An early #blogmas #HarlequinHeartwarming Book Review | “An Alaskan Family Christmas” (Northern Lights: Book Seven) by Beth Carpenter

Posted Friday, 13 November, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary copy of “An Alaskan Family Christmas” direct from the author Beth Carpenter in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comWhy I am loving finding #blogmas #ChristmasRomances this year:

Each year, I try to gather together quite a few #newtomeauthors and beloved authors alike to read Christmas stories by which are within my favourite genres of interest – such as Historical Fiction, Contemporary Romance or Historical Romance or even Speculative Fiction. I love to see what I can find each year – never knowing what I might discover, what might be publishing or in regards to blog tours – which stories are going on tour ahead of December!

Similar to past years, this November has seen quite a few #blogmas showcases ahead of Thanksgiving and right in-line with everyone sorting out what they want to read for the last season of the year where all of us are feeling rather festive and in the mood for a light read with a wicked good plot and an uplift of spirit by the conclusion! This is why I am thankful to be on this blog tour to return back to the Northern Lights series – as I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading Spring’s “Alaskan Dreams” which is slated to be read for one of my December #RomanceTuesdays showcases wherein I spotlighted this sixth novel of the series during its blog tour.

My health has been a bit of a juggling act the past few months – the first weeks of November I was hoping to dive into my Science Fiction reads to celebrate #SciFiMonth properly with a strong footing at the start of the month, however, I had to push those forward to this weekend and into next week. For now, I’m just grateful my migraine has finally ‘let go’ of me as it was a humdinger to get through recently whilst my overall health has improved to where I can start to focus on blogging, reading and being engaged online. I’ve missed reading and blogging the most – as reading is such a wonderful respite from our IRL adversities and concerns; we’ve all had a long and hard won 2020 – it is nice to find solace a bit in my health afflictions to start to reconnect to stories and the authors who are writing the stories I love to read!

Thereby this tour is my return to reading full-time and to championing the Harlequin Heartwarming authors who I find give me wicked good cheer all the year through! If you’re available tomorrow – please join us for a SPECIAL 5x author chat with ALL 5 of the #BlackwellSisters authors via @SatBookChat! More details at the bottom of this review!

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Why I loved the Northern Lights series coming into it at Book Five:

I liked how Carpenter connected a thread of faith into her Contemporary Sweet Romance – not all the authors in the Heartwarming line do this directly, though some I feel imply it which makes my heart happy. I liked how it applied in the context of this story – how being a doctor and/or a medic has a certain measure of faith associated with the careers. You can go only so far on your own merits before you have to recognise there is point where you have to lean on something outside of yourself in order to be the better medical professional. Not everything is understood through medicine and science – yet, how Carpenter broaches these topics within her narrative align well with two characters who haven’t yet decided what their final thoughts are on life, their careers or how they might still be attracted to one another!

When we first see Volta and Scott together – it is like a random snowstorm burrowing people in a house together who would otherwise not expect to be confined in the same place with each other. Volta has mixed feelings – which felt natural given their history and how she has become a widow in his absence and a single Mum. Her responsibilities are different now than they were before they had met even if there is still a bit of an open door to their hearts, it is interesting watching how Carpenter is going to reveal the story as we hug close to both of them as they ride out the volcanic ash which has grounded their plane.

As the ash storm passed over, what hadn’t released the tension of the hour is the friction between Volta and Scott. For her part, I think Volta was running a bit scared – she didn’t share her feelings very well – she came across as being guarded and reserved. I could see why – she had a lot she went through in her life in the short time they had been apart but evenso, when she was round Scott, you could tell she felt an ease about him. I almost thought perhaps she was frustrated with herself to find that she not only still have feelings for Scott but by reuniting with him, she felt a renewal of hope for her future. When it came to Scott, I sensed a lot of personal anguish in him – especially of the guilt of not establishing a life for himself. He had his career but how many people are happy to thrive on a career without a home base and family?

I could understand the angst of Emma (Volta’s daughter) – when you want to ride horses, it is quite amazing how difficult it is to find places that are not just affordable but are of the benefit of the rider not just the horse. Once you’re smitten by a horse, it is rather difficult to stop thinking about them and how companionable they are to be around. I had hoped she might find a way to have either a horse or at least regular lessons before she became an adult.

