A Christmas Home: From the Author of 'A Dog Named Christmas'
A community fears that even collaborative effort won’t save the local animal shelter in a small rural town in this fictional — but timely — story for the holidays.
Todd McCray, hero of “A Dog Named Christmas,” is now twenty-four years old and working at a local animal shelter, where he meets and quickly becomes best friends with Laura, a young volunteer. Laura, like Todd, has disabilities of her own, but her struggles are more physical than developmental.
Cover Courtesy Random House
In the middle of economic hard times and an exodus of young folk, the rural community of Crossing Trails has seen better days. The McCray family feels the town’s worry on the horizon, and son Todd sees an increase in the number of dogs taken to the local animal shelter. Todd must face some big challenges, but at least he’s got the love of his family and his loyal lab, Christmas. A Christmas Home (Crown Publishers, 2012) is a novel by Kansas homesteader Greg Kincaid, author of A Dog Named Christmas and Christmas with Tucker. In this excerpt, the McCrays are on their way to an important town-hall meeting, setting up the tension in this heart-warming pet story about the strength of rural communities.
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People would look at the old black Lab and say, “Christmas. That’s an unusual name for a dog.”
In the beginning, George would explain how the Lab was supposed to have been a temporary holiday guest, a brief fostering project to help out the local animal shelter. His youngest son, Todd, thought the name Christmas was a good fit. Now, nearly four years later, the dog had found a permanent home with the McCray family, and George was inclined to lean down, hug his canine friend around the neck, and say, “Best Christmas present I ever got!”
Christmas was resting his head on Todd’s lap in the backseat of the car as they drove down Main Street that evening. George’s wife, Mary Ann, and Todd chatted back and forth about the weather — lightly falling snow, smoky gray skies, and a low howling northwest wind. George, a pragmatic sort, smiled at the notion, but wondered if they shouldn’t have named the lab Elmer, like the glue. The dog bound and knitted his family together.
The elder McCray tried to park in the small municipal lot that flanked the west side of Crossing Trails Town Hall, but it was already jammed with cars. The turnout for that night’s town hall meeting was going to be huge, particularly for a town of less than two thousand residents. So much was hanging in the balance.
George turned back onto Main Street and drove north for two more blocks before finding a space in front of what had been the barbershop but was now a Dollar General Store — a sign of the times. Though many older businesses like the hardware store and the diner had managed to hang on, the growing number of discount stores suggested that the town’s better days were visible only in the rearview mirror. Once within this tiny six-block area they still called “downtown” there had been a bakery, a movie theater, clothing stores, a Ford dealership, a furniture shop, and much more. Still, the Crossing Trails Chamber of Commerce boasted thirty-four members. The town just had to survive, George thought. Right? Any other answer seemed inconceivable.