A Christmas Home: From the Author of 'A Dog Named Christmas'
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Many of the original stately brick buildings had survived, but there were also plenty of newer, cheaper-looking steel-and-concrete structures, quite a few sporting for rent or sale signs. George was continually amazed at the way the town had changed, particularly in the last several years as the exodus of young people from the rural farming community continued. At least his children, all living within driving distance, had not strayed too far from the McCray homestead. Todd was closest of all.
“Looks like a good turnout for the meeting,” George observed.
“As it should be. People are worried.” Mary Ann buttoned up her coat and collected her purse from the floor of the car. She turned around and poked at her son’s knee.
Todd undid his seat belt and started to get out of the backseat with his headphones still attached and his iPod playing a Scotty McCreery tune that he did his best to adopt as his own. Once completely out of the car, he broke out with the chorus, “I love you this big!” As Todd stretched out his arms, Mary Ann stepped into his embrace, and they repeated the lyrics together. Mary Ann smiled at life. Being a music teacher and having a tone-deaf son was beyond ironic.
George opened the other rear passenger door. When Christmas jumped out, he snapped a leash on the dog’s collar and gave him a gentle pat on the head. “Good boy. You’ve got work to do tonight, don’t you?”
There was an unusual urgency to that night’s town hall meeting. Earlier in the week The Prairie Star — Crossing Trails’ newspaper, once daily, but now weekly — had reported that the mayor would discuss the town’s latest economic setback. After fifty years, Midwest Trailer and Hitch had officially called it quits. Horse ownership was at an all-time low, as were trailer sales, and the town’s largest employer was going out of business.
The survival of Crossing Trails was being threatened by a combination of factors that could be overcome only by an intense collaborative effort. Severe cost-cutting measures were inevitable, and everyone knew it. The lead story in The Prairie Star indicated that services that had once been taken for granted were now at risk. Like a virus at a day care, the rumors spread up and down Main Street in the close-knit town. People had moved right past worried and were dashing toward panicked.
Reprinted from A Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid. Copyright © 2012 by Greg Kincaid. Published by Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.
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