The two most powerful words in a writer’s vocabulary are: What if? When it came time for me to brainstorm a new Christmas novella idea, my mind turned to the classics and those powerful two words – what if . . .
What if . . . the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol took place in 1890’s Texas instead of early 1800’s London?
What if . . . Scrooge’s transformation story was a romance?
What if . . . there was a London, TX? Oh, wait. There is!
What happened next was a whirlwind of fun that is now available as A Texas Christmas Carol the first story in the new collection – Under the Texas Mistletoe.
I had so much fun with names of all my characters, paying homage to the classic tale. There’s even a dog named Humbug.
Meet Evan Beazer and Felicity Wiggins (named in honor of the cheerful Fezziwig).
Our Scrooge never stood a chance when the tenderhearted, cheerful Felicity set her sights on him.
“Don’t worry,” Felicity said with a soft chuckle, “I won’t let Mr. Beazer trample over me. My backbone is strong enough to withstand a few snaps and growls.”
Margaret led the way to the stairs leading out of the church basement, tossing a frown over her shoulder. “It’s your time, I suppose. If you choose to waste it, that’s your prerogative. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Evan Beazer might be the wealthiest man in town, but he’s a Scrooge of the worst order. Not only does he refuse to donate to any of our causes, but he insults anyone with the temerity to approach him.”
She paused at the top of the stairway and braced a hand against the wall as she turned to face Felicity. “He called me a blood-sucking leech and threatened to have me brought up on trespassing charges should I ever darken his door again.” Margaret, her face usually placid and lovely, scrunched her nose as if the memory were so rancid she could smell it. “The gall of him. He might dutifully leave his tithe in the collection plate every Sunday to keep his conscience clean, but he refuses to donate so much as a penny to any cause beyond that obligation, no matter how worthy. He’s a tight-fisted, coldhearted man. Completely void of compassion. Why, you could wring him like a dishrag, and not a single drop of Christian charity would fall out. His soul is as dry as a bone.”
Mrs. Talley was a dynamo when it came to getting things done, a blessing to any committee she served upon, but she had definite opinions about how things should go and didn’t react well when thwarted.
Felicity patted her arm. “There is nothing the least bit leech-like about you, Margaret. You probably just caught him on a bad day.”
The deacon’s wife arched a brow. “Every day is a bad day for Evan Beazer.”
Not every day. Felicity ducked her head, recalling one day in particular where Mr. Beazer had been in rare, heroic form.
Pushing the distracting thought aside, Felicity winked at her friend as she marched past. “I recognize the challenge he presents, but I’m determined to try anyway. With the passing of dear Mrs. Humbolt this year, our donation total is down by a third. I can suffer through a few insults if it means more shoes and winter coats for the children. Besides, forewarned is forearmed. Thanks to you, I know what kind of reception to expect, so I can plan accordingly. And believe it or not, I can be rather devious when I put my mind to it.”
“You? Devious?” Margaret shook her head, a huff of a laugh escaping. “Felicity, you don’t have a dishonest bone in your body.”
“Oh, I don’t plan any trickery,” Felicity said, turning to face Margaret while continuing to walk backward down the hall leading to the main sanctuary. “In fact, my strategy comes straight from scripture itself.”
Felicity nodded, a grin spreading across her face. “Remember the parable Jesus told about the man who kept knocking on his neighbor’s door in the middle of the night asking for bread in Luke 11? The neighbor kept trying to turn him away, but the man persisted, and eventually he got his bread. I plan to employ the same technique.” Mischief swirled in her belly, stirring up an excitement she couldn’t quite contain. “I’m going to pester him into cooperation.”
Margaret let out a full laugh. “If anyone can do it, it’s you.”
Felicity prayed she was right. Not just for the children’s sake, but for Mr. Beazer himself. The man never smiled. How awful it must be to be so miserable! She couldn’t imagine a world void of happiness. But then, she’d been blessed with a cheerful family who laughed and teased and actively looked for reasons to celebrate. Mr. Beazer had no one meaningful in his life beyond a handful of local staff and a conglomeration of distant employees. The man needed a strong dose of joy in his life, and she was prepared to hold his nose and force a spoonful of medicinal Christmas cheer down his throat, if necessary.
What are your favorite classic Christmas stories?
If you could change the setting or characters in one of them, how would you change it?