I loved when Carpenter re-shifted back into the planes and took us into the air to be with the air ambulance crews. It gave more foundation to the roles these people have IRL but also, how their shifts can run longer than your realise as Volta had a 24 hour rotation facing her when she agreed to be Scott’s liaison. This was another smart move I felt in the story itself – how Scott, was wanting to bring changes to the Alaskan methodology of approaching prenatal care in the state, he needed someone who understood how to interact with the locals. Someone who could give them assurances he couldn’t as an outsider and that someone felt perfect to be Volta even for me! I liked how he fuelled his desires to help others into plausible situations where he could yield the most good and be of the most help. This plan had to change the prenatal care of Alaska felt like the kind of forward-thinking leadership needed in rural medical inefficient areas need in order to find a gateway into a future where they are more self-sufficient.

You know when your watching a movie you’ve settled into about two people who can’t quite put their lives together but they seem to be making enroads towards finding common ground? Even though things continue to go astray and their lives seem to be going down different routes and avenues; there is something drawing them back together? This novel is a lot like that kind of movie! The more you dig into their lives – you see how dedicated they are to their jobs but what good is a job if it doesn’t allow you to live?

This is a critical question Carpenter wants her readers to chew on because it is the main thesis behind the story itself. Wells, at least one of them anyway! She wants you to see past their sense of honour and duty; past the point where they were unselfish in serving others who needed them and started to take stock of their own lives for a change. To sort out what Scott and Volta needed most in their lives – whether that meant making changes or being open to the change within themselves, Carpenter lets you see what they decide as you tag along for their journey.

Carpenter puts you front and centre on the action within her medically focused Contemporary (Sweet) Romance wherein you get to see first-hand what first responders go through in Alaska when their patients live rather remotely. Even the first case she presented in the novel wasn’t routine as it was a woman who had hypertension and it was causing issues with her pregnancy – I did give a bit of a pause of thought as to what would have happened if Volta and Scott hadn’t been there at that particular moment in order to intervene on the woman’s behalf. A credit to what Carpenter had already established about how due to how lean the state is on medical facilities and how the support staff in the more rural areas were limited to aides; you can see how Alaska can become a medically adverse state in which to live.

I definitely will be seeking out the rest of this Northern Lights series as I liked the pacing and the presentation of how Carpenter implores us to want to know more about this world she’s created for us to find! She hugs us so close to the hearts of her characters, it is easy to feel what they’re feeling and live a period of time in their shoes rather than our own. In essence, I love that this is another small towne series focused on family, hearth, home and a wicked dollop of romance! Best of all, she gave me a new reason to venture back to Alaska and that was the icing on the cake!

-quoted from my book review for Sweet Home Alaska

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An early #blogmas #HarlequinHeartwarming Book Review | “An Alaskan Family Christmas” (Northern Lights: Book Seven) by Beth CarpenterAn Alaskan Family Christmas
Subtitle: A Northern Lights Novel
by Beth Carpenter
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

A little mix-up…
Could make her Christmas wonderful!

Natalie Weiss is mortified. After mistaking handsome Tanner Rockford for his cousin, she’s followed him to rural Alaska. Now she’s stranded—until Tanner invites her to spend Christmas with his family in their rustic, cozy cabin. But in this idyllic winter wonderland, Natalie discovers the family she’s never had…and the love she never knew she needed. But what happens when they all discover why she’s really there?

Genres: Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Romance Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781335889959

Also by this author: Sweet Home Alaska, Alaskan Dreams, An Alaskan Homecoming

Also in this series: Sweet Home Alaska, Alaskan Dreams

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 379

The Northern Lights series:

The Alaskan Catch by Beth CarpenterA Gift for Santa by Beth CarpenterAlaskan Hideaway by Beth CarpenterAn Alaskan Proposal by Beth Carpenter

Sweet Home Alaska by Beth CarpenterAlaskan Dreams by Beth CarpenterAn Alaskan Family Christmas by Beth Carpenter

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The Alaskan Catch (book one)

A Gift for Santa (book two)

Alaskan Hideaway (book three)

An Alaskan Proposal (book four)

→ Sweet Home Alaska (book five) ← *where I began the series! (see also Review)

Alaskan Dreams (book six)

An Alaskan Family Christmas (book seven)

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin Books

Formats Available: Paperback* and Ebook

*Harlequin has the luxury of offering Regular, Large & Larger Print editions which I personally can attest are lovely to be reading! Especially after a migraine or when my eyes are fatigued.

