N&S Meeting again brings hope and love, April 11, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1374)

The loving hope in John Thornton’s eyes is mirrored in Margaret’s eyes as they meet again.  Sighhh!

Thanks to CynDainty for sharing this romantic N&S gif!  Wishing everyone a lovely day!  Hugs & Cheers!  Grati  ;->

Posted in Fangurling, Gifs, Gratiana Lovelace, Love, Love and Relationships, North & South, Period Drama, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Stun Day Sunday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

@RCArmitage tweets UV film’s PBS Great Performances debut set for May 7th, April 07, 2021  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1373)



I can’t wait to see the UV film again, this time via PBS Great Performances! Thanks to Richard Armitage for tweeting this viewing info!

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, & happy day! Hugs  & Cheers! Grati ;->

Posted in "Uncle Vanya film in 2020, Chekhov, Dr. Astrov, Drama, Gratiana Lovelace, movies, PBS Great Performances, play, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Iridescent pastel butterfly of Spring, April 06, 2021  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1372)

With Winter’s chill joined by torrential rains, our area’s Spring has been delayed.  Then this past weekend, everything warmed up, the grass was luscious green again.  Soon more birds and butterflies will come back as well.

And I have seen a butterfly or two in my time—even nurturing a few from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly as a child.

But none can compare to the image below shared by an online friend Sueli the other day. Thanks! 

The shimmering pale blues, greens, pinks, and purples of this butterfly’s wings are really beautiful!   And the image makes me smile at nature’s handiwork. 

The pastel yet vibrant coloring of this butterfly seems emblematic of Spring to me—and my switching over to my Spring and Summer clothes, which tend to favor pale pinks, peaches, greens, ivory, etc.

And I was just thinking about wanting to plant some flowers again on the deck railing boxes and raised pots on my back deck as in past years (pink impatiens in foreground of image below).


So this year, I think that I will try to see if I can find some butterfly friendly flowers to plant—like  zinnias, verbenas, and milkweed.  So here’s a little primer to get me started:

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, & happy day!  Hugs & Cheers!  Grati  ;->


Posted in Butterflies, Flowers, Gratiana Lovelace, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Easter Richard Armitage wallpaper to you and yours! April 04, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1371)

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, & happy day!  Hugs  & Cheers! Grati ;->
N.B. RA Wallpaper edit by Gratiana L. Original RA image by Andrea K. Thanks!  Background image via business.twitter Thanks!

Posted in Creativity, Easter, Gratiana Lovelace, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, wallpaper | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

#Richard Armitage got his vaccine shot! March 31, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post#1370)


Good for you, #RichardArmitage!  I have also had both doses of the vaccine. Let us hope that more people will be made safe by the vaccine and all of us continuing to be cautious and wearing masks, social distancing, and such.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, & happy day! Hugs & Cheers!
 Grati ;->


P.S. And thanks to Laura Day for her previously sharing this The Golden Hour RA char image!

Posted in COVID 19 vaccine shot, Goodwill, Gratiana Lovelace, Richard Armitage, Wonderful Wednesday | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

THUD/Thespian Thursday! #RichardArmitage wins 2021 Audie for Chekhov Short Stories Collection!  March 25, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1369)


Congratulations to #Richard Armitage and Audible.com for  winning an Audie Award for their Chekhov Short Stories Collection
Thanks to RAMexico and RobinT for sharing this wonderful news!


Thanks to Fabo Laktuko for earlier sharing the audiobook cover image above!

And this is such a wonderful Richard Armitage diptych portrait also shared by RAMexico (below)!

Wishing everyone a lovely day! Hugs  & Cheers! Grati ;->

Posted in Audible, audio books, Awards, Chekhov, Fangurling, Gratiana Lovelace, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Thespian Thursday, THUD Thursday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

#RichardArmitage Bag End Table Reading Commanding Charisma, March 24, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1368)

I love this THAUJ Bag End Meal Discussion  table reading shot, thanks to DurinLass!   Richard Armitage commands the room even without Thorin’s long locks and beard. Sighhh!


Though the talented British actor Richard Armitage in costume and makeup as Thorin Oakenshield does look impressive when arriving at Bag End in THAUJ:


And finally,  Thorin Oakenshield resolving to lead his motley assortment of Dwarves, a Wizard, and one burglar on their quest is magical!:


Now I want to watch The Hobbit films all over again!  Wishing everyone a lovely day! Hugs & Cheers! Grati ;->


Posted in Drama, Fangurling, Gratiana Lovelace, Middle Earth, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, The Hobbit, Thorin, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love this Richard Armitage dramatic characters moments video! March 20, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1367)


The multi-talented British actor Richard Armitage is a most wonderfully nuanced storyteller.

And I love this Richard Armitage dramatic character moments video by MsEleanorShelby, shared by Mooseturds! Thanks!


Wishing everyone a wonderful first day of Spring!! Hugs & Cheers! Grati ;->

Posted in British, Drama, Fangurling, Flowers, Goodwill, Gratiana Lovelace, Richard Armitage, smoulder, Social Justice, Society, Something About Love, Spring, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Richard Armitage touting a new Vicar of Dibley retrospective program, March 02, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1366)


 It’s always so lovely when the talented British actor Richard Armitage promotes his costars–even his past costars–creative projects!  Such a gentleman!  Thanks for sharing, Richard!

And we all remember Richard Armitage  portraying  the charming Harry Kennedy in 2006 (image below, via Cyn, Thanks! ).  Sighhh!

And I hope that we also get to view this Vicar of Dibley retrospective program in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Wishing everyone a lovely day! Hugs & Cheers! Grati ;->


Posted in Comedy, Creativity, Dawn French, Goodwill, Gratiana Lovelace, Harry Kennedy, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Vicar of Dibley | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Zoe film starring Julie Delpy and Richard Armitage opens in theatres today, February 26, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1365)


Thanks to TeresaA for pointing me to the talented British actor Richard Armitage’s new tweets/retweets about his 2021 film My Zoe!  See her cap of Richard’s new twitter header:


The film is about a mother’s love that truly knows no bounds:


Richard Armitage portrays her recently divorced ex-husband–the father of little Zoe.  And he has to grapple with his ex-wife’s boundary shattering actions with regard to their daughter’s life and beyond.


Trailer via Film Independent article:

Posted in 2021, Drama, Family, Gratiana Lovelace, Julie Delpy in "My Zoe", Love and Relationships, parents, Richard Armitage, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sexy SatuRdAy!  Richard Armitage is definitely IT!  February 20, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1364)

Always love #RichardArmitage‘s 2013 #The_Desolation_of_Smaug Berlin Premiere look!  He is definitely IT! Sighhh!

Thanks to Angel for tweeting this pix!   Wishing everyone a great day! Hugs & Cheers! Grati ;->

Posted in Desolation of Smaug, Fangurling, Goodwill, Gratiana Lovelace, Portraits, Richard Armitage, Sexy SatuRdAy, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, The Hobbit | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Richard Armitage shares his love of music as it inspires his acting portrayals, February 02, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1363)


The talented British actor Richard Armitage shares two pieces of classical music–via a BBC’s “Inheritance Tracks” podcast–that feed his soul just as much today as they did when he was first introduced to them as a budding cellist and later flutist in his childhood, as well as, modern day with a contemporary musical selection.  Thanks much to Fabo Laktuko for sharing this musical link!



Both of these are lovely pieces of music.  The first piece is a classical musical selection,  “Dance Of The Blessed Spirits composed by C.W. Gluck”–which feels uplifting and hopeful with its airy and lyrical flute music, giving me a sense of lightness and gentle breezes, with birds winging their way aloft in clear blue skies.  Whereas the contemporary second musical selection “On the Nature of Daylight composed by Max Richter” is almost elegy like in its caressing solemnity—and is very touchingly moving.

And I love Richard Armitage (below as Dr. Astrov in Uncle Vanya via PaulaJo83, Thanks!) sharing his insights as to how he uses music to help him immerse himself in the characters he portrays as an actor! He has often said that he makes a musical playlist for his characters, to get him in the mood.  And with the many and varied characters he has portrayed, his characters’ musical playlists must be vast and varied as well.

So were I to choose one of my favorite pieces of instrumental music to listen to, it would be “Vivaldi’s  The Four Seasons”.  An excerpt for “Autumn” can be listened to below:

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, peaceful, & happy day!  Hugs & Cheers!  Grati  ;->

Posted in Dr. Astrov, Fangurling, Gratiana Lovelace, Interview, Music, Richard Armitage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RAndom Richard Armitage smiling in 2020, January 27, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1362)


Below is a #RAndom2020 #RichardArmitage pix from my archives (via @MsSarahLena from last Fall, Thanks!).

Don’t you love his slightly graying hair!  And his RAdiant smile certainly makes this a #Wonderful Wednesday!

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, peaceful, & happy Day! Hugs  & Cheers! Grati ;->

Posted in Fangurling, Goodwill, Gratiana Lovelace, Portraits, Richard Armitage, Smiles, smoulder, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Wonderful Wednesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Too HObbiT to Handle Tuesday!  Sighhh! January 19, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1361)


Thanks to Durinlass  for sharing this lovely #smouldering #RichardArmitage as #ThorinOakenshield gif!


Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, peaceful, & happy day! Hugs  & Cheers! Grati ;->

Posted in Fangurling, Gaze, Gifs, Gratiana Lovelace, Richard Armitage, smoulder, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, The Hobbit, Too Hottt to Handle Tuesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#Wonderful_Wednesday!  #RichardArmitage as #JohnThornton gazing our way, January 13, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1360)


Sometimes, only #RichardArmitage as #JohnThornton in North & South (2004) will do.  Sighhh!


Thanks to KAL for sharing these images!  And wishing everyone a safe, healthy, peaceful, & happy day! Hugs & Cheers! Grati ;->


Posted in Creativity, Drama, Fangurling, Goodwill, Gratiana Lovelace, John Thornton, North & South, Period Drama, Richard Armitage, Romance, Wonderful Wednesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feelings Friday!  John & Margaret’s pure love gif, January 08, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1359)


The love that John Thornton and Margaret Hale share is such a pure expression of that emotion.

And I love this N&S ending train station gif above of John giving a yellow Helstone rose to Margaret! Thanks to Princess of Thorin for sharing!

And one last look of love, courtesy of Mrs. Thornton. Thanks!

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, peaceful, and happy day! Hugs & Love! Grati ;->

Posted in Feelings Friday, Gifs, Goodwill, Gratiana Lovelace, Love, Love and Relationships, North & South, Richard Armitage, Romance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MCM:  More Richard Armitage as Dr. Astrov in UV film images to enjoy,  January 04, 2021 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1358)


For a Monday morning of my first week back to work after the holiday break–a job that I’m very grateful to have–I’m sharing some new Richard Armitage as Dr. Astrov in the 2020 Uncle Vanya film images and new fan art for us to enjoy!


First, thanks to Mat Khal and Fernanda Matias for sharing the  closeup below of Richard Armitage as a concerned Dr. Astrov, sighhh (my edit, brt):


And thanks to TeresaA for sharing this new smouldering image (via Judith Graham) of Richard Armitage as Dr. Astrov:

And finally,  a Mat Khal also shared lovely new Fernanda Matias Uncle Vanya wallpaper (below) is stunningly beautiful and evocative as it juxtaposes the two women—(l.tor.) Sonya and Yelena (portrayed by Aimee Lou Wood and Rosalind Eleazar)—whom Dr. Astrov is caught between:

It has been said that Richard Armitage’s Uncle Vanya (by Chekov) character of Dr. Astrov focusing on the environmental health of the planet in the UV play/film is very relevant for our current times—with our world gripped in a global pandemic.

The pandemic has been our overriding concern that has shaped our lives in the past year—and continuing, with regard to health and everyday life and jobs.  And my thoughts are especially with those whose own health or their loved ones’ health has been directly impacted.

Yet the new year of 2021 and beyond also brings with them hope for the end to the COVID19 pandemic when the new vaccines can be distributed widely. Until then, we must be sensible and wear our masks and social distance when in public—taking care of ourselves and others.

May you and yours stay safe, healthy, & happy in 2021!  Hugs & Cheers!  Grati  ;->


Posted in "Uncle Vanya film in 2020, Fangurling, film, Goodwill, Gratiana Lovelace, Health, Hope, Period Drama, RA as Dr. Astrov, Richard Armitage, smoulder, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 08 Epilogue:  Wedding love and family joy, by Gratiana Lovelace, December 31, 2020 (Post #1357)

(All rights reserved; An original story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2020)
[(1) cover story]

Author’s content note:  My 2020 Christmas short story here is a gentle romance mostly rated G for all, with some dramatic moments. I will serialize my story here and on my Wattpad site.  I’ll continue with publishing new chapters almost every day through New Year’s Eve.  I hope that you enjoy my new story.

Illustrations:  I cast my stories as I write them, with Richard Armitage as Luke Wharton, Erin Krakow as Diana Groves, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benjy Groves, Helen Hayes as Martha Lesley, Anna Knyazeva as Heidi Wharton, Betty White as Granny Wilma Wharton, and others as noted in the references.



Ch. 08 Epilogue: Wedding love and family joy

Luke and Diana share their wedding news with their immediate families and friends Sunday evening of December 26, 2010—which for Diana and Benjy, also includes their neighbor and one of Diana’s Care Receivers friends, Martha Lesley. Everyone is ecstatic and eager to help Luke and Diana fast track their wedding for not quite a full two weeks hence on a Saturday, January 7th, 2011.

So on Monday, December 27th, Diana informs the Hampton Heights apartment complex that she is tendering her resignation as a Care Giver due to her upcoming marriage and possibly returning to school to get her Master’s degree in gerontology starting in the Spring of 2011.  They are understanding and grateful that Diana is actually giving them two weeks notice, when not every employee does that.  They and her Care Receivers will miss Diana’s caring heart and kindness—as Diana will miss her Care Receivers.

Then later on that Monday,  Luke & Heidi pick up Diana & Benjy at their apartment for the quick trip to the County Clerk’s Office for Luke and Diana to fill out their wedding license registration form.  And Luke and Diana are quite amused when Benjy logically answers the Marriage License Clerk’s question for Luke and Diana, of if they were already related as a family?

Benjy: “No!  That’s why my Mommy Diana and Heidi’s Daddy Luke are getting married—so that we will make a family.”

Heidi:  Little Heidi adds gleefully, almost chirping.  “After we’re married, I will have a new Mommy and Benjy will have a new Daddy.”

And of course, the Clerk had seen Luke’s and Diana’s marriage license registration form’s written responses of marital status, with them each being widowed. So she smiles cordially at them and their kids and wishing them every happiness and a wonderful new life together.

That evening, the soon to be new Wharton family has dinner out—at the family friendly Bob Evan’s Restaurant again—before returning Diana and Benjy back to their apartment.    While the kids play with some big block wooden puzzles after dinner, Luke and Diana sit off to the side on her couch and chat a bit more  about wedding planning.

Diana: “Luke, I know we have an appointment tomorrow morning with your Pastor Carl Olsen at the Lutheran Church, but I realized today in talking with Martha and several of my Care Receivers about their attending our wedding, that transporting them to a Church and possibly a separate reception site will be a challenge for them.”

Luke: “Yet, you look like you might have a solution.”  Luke smiles at their ability to give and take on decisions big and small.

Diana: “Yes.  Each apartment building in the complex has its own laundry and community rooms.”  Diana gazes up at Luke with a hopeful expression on her face.

Luke: “And you are suggesting that we have our wedding and reception in the apartment building’s community room?”  It is clear from Luke unintentionally squinting his eyes, that he isn’t keen on that idea.

Diana:  “I am.  The community room is quite large, with a small kitchenette at one end.  So we could have light appetizers and wedding cake and punch for refreshments on one end, as well as chairs set up in rows for seating for our wedding ceremony on the other end.  We could decorate it and have it look nice.”

Luke:  “Before saying yea or nay, I would like to see the community room first—and you will want to also see our church option first.”  Luke replies a bit dubiously.  Even the label of community room conjures up in Luke’s mind a bare bones room with no ambience.  “Diana, as a compromise if we decide against the community room, I’m happy to rent one of those handicap accessible Show buses for the elderly that ferry them around town, for your Care Receivers clients to be taken to and from our church and their apartment building.  And our St. Paul’s Lutheran church has the sanctuary and a large reception room, handicap accessible bathrooms, the church office and such all on one level for anyone using wheel chairs or rolling walkers like Martha does.”

And the community room suggestion does end up being unsuitable in Luke’s mind—not the least of which is because when he views the room as he and Heidi leave Diana and Benjy Monday night, the room is still set up from a crafting group or something—with supplies strewn on worn tables, and very uncomfortable looking chairs, not to mention the lack of parking from Luke’s family and close friends as their other wedding guests who will be attending their small wedding.

So Luke’s idea of renting a Show bus to ferry the elderly ladies to their wedding is looking more practical.  And after Diana and Luke chat with the youngish and welcoming Pastor Olsen—who is in his early forties—and he gives them a tour of the compact church building, Diana & Luke finalize their using the church sanctuary and church reception room—with a full kitchen  next to it—for their wedding and reception.  And they settle on a 10am Saturday, January 7th, 2011 morning wedding.

And with Luke’s sister Sharon and baby Eric moving back to their own home now that her husband Lt. Colonel Gary Poole is temporarily reassigned to the local armory, Diana and Benjy get to meet them as well—as Benjy’s soon to be Aunt, Uncle, and baby cousin, as well as Diana’s new family in-laws and baby nephew.

Settling on wedding clothes proves to be more easily accomplished than Diana had first surmised—since Luke already has a nice blue suit and they found dressy wedding  clothes for their kids Heidi and Benji—but Diana was striking out on finding a dressy, yet not over the top tea length ivory or pale pink and cream dress to wear as her wedding dress.

