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Noelle
Cover of Noelle
Noelle
A Novel
From the New York Times bestselling author of A Dog Named Christmas comes this heartwarming Christmas story about the power of family and the strength and love that comes from our pets.
In this fourth installment of the poignant stories of the McCray family and their lovable canines in rural Kansas, matriarch Mary Ann McCray is determined to shake up Christmas by accepting the role as Crossing Trail's first woman Santa Claus. Mary Ann, always a bit of a rebel, is looking to offer a more progressive voice in the staunchly conservative town at Christmastime and has a few ideas up her red velvet sleeves.
From the New York Times bestselling author of A Dog Named Christmas comes this heartwarming Christmas story about the power of family and the strength and love that comes from our pets.
In this fourth installment of the poignant stories of the McCray family and their lovable canines in rural Kansas, matriarch Mary Ann McCray is determined to shake up Christmas by accepting the role as Crossing Trail's first woman Santa Claus. Mary Ann, always a bit of a rebel, is looking to offer a more progressive voice in the staunchly conservative town at Christmastime and has a few ideas up her red velvet sleeves.
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    1

    Mary Ann McCray had been on the board of the Crossing Trails Public Library for what she considered to be too many years. Like most small Kansas towns, Crossing Trails was losing population. With a shrinking tax base, the library struggled for funding. Mary Ann was not sure she understood the other board members. They seemed too easily diverted from their primary mission, fostering literacy, as well as raising the money, volunteers, and awareness to support that cause. The problem was serious. Not only was there not enough money, but people weren't reading like they used to.

    The use of the library was shifting, too. It was easy to measure. Book loans were down, but they did a booming business in DVDs, CDs, and video games. The demographics were changing before their eyes. The patrons of the library were older, like her, and the young people who did come in seemed to be there for the free Internet access. They needed to get kids reading books, in her opinion. As a longtime teacher in Crossing Trails, she believed with all her heart that books ignited a passion for learning.

    But other issues seemed to continually divert the board's attention, including today's topic. Mary Ann had tried to keep quiet, not make waves, but this latest discussion was upsetting, particularly because it involved one of her oldest and closest friends. She leaned forward and raised her palm, like a conversational traffic cop. "I disagree, totally. We don't need to do this."

    "Why not?" one board member asked. Carol Sampson seemed surprised that something so simple as finding a new Santa Claus for the library's annual holiday program would prompt such a reaction.

    "It's a matter of loyalty. Hank Fisher's been playing Santa for us for forty years. We never paid him a dime, and he's never asked for a thing in return. It's an important part of who we are—part of our tradition." Mary Ann tried to check her indignation before adding, "I just can't imagine Christmas or Crossing Trails without Hank as our Santa." She thought for a moment about dear Hank, whom she'd known since she was a little girl. True, Hank was over eighty, but asking him to hang up his Santa suit after all these years—it didn't sit well with her.

    "I disagree," Marsha Thompson, the youngest board member, countered. "Our responsibility is to the library and the children of this community, not Hank Fisher. I hate to sound harsh, but children shouldn't have to see Santa in a wheelchair or with oxygen tubes up his nose. They'll worry that Santa might not make it to Christmas."

    Another member, Catherine Evans, also spoke out. "Marsha is exaggerating. Hank doesn't always need oxygen and isn't in the wheelchair all the time, but here's the real point—Hank isn't the tradition, Santa is the tradition. Sooner or later Hank has to retire, and maybe the time has come."

    "I agree," the head librarian, Tammy Larson, gently interjected, her tone kind, "but before we ask Hank to step down, shouldn't we find someone else willing to do it?"

    "Lots of people could do it." Marsha looked back to Mary Ann. "How about your son, Todd? He's back in town, right? Let's put a fresh face on Santa. He'd be a great Santa. Or your husband, George? He could do it."

    "Todd's just now moving back, and all his spare time is taken up with the new animal shelter. And as for George . . . well, he's not all that fresh!" The board members chuckled a bit, but Mary Ann shook her head soberly. "Besides, George wouldn't take this away from Hank."

    "I adore Hank," said Louisa Perkins, a longtime friend of Mary Ann's. "We all do, but he's so fragile. If we can't find a volunteer, maybe it would...

About the Author-
  • GREG KINCAID, author of A Dog Named Christmas and Christmas with Tucker, is a practicing lawyer in Kansas who helped to start the Changing Lives Through Literature Program and has served as the chairman of the Optimist Oratory Contest for the past seven years. The father of five children, he lives on a farm in western Johnson County, Kansas, with his wife and two dogs.
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    The Crown Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Noelle
Noelle
A Novel
Greg Kincaid
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