Converse via: #BethCarpenter and #HarlequinHeartwarming

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7th Annual Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This story received my award for Best Contemporary Romance.

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About Beth Carpenter

Beth Carpenter

Once upon a time ...

when Beth Carpenter was a little girl, she read everything she could get her hands on, and entertained herself on the school bus by making up stories in her head. Not a lot has changed. She's still consuming books like M&Ms, and spends her days creating happily-ever-afters for her imaginary friends.

She lives in Alaska and Arizona with her husband and an aggressively affectionate fifty-pound lap dog. She loves to hear from readers.

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my review of an Alaskan family christmas:

I loved how we arrive in the car where Natalie is hoping to catch Dane – a courtesy for her friend Brooke whose pregnant and hoping for answers from a soon-to-be-Dad. The irony of course is how distrusting Natalie is of Dane (of the whole situation really!) and how she’s cross-comparing her experience of a ‘stake-out’ against the novels (and I would imagine tv serials) she’s read which seemed far more exciting than being stranded in below zero Fairbanks weather with more layers on than an onion! You have to give her credit though – when it comes to friendships, only a true friend would put herself through the angst of long hours waiting without resolution and where the kindness of a barista helped you get through with some caffeine and washroom breaks!

When Natalie was told about the moose outside the window of the train, I caught the giddy joy bubbling through her veins because I felt the same way when I took the train down from Seattle to Portland – there is something magical and special about travelling through back-country and/or scenic wilderness on a train. Mind you, it takes a lot of courage to realise that when your travelling over a narrow strip of track in a river gorge not to lose your nerve! Yet, outside of that particular concern, there is nothing like it – you see the outside world differently than you would via a car or a plane and it is a wonderful feeling.

I knew it! There is a wicked sweet twist which I had sorted out from the premise, the author’s note and the opening pages of An Alaskan Family Christmas – there was something wickedly percolating to mind about how this might play out and the scope of Carpenter’s vision of the plot itself – which I happily squealed in delight noticing was shaping up just as I was hoping it might! Seriously – I was itching like crazy to continue turning the pages just to see how it would play out – how the characters involved would react and of course, that delish revelation which I knew would be brilliant sweetening it all evermore! The unique bit though – having that dash of news so early-on is what propelled me forward – I think if this particular twist had been delayed from revealling itself to us as readers, it might not have felt like such a sweet reward!

The hero of this story is Tanner – who took in his sister and her kids when her rat of a boyfriend thought he was better off ‘finding himself’ without her or the children. The best choice Gen made was relocating back to Alaska and crashing in on Tanner’s life – as one thing to say about family, even when the worst of everything can feel like the impossible is unconquerable, family has your back; they can help bring you back into a future you might not have conceived possible and do it with the kind of support you might have trouble finding elsewhere. Except to say, for those who have found families of their own and are just as reliable and resilient as families who are together either through biological or adoptive routes of familial ties. Still, for this story, having a brother step up like Tanner did for Gen is wicked lovely and you hope to find more men like him out there.

Aye. I wish I could have had the algebra lessons my tutor taught me in high school approved by my math teacher – instead, I had to suffer with poor grades as she couldn’t proof my work (something I learnt ten years after I graduated) and a disconnection from mathematics which never did sit well with me. Being dyslexic it was hard enough to compensate for the issues I had with reading, grammar and spelling – but with math? It was worse than trying to learn a foreign language for me because of how Carpenter explains the issue Tanner’s sister faced herself. I definitely knew what she was driving at as it was the same for me. What I hadn’t known at sixteen but learnt at twenty-six is that some math teachers can only teach and proof work in a singular way – if you deviate or have a tutor who teaches you the way in which you personally learn math, you automatically get Ds and Fs like I did and barely squeak out of high school algebra with a passing low D the second year you took it just to get the credit for graduation*. *le sigh* I digress.