However Granny Wilma unexpectedly and happily solves Diana’s dress problem.  Wilma has her son Luke bring down from their attic Wilma’s carefully sealed wedding dress box so that she can loan Diana her veil.  But Diana oohs and ahs so much over Wilma’s wedding dress of a pale peach damask bodice and front and back skirt panels with half sleeves and skirt side panels in the palest of pinks, that a hopeful Wilma lets Diana try it on.   And though Wilma is short, her wedding dress was floor length on her—which makes the dress’ hem a tea length on Diana.  So with many happy tears from Wilma—and without Luke’s presence to keep it secret–Diana chooses to wear Wilma’s heirloom wedding dress for her wedding to Luke.  Happily Wilma’s wedding dress was cleaned before it was packed away  over fifty years ago, because Diana would not want to risk the dress being damaged with possibly more harsh current dry cleaning processes.  Diana will just take a steam iron to a few overly wrinkled spots.

What was a little more amusingly contentious was Luke’s fervent wish for Diana and Benjy to move into their home as soon as possible—even before Luke repaints the middle bedroom a neutral creamy yellow color—with blue accent colors on Benjy’s side of the room and pink accents on Heidi’s side of the room.  And buying the kids their own twin size beds, matching furniture style dressers and small desks—Benjy and Heidi had each been sleeping on cots in their parents’ rooms before.  But now that they are getting older, the kids need the bigger sized beds—and more defined spaces to reflect their own personalities.  But they won’t use the box springs yet, just the mattress—so the beds aren’t too high for the kids to get into, or out of.

Diana is skeptical about living at the Wharton home early, amongst the in-progress renovations, let alone Diana feeling embarrassed about moving in with Luke before they are married.   Diana had mentioned primly to Martha that she wanted her and the other ladies to know that there would be no hanky panky going on before she and Luke wed.  To which Martha replies, there is nothing wrong with a little hanky panky, my Dear.  And Diana blushes crimson as Martha chuckles and gives her a hug.

So Luke happily cedes his bedroom to Diana for her sole sleeping use for now, until they are married.  And Benjy & Heidi want to continue to camp out on the family/living room couches until their middle bedroom is ready—and the paint fumes dissipate.  So with a little cajoling, Diana acquiesces and she and Benjy move into the Wharton’s home that following weekend of Friday, December 31st, 2010—since the paint fumes are gone from the middle bedroom and the kid furniture is due to be assembled and installed that weekend by Luke for their kids clothes and toys, etc.

Diana and Luke decide to redecorate their own bedroom later, once they decide on what they want to do with color schemes and such. They are too busy now with their small wedding planning.  The bedroom furniture Luke uses now was his parents set—he had put in storage in one of his heated barns, the bedroom set that he and his late wife used.  So for now, Diana officially has Luke’s king sized bed to sleep in, but alone—with Luke camping out on one of the family/living room couches with the kids.

And Luke and Diana also decided to make their merging family even more fun for their kids by getting everyone in their household the same flannel pajamas designed with snow men with red hats and red sleds for each of them to wear—except, they buy Granny Wilma a night gown in the same pattern per her request.

Yet Luke and Diana also begin to share before their wedding a large but cluttered—even after Heidi’s things are removed to the middle bedroom–walk-in closet in their master bedroom.  So after Luke makes room for Diana’s things in their closet, Diana vows to also do some closet organizing with built in shelves and cubbies that she can reach and over and under hanging rods for her blouses and skirts, and such.

Diana had been wondering what her contribution to their expanded Groves and Wharton family would be, and it is her keen organizational sense and love of creating a comfy and cozy home—with Diana being a little less strict about keeping everything in their home pristine as Granny Wilma does.  Yet Granny Wilma, or just Wilma to Diana, has an ally in keeping their home warm and inviting.


With their kids Heidi and Benjy as the ultimate of unintentional chaperones, Luke and Diana have had little to no private time leading up to their wedding—something that chagrins each of them as a chaste but loving and soon to be wed couple.

So after their kids go to bed in their own shared middle bedroom for the first time on the Tuesday, January 3rd night before their Saturday, January 7th, 2011 wedding, Luke and Diana hope to have some private time together.  But bowing to Diana’s concerns about appearances were they to use their soon to be shared master bedroom for chatting—and the temptation that being in their bedroom together might and would bring–they are chatting together in the family/living room on one of the long couches while wearing their comfy flannel pjs–and spooning with each other as Luke lies behind Diana as they watch the flickering flames in the fireplace.  And the nature of the comfy, but not all that deep couch that they’re lying on means that they are lying flush against each other, with each of them feeling they are in a cocoon of love and tenderness as they embrace each other.

Then Diana slowly turns from her side and onto lying on her back, and she gazes lovingly up at Luke lying on his side next to her.

Luke: “A penny?”  Then Luke sweetly kisses Diana’s lips, and she sweetly kisses him back.

Diana:  “That was lovely.  Are you a mind reader now, too?”  Luke looks at her quizzically.  Then Diana shyly explains somewhat breathily.  “I wanted you to kiss me, Luke.”

Luke: “As I always want to kiss you, Diana.”  Luke’s velvety deep baritone voice washes over Diana with his love for her. Then he interlaces his fingers with her fingers and brings her hand to his mouth for a kiss.  “It is past midnight, Diana.  And everyone is surely asleep by now.” He hints yearningly.

Diana:  “We hope our kids are asleep.”  She retorts with an impish grin.  “Luke, it’s Benjy’s and Heidi’s first night sleeping in their new shared bedroom.  It’s going to take a few nights of adjustment for them.”

Luke: “You think that that will come looking for us?”  His kisses move to her cheek, and lips again, then her chin, and down the lovely creamy column of Diana’s neck.

Diana: “Don’t you?  Hhhh!”  Diana sighs with the lovely tingles that Luke’s kisses give her.

Luke: “Well, they took their afternoon naps in there just fine this afternoon.”  Luke pouts.

Diana: “Yes, but it was daylight then, nighttime is scarier for kids—especially sleeping in a new bed and room.”

Luke:  “So you want us to check on them?”  He surrenders, innately knowing that she is probably right.

Diana: “Yes, thank you!   I just want to make sure that Benjy and Heidi are sleeping soundly and restfully.”

Luke nods his head and he and Diana  stand up from the couch. They slowly walk toward their kids shared middle bedroom.  The middle bedroom door is ajar to allow Granny Wilma to hear them from her bedroom just a few feet away past their shared bathroom—should the kids need help in the night.  But Granny Wilma doesn’t sleep with her hearing aids in at night. So there is a hiccup in that reasoning.   And the kids each have nightlights on each of their sides of their shared bed room, so that the room doesn’t seem too dark and  scary.

Yet their kids shared bed room is still very dark when Luke and Diana peek into it–but for a bit of moonlight filtering in through the drapery sheers on the single bedroom window between their twin beds.  Benjy is obviously fast asleep, him lying almost diagonal on his new and larger twin sized bed.  So Diana pulls the blanket over her son more and kisses his head—which doesn’t wake him in the slightest.   Luke nods to Diana, almost as if to say, I told you so.”  Though in all of their interactions. Luke hasn’t said anything like that out loud to her.

Then Diana hears a sound that tugs at her heart—sniffling is coming from Heidi’s bed as she faces the wall. Diana quickly pads over there and gently touches Heidi’s shoulder, not wanting to startle her.  Heidi lies down on her back and Diana sees Heidi’s tears falling copiously down her cheeks.

Diana: “Oh, Heidi, sweetheart.”  Diana whispers as she scoops Heidi up into her arms and rocks her back and forth to soothe her.

Then Luke steps forward and caresses his daughter Heidi’s tear stained cheeks.

Luke:  “What’s wrong, Heidi, Dear?”  Luke tries to take Heidi into his arms, but sometimes only a soon to be Mommy will do. And Heidi continues to cry as she cuddles closer to Diana.

So not wanting to awaken Benjy, they quietly slip out of the kids’ room with Heidi carried in Diana’s arms and Luke grabbing Heidi’s top blanket for her, to keep her warm. They go back to the family/living room and Luke stokes up the fire.  Then then all sit together on one of the long couches, with Heidi still holding onto Diana.

Diana:  “Heidi, Sweetheart,  Won’t you tell us what’s wrong so we can make it better?”  Diana instinctively kisses Heidi’s forehead, and Luke also leans in and kisses Heidi’s forehead.

Luke: “Please, Heidi.  Help us to make you feel better.  Did you have a scary dream?”  He guesses.  And Heidi nods her head.

Diana: “What was your scary dream about, Sweetie?”

Heidi tells them her dream in hiccupping cries.

Heidi:  “I was Bambi and a hunter shot Mommy Diana and she died, like my other Mommy I never met.”  Heidi cries some more.  And Diana continues to cradle and rock Heidi in her soothing embrace.  She looks over at Luke, because this afternoon they had let the kids watch the first part of the movie Bambi, forgetting about some of its more troubling plot elements.

Diana: “I’m right here, Heidi Sweetheart!  I’m fine.  Nobody has shot me, and nobody will shoot me.

Luke: “That’s right! We don’t allow anyone to shoot guns on our property—not in the crop fields nor the woodland area.  How could the filmmakers get away with making an animated film for children with such a mature and scary plot is outrageous!”

Diana: “Yes Luke Dear, but that’s getting off topic and won’t help Heidi now.” Diana whispers.  “I’m going to make Heidi some warm milk while you rock her in the rocking chair.”  Diana hints broadly at what she wants him to do.  “Then I’ll be right back, Heidi.”  Diana kisses Heidi’s forehead and releases her hold on Heidi.

Luke nods, then reaches for Heidi again—who goes to him.  Luke sits down in the rocking chair and begins to sing The Coventry Carol lullaby to Heidi, like he did when she was a baby and since then.  And Heidi begins to calm down, though she still keeps looking toward the entrance to their family/living room, looking for Diana to come back to her.

Diana returns with two small mugs of warm milk, and two frosted Christmas cookies on a plate—with Benjy carrying the plate of cookies.  When Diana went to the kitchen, she first checked on Benjy who woke up to go potty, then he joined her in the kitchen.

And the warm milk and cookies do help Heidi feel sleepy after her Daddy Luke soothed her in the rocking chair as he sang her a lullaby.

So that night Diana and Luke invite the children to sleep with them in their master bedroom bed—with the kids in the middle, and Heidi tucked into her soon to be Mommy Diana’s side.  Luke and Diana gaze lovingly and tenderly at each other over the heads of their children, and then fall asleep, while holding hands over the four pillow tops.


Luke and Diana’s wedding day shines brightly and they each look wonderful [(2ab) above].  And Luke is especially surprised and sentimental to see Diana wearing what he knows is his Mom Wilma’s heirloom wedding dress from the wedding picture on her nightstand with she and his father on their wedding day. Wilma smiles through her proud and touched sniffling tears.

Heidi loves twirling around in her new pale pink velvet flower girl dress—but not twirling up the church aisle before her soon to be Mommy Diana.   Heidi saves the dress twirling for the reception.  And Benjy with his ring bearer responsibilities does a good job of not dropping the pillow with their wedding rings tied securely on it.  And witnessing Luke’s and Diana’s heartfelt marriage vows and joining in their small church reception are their close friends and family.

And Luke and Diana begin their marriage with abundant wedding love and family joy.  They continue to develop their easy going give and take as husband and wife and as co-parents.  Luke agreeably acquiesces to having them take a delayed family honeymoon with the kids and Granny Wilma in the late Spring—after the crops are planted–when the kids can enjoy being outside.  Luke and Diana both sense that their leaving the kids on their wedding day would be too upsetting for the kids to be separated from their parents so soon after being married and becoming a new family—especially given Heidi’s nightmare earlier in the week.

But Luke does manage to pry Diana away from their kids Benjy and Heidi—and they from her—the weekend after they are married, with a parents only and very loving two days and nights at a local hotel, while Aunt Sharon and Uncle Gary, with baby Eric, help Granny Wilma watch over Heidi and Benjy.  Granny Wilma is a tiny tornado, but slowing down at her advanced 82 years old.  And everyone adores her, and doesn’t want her to over do it.  And Benjy discovers about his new four month old baby cousin Eric, that in addition to drinking milk and stinking up his diapers, baby Eric coughs up spit quite spectacularly.  So Benjy gives baby Eric a wide berth.  However, Heidi is enthralled with her baby cousin, and enjoyed when the baby lived with her Daddy Luke, Granny Wilma, and herself for several months.

And Diana decides to use the first half of the year of 2011 to look into graduate programs in gerontology while staying home as a temporary full-time mom, tending to their new family—with Luke spelling her with Daddy duty so she can visit her friends and former Care Receivers like Martha, visit the local university about her planned graduate coursework, and such.

So after Luke and Diana discuss their shared future plans at length–and then their finding out in March 2011 that Diana is expecting their first child together–Luke and Diana decide that waiting 6 months or more for Diana to go full time to graduate school will be a very good thing–until after the baby is born some time near next Christmas and after Heidi’s and Benjy’s all day Kindergarten school year is over, that starts  in Fall 2011.  Diana will take some online courses part-time before the baby is born, then plan to be a full time graduate student after that—with Luke proudly on diaper duty.

And just before Heidi and Benjy start all day kindergarten in Fall 2011, Luke and Diana adopt each other’s child—with Benjy becoming Benjamin Groves Wharton with Luke as his Daddy, still honoring Benjy’s birth father Ben Groves in his last name and honoring his new father Luke Wharton, too.  And Heidi also asked to have a new name, too, with her getting her new Mommy Diana!  So Heidi—which was her birth mother Melanie’s middle name—and with her Daddy Luke’s guidance, chooses to put Diana’s name as her new middle name, styling herself as Heidi Diana Wharton.

So they are one big happy family with love and joy in their hearts, glad and grateful for the magic & mistletoe of Christmas last year that brought them all together as a family.

The End


Dear Readers & Friends,

Thank you in joining me on my Christmas 2020 journey of love, romance, and family, with my new original short story “Of Magic & Mistletoe”!  I’m glad that you enjoyed it!

I had fun writing the chapters each day over my holiday break week!  But I will return to a less hectic writing and posting schedule in the new year–after I decide which of my many in-progress stories that I will share with you next.

Wishing every happiness to you and yours as we head into the new year of 2021 with hope!

Hugs & Holiday Cheers!  Gratiana “Grati” Lovelace

December 31, 2020


References for Ch. 08 Epilogue “Of Magic & Mistletoe”, December 31, 2020
by Gratiana Lovelace

1) “Of Magic & Mistletoe” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:

a) Luke—at full height, is Richard Armitage smiling at the 2019 Sundance Festival wearing red & black plaid overshirt_Dec21-2020 viaPinterest-Grati; image edit; original image is found at https://i.pinimg.com/474x/61/da/41/61da418236dba7895c883c32074e0e12.jpg

b) Mistletoe image and history found at https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tillamookheadlightherald.com%2Fcommunity%2Fthe-history-of-holly-and-mistletoe%2Farticle_6d7751e2-9aab-11e5-ac05-cfbfafc221da.html&psig=AOvVaw0pTsPU6tMlqIj1Mh8qHTco&ust=1608640745445000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=2ahUKEwis-PLyi9_tAhVnhXIEHSmEDVAQjhx6BAgAEBI

c)  A textured red background that I/Grati created.

2) Composite wedding couple image (edit  via Grati) of Diana Groves and Luke Wharton is comprised of:

a) Diana Groves in her simply sweet heirloom wedding dress is of Erin Krakow from When Calls the Heart, via TV Fanatic found at: https://www.tvfanatic.com/gallery/elizabeth-walks-down-the-aisle-when-calls-the-heart-s7e6/ , downloaded Dec31-2020via Grati;  and the

b) Luke Wharton wedding image is of Richard Armitage in his 2014 DaMan Magazine interview and photo shoot wearing a double breasted blue suit, downloaded Feb06-2016via SaraObsessed;


The link for Ch. 08 Epilogue on my Wattpad  site, will be found at:

Posted in "Of Magic & Mistletoe", Christmas, Creative Writing, Family, Fathers, Gratiana Lovelace, Holiday, Hope, Joy, Love and Relationships, Mothers, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 07 End:  Their loving Christmas feelings expand, by Gratiana Lovelace, December 30, 2020 (Post #1356)

(All rights reserved; An original story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2020)
[(1) cover story]

Author’s content note:  My 2020 Christmas short story here is a gentle romance mostly rated G for all, with some dramatic moments. I will serialize my story here and on my Wattpad site.  I’ll continue with publishing new chapters almost every day through New Year’s Eve.  I hope that you enjoy my new story.

Illustrations:  I cast my stories as I write them, with Richard Armitage as Luke Wharton, Erin Krakow as Diana Groves, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benjy Groves, Helen Hayes as Martha Lesley, Anna Knyazeva as Heidi Wharton, Betty White as Granny Wilma Wharton, and others as noted in the references.



Ch. 07 End:  Their loving Christmas feelings expand


Sleeping in Luke Wharton’s and his four year old daughter Heidi’s home overnight–after spending a lovely Christmas Day with them–is very cozy and comfortable for Diana Groves and her four year old son Benjy.  Their camping out on the family/living room couches was especially enjoyed by the kids—who slept on the pull out futon.

Everyone ended up wearing flannel pjs to bed last night—with Diana especially not wanting to wear a night gown in front of Luke, since their relationship is so new.  And Luke also makes a concession to having overnight guests by wearing a pj top with his pj bottom overnight, when he usually forgoes the matching pj top—claiming the flannel pj top  makes him feel too hot.  So he usually just wears an undershirt over his pj bottoms in Winter.   And everyone looks cutely mussed while lying under mounds of comforters and blankets to keep warm on the couches, now that the fireplace logs have burned down to embers.

And of course, with the kids having also napped earlier in the day on Christmas Day yesterday, they are raring to go first thing at 6am in the morning on Sunday, December 26, 2010.

Benjy goes to wake up his Mommy Diana on one of the long couches in the Wharton family/living room—while Heidi goes to wake up her Daddy Luke.

Benjy:  “Mommy? It’s Sunday. May we have Christmas Tree French toast for breakfast?”

Diana: “Hhhhh!”  Diana yawns with her whole mouth stretched wide—but her eyes are still firmly shut.  “Sure, wake me in the morning, Benjy.” Then Diana burrows further into her pillow as she sleeps some more.  The front of the Wharton home faces west, so the family/living room does not have much natural light in it in the early morning—which aids those who wish to continue sleeping.

Heidi:  “Is your Mommy awake, Benjy?”  Heidi whispers cutely—which is in her normal speaking voice volume level.

