Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas Lights by Mary Manners

Mary Manners

  Christmas Lights
By Mary Manners

When the subject of Christmas gifts comes up, most people think of packages wrapped in colorful paper and shimmery bows, sitting under the Christmas tree, just waiting to be opened.

When I think of Christmas gifts, I think of my dad, who passed away sixteen years ago this holiday season. He was a man of many gifts, including the joy he shared for the traditions of Christmas.

Dad loved light—especially the light that brightened a fresh-cut pine tree in honor of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Each December first, like clockwork, Dad piled his family—all seven of us—into our Chevy station wagon and drove us to the tree lot where, shivering in the Chicago-winter cold, we oohed and aahed over every single tree until we found the perfect one.

Once home, with the tree safely arranged in a metal stand and watered, Dad climbed the ladder to our attic (a mysterious place, indeed) where the Christmas lights were stored. He’d lower the battered cardboard box (re-used, season after season) to the floor below and dusted it off.

Ceramic Christmas tree
Then my brother and sisters—five of us—gathered ’round him in the living room and waited, eyes huge with wonder, as he carefully unraveled the strands of lights and tested each one. No matter how stubborn the bulbs, dad always managed to get them working.

Beautiful, vibrant colors turned the room to a kaleidoscope, dancing over walls and windows with the feel of winter magic. One by one, my siblings and I each took the place of honor beside Dad, helping him to adorn the tree with light. Pine sap clung to our fingers, but we didn’t care. All the while, our hearts soared with happiness and child-like wonder.

Finally, dad gently gathered the Christmas star from the box. Hushed with awe, we waited while Dad chose one of us to hoist to his shoulders for the greatest thrill—placing the treasured beacon of light—the Baby Jesus Star—atop the highest limb. Somehow, Dad always sensed who needed that extra touch of attention, and there was never any argument.

With the lights in place (just in time for nightfall—always) we circled the tree and held hands to sing Silent Night. In the earliest years, the tune didn’t always carry and the words were sometimes off, but Dad didn’t care. He knew we understood what the tree—and especially the lights—symbolized…the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. The most wonderful gift of all!

Crystal Wishes by Mary Manners
As a clothing-buyer-turned-seamstress with an eye for fashion, Skylar Lannigan’s hands whisper tender ballads over fabric. She fills a sketchbook with flowing and whimsical designs—including versions of a to-die-for wedding dress for her own wedding day—if she’d only find Mr. Right. She’d once imagined a bright future with Adam Caldwell, until he took off with no explanation.

Adam Caldwell’s life has been a series of hairpin curves since the night a tragic accident claimed both his parents and nearly the life of his sister, Faith, as well. When Faith, who's still recovering from her injuries, asks for help selecting a wedding dress, Adam accompanies her to Diamond Knot Dreams. He's soon reunited with beautiful and lively Skylar Lannigan.

Adam would love to rekindle a romance with Skylar, but will events from their past rise up to destroy any hope for a future?


Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime exploring her joy of writing. She has two sons, a daughter, and three beautiful grandchildren. She currently lives along the sunny shores of Jacksonville Beach with her husband Tim.

A former teacher and intermediate school principal, Mary spent three decades sharing her love of learning. While growing up in Chicago, Mary worked her way to college through a variety of odd jobs including paper girl, hot dog vendor, grocery store cashier, lifeguard, swim instructor, pizza chef, and nanny. Many of these experiences led to adventures that bring a touch of humor to her stories. 

Mary’s writing has earned her multiple awards including a two-time Inspirational Reader’s Choice award, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, the Aspen Gold, the Heart of Excellence, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.

Mary loves long sunrise runs, ocean sunsets, and flavored coffee. She recently conquered her fear of heights (sort of) by completing the Gate River Run over downtown Jacksonville’s bridges last spring.
Connect with Mary at her website:

1 comment:

  1. What beautiful memories, Mary, and beautifully expressed. Thank you for sharing them with us! Merry Christmas, my friend.


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