Cover image for Christmas, present
Title:
Christmas, present
Author:
Mitchard, Jacquelyn.
Personal Author:
Edition:
Unabridged.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper Audio, [2003]

℗2003
Physical Description:
3 audio discs (2.5 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Compact discs.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780060567460
UPC:
9780060567460
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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Summary

Summary

A fourteenth wedding anniversary is nothing to sneeze at, Elliott Banner knows, but it's not exactly a landmark year -- like fifteen, or twenty, when he plans to take his wife, Laura, to Paris. But when a headache on the drive home from their anniversary date -- two days before Christmas -- turns out to be more than a migraine, he wishes he had celebrated every year as though it were their last.

In this poignant, touching, uplifting story, a woman calmly gathers her family around her during the Christmas holiday to cel-ebrate their lives together -- both past and future -- and to truly count their blessings.

A family history unfolds in a single night in this deeply affecting story that speaks volumes about love, trust, and letting go -- a perfect holiday read that underscores the true meaning of the season.


Author Notes

Jacquelyn Mitchard was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 10, 1957. She studied creative writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1976, she became a journalist and eventually achieved the position as lifestyle columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper. Her weekly column, The Rest of Us: Dispatches from the Mother Ship, appeared in 125 newspapers nationwide until she retired it in 2007.

She is the author of children's, young adult, and adult books. Her first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was the first selection for Oprah's Book Club and was named by USA Today as one of the ten most influential books of the past 25 years. It was also adapted into a movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Her other adult novels include The Breakdown Lane; Twelve Times Blessed; Christmas, Present; A Theory of Relativity; The Most Wanted; Cage of Stars; and Still Summer. Her children's books include Starring Prima!: The Mouse of the Ballet Jolie; Rosalie, My Rosalie: The Tale of a Duckling; and Ready, Set , School! Her young adult books include Now You See Her; All We Know of Heaven; and The Midnight Twins series.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It's Christmas, and Elliot and Laura are driving home from celebrating their fourteenth wedding anniversary when their car breaks down. As they wait for a tow truck, Laura suddenly cries out in pain and begs to go to the hospital, saying that her head feels as though it's on fire. Elliot sits in the hospital, baffled by his wife's uncharacteristic response to what he's sure is only a migraine. Then the doctor arrives and gently informs him that an aneurysm has burst, and Laura will die in a matter of hours. Numb with shock and grief, Elliot gathers their family around her bedside for a last Christmas Eve together. Family catastrophes are Mitchard's stock-in-trade, and Laura's good-byes to Elliot and her daughters are rendered in the same probing and reflective dialogue Mitchard is known for. Ultimately, though, the book reads more like a sketch for a larger novel than a fully realized story; the anguish depicted in the hospital scenes is so palpably real that the resolution in the final chapter seems rushed and unconvincing. Expect high demand. MeredithParets.


Publisher's Weekly Review

No heartstring goes untugged in this slim but moving Christmas story from award-winning journalist, screenwriter, bestselling novelist and children's book author Mitchard (Twelve Times Blessed; The Rest of Us; The Most Wanted). It's December 23, and Elliott Banner and his wife, Laura, are celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary with a romantic dinner at a good Italian restaurant and a performance of the Cirque du Soleil. Soon after the show, their car breaks down in a Boston tunnel, and Elliott's beloved is stricken with a crippling headache that sends them to a nearby hospital. After a physical exam and an MRI, compassionate, fatherly Dr. Campanile advises them to call the family together; Laura has a brain hemorrhage. "Now, how can I say this? It is too late. She will die, and I am sorry beyond an ability to tell you." Laura has 24 hours to live, which takes them to Christmas Eve. The clan gathers: Laura and Elliott's three young daughters, Annie, Rory and Amelia; Laura's mother, Miranda; her two sisters, Suzanne and Angela; and her feckless brother, Stephen. After a loving recap of a life well lived (including a surprise secret), everyone gets a final hug and a kiss from Laura. What could easily have become a quicksand of sentimentality is saved by Mitchard's straightforward writing, which is poignant rather than mawkish, sometimes mordant and, despite the theme of the story, surprisingly humorous. Laura does die, something the reader knows will happen from the very beginning. Her death is undeniably sad, but a final chapter offers the bereft Elliott and his three daughters the Christmas present Laura promised would be theirs: hope for the future. (Nov.) Forecast: Mitchard's books are usually bestsellers, and though there is competition from other uplifting Christmas tales (Richard Paul Evans's A Perfect Day [Forecasts, Aug. 25]; Eric Jerome Dickey's Naughty or Nice [Forecasts, Oct. 6]), her fans will likely buy enough of these for gift giving to boost it onto some lists at least for the holiday season. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

