably, that someone was staring at me. I knew it wasn’t my husband. He was still at work. I slowly turned my eyes away from the music and glanced over my shoulder. There was a man, a stranger, standing on the sidewalk in front of my house!
For what happened next, I am ashamed. I got scared. I popped up from that piano bench, swooped to the window, and shut it. It wasn’t until I was out of his sight, heart pounding at the top of the stairs, that I realized why the man had been lingering there. Wonder of all wonders, he had probably just been enjoying the music.
About a year later, as I sat with my baby boy in front of our Christmas tree, I prayed for a Christmas story to write. The picture of that stranger standing before my house came back to me. I began to imagine what might have happened if I had left the window open. What if, instead of being afraid, I had reacted in the true spirit of Christmas? Then, I wrote the story of Kathleen, filling it with all Christmas means to me.
To my solitary sidewalk listener: If you are reading this, please accept my apology for shutting that window. Your listening ears blessed me. May this book serve as a substitute for the remainder of that song.