Benjy: “No.”  He says forlornly.  “And I’m hungry.  What about your Daddy?”

Heidi:  “Daddy won’t wake up either.” Then she gets a brilliant idea.  “Let’s switch!  I’ll wake up your Mommy and you wake up my Daddy.”

Benjy:  “Alright.” Benjy sighs as he heads past the coffee table to Heidi’s Daddy Luke sleeping on the other long couch.

Heidi: Then Heidi tries to awaken Benjy’s Mommy Diana–as delicately as she did her Granny Wilma yesterday,  with a gentle tap on Benjy’s Mommy’s shoulder and speaking in a soft voice. “Benjy’s Mommy. Please wake up. We would like breakfast.” Heidi waits patiently, but Diana is too deep in sleep to respond.

Whereas Benjy, being all boy, is not quite so delicate in trying to wake up Heidi’s Daddy Luke.  Giving Heidi’s Daddy Luke a wide berth—with Benjy staying away from Luke’s arms in case Luke is startled and reaches out, because startling Luke awake is Benjy’s intention.  So Benjy grabs the hem of the puffy comforter over Luke’s sock covered feet and pulls it off of Luke—which makes Benjy tumble backward onto the futon with a puddle of puffy comforter.

Luke: “Brrrr!  I’m cold! What happened?  Where’s my comforter?”  Luke barks in confusion.  Disoriented, Luke sits up bolt upright on the couch, clutching a thin flannel top sheet used as a blanket to his person as he slowly opens one eye and looks around the room, while keeping his other eye firmly shut.

Seeing Benjy’s success, Heidi tries to pull the blankets off of Benjy’s Mommy Diana.  But Diana must have turned in the night and the blankets are tightly wrapped around her.

Heidi: “Benjy?  I need help pulling the blanket off your Mommy.”  So Benjy quickly goes to Heidi’s aid, and they stand at his Mommy’s feet end of the couch.

Benjy: “We’ll pull on the blanket on 3.”  Benjy commands

Heidi: “What’s 3?” She asks him quizzically.

Benjy: “Never mind.” He rolls his eyes.  “Just pull, when I say pull.”  Heidi nods her head.  “Okay, pull!”

Then both kids pull Benjy’s Mommy Diana’s blanket end near her sock covered feet, with all of their two 4 year olds might.  And since Diana is considerably more lighter weight than Heidi’s Daddy Luke—and her legs are already lying near the edge of the couch side—Benjy and Heidi’s pulling efforts end up unrolling Diana from the couch and she lands on the carpeted floor on her tush.

Diana: “Owww!”  Diana yells loudly.

Benjy: “Well, that should wake everyone up.”  He nods his head up and down approvingly.  Benjy is hungry and he needs the adults to make them their hot breakfast since Benjy is not allowed to make it himself—not even to use the toaster.

Luke now wide awake dashes around the coffee table and helps Diana from the floor by picking her up in his arms and gently setting her on the couch in a sitting position.

Luke: “Diana?  How do you feel?  Do you think you broke anything in your fall?”

Diana: “Just my pride. Hhhh!”  Then with her still partially wrapped in her blanket, she asks.  “How did I get on the floor?”

Heidi: “We unwrapped you.”  Heidi smiles sweetly.  Both Luke and Diana quizzically tilt their heads at their children.

Benjy:  “Well, it worked for Heidi’s Daddy.”  Benjy admits a tad defensively.

Then everyone turns to Heidi’s Daddy Luke, standing over Benjy’s Mommy Diana with concern on his face—along with his morning stubble.  And Luke’s pj top came unbuttoned half way down over night and his only slightly hairy, but his very muscular chest torso is exposed to their view.

Heidi: “Are you chilly, Daddy?”  Heidi caringly asks as she points at his exposed chest—when everyone elses’ pj tops are buttoned up, or  have no opening in front and just pull over their heads—like the kids’ pjs.

Luke: “Uhh!”  Luke looks down and quickly buttons up his flannel pj top.  “Yes, thank you, Heidi.  Let me get a fire going in the fireplace again.”  Which he sets about doing immediately.  “And then we can make breakfast.”   He looks over his shoulder at Diana and the kids.

Benjy & Heidi: “Yippee!”  There is nothing as determined as toddlers when meals are in the offing.

So Luke and Heidi and Diana and Benjy  each take a turn in the bathroom to comb their hair and brush their teeth, etc—with Luke waiting to shave his bristly face stubble until later–before they all pad in their sock covered feet into the kitchen to make and eat their Christmas Tree shaped French Toast breakfasts, courtesy of Diana and one of Granny Wilma’s Christmas tree cookie cutters that she had set out for Diana.  Luke and Diana let Granny Wilma sleep in a little longer.  But the bacon and French toast  food aromas soon rouse Granny Wilma and she joins them for breakfast, too.


As it happens, the snow on the ground is more fluffy due to more overnight snowfall on the Saturday, December 25th evening.  So this Sunday, December 26th should be excellent snow sledding and snow man making [(2) above]  weather for the parents and kids.  Heidi’s Granny Wilma will watch safely from the sidelines of the enclosed three season back porch with a space heater in it—no need for her to tempt fate and break her hip.  And Granny Wilma will also have hot cocoas ready in the kitchen to warm up the four sledders and snowman builders—Luke & Heidi, and Diana & Benjy.

And since Diana brought dressier clothes with her for their overnight stay Christmas Day night at the Wharton’s home—than were suitable for snow sledding–Luke loans her an old and oversized, but clean pair of his thermal underwear top and bottom to go over her real underwear, and then under his sister Sharon’s ski jumpsuit.

When Luke’s sister Sharon had excitedly called home to her brother Luke and Mom Wilma last night from her in-laws to tell them that her husband Gary was home on leave so she wouldn’t be home for a few days, Luke asked his sister Sharon if Diana could wear her ski jumpsuit for their sledding on Sunday.  Sharon gave a hearty yes.  Luke had also spoken a few moments with Gary before Granny Wilma grabbed the phone and told Gary how glad they were that he was home safely—hoping that they would see their family soon.

So after a yummy breakfast, and pottying the kids–and themselves–because their outdoor winter weather gear will take a long time to put on them and take off them, the sledding begins.  Happily, there is a gently sloping small hill that goes from the Wharton’s backyard to the West, and culminates about 100 yards away in a 10 foot hill.  So there will be no hair raising sled races down the small hill.  But still, the two adults and two kids have fun—culminating in building a snow man in the back yard, near the three season porch, so Granny Wilma can also see it.

Then after having baths then lunch at the Wharton’s and saying their heartfelt farewells to each other—and especially to Heidi and Granny Wilma–Luke drives Diana and her son Benjy home into town at the Hampton Heights apartment complex.  Heidi stays home with Granny Wilma, because now that they played outside in the snow for an hour this morning, Heidi really does have the sniffles now.

And being the gentleman he is, Luke insists on accompanying Diana and Benjy inside their building and helping them get their suitcase, present bags, and food leftovers to their apartment.  Then Diana lays Benjy down for a nap on his cot in Diana’s bedroom, while she and Luke say farewell for today.  Diana and Benjy would have loved to stay another night with Luke and his family, but Diana has morning and afternoon Care Receiving clients all this next week—except for the afternoon of New Year’s Eve.

Seeing Diana walk into her sitting room, Luke stands up from the couch.  They have missed being alone together for lovely cuddling and kissing as they did Christmas Day afternoon while the kids napped.  So Diana walks into Luke’s arms and they sit down together on her couch.

Luke:  “Diana, I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed having you and Benjy as our guests this past weekend for Christmas.”

Diana: “We did, too, Luke.  Your Mom Wilma is a fantastic lady and hostess, and Heidi has become very dear to us, very quickly.”

Luke:  “Only Heidi?”  Look smiles in a hopeful smouldering gaze at Diana.

Diana: “Not only Heidi.” Diana blushes and she shyly looks down at their clasped hands.

Luke: “And we’re fond of you and Benjy—especially you, for my part.” Luke tilts Diana’s head up by gently placing his finger under her chin.  Then they sweetly and tenderly kiss each other as they tenderly embrace each other. “If only.”  Luke murmurs.

Diana: “If only what, Luke?”

Luke:  “Well, though I am a gentleman, I find myself wishing that we were unchaperoned and alone now.”

Diana: “I know what you mean.”  She admits out loud.  “But Benjy is in the next room and your Mom Wilma and Heidi will be expecting you home soon, and will worry if you delay.”

Luke: “You’re quite right, of course.”  Luke nods his head in resignation.  “But in the interest of getting the most out of the mistletoe you have overhead near your tree, might we avail ourselves of it?” Luke kisses Diana’s cheek and then her neck, and back to her cheek again.

Diana: “Uh huh.”

Then Luke and Diana stand and move to the mistletoe and kiss each other tenderly and adoringly for several minutes under the mistletoe again, and again, and again, and again [(3) above].

Luke: “Diana, I feel like I want to be with you every day—in every way.” Luke sighs with their romantic farewell as he kisses her neck again.

Diana:  “I know, me too.”  Diana sighs breathily.  But are we rushing things, Luke?”

Luke: “I don’t think so.  We feel so right together.  But what are your concerns?”

And Diana likes that Luke respects her feelings and invites her to share her perspectives with him.

Diana:  “Well, I presume that if you and I get married, you will want Benjy and I to move into your home.” Luke nods.  “Is there a place for our kids in their own bedroom that isn’t your master bedroom?”

Luke:  “There is.  Sharon told me that she and baby Eric are moving out of our home tomorrow, Monday.  With her husband Gary back home—and he’s going to be stationed in town with the armory for a bit—they will return to their own home.  So we can turn that middle bedroom into a half boys and a half girls bedroom—with different decorations at each side of the room for each  of them.  And they will share the 2nd full bath with Granny Wilma.”

Diana:  “But will your Mom want to share a bathroom with the kids?”

Luke: “Well, it was her idea.” Luke smiles, feeling like the  planets are aligning for them.  “I have fallen in love with you Diana.  Please say that you’ll marry me, my Darling Diana.”  Then he kisses her again before she has time to reply.

Diana: “I love you, too, Luke!  But it’s a lot to take on, for each of us. And I will also have to check into my late husband’s monthly death insurance benefit payments to me and Benjy, to see how they might be affected by my remarrying.  And then there are some monies already set aside for Benjy.”

Luke: “Of course you want to clarify those benefits for you and Benjy.  But understand that you need not worry about your not having money, or making a salary.  It will be your choice to work or go to school, etc.  Our Wharton Family Farms Trust is doing very well financially.  And I will instantly include you and Benjy in that trust as beneficiaries as soon as we are married.  And your late husband’s death payout you are saving for Benjy’s schooling and college, you can keep for that purpose.  Naturally, I will also support both Heidi’s and Benjy’s schooling and college costs—as well as, the schooling and college costs for any more children that we have together.”

Diana: “Luke, I also have my Care Receiving clients to think about. I can’t just leave them in the lurch.”  Diana bites her lip.  “They and Benjy and I have become friends—especially with Martha.”

Luke: “True.  But even if we marry this week, and you move  into our house, you could still give the Hampton’s Heights Apartment administrators your two week notice—giving them time to find your replacement.  And we could start the new year as a family.”

Diana: “Luke?  May I say a provisional yes to marrying you?”

Luke: “Yes!”  Luke sends up a whispered cheer of thanks.  And then he kisses Diana quite a bit more. “What are the provisions?”  He asks while continuing to kiss her cheek and  ear and neck.

Diana:  “You are quite persuasive, you know?  Ha!”  Luke smiles.  “Well then, we can work out the details of when we will marry—since us trying to get married in merely a week’s timeframe might not be feasible.  I would still have my obligations as a Care Giver for the next two weeks or so. So having our wedding in two weeks might be a bit more realistic wedding timeframe.”  She winces, her so not wanting to disappoint him.

Luke: “You are right.  But after you notify your bosses and your clients tomorrow, we should use the later afternoon to fill out our marriage registration for our license at the county clerk’s office, and then talk to our Lutheran pastor about the date for our having a small wedding, unless you have a particular church affiliation?”

Diana:   “Benjy and I are flexible on which church we get married in.  We have sampled some of the local churches but have not settled on joining a particular one.  And us having a small no frills wedding suits me fine.”

Luke: “Then there is the big matter of telling our kids.  But I think they’re already on our side in this.”  Ha ha ha!  Luke smiles mischievously.

Diana: “I think so.  Ha ha ha!  And though I’m open to adopting Heidi and having you adopt Benjy—if you’re agreeable.”  Luke nods with a big grin.  “I would still like to honor Benjy’s birth father, my late husband, as well, in Benjy’s last name.”

Luke: “There are a few options we have for Benjy’s new last name after I adopt him,  by either hyphenating it as Groves-Wharton–or using that name order, but without the hyphen.  And what about your last name once we’re married?”

Diana: “As you know, I took my late husband’s last name when he and I married.  So as long as my last name and your last name have a similarity to Benjy’s last name for school purposes, that should be fine.”

Luke:  “I’ll talk to my Mom and Heidi tonight to tell them the good news that we’re getting married.”  He smiles broadly.

Diana: “And I’ll tell Benjy.” She nods cheerfully.

Luke: “We know our kids are rooting for us. And Mom will be over the moon—as well as her helping with our small wedding planning.”

Diana: “Though we’ll need to choose our attendants, I think we know already who will be our ring bearer and our flower girl.  Oh gosh!  And we’ll have to get them and us wedding clothes.”

Luke: “Well, I say we skip the formal route. Tuxes are not my style.  But I have a very nice blue suit I can wear.  And we can find Heidi something pretty to wear, too.”

Diana; “Yes, I agree.  And I’ll have to find a new ivory dress for me, and something dressy for Benjy—that doesn’t involve a comic book super hero.”  Diana comically rolls her eyes as she smiles warmly at Luke.

Luke: “We can do this.  Two weeks.”  He nods his head affirmatively.

Diana: “Two weeks.” She nods her head.

Then Luke and Diana kiss each other tenderly and adoringly under her sitting room’s mistletoe for a few more minutes tonight before they say farewell until tomorrow, Monday, December 27th.  Two weeks until they get married.  Whew!

And though Luke and Diana  will wait until their wedding night to fulfill their loving romantic yearnings for each other, that is not to say that Luke will wait that long to have Diana and Benjy move into what will become their home together.

To be continued with the Chapter 08 Epilogue


P.S.  And a heartfelt Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband!  Love, Hugs & Holiday Cheers! Grati  ;->


References for Ch. 07 End  of “Of Magic & Mistletoe”, December 30, 2020
by Gratiana Lovelace

1) “Of Magic & Mistletoe” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:

a) Luke—at full height, is Richard Armitage smiling at the 2019 Sundance Festival wearing red & black plaid overshirt_Dec21-2020 viaPinterest-Grati; image edit; original image is found at https://i.pinimg.com/474x/61/da/41/61da418236dba7895c883c32074e0e12.jpg
b) Mistletoe image and history found at https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tillamookheadlightherald.com%2Fcommunity%2Fthe-history-of-holly-and-mistletoe%2Farticle_6d7751e2-9aab-11e5-ac05-cfbfafc221da.html&psig=AOvVaw0pTsPU6tMlqIj1Mh8qHTco&ust=1608640745445000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=2ahUKEwis-PLyi9_tAhVnhXIEHSmEDVAQjhx6BAgAEBI
c)  A textured red background that I/Grati created.

2) Heidi Wharton with snowman is represented by an image from-Readers Digest-article 06_how_build_perfect_snowman_best_practices_decorations_Dec292020; for more, visit the link at https://www.rd.com/list/how-to-build-snowman/

3) Luke and Diana kissing image is represented by a BW N&S2004 cap of Richard Armitage & Daniela Denby-Ashe_Jul2016viaSueli

The link for Ch. 07  on my Wattpad  site, will be found at:


Posted in "Of Magic & Mistletoe", Christmas, Creative Writing, Family, Fathers, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Hope, Love and Relationships, Mothers, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 06:  Christmas Day Magic, Part 2, by Gratiana Lovelace, December 28, 2020 (Post #1355)

(All rights reserved; An original story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2020)
[(1) cover story]

Author’s content note:  My 2020 Christmas short story here is a gentle romance mostly rated G for all, with some dramatic moments. I will serialize my story here and on my Wattpad site.  I’ll continue with publishing new chapters almost every day through New Year’s Eve.  I hope that you enjoy my new story.

Illustrations:  I cast my stories as I write them, with Richard Armitage as Luke Wharton, Erin Krakow as Diana Groves, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benjy Groves, Helen Hayes as Martha Lesley, Anna Knyazeva as Heidi Wharton, Betty White as Granny Wilma Wharton, and others as noted in the references.


Ch. 06:  Christmas Day Magic, Part 2

After Luke and Diana come up for air with their first lovely kisses in Luke’s kitchen on Christmas Day early afternoon, they gaze caringly into each other’s eyes.  It has been a long time since either of them has experienced love and romance—since each of their spouses died, four years ago and two years ago, respectively.  Luke slowly pulls back from Diana, his hand clasping hers in his larger hand and bringing her hand to his lips for a kiss.

Luke:  “Shall we take some coffees into the family room and chat some more?”  And snuggle and kiss some more, he thinks.

Diana: “Yes, and let’s peek into your bedroom to make sure our kids are still asleep.”  Diana blushes, her wondering if Luke wonders if she hopes their kids are asleep, so that she and Luke can canoodle on the family room couch.

Luke: “Yes.”  His voice is deeply soothing, like a velvet rose brushing against her heart.  And she wonders if his huskily tender voiced yes, implies more than drinking their coffees.

So Luke and Diana collect their coffee mugs and walk out of the kitchen, past the dining room, and into the family room–setting their coffee mugs on coasters on the coffee table.  Then they peek into Luke’s master bedroom where he has their kids napping on his big bed.

Heidi and Benjy are lying on top of the comforter on Luke’s bed, with large folded blankets on top of each of them for  warmth.  And though they are each sleeping on their own pillows, they are lying on their sides and turned toward each other—with their hands clasped together between the pillows.  Luke and Diana smile at their sleeping kids and then at each other.