I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard as I had when Natalie mistook a flag stop for a short respite from the train taking her to the city! Mind, I never heard of a flag stop either but I’m not from Alaska and I could see the pickle I’d be in if I ever did that myself! A bit like when you exit the interstate and realise there is no on-ramp to re-join the interstate and you’re basically re-routed through endless miles which take you so far off the mark of the map point you’ve left that you might as well make lemonade out of the extra hours of driving you’ve been forced to undertake! In that regard, a flag stop is something I could relate from my own travels on the road.

If you’re going to find yourself stranded in the dead of Winter during Christmastide, you might want to find yourself at that flag stop that would allow you to snowshoe yourself to the cabin Natalie found herself in with this family! She had kids, a Mum, an Uncle and a bloke who melts your heart along with a sister who was just grateful for her brother’s kindness during her time of adversity. The cabin was filled with the warmth of the season and homemade stew; with a studio out back and loads of snow and the kind of weather which makes you grateful for snow blowers, snowshoes and a dog which can pull a sled! To me it sounded like absolute blissitude – the best place to just turn off the world, snuggle in with your family and enjoy Christmas the old fashioned way where its just you, the natural world and the memories you create as Christmas starts to unfold. What more could you hope for over a season of blessed thanksgiving?

When it comes to Mums like Debbie, I had a sneaky suspicion she was more clued into the goings-on in this cabin than the persons involved in the situation! Laughs with mirth. Seriously though – she had an approachable personality, a golden heart and the kind of winsome attitude you’d hope to find if someone like Tanner randomly brought home an unexpected visitor to their Christmas cabin festivities! When it comes to Mums like Debbie, honestly I think they knit the truth together before anyone can even sort out the details of what lead to the happiness spinning itself into their lives and watching it unfold from a distance was absolute joy for me as a reader!! Especially as Debbie reminded me a lot of my Mum and how she’d have handled this situation herself!

And, then Carpenter adds in the old world arts and crafts and even I want to trek myself to this cabin! I mean what more can a girl hope to find in a family like this one!? I’ve heard of crewelwork but as a knitter I haven’t had the chance to explore the rest of the arts & crafts I desire to better understand. I know I want to learn the hypnotic art of spinning, the artistic way you can quilt and patch your memories into quilted stories and of course, there is so much dimension to fibre arts its hard to know what to chase after once I sort those two new paths out! Hence why I love reading or learning (via podcasters on YouTube) about new ones I haven’t yet stumbled into myself.

I fell hard for this family and for the warmth Carpenter brought into how she told this story – reading it was such a refreshing balm to my soul after such a long hard fight to get my health realigned recently. Curling inside the beauty of how Carpenter took two strangers and a Wintry backdrop situated in a state I have held such a fond affection for from afar is what I loved most about reading An Alaskan Family Christmas. In the end, all that matters is the family we love, the memories we create and the willingness to be open to the unexpected – to fully embrace life in whichever way it alights in our lives and to give ourselves the chance to welcome into our lives a relationship we never expected would arrive the day we were thinking about everything else but our own dreams for the future. This is the kind of heart-lifting romance to give yourself a treat during the holiday season – fully enraptured in the mirth of how serendipity and a bit of Christmas magic can sometimes give you the present you need at a time where you felt you couldn’t be surprised anymore!

Note: If any parents see this review, just know if your student is struggling in maths like I did and you had a teacher like I had – either switch schools (if you can) or let it ride until college/university if that is the path your child wants to take for themselves. Otherwise, don’t fight the battle because its just not worth it. Basic math and a calculator can get us all through life and there are a reason we hire accountants! Best advice – if college/university is the route, interview the math department and their tutoring system. Don’t go to the first one you pick, you need to find the department who understands learning hurdles and disabilities and one that will allow your child to learn and do math the way that math makes sense to them. Just my two pence on this from experience.

on the contemporary romantic styling of beth carpenter:

What I love most about travelling to such an wicked adventurous state like Alaska through the series I am reading by Heartwarming novelists like Carpenter are the awesome depictions of the wild Alaska residents and the impressively majestic observations you can get from just ‘being still’ somewhere in the natural world therein. Carpenter treats us straight-off the bat with a moose sighting as Natalie takes the train to Anchorage – which next to their ferry system, the trains I felt would provide the most wonderment of JOY to a visitor or local resident because of what can be seen ashore and just outside the windows. I know one day I’ll get to visit and adventure in and out of the cities, townes and villages of our most northern state one day but for now, I am happily content in ‘being there’ rapt in the same joy of mirth these lovely authors are giving me through their stories!!