When Laura's illness proves to be no ordinary headache, the Christmas gift she gives her family is a loving goodbye. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Christmas, Present LP Chapter One For weeks, he'd pestered himself over the fact that he couldn't remember whether this anniversary was the fourteenth or fifteenth. He would later regret the silliness, the mulling. He might have spent more time with the girls, taken the week off from work, made enormous resolutions and gestures of consummate intimacy. Still, even in hindsight, a fourteenth anniversary sounded routine, neither a rung on the ladder midway toward a golden sunset nor an observation blushingly fresh and new. A fourteenth anniversary, like, perhaps, a forty-second birthday, didn't seem to demand so much commemoration. But one more year would be a landmark! Somehow, to have survived in relative peace and periodic delight for a decade and a half -- through the arid, sandy-eyed numbness of sleep deprivation after the girls' births, the unexpected and brutal death of his mother, the long, anxious week waiting for the results of the withdrawal of a microscopic bite of tissue from Laura's breast, Annie's meningitis (ten days during which neither of them finished a single meal, together or separately) -- seemed to confer a certain status on this marriage. A marriage of substance, which few of their friends could boast. Fifteen years of marriage in full would cry out for a slam-bang celebration. A high school reunion equivalent, a renewal of vows with Laura at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather in Las Vegas, Prada boots, costing half a week's pay, or a (very brief) cruise to the West Indies. He thought, by using a ruse, he might question his mother-in-law, Miranda, inventing some twaddle about checking Laura's sizes (men being universally forgiven, even coddled, for ignorance in such matters). But he could not frame a question that would elicit the date from Laura's cool and sharp-eyed mother. She was a busy realtor, a woman of few words except where they concerned post-and-beam construction or Carrera marble in the master bath. She would not burble forth, "And that was the last time Helen and David went anywhere together as husband and wife ... " or "I'd just bought that silver Volvo ... " or "Do you remember how adorable Laurie's sister Angela looked; she was only a junior ... " -- remarks that could be checked against a family timeline. Their wedding album had been no help. It was inscribed with their names, the month and day -- but, at Laura's behest, not the year. For the same reason, the photos all were in black-and-white. "Color makes pictures look dated. I want this to be always new," she'd said. They were married December 23, and all the women, including Laura, wore red velvet, the men gray morning clothes, with top hats -- even without the help of color film, he could remember the splash they all made, like bright cardinals and sparrows against the snow. The photographer spread huge sheets of clear plastic beneath an evergreen bower for outdoor shots. Laura peeked from under the hood of a wool merino cape trimmed with rabbit fur, like a character from Little Women . The photos were timeless; not even a single car with an identifiable grille or body shape was visible. He might have asked his own mother outright, and she would have felt no impulse to chide him. She would have been moved by his diligence. He had missed his mother, more or less constantly, for two years, with the persistence of a low-grade fever that spiked in spring or at moments of acute need or tenderness. Laura resembled his mother in no way; she had different habits, preferences, and talents. But his wife still somehow recalled Amy, in common sense, in pure spirit. Laura still teased him about their first date: He had confessed he might never marry at all, never find a woman the equal of his mother. Amy had died of ovarian cancer, hadn't even lived to hear Amelia, the daughter they had named for her, say her grandmother's name. Ironically, in just two years' time, if the Amelia of today was not talking, she was sleeping. Honoring his mother, he still sometimes called Amelia "Amy," especially when he was the one putting her into her bed. Elliott's mother was the one who, by offhand example, had instructed him in the custom that husbands, not wives, were responsible for the construction of the wedding anniversary. This seemed only fair. He knew that Laura assumed a titan's share of the engineering of all the other holidays, getting up at four A.M. to wash and baste great birds -- one year jollying her brother, Stephen, late, when the girls were tiny and fuddled with sleep, into appearing at the doorway to their room in red-padded plush and white rabbit fur. Even Annie, the eldest at thirteen, still remained convinced she'd once glimpsed the real Santa. Celebrating their anniversary was often deferred until New Year's Eve -- with school concerts, shopping, and the arrival of Laura's three siblings, Elliott's father, and sometimes his sister all crowding the week before the holiday. Her sisters and brother stayed with Miranda in the capacious Georgian brownstone she'd occupied alone since their father's death, when Laura was only three. But Laura insisted everyone squeeze into her and Elliott's tiny saltbox for a Christmas Eve feast of seafood and pasta. Laura made everything, from the pasta to the Buche de Noel, by hand, and her labors left her so drained, she could barely nibble at the elaborate annual brunch Miranda had had catered by the Palatial Palate on the following day. Elliott had a dozen photos of Laura, asleep on the couch at Christmas dinner. One year sometime soon, he often thought, he would protest; but he could not bear to interfere with the whispered traditions and sly confidences of the MacDermotts at Christmastime, when even the slightly chilly elder sister, Suzanne, and her precocious little boy seemed to loosen up ... Christmas, Present LP . Copyright © by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Christmas, Present by Jacquelyn Mitchard All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.