Luke holds a finger up to his lips as he and Diana quietly back away from the bedroom and go to sit on one of the family room couches together.  The arrangement of the room has two long couches facing each other in front of the fireplace, with a shorter futon couch opposite the fireplace—each covered in the same ivory colored slip covers.  The family room is inviting for conversations, as well as, for unexpected extra guests due to the snowy weather.

Luke and Diana sit together on the long couch next to the Christmas tree, at the fireplace end [(2) above] —them enjoying its cozy warmth.  They each take a sip of their generously sweetened hazelnut coffees, then set their mugs back onto the coffee table.  Luke interlaces the fingers of his right and of her left hands together and they gaze tenderly at each other.

Luke:  “Well, shall we consider this our first real date?  Since we’re alone together?”  He smiles cheekily.

Diana: “I don’t know, Luke.” She purses her lips while trying not to smile.  “I don’t kiss on the first date.”  Then she can’t help it and smiles warmly up at him.

Luke:  “Did I say our first date?  I mean our fourth date.”  Luke’s voice and gaze smoulder tenderly at Diana.

As Luke begins to lean in to kiss her again, Diana places her finger against his lips to delay their kissing.  But he mischievously kisses her finger

Diana:  “It occurs to me, Luke, that there might be some pertinent background information about ourselves that we should share with each other—if we hope to get to know each other better.”

Luke raises a saucy eyebrow as his left arm laying upon the couch back touches her shoulders and she leans back into him.

Luke:  “Such as?”  Then Luke gently cups Diana’s left shoulder in his left hand as he smiles cordially down at her.

Diana:  Feeling Luke’s warmth envelop her, Diana sighs.  “Hhhh! Well, I’m 34 years old.”  She pauses and looks up at him.

Luke:  “Ah!  You look younger than your years, but you are also wise beyond them.”  Diana smiles up at Luke.  “And I’m 41years old. Hmm.”

Diana: “That’s nice.”  She nods.

Luke:   “So are you pleasantly surprised, or thinking that I’m well preserved for my years?”  He asks her impishly.”

Diana:  “Oh, both!”  Then Luke leans in and passionately kisses Diana on her lips.

Luke:  “There! I think if we kiss after each pair of questions to each other, then we will keep the romantic mood going.  Don’t you?”  Luke smirks enticingly.

Diana: “Works for me.”  Diana whispers breathily. And somehow, their kissing has pushed Diana’s next question about Luke completely out of her thoughts.

Luke:  “Nothing to ask?  Shall we kiss some more, then maybe it will come to you.”  He purrs before he kisses her again, and again, and again, and again.

Diana:  “Somehow, your kissing me doesn’t help my remembering what I wanted to ask you.”

Luke: “Well, we have the weekend to chat more.”  Then he kisses her some more.

Diana: In mid kiss, Diana taps Luke on his shoulder.  He looks into her eyes.  “I remembered what I wanted to ask you.”

Luke: “Hmm?  I guess my kisses aren’t that successful in distracting you then.”  He pouts impishly.

Diana:  “Oh no, Luke.  Your kisses are a lovely distraction.”

Luke:   “Well then …”  Luke leans in to kiss her again, but Diana puts her hand up—covering his mouth.  And of course, he kisses her palm, sending tingles through her arm.

Diana:  Then Diana states a bit breathily.  “Luke, before we continue with our lovely kissing, we need to share more about ourselves with each other.  Such as, what do you do for a living?  What are your interests? Etc.”

Luke: “Well, let me see. I am self employed managing our family crop farm—which makes a tidy profit each year, supporting all of us.  So much so that though my sister Sharon and my baby nephew Eric will eventually return to her cottage home on our property with her husband Gary—leaving her bedroom here empty—I still want to expand our home here.  A few years ago, I had added the fire place to our family room here.  So, my next thought is possibly doing an extension on the fireplace side of the house—creating a pass through fireplace to a new family and game room—then running  along the length of the house front to back with a half bath and another master bedroom and bath” [(3) above].

Diana: “I think your home and its layout are perfect!”  She says genuinely.

Luke: “Thank you. Yet, we need a guest half bathroom and a less formal family room than this living room is—to have a family and games room where the kids can play, with their not having to worry that their toys and games are picked up all the time.”

Diana:  “Ha ha ha!  I take it that your Mother Wilma is a neat freak?”

Luke:  “Oh yeah!”  He nods exaggeratedly.  “And I would like to add a small pool table to the new family and games room, too—with a temporary ping pong top we can place on it for the kids. What about you?”

Diana: “I would like more children, and to go back to school for my master’s degree in gerontology.  Ultimately, I would like to continue to be involved in working with the elderly—perhaps as a homecare services director or a facility’s recreation director.”

Luke: “Good for you!”  Then Luke becomes more circumspect.  “I would like more children—and to possibly give you more children.”  Luke is getting a little ahead of himself, but Diana does not seem to shy away from the suggestion—though she does blush prettily.

Diana: “But?”

Luke: “But with my late wife dying due to childbirth complications, the thought of that possibility happening again is very scary to me.  I wouldn’t survive losing you, too.”  Luke’s eyes are filled with tears that he has held back for many years—him coping with his wife’s death by trying to push his emotions away.  But with Diana coming into his life, all of his emotions are at the forefront again.

Diana: “Oh Luke!  I’m so sorry for your loss again.  I can’t imagine having a new baby to raise, but not with your partner.”  Diana believes that, at least, she had that blessing—with Benjy’s Dad Ben alive for the first two years of their son’s life.  Then Diana rests her head on Luke’s shoulder and embraces him comfortingly.

Luke: “Mom helped me with caring for baby Heidi. That is, until she felt that I wasn’t engaged enough with Heidi.  I had pushed myself to doing so much around the farm as a distraction for my loss, that I was dog tired when I got home each evening.  All I could do was take my shower, eat dinner, then fall asleep afterward.”

Diana: “I sense another but is coming.”  Diana smiles gently at Luke.


Luke:  “Yes, but my Mom wouldn’t let me get away with the excuse that I was exhausted.  And my Mom insisted that I hire more farm workers and start tending to Heidi myself when Heidi was about 4 months old.  Or she said that she would move out and force me to be Heidi’s father—by myself, without her as a safety net.  Well, I can tell you that really scared the heck out of me.  Heidi was so little, I was afraid I would drop her or feed her something wrong.  And because I hadn’t actually held Heidi much up to that point, she always seemed more fussy and skittish when I did hold her in my arms. My own daughter didn’t recognize me as her father.”  He bemoaned.

Diana: “What did Wilma do?”

Luke: “She left Heidi and I together, cold turkey—for a very long 3 day weekend as she visited a friend in another town.  I was terrified, but I knew my sister Sharon was only a phone call away.  But, I needed to care for Heidi myself.  And when baby Heidi seemed to realize that first night that her Granny Wilma wasn’t around to kiss and cuddle her, and to make her feel fresh and clean, and to give Heidi her bottle, baby Heidi went on an endless crying jag, the poor little thing.”  Luke shakes his head in remembering it.

Diana: “What did you do, Luke?” Diana knows how helpless a parent can feel when their baby is in distress and not knowing how to comfort them.

Luke: “Well out of pride, I didn’t want to call Sharon, I needed to figure this out on my own.  But I had a crying baby on my hands, literally.  So I made sure baby Heidi was clean and warm, and I walked her around the house. I also tried turning on the kitchen faucet and letting it running continuously.”

Diana: “Uh huh, rushing water simulating womb sounds of rushing blood.” She nods knowingly.

Luke: “Exactly.  But that didn’t work—none of it did.  And after Heidi cried for 1 hour straight, I knew that I had to get her calmed down so I could give Heidi her bottle.  So I plopped myself in that rocking chair in the corner there and started rocking.  Her crying became a little less, but Heidi needed something more.  So I began to sing to Heidi the lullaby that Mom used to sing to us when we were little—the “Coventry Carol”—and that I had sung the lullaby to my late wife’s pregnant belly before Heidi was born.”  Diana smiles as Luke’s face brightens.  “And miraculously, Heidi calmed down, her looking up at me with a pensive expression on her face—that quickly proved to be gas.  Ha ha ha!”

Diana:  “Ha ha ha!”

Luke: “But Heidi was calming.  So I slowly stood up as I continued singing to her, we went into the kitchen for her bottle and I warmed it up a bit.  In the meantime, I’m continuing to sing to Heidi as I walk back to our family room and that rocking chair in the corner to give Heidi her bottle feeding.  When she was done messily slirping her bottle, I cleaned up Heidi’s tiny mouth and put her baby burping cloth over my shoulder.  Then I gently laid Heidi onto my shoulder, and I soothingly patted and rubbed her little back.  Then she burped quite loudly for me and she instantly fell asleep.  I continued rocking Heidi in my arms, my watching over her as she slept for the next two hours.  Then I realized that I was hungry.  So I laid Heidi in her bassinet in the kitchen as I made myself a sandwich, ate it at the table.  And then I took her back to her crib in my bedroom for her to nap.  And I dashed in the bathroom and took the shortest shower and clothing change in my life and came back to her, finding her still sleeping soundly in her bedroom crib.  So I checked her diaper and changed her into a fresh one, then we went back to the rocker in the family room here and we rocked together that afternoon.  Then three hours later, the whole bottle feeding and lullaby singing activities repeated on an every four hour schedule.   And Heidi and I have been best buddies ever since.”

Diana: “Oh Luke!  That’s a wonderful memory you have of bonding with baby Heidi.”

Luke: “Heidi is my wonderful little sweetheart, and I hope to be a wonderful father for her.”

Diana: “You already are, Luke.  I have never seen such a happy and well adjusted child as Heidi is, except for my Benjy.”

Luke:  “Thanks, Diana.  Sorry that I’ve droned on, but parenting is such a big responsibility that I sometimes feel like I’m in a quicksand as Heidi is on the precipice of the next stage of development.”

Diana: “It sounds like you read some of the Dr. Spock books, huh?”  Diana smiles warmly at Luke.

Luke: “And other respected child psychologists. I try to stay informed and really reflect upon how I’m raising Heidi. I want her to always be happy and know that she is loved and encouraged.”  Luke smiles, but there is a sadness, in his eyes, too.

Diana: “Well you’re doing a wonderful job.”

Luke: “Thanks, as are you with Benjy.”  She smiles and nods her thanks. “Diana?  May I ask you a question?”

Diana:  “Sure.”

Luke: “Benjy speaks so clearly, while Heidi still has trouble with her r sounds.  Did Benjy ever have any speech issues?”

Diana: “Well first, let me say that Heidi sounds adorable—and her speech is very understandable.  So her speech therapy sessions must be helping.  But Luke, I wouldn’t worry too much about her speaking skills, if I were you.  Kids develop their speech and movement and their cognitive abilities at their own paces.  Though with little ones, their first five years are like a whirlwind of discovery and exploration as they move from little baby lumps that we cuddle to walking and talking toddlers with a growing awareness of the world around them.  And even with Benjy and I spending time with you and Heidi over the last several days—and most of the day today—I can see that Heidi’s speech is less hesitant when she is around people whom she knows and feels comfortable with, like you and your Mom—and now, also Benjy and I.”

Luke: “Thanks, that makes me feel better.  Hhhh!”  Luke sighs in relief.

Diana: “Say, we still have singing Christmas songs to do when the kids wake up.  And I’ve noticed that people who sometimes stutter in everyday life, can often sing clearly without stuttering—like the country singer Mel Tillis.  It’s amazing really.  Some other area of their brain kicks in as they sing flawlessly.  So, I’ll bet you a chocolate chip cookie that we brought with us, that Heidi singing will be the same and she’ll not have an accent on her r sounds.”  I hold out my hand.

Luke: “That’s a great idea, Diana. And I’ll raise you one peppermint candy cane frosted sugar cookie.   It’s a deal!”  I shake Diana’s hand and bring her closer to me.  “This seems like a we gotta seal this deal with a kiss moment.”  Luke grins cheekily.

Diana: “Absolutely!”  Diana responds enthusiastically.

Then Luke and Diana kiss [(4) above] and embrace each other sweetly and tenderly sitting next to each other on Luke’s family room’s couch—their being oblivious to everything around them.


And having woken up from their naps and each pottied themselves in the master bedroom’s bathroom—and washed their hands as they have been taught to do–Benjy and Heidi peek into the family room from Luke’s master bedroom’s doorway and see their parents kissing each other.

Heidi: “Hhhh!”  Heidi [(5) above] sighs softly and squeezes Benjy’s hand.

Benjy:  “What?” Benjy [(6) above] whispers to Heidi as they step back into the bedroom.

Heidi:  Still whispering, Heidi explains.  “My Daddy and yow/your Mommy kiss so nicely!”

With Benjy being a little boy–and his play time and stories have less romantic plots in them–he can be excused for not understanding Heidi’s romantic sighing.  Whereas Heidi is all into Princesses and their Princes.

Benjy: Whispering indifferently, Benjy just agrees with Heidi.  “Sure.  I’m hungry.  Shall we go see if your Granny will give us a snack to eat? We brought cookies with us today.”

Heidi: “Okay!”  Heidi smiles and nods her head excitedly.  She likes having someone to play with like Benjy.

Then Benjy and Heidi peek out of the bedroom door, still seeing their parents kissing.  So they quietly and slowly walk into the dining room and then dash to the kitchen.  Not finding Granny Wilma there, they go to her bedroom’s door that is slightly ajar.  Heidi knocks softly as her Granny has taught her to do.  Then Heidi enters her Granny’s bedroom and motions for Benjy to follow her in, and he does so.  But Benjy stays near the doorway.

Granny Wilma’s bedroom isn’t dark, but it doesn’t have any lights on.  So with only one window drape open and facing East, there isn’t much light in the room at the current 3pm afternoon time.  Heidi walks around the bed and over to her Granny lying in bed asleep with her back to the doorway.

Heidi: Heidi lightly touches her Granny Wilma’s shoulder.  “Gwanny/Granny, may Benjy and I please have a cookie snack?”

Granny Wilma: “Hmmm?”  Granny Wilma responds drowsily to her granddaughter.  Then she wakes up more and sits up on her bed in her robe over her undies.  She had changed so that her holiday clothes wouldn’t get wrinkled.  “Oh!  Sure, Heidi Dear.  And we’ll have to take our annual Christmas picture with the tree.”

Heidi: “With Benjy and Benjy’s Mommy, too?”  She asks politely

Granny Wilma: “Of course.”  Then she stands up and turns around and sees Benjy also in her room.  “Hi again, Benjy!” She waves at him.

Benjy: “Hi again, Granny Wilma!”  He also waves.

Granny Wilma: “Benjy, we’re all wearing red for our Christmas Day picture today.  Would you like me to find you a red sweater to wear in our picture?  And you might find it nice and warm for sledding tomorrow.”  Granny Wilma has already made the assumption that Diana and Benjy Groves are staying overnight.

Benjy:  “Okay, thanks!” Benjy looks down at his blue shirt, and nods.

Granny:  “Well you kids go tell you’re parents that we’re doing the picture, then singing, then snacks.”

Heidi: “Hhhh!”  Heidi sighs happily again, thinking of her Daddy Luke kissing Benjy’s Mommy Diana. Her granny looks quizzically at Heidi.

Benjy:  Interpreting Granny Wilma’s quizzical facial expression as a question, Benjy provides the answer.  “Sure!  But should we wait until my Mommy and Heidi’s Daddy are done kissing?”  Benjy’s Mommy Diana has encouraged her young son not to interrupt her when she is doing tasks, like balancing her checkbook.  So Benjy is just applying that request to him not interrupting her kissing Heidi’s Daddy Luke.

Granny Wilma: “Kissing?”  Granny Wilma asks excitedly.

Heidi: Nodding her head up and down several times, Heidi smiles effusively.  “Vewy/very nicely kissing.”

Granny Wilma:  “Lovely!  Kids, why don’t you go back and sit at the kitchen table.  I’m going to powder my nose and change back into my Christmassy clothes.”

So the kids leave for the kitchen, and Granny Wilma gets changed.


Granny Wilma walks into her kitchen to find her granddaughter Heidi and Heidi’s friend Benjy sitting quietly talking while waiting for directions. Granny Wilma likes that little Benjy is just as well mannered as her little granddaughter Heidi.

Granny:  “Hi kids, I hope that I didn’t take too long for you.”  With her senior years upon her as an 82 year old, Granny Wilma Wharton moves a bit more slowly these days.

Heidi: “No Gwanny/Granny Wilma.”  Heidi smiles sweetly at her beloved Granny.

Granny Wilma: “Let me see if I can get Heidi’s Daddy to find the red sweater for Benjy that I’m thinking about.” Then she walks into the dining room with several fine china plates that are now dry from being used and washed at lunchtime, and starts stacking them into the glass china cabinet—a bit more loudly than usual to alert her son Luke and Benjy’s Mommy Diana that they needs to stop kissing before the kids come looking for them.

Meanwhile back in the kitchen, Benjy asks Heidi a question.

Benjy:  “Heidi, is Gwanny your family nickname for your Granny Wilma?”

Heidi: “Yes.  She likes to be called Gwanny/Granny, and not Gwandma/Grrandma.”

Benjy:  “Okay.  But I meant how the word sounds.  Should I call her Grrrr-anny  with a Grrr sound, or Gwanny like you do, too?”

Heidi:  “Grrrr-anny?”  Benjy nods his head.  “Grr-anny.”  She repeats.

Benjy: “That’s it, now say  Grr-anny faster, like Granny!  Benjy encourages.  So Heidi tries that.

Heidi:  “Grr-anny.  Gr-anny. Gr-anny. Granny. Granny!” Heidi opens her mouth and her eyes wide.

Benjy: “You did it!”  Benjy gives her a hug.  “Let’s go show your Granny Wilma.”

And in the dining room.  Granny Wilma is trying to be tactful in getting her son Luke to join her—when he is done kissing Diana.

Granny Wilma:  “Oh Luke, will you help me fetch one of your old red kid sweaters out of the attic for Benjy to wear in our Christmas Day picture?”

Next door in the family/living room, Luke is startled out of his very pleasant snuggling with Diana after their kissing by hearing his mother Wilma call to him, and her stacking the dishes.

Luke: Giving Diana another quick kiss, Luke says bemusedly.  “Well, back to our parenting responsibilities.  Ha ha ha!”

