When the premise for this year’s Christmas novella first hit me, I didn’t realize I would use a historical setting to tell this story. But at the time, I was just finishing As Time Goes By (Book Two in my Mulligan Sisters series) and I was so enthralled with my research of World War II, I thought why not set The Christmas Blessing in this same era.
I was already immersed in the story when I had to question whether a war era backdrop could actually provide a warm, cozy, feel-good Christmas story, but I liked the challenge it provided. And so I just kept on going. I have to admit there are some very welcome elements in writing historical stories. Sure, you have to do more research, but you also get to avoid intrusive modern ‘conveniences’ like cell phones, internet, and social media. Almost makes me wish I could go back in time—straight to the 1940’s.
Because I’ve always been fascinated with that decade. For starters, I love the dramatic films and actors like Hepburn, Bogart, Tracy, Bacall. But what about the glamorous fashion—gorgeous hats, gloves and platform shoes? And then there’s big band music—Glenn Miller, Les Brown, Tommy Dorsey. But it’s the pure unselfish heroism of the generation that sacrificed and fought to win a horrific and necessary war that has always captured my heart. Young men and women gave up so much—including many of their earthly lives—to rid the world of some very serious evil.
I grew up hearing snippets of stories from family members (ones who served overseas and on the home-front) and I could tell that memories of the ‘war years’ were deeply stirring to anyone who’d lived through them. I think I sometimes felt a little envious—like they’d experienced something special, something my generation missed out on. I suppose that might even explain my compulsion to write about WWII lately. I’ve probably been trying to live ‘vicariously’ through my characters. Sort of like my own personal time machine. And I must admit it’s a fun way to travel—and I uncover some amazing facts and stories along the way.
One unexpected discovery occurred during the editing process of The Christmas Blessing. As I looked more closely at specific dates I used in this novella, something I never pay close attention to while writing, I realized that my timeline nearly coincided with my husband’s parents’ real life story. They met around Christmastime when my future father-in-law was in the service and my mother-in-law-to-be was helping out at the USO club. After a whirlwind romance, they married just days after New Year’s Eve—on the very same day that my characters Amelia and James were headed to the courthouse to repeat their own wedding vows. I couldn’t help but smile . . . for several reasons that I can’t disclose.
Although I didn’t consciously plan my book to imitate life, it was what I call a happy coincidence. And, in a way, I think this story honors my in-laws who have since passed away. In the same way I hope it honors all who contributed to the war effort of that era. Because, although I tend to perceive their generation as incredible heroes, I also know they were human and, as my book reminds us, they made some very human mistakes. It’s just the way life goes.
But, like any good Christmas story, I also hope my book will remind us that God’s grace, mercy and love—which He poured down through the very first Christmas gift of His only begotten Son—is the perfect remedy for our human struggles and imperfections. And, really, isn’t that what Christmas is all about.
More about The Christmas Blessing:
When she receives the news in late 1944 that her baby’s father was shot down in the South Pacific, Amelia Richards loses hope. Jobless and broke, she has nowhere to turn for help but her infant’s paternal grandparents. The only problem is, they don’t know that she—or their grandson—exists. When Amelia discovers that the family is wealthy and influential, dare she disclose the truth of her relationship with their son? Or could the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago be the answer to her dilemma?
Beloved author Melody Carlson pens a story of love, hardship, and reconciliation that will leave readers filled with Christmas joy.
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with combined sales of more than six million. She is the author of several books, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, Christmas at Harrington’s, The Christmas Cat, The Christmas Joy Ride, and The Christmas Angel Project. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon.