From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean comes this heartwarming Christmas story of a family who comes together during the holiday season as they learn a powerful lesson about love and to live each year of their lives as if it were their last.
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 celebrate 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.
“Mitchard’s gift is her ability to present her characters in a compassionate light, even when revealing them at their weakest moments.”—Us Weekly
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.