Diana: “Ha ha ha!”

Luke and Diana stand up from the couch and brush their hands down their clothes to straighten out some wrinkles. Then they walk into the dining room just as Heidi and Benjy dash in there.

Granny Wilma: “Well!  The gang’s all here, I guess!  Ha ha ha!”  And they all laugh. “Oh!  Let’s take our annual Christmas Day picture before singing and treats. So Luke, please go up into the attic and look for the box marked Luke 5 years old, it should have a red sweater in it that will fit Benjy for our red themed picture this year.”

Luke: “Your wish is my command.”  He states humorously as he walks to the pull down stairway to the attic in the 2nd & 3rd bedrooms bathroom foyer.  Their home is compact and very functional.

Heidi: “Yes, Daddy.  Gwa…” Heidi looks to Benjy, who purses his lips and mouths the Grrr sound for Heidi.  “Grr… Grr-anny, Gr-anny, Granny Wilma wants you to loan Benjy yow/your old sweat-a, sweat-rr, sweater to waya, waa-rr, wear!  Heidi is very pleased with herself in producing the r sound right almost every time when she spoke just now.

Standing at the base of the attic pull down stairs, Luke watches Heidi spellbound to hear his little daughter  saying her r sounds on three different words out of the four r words that she spoke.  He rushes to Heidi and kneels down, embracing her and praising her, with tears rolling down his cheeks.

Luke: “You said that so beautifully, Heidi Sweetheart.”  Luke caresses Heidi’s grinning little face.

Heidi: “Benjy taught me the rrr sound.”  Heidi smiles happily at Benjy.

Benjy: Bursting with pride, Benjy smiles and praises Heidi. “Thank you, Heidi.  But you did the talking work.”

Diana also has tears in her eyes—for Luke’s daughter Heidi starting to speak her r sounds correctly and for her son Benjy for helping her.

Luke: “Thank you, Benjy.”  As he stands up again, Luke pats Benjy on his shoulder.  And Luke is amazed with the breadth of children’s abilities and the power they have to help each other.

Benjy: “Oh, I just wanted to make sure that I was saying Granny Wilma’s name right.”  He smiles.  Then he remembers something.  “Oh Heidi, since you’re learning your r sounds, you could make a word tree on your bedroom wall of words with the r sound in it.  That’s what Mommy does for me on new words that I’m learning about–what they mean and how to say them.

Heidi: “Ohhh! Good idea, Benjy!  Thanks!” She smiles at Benjy and gives him a hug.  Then she looks up at her tall Daddy.  “Daddy, don’t forrrget to find the rrrred sweaterrr for Benjy, to wearrrr in the Chrrristmas picturrre.”  Heidi is now elongating her r sounds a bit exaggeratedly—when before, she replaced them with w sounds.  But she is now applying the r sounds correctly to each word as needed.  Progress!

So Luke heads up to the attic, finds the red sweater and brings it down for Benjy to wear in their annual Christmas picture that they take in front of their Christmas tree–with Luke’s camera on a tripod and a time delay picture taking function, since they don’t have an extra person taking the picture for them.  Snap!


And there is one more surprise this Christmas Day–this time, for Benjy’s Mommy Diana.  Before Granny Wilma sits down at the spinet piano piano bench in the dining room to play the piano for their Christmas songs, she pulls out an old Christmas song book from the piano bench storage—identical to a Christmas songs book that Benjy has seen before.

Granny Wilma: “Benjy, as our guest, do you want to pick our first song to sing?”

Benjy:  “Yes!”  He smiles. Then he whispers into Granny’s ear and she invites him to sit on the piano bench with her—to her right—on the high notes side of the piano keys.

Granny Wilma: “Benjy wants us to sing Jingle Bells.”  She says while flipping through the song book.  But she goes too far because two pages are sticking together. But Benjy gently turns the pages back until he sees the page he remembers because of the colorful pictures of horses, a sleigh, and sleigh bells on it.

Luke:  Luke leans over to Diana and whispers.  “Does Benjy play the piano already?”  He asks incredulously, since Benjy is only 4 years old.  But then it was a 4 year old Mozart who began his foray into music centuries ago.

Diana: “No.”  She winces because though she played the piano growing up, she can’t afford a piano for Benjy to practice on—nor can she afford to pay for lessons for Benjy to take from a real teacher.

Granny Wilma: “I’ll play the first part as we sing together.”  And she starts with “Dashing through the snow…”  and ending with   “…A sleighing song we sing …”

Then Granny Wilma lifts her fingers off of the piano keyboard, and Benjy takes over, using just his index fingers on both hands on the “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells part”.  Benjy sings, but no one else does.  They are so astonished by Benjy playing the piano.

Diana: “Benjy sweetie, you sound wonderful!  But how did you learn how to play the piano?” She has tears in her eyes.

Benjy: “Old Mrs. Stoffer at the apartment building taught me.  Martha and I were going to surprise you at the apartment building lunch yesterday.  But there were so many people, I chickened out.”  Benjy sheepishly shrugs his shoulders.

Luke: “Well, Benjy,  we are honored to hear your  first piano performance.” Luke smiles cordially at the little boy.

Benjy: “Thanks, Heidi’s Daddy!”  Benjy grins from ear to ear.  “Let’s sing!”

And Benjy starts up the Jingle Bells part again and everyone joins in singing.  They go on to sing several songs with Granny Wilma providing piano accompaniment. Then they eat some cookies snack before playing more table top card and board games in the family room.  And bowing to Luke’s Mom Wilma’s concerns thinking Heidi has the sniffles, they decide to wait on sledding until tomorrow.

So after more yummy Christmas leftovers at dinner that evening, then Christmas storytelling and more games, the tuckered out Heidi and Benjy are bathed and tucked into bed on the pull out futon in the family/living room—the kids insist that they want to camp out in the family/living room, as Heidi suggested earlier was fun–with Luke and Diana each sleeping on one of the long couches facing each other and their children.

It has been a lovely and magical Christmas Day, full of fun, surprises, and heartfelt moments.  And tomorrow and more days in the future will bring Benjy’s Mommy Diana and Heidi’s Daddy Luke even closer together

To be continued with Chapter 07


References for Ch. 06  of “Of Magic & Mistletoe”, December 28, 2020
by Gratiana Lovelace

1) “Of Magic & Mistletoe” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:

a) Luke—at full height, is Richard Armitage smiling at the 2019 Sundance Festival wearing red & black plaid overshirt_Dec21-2020 viaPinterest-Grati; image edit; original image is found at https://i.pinimg.com/474x/61/da/41/61da418236dba7895c883c32074e0e12.jpg

b) Mistletoe image and history found at https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tillamookheadlightherald.com%2Fcommunity%2Fthe-history-of-holly-and-mistletoe%2Farticle_6d7751e2-9aab-11e5-ac05-cfbfafc221da.html&psig=AOvVaw0pTsPU6tMlqIj1Mh8qHTco&ust=1608640745445000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=2ahUKEwis-PLyi9_tAhVnhXIEHSmEDVAQjhx6BAgAEBI

c)  A textured red background that I/Grati created.

2) Wharton home  family/living room tree designed for a “cozy lodge” was found at https://inspiredbycharm.com/christmas-tree-decorations/

3) Wharton family’s Pillsbury farm home exterior view (in Spring) and floorplan were found at:
https://impresamodular.com/design/pillsbury/ and https://impresamodular.com//Designs/design_1141/Floorplans/DT-8507%20-%20firstfloor.jpg

4) Luke and Diana kissing image is represented by a BW N&S2004 cap of Richard Armitage & Daniela Denby-Ashe_Jul2016viaSueli

5) Heidi Wharton is Anna Knyazeva with bangs; original image was from https://www.allure.com/story/6-year-old-called-most-beautiful-girl-in-the-world

6) Benjy Groves Cls is Thomas Brodie-Sangster, found at https://i.insider.com/59a58d7db065da44008b47b0?width=750&format=jpeg&auto=webp, via a Games of Thrones actors article.

The link for Ch. 06  on my Wattpad  site, will be found at:

Posted in Christmas, contemporary romance, Family, Fathers, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Holiday, Hope, Love and Relationships, Mothers, Positivity, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 05:  Christmas Day Magic, Part 1, by Gratiana Lovelace, December 26, 2020 (Post #1354)


(All rights reserved; An original story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2020), [(1) cover story]

Author’s content note:  My 2020 Christmas short story here is a gentle romance mostly rated G for all, with some dramatic moments. I will serialize my story here and on my Wattpad site.  I’ll continue with publishing new chapters almost every day through New Year’s Eve.  I hope that you enjoy my new story.

Illustrations:  I cast my stories as I write them, with Richard Armitage as Luke Wharton, Erin Krakow as Diana Groves, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benjy Groves, Helen Hayes as Martha Lesley, Anna Knyazeva as Heidi Wharton, Betty White as Granny Wilma Wharton, and others as noted in the references.

“Of Magic & Mistletoe”,  Ch. 05:  Christmas Day Magic, Part 1

The next two days of December 23rd and 24th for Diana and Luke are busy ones.  Diana and Benjy make some XMAS craft decorations as gifts.  And Diana is truly able to finish her XMAS shopping for her 4 year old son Benjy’s and others XMAS gifts when she sees  that her weekly Care Giver paycheck was direct deposited into her bank account as usual on Friday, Dec. 24th, Christmas Eve day. Diana is all paid up on her bills, and will use the funds to also replenish their apartment’s food stocks as well.

And she and Benjy had also shared a yummy later afternoon Christmas Eve luncheon at their apartment complex at a table with Martha and Diana’s other Care Receivers.  So Diana and Benjy share some of those XMAS craft gifts they made with Diana’s Care Receivers.  The Ladies also gifted Diana and Benjy with a lovely and warm tied back quilt they had all made for her in a solid navy blue flannel fabric on one side and a blue and white striped flannel fabric on the other side.  And Diana was tearfully grateful for her Care Receivers kindness and quilting skills.  Though Diana cannot receive money or store  bought gifts from her Care Receivers, something hand made like the quilt is allowed.

For Luke and Heidi, they also have some last minute shopping to do for food and presents.  And of course, Granny Wilma—Luke’s Mom and Heidi’s Granny—requires some extra help around their home to get it festively ready for their Christmas Day guests.  And despite her slowing down  at her now eighty two years old, Luke’s Mom  (aka Granny Wilma) is a tiny tornado when cooking for and entertaining guests, to Luke’s delight and chagrin.  However, Luke good naturedly moves furniture around as his Mom wishes to accommodate their Christmas decorations, and he and Heidi set up their dining room dining table for their Christmas Day meal with Granny Wilma’s heirloom china plates and crystal glasses and silver flatware, and linen napkins —eating their own Christmas Eve leftovers and Christmas Day breakfast at their kitchen table.

And more than simply phoning each other in the mornings to confirm Diana and Benjy joining the Wharton family for Christmas Day Lunch at Luke’s family home, Diana and Luke also find time to call each other in the evenings.  They chat about a variety of topics—mostly revolving around Christmas, and which cookies their children’s Santas like to eat before leaving them their Christmas presents (chocolate chip and peppermint candy cane frosted sugar cookies).  They both joke that Santa’s appetite will be felt around their own middles as they each munch on their cookie bounty Christmas Eve.

Also during their Christmas Eve phone chat, Diana also lets Luke know that one of Martha’s friends at their apartment complex has taken ill and Martha wishes to stay by her friend’s side Christmas Day to keep her company.  Though Diana does wonder if Martha’s excuse is real or one made up to allow she and Benjy to get to know Luke’s Mom on their own—without having Martha to distract them.  But Luke is gracious and says he understands—him secretly glad to have Diana and Benjy to himself, well with his Mom and his daughter Heidi.  And there will be one more surprise on Christmas Day.


So at the appointed hour of 9am on Christmas Day morning, Luke drives into town to pick up Diana and Benjy at 9:15am to bring them to his home.  Diana and Benjy are promptly waiting in their apartment building’s front hallway and buzz him in.  Luke greets Diana with a kiss on her cheek—which causes her to blush sweetly pink—and a pat on her son Benjy’s back.

Benjy:  “You didn’t bring Heidi with you?”  Benjy asks with a pout.

Luke:  “No, my Mom thinks she has a sniffle and didn’t want her out in the cold weather.  So Heidi stayed behind to help her Granny Wilma make the puddings.”

Diana:  “I hope Heidi feels better soon.”  Diana looks caringly into Luke’s eyes.  And seeing no worry there for his daughter’s health, she presumes that his Mom is simply being overprotective.

Diana carries some tasty food treats she made as part of her hostess gift to Mrs. Wharton, and Benjy carries  a small bag with their Christmas gifts for the Whartons.  Luke picks up what he presumes rightly is Diana’s and Benjy’s overnight bag that he had suggested they bring with them in case the snowy weather worsens again and they can’t get them home until tomorrow.  Diana has packed some of Benjy’s pullups, two changes of clothes, underwear, and socks for him—as well as a different blouse, underthings, and a nightgown for herself, along with her makeup.  Diana presumes that the Wharton’s have a hair dryer already should she need it, and she is not worrying about curling her hair with a curing iron.  She’ll just blow it out.

With Benjy sitting in Luke’s sedan truck’s backseat, there is only a small side window for him to look out at the passing scenery.  But looking out the windshield, Benjy can tell that there are more green trees covered in snow and fewer buildings as they head out of town.


Benjy:  “Do you live very far away, Heidi’s Daddy?”  Benjy asks in curiosity.

Luke:  Smiling in his rearview mirror at Benjy, he replies.  “Only a few miles.”  Now Diana smiles, because she knows what is coming.

Benjy: “How far is that?” Benjy is still learning what amounts of things mean, whether it is time or distance.

Luke: “Ohhh”  Luke thinks for a moment.  “Well, the distance from our home to your apartment home is about the same amount of time it takes to go from your apartment home  to the mall.”  Benjy smiles and nods in understanding.

Diana:  Leaning toward Luke as she sits in the front seat with him, she encourages him.  “Now see, Luke?  You do know how to reply to kid’s questions.”

Luke: “Well, thanks, Diana.  But the day is young yet.”  Luke smiles at her in chagrin.

Diana:  “Ha ha ha!  So true.”  Diana nods with a smile.  “So tell me about your Mom and today’s festivities.”

Luke:   “Well, I’m hoping to take the kids sledding at some point, if Heidi’s sniffles clear up.  And we play card and board games, eat, unwrap presents, and eat some more.”  He grins broadly.  “Oh and my sister Sharon received a request for her and baby Eric to join her in-laws today—her husband is surprising them by having leave for the holidays.  We might see them later today, or more likely tomorrow.”

Diana:  “Oh Luke!  That’s so wonderful for them!”

Luke: “It is.  My brother-in-law Gary Poole hasn’t met his baby son yet.”

Diana: “Ohh!” Diana sniffles as she tears up, her remembering her late husband Ben’s joy in meeting and seeing their son Benjy when he was born.”  I’m very happy for them.”  Diana says sincerely.

Luke: “Me, too!  So it will just be us and Mom for today.  I hope that’s alright.”  He says in concern as he pulls into their home’s long driveway to get back to their house nestled in the woods on their property.  “We’re here!”  Luke announces as he pulls up to the front of their one story three bedroom  and two bath ranch house home.

Diana: “Oh Luke!  Is your home in the Pillsbury colonial Dutch style?”  Diana asks eagerly as a fan of old homes.

Luke:  “It is, my grandfather built it from plans and materials that he bought through the Sears catalog.”  Impressed with her knowledge of older home architecture, he kisses her on the cheek again before they exit his truck.  He’s not sure if he will feel comfortable kissing her in front of his Mom inside the house.

Out of the truck now, Benjy looks at the large covered front porch gable that runs the width of the front façade of the rectangular home.

Benjy:  “Nice porch!”  4 year old Benjy is never effusive with compliments, but states plainly when he likes something  or someone.

Luke carries Diana’s and Benjy’s overnight bag toward his house while Diana and Benjy walk beside him carrying their gifts and tasty treats.  They barely have time to get into the house and remove their coats and snow boots in the small foyer and on the coat rack, when Diana [(2) above]  is awed by the festive decorations in his family room.

Diana:  “Ohhh!  Your home is beautiful, Luke!  So Christmassy!”

Luke:  “Thanks! It’s homey and comfortable.”  Luke smiles in embarrassment—more so for his red and white sweater now on display with his coat off [(3) image above].  They will do a family–and friends–XMAS picture later, with this year’s theme being red.

Benjy rushes to the Christmas tree in the front corner of the home, next to the fire place [(4) above]. And he unceremoniously but gently plops their bag of gifts down near it.

Now Luke’s Mom comes in from the kitchen at the back of their home, with her own red sweater on and an apron tied at her waist to protect her Christmas clothes from getting food on them as she prepares their holiday meal.  Grinning from ear to ear, Luke’s daughter Heidi is with her.

Granny Wilma: “Do I hear that our guests have arrived, Luke? ” Wilma Wharton is a very small woman, but with a very big heart and a zest for life.  Granny Wilma’s [(5) above] wide smile in greeting Diana and Benjy is very welcoming.

Luke: “Mom, let me introduce you to Diana Groves and her son Benjy.  Diana, this is my Mother, Wilma Wharton.  Heidi, you know already.”  Heidi waves at Benjy and he waves back at her.

Diana: “I’m honored to meet you, Mrs. Wharton.”  Diana smiles and holds out her hand in greeting.  However, she finds herself rather quickly embraced by the tiny woman. And Diana hugs her back.

Granny Wilma: “Oh none of that Mrs. Wharton stuff.  I’m just Wilma, or Granny Wilma to the little ones.”  She smiles down at Benjy [(6) above] and her granddaughter Heidi [(7) above].

Diana: “Thank you, Wilma.”  Diana tries out Luke’s Mom’s name on her lips. And it fits the little woman.  “Oh! Benjy and I brought you these treats we made as our hostess gift to you.” Diana hands her a new festive Christmas tin filled with homemade Christmas cookies on one side and sliced cinnamon bread on the other side.”

Granny Wilma: “Now aren’t you sweet, Diana Dear.”  She smiles and looks over at her son in approval. “And so well mannered, too. Delightful!”