The kind of synthesis of plotting Carpenter used is one that I personally love – because it enables you to see the plot from different perspectives not merely limited to the two key characters you might presume are at the forefront of the novel! This allows for heartier depth, keen observation of the evolving threads of underlying suspense (as this refers to the twist) and a lovely bounce and volley watching the characters react and respond to everything in their purview! Honestly – it is a seriously awesome installment for this series because it tackles a story from a different starting point than the others in the series yet gives you the added benefit of having four characters to chase after into the thickening plot than merely two! And, that dear hearts is all I’ll say as it sneaks close enough to a spoiler and its too much of an enjoyable novel to even nibble off a telling hint about the overall plot for you!

If Ms Carpenter is on the fence about writing more installments for this series – I hope she extends it out to a rounded eight, ten or twelve novels all told because she could seriously keep penning these lovelies as I wickedly keep devouring them! Time to see if my favourite used book shoppe which carries Harlequin Heartwarming novels has the first four which I never had the pleasure of reading before arriving inside the fifth!

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This blog tour was courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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An Alaskan Family Christmas blog tour banner provided by Prism Book Tours and is used with permission.

End of the Blog Tour badged provided by Prism Book Tours

By clicking through the badge, you’ll happily find the tour route and more information about the author, this story and other reader’s impressions of the book. There is also a giveaway attached this tour as well as other tours currently active via PRISM.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it.
I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst
readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.
Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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#blogmas badge created by Jorie in Canva.

This book review is part of my #blogmas showcases for 2020!

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Join us 14th November, via #SatBookChat as we are in conversation with Carol Ross, Cari Lynn Webb, Amy Vastine, Anna J. Stewart and Melinda Curtis – discussing the new Blackwell Sisters series by Harlequin Heartwarming – whilst throwing back a bit of love on the original series Return of the Blackwell Brothers (of which you can visit, read and get to know via my reviews) – each author is giving away 1x ebook (of their original Blackwell Brothers novel) during the chat (US/Intl). To join us – follow our tag #SatBookChat, add it to your tweets and become a part of this EPIC chat tomorrow!

Chat starts @ 11a NYC | 4p UK | 8a PST

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{SOURCES: Covers for the Northern Lights series (all book covers on this post), synopsis for “An Alaskan Family Christmas”, author photo and biography of Beth Carpenter as well as the blog tour banner and The Prism Book Tours badge were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. LibraryThing banner provided by and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #blogmas Book Review banner, #blogmas badge, #SatBookChat badge; 7th Annual Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards badge (using Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo) and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 13 November, 2020 by jorielov in Alaska, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Christmas Romance &/or Holiday Story, Contemporary Romance, Family Drama, Family Life, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, West Coast USA

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2 responses to “An early #blogmas #HarlequinHeartwarming Book Review | “An Alaskan Family Christmas” (Northern Lights: Book Seven) by Beth Carpenter

  1. Thank you so much, Jorie, for the deep-dive into An Alaskan Family Christmas! I’m sorry to hear about your migraine, and I’m glad you’re feeling better now. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Carpenter,

      You’re wicked welcome! :) I switched how I approached writing this review as I was having a heap of trouble re-transitioning this week into reading – as that’s a new rut of angst, as generally I could *always!* read Heartwarming novels (due to the larger print) and yet, this week, that sledgehammer of a migraine just destroyed my recovery efforts — (supernovas due that but this was a new wrinkle in the after effects) — ergo, I decided to find a different approach and I really loved how my thoughts pooled together with the novel and how I could share a bit more of myself (which is a bit old school Jorie) in-line with the context of it too.

      Your story also restored my spirits – I try to stay optimistic but some days/months when you’re struggling with your health it gets to you – so THANK YOU for such a brilliant read!! And, I meant what I said – I hope this isn’t the final installment of the series!!

      I appreciate your holiday greetings – my first for the year! I return them and hope you and yours have a wickedly merry holiday season, too. We all need a bit of a boost this year on the positive and the holidays have a way of restoring us after hard won years. I am blessed you’ve visited with me tonight.

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