Benjy: “Nice Christmas Tree.”  Benjy nods and smiles at Heidi’s Granny.  Heidi moves to Benjy’s side and squeezes his hand with a smile.

Granny Wilma: “Thank you, young man.  I see that you’ve added to our presents.  We’ll open them after lunch.” The kids nod, but their faces look a little pouty.  “Oh well, I guess you may each open one gift before lunch.”  She smiles and looks heavenward.

Both kids yell “Yippee!” And dash to the tree.

Luke:  “Heidi, why don’t you give Benjy the present you made for him?”

Heidi: “Help me find it, Daddy?” Luke walks over to the tree to look for the gift.

Diana: “Benjy, let’s open our gift bag and find what you made for Heidi.”

Wilma: “I’ll be right back after I check on our food.”  And Wilma dashes back to the kitchen.  Luke loves seeing his mother so lively and filled with joy.  She is the heart of their family and he hopes that she will be will them all for many more years and decades to come.

The kid presents are found and exchanged.  Heidi encourages Benjy to open her gift to him first.  Benjy unwraps his small gift from Heidi and turns it over in his small hands.  It is a small rectangular felt shaped object with other felt shapes glued on top of it.

Benjy:  “Thank you.  Uhhh.  What is it?” Benjy always asks the straightforward questions as he looks up at his Mommy.

Heidi:  “It’s a bookmawk/bookmark, for books.  See the books on it.” Heidi kind of rolls her eyes and Luke smiles.

Diana: “Oh, that’s so cute, Heidi!  And you made it all yourself?”

Heidi: “Well, I glued it.  But Daddy cut out the shapes. I can’t touch scissows/scissors  yet.” She states matter of factly.

Diana: “Ah! Very wise.”  She smiles up at Luke.  For even the round tipped scissors might not be safe for their 4 year olds.  Then she hands Benjy his gift to Heidi.

Benjy: “Me, too about scissors.  Here’s your present from me, Heidi.” A smiling Benjy hands her the flat round object wrapped in tissue paper.  Heidi’s tongue runs over her little lips in anticipation as she rips the tissue paper away.  Heidi’s gift from Benjy is a thin headband with multicolored gift wrapping ribbon wound around it like a rainbow. Her eyes go wide.

Heidi: “Ohhh!  This is so pwetty/pretty!”  Benjy beams a bright smile at his Mommy Diana for Heidi liking his gift.  Of course, Diana tidied up some of the ribbon winding as they went so the headband would turn out nice.  “Will Benjy’s Mommy help me put it on?”

Luke:  “Here, let’s go into our master bedroom.”  He walks that way carrying their overnight bag.  “This is usually Heidi’s and my room.”  He points to Heidi’s toddler girl bed in the corner, with a little girl sized dresser.  “But we’re putting you both up in here overnight—the sheets are clean.  And Heidi and I will sleep on the couches in the family room.”  He places their overnight bag on a small cushioned bench at the end of the king sized bed

Diana: “Thanks, Luke.  But we don’t want to put you out.  And the weather might not be that bad.”  She winces and bites her lower lip.

Heidi: “But the weathaw/weather could get bad.  And it’s fun camping in owa/our family woom/room with the fiyah/fire going.”  Luke smiles and pats his daughter’s shoulders.  Then she holds out her new headband to Benjy’s  Mommy.  “Will you put it on my head?”

Diana:  “Sure, Heidi Sweetie.  Luke, is there a hair brush we can use?”

Luke: “It’s in our  bathroom.” Luke walks into his large double sink master bedroom master bathroom and opens a middle cabinet drawer with Heidi’s hair things and toothbrushing things in it and he pulls out Heidi’s  hair brush.  “Here you go.”

Heidi:  “I will look so pwetty/pretty with my new headband.  Thank you, Benjy—and Benjy’s Mommy.”  Heidi skips into the bathroom.

Luke:  “Benjy, let’s you and I go pick out a game to play before lunch.”

Benjy: “Okay!  Mommy, Heidi’s Daddy and I are going to pick out a game  to play.”  Then Benjy dashes out of the bedroom, with Luke slowly following behind him.

So Luke and Diana and their kids play the board game Candyland on the low square coffee table in the family room for a while.  They are having a wonderful time—with the spirited play of the game and that everyone is having fun.


Then Diana peals off to see if Wilma wants some help in the kitchen before lunch.  And Diana is set to work on making the green bean casserole.  With Wilma’s double over-under wall mounted ovens they can bake that separately from the turkey.  Then while Wilma sits down for a bit and directs her, Diana scoops each of the sides into a serving bowl or places their glass baking dish directly on hot pads on the dining room table.

When they call everyone in for Christmas lunch in the dining room, Benjy instantly notices the spinet piano against the near wall.  Normally, the piano is in the family room, but Luke moved it earlier in the month to make room for the Christmas tree. Benjy touches the piano’s shiny wooden surface gently yearningly, but the cover is over the keys, so he can’t touch them.

Their Christmas luncheon meal is yummy and lively—with now two 4 year olds at the table and eager to try everything that looks yummy—like the cranberry sauce and turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy and buttered rolls.  The kids stick with eating corn, letting the adults enjoy the green bean casserole.  Then their dessert choices are pumpkin and apple pies, cheesecake, and chocolate cake with milk for the kids and coffee for the adults. Of course, the kids—especially Heidi—want a sampler plate of desserts, which they explain about to Granny Wilma, who heartily concurs.


Eventually, while Luke keeps the kids entertained finishing their Candyland game, Diana helps Wilma with the cleanup in the kitchen—with Wilma showing which storage containers to put the leftovers in.  Then Wilma sits down and dries the dishes after Diana washes them, and they chat.  Wilma’s fatigue at her busy day is starting to show on her face.

Granny Wilma: “Thank you Diana Dear.  I hate to have you be our guest and have to work for your supper.”  She jokes. “But with my daughter Sharon and her baby Eric over at her in-laws to see her husband home on leave, I’m without my usual kitchen helper.”

Diana:  “It’s my pleasure.  I remember going to my grandmother’s house for Christmas dinner when I was little like Benjy and Heidi are now.  Everyone pitched in with the cooking and the cleanup.  So I actually enjoy this part of it.  Ha!” Diana smiles warmly at the elderly lady.  “I miss this, having extended family to celebrate with.”

Granny Wilma: “And I’m sorry to hear that you are widowed, like Luke is.”  Wilma says sincerely.

Diana: “Yes, it’s hard this time of year, thinking about our loved ones whom we have lost.  But, at least I have Benjy—and Luke has Heidi.”

Granny Wilma: “Yes, Dear.  And though I know that you and Luke are just getting to know each other, I want you to know that I like you very much already.”

Diana: “Thank you, Wilma.  I like you, too.”  Diana replies sincerely.  But there is something holding her back. “And Luke and Heidi are lovely.”

Granny Wilma:  “Of course, I agree with you. Ha!  But though Luke is very private about his feelings with me, Heidi has talked to me of nothing but Benjy and Benjy’s Mommy since she met you both.  You have made a lasting impression upon her. And she wants you to be her Mommy, too.”

Diana: “Ohhh! Heidi is very sweet, a darling little girl.  And I know that my Benjy likes Luke—especially that Luke is tall.  Ha ha ha!  But Luke and I can’t just force a relationship between us to make our kids happy.  I want to marry again, I do.  But the man I marry will need to love me for me, and not only because I will be a good Mommy to his child—and he a good father to my child.”

Granny Wilma: “Well, Diana Dear.  I have never seen my son Luke so smitten with anyone, as he is with you.  His eyes follow you in a room, and he smiles again now—when for a very long time, he didn’t smile.  And life is for the living.  If neither of you had kids, would you like Luke?” Ever forthright, Wilma forges ahead—to hopefully improve her son’s chances with capturing the lovely and sweet Diana’s heart.

Diana: “Hhhh!”  Diana sighs at being asked a question about she and Luke so directly. “I do like Luke—a lot, Wilma.  I just feel that Luke and I need some time alone together—without the kids around us every time—to see if we make a good fit as a couple.”

Luke has quietly come into the kitchen—leaning on the door frame–him not meaning to overhear their conversation.  And his soothing deep voice startles Diana to turning and looking up at him.

Luke: “Diana, I agree with you. If you and I do progress to wanting to share our lives together and marry—it must be for you and I, first and foremost.”  Luke looks at Diana soulfully, but he will not say more in front of his mother.  “Say, our kids are tuckered out and I put them down for a nap in our bedroom, with extra blankets on them.  Why don’t you and I take our coffees into the family room  to chat by the fire?” Diana nods  to Luke with a shy smile.  And snuggle, he hopes.

Wilma: “An excellent idea!  I’m heading to my bed for a nap, too. See you in a few hours.”  And Wilma jauntily quits the kitchen with a smile on her face.

Diana: Turning back to Luke, Diana asks him in astonishment.  “Is your mother always so …”

Luke:  “Nosey and nudging?”  Luke smiles with chagrin.

Diana: “Well I was going to say that she is welcoming and wonderful.”

Luke: “Yes, to all four adjectives.  She and my Dad had a loving and long marriage before he passed away ten years ago, despite them only having two kids.”  He saucily raises an eyebrow.  Diana blushes.  “And, she wants more grand kids.”

Diana:  “Hasn’t your sister Sharon recently granted her a grandson in baby Eric?”  Diana smiles bemusedly.

Luke: “Yes, but that’s only two grandchildren so far.”  Luke smirks.  “I can’t begrudge Mom wanting more grandchildren—even as I hope to have more children as well.  And I look forward to bringing these children into being.”

Diana: “Luke?  You just went from serious to saucy in 5 seconds flat.”  Diana’s eyes widen in astonishment.

Luke gently pulls Diana into his arms under the kitchen’s hanging mistletoe.

Luke: “Is that an objection, Diana?”  He hopes not.

Diana:  “No ….”

And that is as far as Diana gets before Luke captures her lips in their first tender kisses—as they kiss again and again and again and again—not yet plundering each others’ mouths with deep kisses–and tender embracing.  It is a very romantic moment, even surrounded by dry and drying dishes in the kitchen.  But their kisses are most enjoyable all the same–and really quite magical.

To be continued with Chapter 06


References for Ch. 05  of “Of Magic & Mistletoe”, December 26, 2020 by Gratiana Lovelace

1) “Of Magic & Mistletoe” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:

a) Luke—at full height, is Richard Armitage smiling at the 2019 Sundance Festival wearing red & black plaid overshirt_Dec21-2020 viaPinterest-Grati; image edit; original image is found at https://i.pinimg.com/474x/61/da/41/61da418236dba7895c883c32074e0e12.jpg

b) Mistletoe image and history found at https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tillamookheadlightherald.com%2Fcommunity%2Fthe-history-of-holly-and-mistletoe%2Farticle_6d7751e2-9aab-11e5-ac05-cfbfafc221da.html&psig=AOvVaw0pTsPU6tMlqIj1Mh8qHTco&ust=1608640745445000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=2ahUKEwis-PLyi9_tAhVnhXIEHSmEDVAQjhx6BAgAEBI

c)  A textured red background that I/Grati created.

2) Diana Groves smiling with Christmas joy is Erin Krakow, found at https://us.blastingnews.com/showbiz-tv/2019/09/erin-krakow-is-sleighing-into-christmas-season-events-in-new-jersey-and-vancouver-002978087.html

3) Luke Wharton is a Closeup smiling image of Richard Armitage at the 2019 SundanceFF(Grati edit-to-red-stripe), found at https://64.media.tumblr.com/6b263b1886ae6778018615081d4d0d13/tumblr_plxjlzqeLw1qh5xqho7_250.jpg

4) Wharton home  family room tree designed for a “cozy lodge” was found at https://inspiredbycharm.com/christmas-tree-decorations/

5) Wilma Wharton, Luke’s Mom and Heidi’s Granny is Betty White from 2016 Deadline article, found at https://deadline.com/2016/10/betty-white-bones-guest-star-season-12-fox-1201845611

6) Benjy Groves is Thomas Brodie-Sangster, found at https://i.insider.com/59a58d7db065da44008b47b0?width=750&format=jpeg&auto=webp, via a Games of Thrones actors article.

7) Heidi Wharton with bangs is Anna Knyazeva; original image was from https://www.allure.com/story/6-year-old-called-most-beautiful-girl-in-the-world


The link for Ch. 05  on my Wattpad  site, will be found at:

Posted in "Of Magic & Mistletoe", Christmas, Family, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Holiday, Hope, Kissing, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merry #Christmas joy with “Carol of the Bells”,  December 25, 2020 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1353)

I found this Brooklyn Choir rendition of #Carol_of_the_Bells to be delightful, and diverse like we are. Enjoy!

Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday season!  Hugs <3 & Holiday Cheers!  Grati ;->


(I’m not endorsing Fox News. I just like this music.)

Posted in Christmas, Video | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

“Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 04:  Lunch &  family, by Gratiana Lovelace, December 24, 2020 (Post #1352)

“Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 04:  Lunch &  family, by Gratiana Lovelace, December 24, 2020 (Post #1352)
(All rights reserved; An original story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2020)
[(1) cover story]

Author’s content note:  My 2020 Christmas short story here is a gentle romance mostly rated G for all, with some dramatic moments. I will serialize my story here and on my Wattpad site.  I’ll continue with publishing new chapters almost every day through New Year’s Eve.  I hope that you enjoy my new story.

Illustrations:  I cast my stories as I write them, with Richard Armitage as Luke Wharton, Erin Krakow as Diana Groves, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benjy Groves, Helen Hayes as Martha Lesley, Anna Knyazeva as Heidi Wharton, and others as noted in the references.


       “Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 04:  Lunch & family

Diana eagerly anticipates her and Benjy’s lunch with Luke and his daughter Heidi on Wednesday, Dec. 22nd, 2010.  The last time Diana saw Luke was Tuesday morning–after the previous night’s snow blizzard forced Luke and his daughter to camp out in Martha’s sitting room sofa bed.  And before he left for his own home that morning, he ferried Diana back to the mall in his truck, so Diana could drive Martha’s car back to their apartment complex. But Luke also called her again this Wednesday morning to confirm that he will pick up her and Benjy around 11:30am today.

Though Diana has only known Luke a handful of days, she has missed him and his little daughter Heidi.  It is almost as if a tiny ache in her widow’s broken heart is trying to mend it.  Benjy is also all excitement this morning at getting to see Heidi and her tall Daddy again.    It is odd how something or someone can so quickly take on importance in our lives.    But then, it is the holidays, which seems to make meeting new people extra special.

Luke parks his sedan truck near the Hampton Heights apartment building entrance and he and his daughter Heidi walk into the building to collect Diana and her son Benjy for lunch.  He pushes the security button for Diana’s apartment—labeled D. Groves–while smiling down at his daughter Heidi, who grins from ear to ear up at her tall Daddy.  Then Diana pushes the comparable door access button in her apartment that will let them in to the main area of her apartment building.

So Luke and Heidi ride the elevator to the 2nd floor and down the hall to Heidi’s & Benjy’s apartment and he knocks on her door.  Luke is wearing his less puffy and nicer long camel hair coat and a striped sweater and jeans [(2) below].

And Luke has Heidi’s hair held back by a red headband and white earmuffs while wearing her warm pink puffy coat over her ruffly on the shoulders and at the wrists white sweater and red corduroy pants.  Luke thinks that she looks adorable, like a candy cane.

Diana: Rushing to open her apartment door, she invites them in.  “Oh!  Hi Luke, and Heidi! Welcome!”  Heidi leans in and hugs Diana’s legs, and Diana hugs her back.  “Benjy and I are just putting on our coats. I’m sorry that we weren’t already waiting for you downstairs.” Diana smiles warmly as much for seeing Luke and Heidi again, as for how handsome Luke looks—now that he isn’t dressed up as a Santa helper.

Luke also smiles appreciatively at Diana wearing a warm but sweetly feminine looking sweater coat [(3) below] over a jeans skirt.  While Benjy is wearing  a cute little boy’s red and black buffalo plaid flannel shirt and jeans. And Luke also notices that Diana looks a little skittish, like a colt. And he wonders if her clipboard is coming with her to lunch, or if she is just clasping it close for comfort. So he tries to make her feel at ease.

Luke: “Not at all.  A gentleman always calls for a lady by coming to her door.  Or at least they did the last time I dated fourteen  years ago.”  Luke smiles cordially at Diana, whose eyes are round like saucers.  And he wonders if she is uncertain about the gentleman part to his statement—or maybe her concern is that he’s calling their lunch today a date?

And Diana wonders, when children are involved, is it really a date, or is it just a play date?  Yet, Diana feels like they are on a date—she did dress up and fix her hair back, after all–just with respective parenting duties involved.

Little Heidi thrusts a lightweight grocery sack into Benjy’s hands.

Benjy: “What’s this?” Benjy is a typical little boy, asking first, then looking at the items in question, second.

Heidi: “Thanks fow/for loaning me yow/your snow man pjs and socks.  We washed them.”

Benjy hands the sack over to his Mommy Diana.  Benjy is more into wearing his hero character pjs, like Spiderman.

Diana: “Thank you, Heidi & Luke.”  She looks in the sack and also sees the now slightly used travel toothpaste and toothbrush.  “Oh, you may keep the travel size toothpaste and tooth brush, Heidi.” Diana smiles kindly at Heidi.

Heidi: “That’s okay, just keep them for me for our next sleep ovaw/over.”  Heidi smiles brightly.  She had fun with the games and yummy meals and she played cards with Benjy, the night when they stayed at Martha’s apartment.  It was also very nice to have Benjy sharing his Mommy Diana with her in the morning, for fixing her hair pretty.  Her Daddy tries to fix her hair, but Benjy’s Mommy does it better.

Benjy: “Okay!” Benjy nods at Heidi.  He likes Heidi as a friend, his first friend—since the other kids in their apartment building in the complex are mostly older and riding big bikes without training wheels already, or babies that just lie in their cribs and poop and pee themselves.  Yuuuucky!  Thinks Benjy.

With both Luke and Diana struck temporarily mute again by their children leaping ahead to them growing their relationship into more sleepovers, Benjy takes the sack back from his Mommy—and nods a few times, for her to drop Heidi’s travel  toothpaste and toothbrush back into it, which she does.  Then, both of their parents come out of their daze and speak almost simultaneously.

Luke:  “Thank you.”

Diana: “I’ll put this away later.” She places the sack on her kitchen counter.  Diana almost said that she would save it for later.  But that would be getting ahead of herself, with regard to her and Luke’s relationship developing.

Then Heidi tugs on her Daddy’s hand.

Luke:  “Yes, Heidi sweetheart?”

Heidi:  Heidi whispers cutely loudly, which means everyone can hear her.  “Daddy, I have to wee wee.” Heidi fidgets.

Luke: “Oh!”  Luke  turns to Diana.  “May we? Use your bathroom, I mean?” Then he blushes for his unintentional pun.

Diana: “Of course, I’ll just get Benjy’s snow boots on him while you do that.”

Diana waves Luke toward their full bathroom they had used during Monday night’s dinner for them here.  And Luke and Heidi visit the bathroom.  Then Diana pulls Benjy’s boots out of the front hall coat closet and holds them out to him.

Benjy:  “But Mommy, I need to pee?”

Diana: “Can you wait a few minutes?”

Benjy:  “How long is that?”  Now he fidgets.

Diana: “Not long.”  She hopes.  And Diana also hopes that Benjy doesn’t have an accident.  She’s running low on pullups pants for him. And Benjy is so good during the day, about getting to the bathroom him time—and he only has a night time accident once in a while now that he is older, when he is so tired that he doesn’t wake up in the night.

Happily, since Heidi only had to wee wee, she doesn’t take long in the bathroom.  And she and her Daddy Luke leave the balhroom.  So Benjy rushes in there—still without his boots on—and pees, with his Mommy giving him a gentle reminder through the bathroom door to … uh…well, to aim.

Then the adults go potty, separately.  Finally, they all drive over in Luke’s sedan truck—with the kids in the back seat and Diana now sitting up front with Luke–to the Bob Evans Restaurant for lunch.


Ordering food for and with kids at a sit down restaurant is always interesting—even the family friendly places like the Bob Evans restaurant.  With Benjy and Heidi each being only 4 years old, they can’t read the menu choices.  So the pictures are helpful in that regard.

But the pictures also make the food look so yummy that the kids want to try everything on the menu.  They are sitting parent, kid, parent, kid—the better to corral their behavior—the kids, that is.  So Diana brokers the peace—before world war 4 year olds breaks out.

Diana:  “Kids, How about we each choose a different meal, then set a portion of it onto a plate in the center of the table for each other to try.  Will that be agreeable to you?”  She cajoles sweetly.

Luke:  “That’s a brilliant solution, Diana!  I usually just say no to Heidi.”

Heidi:  “Yes. She sighs, Daddy says that I have to be good when Gwanny/Granny eats out with us.”

Benjy:  “Why is that?”

Heidi: “Gwanny/Granny only likes eating  at home.”

Luke:  “Ha ha ha!”  He chuckles at his daughter Heidi’s astute observation.  “You see, my Mother prefers her own cooking, and the economy of eating at home.”  Luke explains.


Heidi: “But Daddy and I like it here.” Heidi smiles and looks around the busy restaurant filled with families and other people’s Granny’s.  And the hostess lady who lead them to their table, gave Heidi and Benjy crayons and coloring mats to play with while they wait for their food.

Diana thinks that so far, this lunch date between her and Luke is as far from being a date date as they come.

Ah, kids.  Don’t you just love them, Diana feels slightly chagrined.  But their date having  less of a date date designation also lessens her nervousness.

After everyone enjoys their meals, including tasting each others’ meals from the samples on the plate in the middle of the table—happily, their server gave them an extra plate for that—the kids fall asleep in the back of Luke’s sedan truck as he drives Diana and Benjy home.  So their conversation is somewhat private.

Diana:  “Thank you for lunch, Luke.  It was yummy and fun.”

Luke: “Yes.  Thank you for joining us.  I enjoyed our outing, too.  And you are a treasure trove of parenting ideas. I had never thought of making a sampler food plate to placate Heidi’s food tasting curiosity.  How did you come up with that one?”

Diana:  “Oh, it’s just trial and error with Benjy.  He’s at that age where he tries to test his boundaries. And some of that is okay, but kids need structure and guidance.  So he gets to choose new things some of the time, within reason.”

Unbeknownst to Diana and Luke, their children were not quite asleep and then woke up when they heard their names.  So Benjy leans toward the front seats, while still strapped into his seat belt.

Benjy:  “Mommy?  Heidi wants us to sleep over at her house Christmas Eve.  But will Santa find me?” He asks cutely.  At four years old, Benjy is more aware that Christmas means he gets some presents,  from Santa.

Diana’s eyebrow rises in astonishment as she gazes into both her son Benjy and Luke’s daughter’s Heidi’s pleading eyes.

Diana: “Oh, well.  That is very kind of you, Heidi.  But …”

Luke: “Uh, yes Heidi.  But the only reason we slept over at Martha’s was due to the bad weather Monday night.”

Benjy: “Well, Heid’s Daddy, it’s really cold outside.  Isn’t that bad enough so we could sleep over at your house?”

Heidi: “Yes, you can meet my Gwanny/Granny, and my Aunt Shawon/Sharon and her baby Ewic/Eric.”  Heidi smiles.  They have a houseful of people in their home. But she still wants a Mommy.  “Oh!  And we still have to wite/write our letters to Santa and mail them at the Mall.”  She reminds the adults.  Heidi may be only 4 years old, but she knows what she wants.

So Diana and Luke elect to make a quick stop at the Mall for their kids to write their letters to Santa.  There are Santa helpers to actually write down what the kids want. Though the letters do get rerouted back to the parents before they leave with a standard reply letter from Santa, with a small gift.

And in addition to Diana earlier stopping to pick up a food package at their local food pantry distribution this morning, she also puts in Benjy’s name for a child Christmas gift sponsorship—in the hope that he might get a toy that he wants to play with—maybe even a little train set, where the train cars drive around a short loop of track, using battery power.  Benjy loves toys in motion.  Or a superhero  cape would be nice, too.

And Heidi wants a dolly with hair that she can brush and fix up—which will help her learn how to do that for herself, but that is not Heidi’s reason.  She just like’s dollies.  Oh!  And a kitten would great, too.

And each child writes to Santa about each of their most special of special wishes for Christmas.  Christmas gifts so big, that only Santa will be able to give them to Benjy and to Heidi.


Then as Benjy and Heidi are animatedly saying goodbye inside the warm hallway of Diana and Benjy’s apartment building, their parents are standing several feet away from their children.  The better to bemusedly watch their kids  from afar, think Diana and Luke.  But it also gives Luke and Diana a few moments of privacy with each other—as long as they stand away from the very popular mailboxes area.

Luke: “Tell me, Diana.”

Diana: “Yes, Luke?”  She asks hesitatingly. Her breath catches, not the least of which is that they are standing very near some mistletoe overhead.

Luke: “I know that they’re only 4 years old. But do you think our kids are plotting something?  Ha ha ha!”  He chuckles while gazing at their kids whispering back and forth to each other and nodding. Diana looks over at their kids again.

Diana: “Most assuredly they are plotting something.”  Diana nods her head wryly and smiles up at Luke.

Luke: “You say that so calmly, Diana.  Whereas I am scared to death what they could come up with.”

Diana: “Well, Luke, they’re short.  So that’s on our side.”

Luke: “Ha ha ha!  True!  We don’t have anything breakable sitting out below a six foot height at our home.”

Diana: “You are wiser, than you pretend, Obi Wan.” Diana states humorously in a mysterious voice

Luke:  Liking her Star Wars reference, Luke responds with smouldering effect.  “Oh, I never pretend, Diana.”  Now Luke takes Diana’s hand and interlaces their fingers.  Both of their breathing deepen due to Luke swiftly changing the mood of their conversation from bemusement to besotted in a heartbeat. “I like you a lot, Diana. More than I can adequately say.”

Diana: “I like you very much as well, Luke.”  She squeezes her hand clasped in his.

Heidi and Benjy wander over to their seemingly enraptured parents.

Heidi:  “Did you ask her Daddy?”  Heidi looks back and forth between her Daddy Luke and Benjy’s Mommy Diana.

Luke:  Snapped out of his reverie, Luke remembers his question. “Uh, not yet.”

Benjy:  “Well Mommy, I want to. If that helps.”

Diana:  “I guess, it depends upon what the question is, Benjy Dear.”  She turns to look up into Luke’s eyes, and she also shyly notices the hanging mistletoe just to the side above his head.

Luke is mesmerized for a moment gazing down into Diana’s upturned eyes.

Heidi: “Daddy?”  She prods him—literally and figuratively, by also poking his knee.”

Luke: “What?  Right!  Mom, I mean Heidi’s Granny…”  Heidi smiles and nods, very pleased with herself.  “Well Mom would like you Diana, and Benjy and Martha to be our guests for either Christmas Eve lunch or Christmas Day lunch.  We didn’t know if you might have something already arranged.  So we leave it up to you as to when you might be able to join us..”

Benjy: “Mommy, please say yes.”  He pleads.

Diana: “Well Benjy, I will have to check with Martha.  The apartment complex is having a pre-Christmas lunch on December 24th that we’re all attending with my other Care Receivers.  Then Martha and Benjy and I were going to spend Christmas Day together quietly.” And Luke picks up on her use of past tense, were.

Luke:  “Well, I warn you that though kid proofed, our home with a baby and a toddler or two it is anything but quiet—happily so.  Please talk to Martha and let us know if you can join us Christmas Day luncheon—but you could come early, say 9:30am or so, so the kids can play together.  Then I can arrange to pick you up at a time that suits you.  The directions to our house are a bit convoluted with some recent road detours.”

Diana: “Oh?”  She smiles.  “Do you live in a construction zone for the highway?”

Luke:  “Not quite.  But we’re surrounded by farm crop fields and parklands.  So we don’t have to worry about noisy neighbors—nor they of us.”  He grins sheepishly.  “Our home that we live in is an old farmhouse that has been in our family for a very long time. It’s not fancy, but homey and comfortable.  I hope that you like it.”

Diana: “Now you have me intrigued.  I love old homes!  I’ll talk to Martha and call you tomorrow about whether or not we can join you for luncheon on Christmas Day.”

Luke: “That’s great!  We look forward to hearing from you.”

Then the little ones make their presences known again.

Heidi:  “Daddy!  Please huwwy/hurry up and kiss Benjy’s Mommy goodbye under the missLtow/mistletoe.  Then Benjy and I can kiss goodbye.”

Both Luke’s and Diana’s eyes widen as they look up.  As they conversed, Luke and Diana have somehow now gotten themselves smack dab under the hanging mistletoe.  And knowing that their kids will parrot what they see them doing, Luke and Diana kiss each others’ cheeks only, no lips, not yet—but they one up that with a friendly embracing hug to finish.  Progress!  Thinks, Luke!

Then Benjy and Heidi cutely kiss each others’ cheeks—but with a bit more kid slobber—and end with a full on kid squeezing hug, with Benjy lifting Heidi off the ground.  Heidi is a bit more petite as a four year old, compared to Benjy as a four year old.

So Luke and Heidi wave farewell to Diana and Benjy, with each of them hopefully looking forward to spending Christmas Day together.

To be continued with Chapter 05


References for Ch. 04  of “Of Magic & Mistletoe”, wy December 24, 2020 by Gratiana Lovelace

1) “Of Magic & Mistletoe” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:

a) Luke—at full height, is Richard Armitage smiling at the 2019 Sundance Festival wearing red & black plaid overshirt_Dec21-2020 viaPinterest-Grati; image edit; original image is found at https://i.pinimg.com/474x/61/da/41/61da418236dba7895c883c32074e0e12.jpg

b) Mistletoe image and history found at https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tillamookheadlightherald.com%2Fcommunity%2Fthe-history-of-holly-and-mistletoe%2Farticle_6d7751e2-9aab-11e5-ac05-cfbfafc221da.html&psig=AOvVaw0pTsPU6tMlqIj1Mh8qHTco&ust=1608640745445000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=2ahUKEwis-PLyi9_tAhVnhXIEHSmEDVAQjhx6BAgAEBI

c)  A textured red background that I/Grati created.

2) Luke Wharton is a  smouldering Richard Armitage in a camel hair coat  at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, downloaded Dec242020viaPinterest, Grati-mask2-crop.jpg

3) Diana Groves is Erin Krakow in a Christmas seasonimage , source-Hallmark Dec242020 viaBlastingNews, Grati-crop-szd-brt


The link for Ch. 04 on my Wattpad  site, will be found at:

Posted in "Of Magic & Mistletoe", Christmas, Creative Writing, Family, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Holiday, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 03—A snowy night with mistletoe, by Gratiana Lovelace, December 23, 2020 (Post #1351)


(All rights reserved; An original story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2020)  [(1) cover story]

Author’s content note:  My 2020 Christmas short story here is a gentle romance mostly rated G for all, with some dramatic moments. I will serialize my story here and on my Wattpad site.  Then I’ll continue with publishing new chapters almost every day through New Year’s Eve.  I hope that you enjoy my new story.

Illustrations:  I cast my stories as I write them, with Richard Armitage as Luke Wharton, Erin Krakow as Diana Groves, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benjy Groves, Helen Hayes as Martha Lesley, Anna Knyazeva as Heidi Wharton, and others as noted in the references.


“Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 03:  A snowy night with mistletoe

While spending an hour at the indoor mall’s Christmas Village Tree barn shopping area Monday afternoon, December 20th, 2010, Martha finds the perfect small table top artificial tree and trimmings—her not spending more than twenty five dollars on it all, with Luke’s help in finding the tree trimmings bargains that are marked down due to small flaws in shape, coloration, and broken bits.  To Martha, these flaws merely betoken the wear and tear that any holiday trimmings bauble would be subjected to over time.  Thus her new decorative purchases have the feeling of long treasured family mementos.

And for his part, 4 year old Benjy enjoys sharing his Mommy Diana with Luke’s 4 year old daughter Heidi while making Christmas Tree ornaments from the fir tree scraps, loose beads, glitter glue, and ribbon.  The children seem to get on well together, and the children steal glances back and forth with their parents—giving them a little wave.

And Diana and Luke look upon their children making ornaments together as a sweet Christmas tableau—while also stealing glances at each other.  Martha just smiles through it all.  There are possibilities between the two of them–Diana and Luke. And Martha thinks that they make a handsome couple.

And poignantly, Heidi asks Diana if she may use one of the ornament ribbons to fix her hair that has come undone when she took her knit cap off.  So Diana gamely helps the little girl by first using a comb from her purse to untangle Heidi’s hair, then pulling the top half of her hair back to the crown of her head, then braids it to hold it together, with a rubber band and some pretty ribbon for decoration.  Another idea Diana has is to use some of the festive ribbon to wrap around a thin child sized head band for Heidi—Diana simply lacks a head band at the moment.

Then Diana walks the children back over to where Martha and Luke are.

Luke:  Embracing his daughter Heidi, Luke compliments her new hair braid.  “You look pretty, Heidi Sweetheart!”

Heidi: “Thanks, Daddy!  Benjy’s Mommy fixed it for me.”  Heidi smiles and touches her hair cutely.

Luke:  “Thank you, Diana!”  He smiles warmly at her. “With Heidi’s hair grown so long as a four year old, I need ideas on how to fix it for her.”  He smiles wryly as man who never thought to learn how to style girl’s hair—but he will learn for his daughter.

Diana: “My pleasure.  Heidi is a sweet little girl.”

Benjy:  “What about me, Mommy?” Benjy asks impishly.

Diana:  “And you’re my sweet little boy.”  She smiles and hugs her son.  “How is your tree and trimmings purchase coming, Martha?  We should probably get back home before the snow gets worse.”

Martha: “All done and on budget thanks to Luke.  But let’s not jinx ourselves talking about bad weather. Ha ha ha!”

Diana:  “Ha ha ha!  True!  We wouldn’t want to get stuck here overnight.”

Luke: “Not to worry, ladies.  The mall has a generator that will keep the lights on and the heat flowing–should the power go out.  It just lacks a cozy homey ambiance.”  He grins sheepishly, while looking at the Christmas Tree barn’s decorative hay bales.

Diana: “Double jinx!”  Diana humorously points to Luke and Martha.

And the fates are with them, or, maybe not, as someone comes over the mall public address (PA) system.

Mall security on PA:  “Folks, this is Officer Bob Meyer of Mall security.  I’ve been asked to warn you that the snowy weather is worsening outside—the blowing snow making visibility dicey and the snow drifted roads more treacherous.  So anyone who lives nearby might want to head home now, while there is still some light outside.  And if anyone is concerned about driving home this afternoon, you are welcome to stay at the mall.  Our generator will keep us all nice and toasty.  We are also a local shelter for the area during winter storms.  And we have food and blankets on supply for just such occasions.”  And, of course, the various Mall retailers pitch in to help, too.

Diana:  Diana looks over at Luke in concern.  “I really need to get Martha back to our apartment complex tonight.  She has medicines that she has to take yet tonight.  We just live a few blocks over at the Hampton Heights apartments.”  Diana winces, because now Luke will know that she and Benjy live in low income housing. Yet she doesn’t see any reaction from Luke about where she lives, and she is glad about that.

Luke:  “I’ll follow you in my big truck, to make sure you get there safely.  It is about time for Heidi and I to head home anyway.  Let’s make sure your car starts, first.  And if not, I can drive you there.”

Martha: “Oh, we don’t want to impose, Luke.”  Though Martha says this sincerely, she does think that a little weather induced snow bound sheltering together between Diana and Luke and their children might be a very good thing to help jumpstart their relationship.

Luke: “It’s not an imposition at all. Though I was hoping to stop at the Aldi’s next door on our way home to pick up some milk and donuts, if that slight detour won’t be problematic for you.”  He blanches. “10 minutes tops, I promise.”

Diana:  “Thank you, Luke.  That will be perfect!  I had also planned to stop at the store on our way home.  I need to grab a dozen eggs, milk, and some chicken and noodles for Benjy and I– for our dinners and breakfasts.”  She winces.  She calculates that she can get eggs for 69 cents, a real jar of jelly for about $1.50 and a medium sized chicken for about $4 that will last them—leaving her about $12 left from her twenty dollar bill to see if the store has a seasonal kid gift that she can afford for her son Benjy.

Martha: “And I could use some apple juice, sliced ham, and bread.  So I guess that makes our trip to the grocery store on the way home official.”  She smiles.


So the intrepid wintery fivesome of Diana, Benjy & Martha, and Luke & Heidi bundle up their overcoats, hats,  and mittens as they head toward the outside doors leading to the mall’s parking lot.  But they stop at the doors before heading outside, surveying the windy snowy realm before them.  Benjy & Heidi have their noses plastered against the wall of glass next to the door, them thinking of snow playing fun with sleds and making snow men, snow ball fights, etc. Whereas their parents Diana and Luke are worried about the snowy road conditions [(2) below].

Luke: “Don’t worry, Diana & Martha, I have one of those bigger sedan type trucks with back seats and chains on my tires—it can get through any road conditions.  So even if your car can’t start, I’ll get you home.”  He assures them, and they nod their thanks.

Benjy sees another man and woman heading out of the mall, but stopping first to kiss under the door’s well placed mistletoe over their heads.  And he points to the couple.

Benjy:  “Mommy?  Are they trying to warm up their lips before going outside?”  It seems logical to 4 year old Benjy, since the other couple seemed to kiss for several moments.

Diana: “Ha ha ha!  Uh, no, Benjy Dear.  It’s just the mistletoe over the door is there to encourage kissing. Uh, it’s an old Christmas tradition.” She sheepishly shrugs her shoulders and her face blushes.

Heidi:  “I think it’s nice, Daddy.  Will you kiss me under the missltoe/mistletoe? The also 4 year old Heidi holds up her arms to her Daddy.

Luke: “Of course, Heidi Sweetheart.”  Then he lifts Heidi up in the air and swings her about, before kissing her cheek.

Benjy:  “Mommy?”  Now Benjy holds his arms up and his Mommy Diana complies—though Benjy is a bit heavy for the much shorter than Luke Diana. Yet, she gamely makes a half turn and kisses her son’s cheek.

Heidi: “Daddy?  Why don’t you kiss like they did?” Heidi points to the kissing couple and pats her mouth.  And Luke squirms, not knowing quite how to answer her.  With her question, he feels like his little daughter is 4 years old going on 14 years old.

Martha:  Coming to Luke’s aid, Martha suggests.  “Children, kissing with lips is for adults—like your Mommy and Daddy.”  She adds mischievously.  Martha found the first mistletoe at hand and she hopes to help Diana and Luke use it.

Luke:  “Ohh!”  Luke looks shell shocked, while his face goes beet red in embarrassment. He hasn’t kissed anyone since Heidi’s late mother, him not putting himself out there on the dating scene yet.  And Diana is not much different.

Diana:  “Uh, Martha?  We need to get going, the snow is really coming down now.”  She hopes her mistletoe kissing deflection works. Not a chance as their two littlest members start chanting and clapping their hands.

Benjy & Heidi:  “Kiss, kiss,  kiss, kiss!”

Nearby fellow shoppers smile and clap, thinking that Diana and Luke are already husband and wife—they do look good together.  Luke waves at them, then stiffens as he readies himself to kiss Diana.

Diana: “Luke, I can’t ….”  She tremblingly shakes her head in mortification.  And her eyes widen as Luke leans down to her. But he detours to her cheek and kisses her there, and she also kisses his cheek.

They both sigh in relief for satisfying their gleeful kids, while not forcing the intimacy of mouth kissing on each other.  It is too soon in their acquaintanceship. But Martha still smiles knowingly at their chastely tender kisses.


In the end, though the trip to the grocery store was quick, the snowy weather is relentless.  And Luke manages to drive them all to Diana’s and Martha’s Hampton’s apartment complex. Luke pulls Martha’s rolling walker out of his truck bed and sets it up for her trip into her apartment building.  And sensing Luke’s unease about the snowy weather with his young daughter Heidi, Martha invites him to stay overnight.

Martha: “Luke, from what you said, you and Heidi live across town.  I really don’t think that you should attempt returning home with it being so dark around 4pm now and the snow makes visibility uncertain.  So you’re welcome to stay with me.  My sofa pulls out to a bed, and we can put fresh sheets on it in a jiffy.”

Luke: “I don’t wish to impose, but I thank you, for Heidi’s sake.”  He won’t risk her safety in these harsh weather conditions.  “If we’re staying overnight, may I store my food purchases in your fridge?”

Martha: “Of course.”  Then they all start walking toward the apartment building from the parking lot.

Luke:  “Then I’ll have to call home so Mom and my sister Sharon don’t worry.”

Diana: “Oh?”  Diana and Benjy had missed hearing Martha’s invitation to Luke and Heidi to spend the night, since they got out of different sides of Luke’s truck.  Diana had let Martha sit up front with Luke, because it was easier for her to get into the front seat, and Diana sat in the back seat with the kids–with her Benjy and Luke’s Heidi leaning in to her.

Martha: “Diana Dear.  The weather is too unsafe for Luke and his daughter to try to get back home across town.  So I invited Luke and Heidi to stay overnight with me.  We can pool our resources for dinner and breakfast.” Martha smiles as they enter the building and are engulfed in instant warmth.  “Ahhh!”

Luke: Smiling embarrassedly, Luke smiles at Martha and then at Diana.  “Thank you, Martha.  Heidi and I appreciate it. Don’t we, Heidi?”

Heidi: “Yes, Daddy!  It will be my first sleepover!”  Heidi skips up and down alongside her Daddy and Martha as they walk to Martha’s apartment door, after she and Diana first check for their mail at the mail boxes on the first floor.  Then they take the small elevator to the 2nd floor where Diana and Martha live.

Diana: “And Luke, since I had done our laundry this morning, I can loan you some clean flannel jammies of Benjy’s for Heidi to wear to sleep in.”

Luke: “Thanks, Diana.  That will be great!”  He smiles gratefully. Luke is out of his comfort zone in not being at home where all of his Heidi kid gear is handy.  So he appreciates Diana helping him out.

Benjy:  “Heidi’s Daddy?”  He asks Luke.  “May we play with Martha’s big cards before dinner tonight?”

Luke:  “Uhh?”  Luke looks quizzically over at Diana.

Diana:  “Sure, Benjy.”  Then by way of explanation, Diana tells Luke.  “Martha has playing cards with large writing on them for easier reading.  We usually play go fish or a matching cards game—a variant of Concentration.”

Luke: “A variant?”  He vaguely remembers the game he played as a child.

Diana:  “Yes.  We pick out ten sets of matching pairs of numbered cards, then set them out face up in a random assortment—rather than face down, and having the memorization aspect of the game.  So each of us will pick out two cards that match, until all of the cards are matched and picked up.  Benjy is getting good at recognizing his numbers.”

Luke: “That’s nice.  Heidi doesn’t go to pre-school yet—her being so young.  But we’re trying to teach her her letters and numbers at home—and shapes and colors.”  Then he turns to his little daughter Heidi.  “Do you want to play the matching card game before dinner, Heidi?”

Heidi: “I do, Daddy!”  She smiles cutely.  Though Heidi doesn’t know how to play this matching game, it’s the play part is what she focuses on.

So Luke & Heidi follow Martha into her apartment to get settled.  He also calls home to let his Mom and sister Sharon know that they are okay and hope to be home in the morning.

Meanwhile, Diana and Benjy walk further down the 2nd floor apartment hallway to their own small one bedroom apartment.  She gets her food put away and the chicken started baking for them all.  Martha will contribute bread and vegetables and Luke will contribute the milk and mashed potato flakes, sturdy paper plates, and a cookie dessert.

But first, Diana negotiates with Benjy which jammies he wants to wear tonight versus which ones he agrees to loan to Heidi—Benjy wants to wear his Spiderman pjs, and loans out his light blue snowman flannel pjs set to Heidi—and an extra travel size toothbrush and tooth paste tube that she had handy.  Then Diana dashes back down the hall to Martha’s apartment and drops off the loaned pjs, socks, and toothbrushing supplies for Heidi, letting Martha know for the three of them to come back to her apartment in about an hour for dinner and games.

Though Diana’s & Benjy’s apartment is tidy, she will give it a quick once over again, and she also gives Benjy his bath and puts him into his clean spiderman pjs and clean socks.  Luke will do the same for his daughter Heidi at Martha’s apartment before they head to Diana’s and Benjy’s apartment for dinner.


Diana graciously welcomes Luke & Heidi and Martha to her and Benjy’s apartment for dinner Monday night, accepting their contributions toward the meal to fill it out.  Martha watches the kids in Diana’s family room area of bean bag chairs for Benjy & Heidi and a sofa and Chair for the adults.  The kids happily color in Benjy’s coloring books while they wait for dinner.  While Luke helps Diana in the kitchen.

Luke:  “Thanks for having us to dinner, Diana.”

Diana: “Of course.  We have to help each other out in survival situations like bad weather.”  She responds positively.

Yet Luke is keenly conscious that both Diana and Martha are being very generous in sharing their food stuffs and homes with he and Heidi, so he resolves to make it up to them in the coming days.

Luke: “Perhaps you’ll allow Heidi and I to take you and Benjy out to breakfast or lunch on Wednesday as a thank you.” He smiles warmly at her as she makes the potato flakes into mashed potatoes on the top of the stove.  The yummy smells of the chicken roasting in the oven is making everyone hungry.

Diana: “That’s not necessary.  Everyone is chipping in on the meal tonight.”  She smiles sincerely.  Though she would dearly like to see Luke again, she doesn’t want it to be as a pay back on his part.  And she wonders why Luke is waiting until Wednesday to invite them out.”

Luke: “I am not inviting you for lunch out of fulfilling an obligation, but because Heidi and I would like to see you and Benjy again.”  There, he said it.  He finds Diana attractive and they seem to have similar values and parenting approaches.  And for any lady who comes into his life, he has to think of his daughter Heidi first.  So with Diana also being widowed, he believes that she probably has similar reservations. Not about him in particular, just about dating in general.  And he is astonished that he is finally contemplating dating again.

Diana: “You seem pensive all of a sudden just now, Luke.  Is anything wrong?”  Diana wonders if their bare bones apartment living is off putting to him.”

Luke: “Actually, I was thinking about you … and I … getting to know each other better—over lunch and such.  I would like to see you tomorrow, on Tuesday, but I have to take my  Mom to her regular doctor’s appointment and Heidi has … well, she has her speech therapy appointment, too.  So it will be a busy day—with also going to the pharmacy and such for Mom as well.”

Diana:  “Your Mom is lucky to have you looking out for her.” Diana says sincerely as she slowly stirs the mashed potatoes mixture after she turns off the burner.

Luke:  “My sister Sharon helps.  We all live together in our family home.  Sharon’s husband is overseas with the military and not due back on leave for six more months—their four month old baby Eric should be teething and crawling by then.”  He thinks back wistfully to his daughter Heidi’s baby milestones.

Diana: “That’s nice, to have family around you.”

Luke pours two small juice glasses for Benjy & Heidi.  They will have milk later with their cookie desserts.

Luke:  “It is.  And you have Martha as a friend, that’s nice.”

Diana: “I am also her Care Giver.  Martha is also one of my ten elderly Care Receiver clients at the apartment complex here whom I help with their general household needs, checking their food and pills intakes, and such, on weekday mornings and afternoons.”

Luke: “That’s wonderful.  And having ten clients and a small son to take care of, you must lead a very busy life.”

Diana: “My life is busy.  But I’m sure you understand what it is to be the sole parent to your child.”  She stops stirring.  Diana and Luke are touching upon their tender sorrows. And it has only been two years since Diana’s husband passed.

Luke: “Yes.  I sometimes feel as if I’m trying to be mother and father both—and failing miserably.”

Diana: “I know what you mean.  Yet, we each are blessed with well adjusted, happy, and healthy children. What more could we want than that?”  Diana states stoically.

Luke: “Yet, that is what we do for the other people in our lives.  My Mom is always saying that I will do my best in caring for my daughter Heidi by showing her how to live her life fully—by me beginning to live my life fully again.”  Luke shyly hints at finding a new wife partner.

Diana: “Your Mom sounds like Martha.  She’s also encouraging me to think about starting over, finding a father for Benjy.”

Luke: “But I hope that you will also choose someone who will love you.  That is what I want again for myself and for Heidi, to find a woman to be a mother to Heidi and any future children we might have.  But also, I want love again.  It has been four years since Heidi’s mother died, in childbirth.  I miss Melanie every day.” Luke’s voice trembles with emotion.

Diana:  “I’m so sorry.  My husband died 2 years ago at the manufacturing plant he worked at in an accident—as he went to help a co-worker having a heart attack.”  She tears up.

They both each have sorrow etched in their hearts and on their faces.

Luke: “Perhaps, our shared sorrows might help us in understanding and helping each other—and maybe more.”

Diana: “I suppose it’s time that I … came out of my haze of grief—for Benjy, at least.”

Luke: “And me, for Heidi.”

Diana: “Well, Luke, Benjy and I will look forward to joining you and Heidi for lunch on Wednesday, December 22nd.”  Diana smiles shyly up at Luke.

Luke: “As will we.”  Luke gazes down into Diana’s eyes, seeing her sorrows also reflecting her understanding of his pain and grief.

Maybe it is serendipitous that they have met. And for the first time in a very long while, Luke realizes that he is open to exploring starting a relationship Diana and seeing where it might take them.

And there in Diana’s kitchen, Luke noticing the mistletoe hanging from the ceiling light fixture—he takes the first step. Luke tenderly clasps Diana’s small hand in his larger hand, brings it to his lips, and gently kisses the back of her hand. And they gaze sweetly into each others’ eyes, their possibly seeing a future together.

To be continued with Chapter 04


References for Ch. 03  of “Of Magic & Mistletoe”, December 23, 2020 by Gratiana Lovelace

1) “Of Magic & Mistletoe” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:

a) Luke—at full height, is Richard Armitage smiling at the 2019 Sundance Festival wearing red & black plaid overshirt_Dec21-2020 viaPinterest-Grati; image edit; original image is found at https://i.pinimg.com/474x/61/da/41/61da418236dba7895c883c32074e0e12.jpg

b) Mistletoe image and history found at https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tillamookheadlightherald.com%2Fcommunity%2Fthe-history-of-holly-and-mistletoe%2Farticle_6d7751e2-9aab-11e5-ac05-cfbfafc221da.html&psig=AOvVaw0pTsPU6tMlqIj1Mh8qHTco&ust=1608640745445000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=2ahUKEwis-PLyi9_tAhVnhXIEHSmEDVAQjhx6BAgAEBI

c)  A textured red background that I/Grati created.

2) Grati night filter and strokes edit; the original snowy road scene image was found at https://cdn.hswstatic.com/gif/10-biggest-snowstorms1.jpg


The link for Ch. 03 on my Wattpad site, will be found at:

Posted in "Of Magic & Mistletoe", Christmas, contemporary romance, Creative Writing, Family, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Hope, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 02–Christmas Magic, December 22, 2020 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1350)


(All rights reserved; An original story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2020)
[(1) cover story]

Author’s content note:  My 2020 Christmas short story here is a gentle romance mostly rated G for all, with some dramatic moments. I will serialize my story here and on my Wattpad site.  Then I’ll continue with publishing new chapters about every other day through New Year’s Eve.  I hope that you enjoy my new story.

Illustrations:  I cast my stories as I write them, with Richard Armitage as Luke Wharton, Erin Krakow as Diana Groves, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benjy Groves, Helen Hayes as Martha Lesley, Anna Knyazeva as Heidi Wharton, and others as noted in the references.


“Of Magic & Mistletoe”,  Ch. 02:  Christmas Magic

It turns out this chilly, blustery, and snowy Dec. 20th , 2010 Monday afternoon for Martha’s trip with Diana and her 4 year old son Benjy to Christmas Village during her Care Receiving session.  And Martha’s car has been sitting undriven for several weeks, outside in the cold—since Martha doesn’t drive anymore.  Or more to the point, Martha  isn’t allowed to drive anymore.  But Diana is happy to see that Martha’s car has plenty of gas in it.  So after Diana warms up the car a bit with the engine running for five minutes, she gets the car warm enough for Martha’s outing to Christmas Village with her and Benjy.

Their destination of Christmas Village is in a large and older indoor mall converted for multi-use purposes with:  walkers,  seasonal farmer’s markets, craft shows, and seasonal holiday celebrations retail—the biggest of which is the Christmas season—which takes up most of the 20,000 square foot mall’s large central corridor.  And the extra foot traffic helps boost the sales of some of the remaining permanent retail shops still inside the mall.

After parking the car and retrieving from the car’s trunk Martha’s rolling walker with a handy seat for her to use when she gets tired–and an attachable basket for the front for small purchases–Diana, Benjy, and Martha look inside the indoor tree barn of Christmas trees, wreaths, decorations, small gift items, some kid craft stations, and an unofficial post box for Christmas Letters to Santa.

And there is also a Picture with Santa booth for a small fee.  But even small fees are not within Diana’s ability to pay them at the moment, as she has to wait four more days till Friday, December 24th—Christmas Eve—for her next paycheck.  So she is managing her money and her and Benjy’s food needs very closely this week.

Benjy:  “Ooooh!  Mommy!  Everything looks so pretty here!”  Little Benjy’s [(2) below] eyes are agog with all of the Christmas sights and smells—from the twinkling Christmas lights overhead, to Christmas trees, to decorations and gifts for sale.

And just as thrilled with the festive atmosphere, Martha’s old blue eyes sparkle with delight.


Martha: “Everything looks lovely!” Martha sighs [(3) below], remembering fondly how she used to festively decorate her modest home when her late husband Frank was alive.  She misses him dearly around the holidays.  Her widowhood is one more way that Martha and Diana bonded with each other—sharing their sorrows and their wonderful memories.


But today is a fun afternoon to be spent at the magical Christmas Village shoppes.


Diana: “Now remember, Benjy, we will look with our eyes, but not with our hands.  So no touching anything.”  Diana puts her own hands into her pockets to reinforce that for Benjy—she will also do what she asks of him.  And even if Diana had some mad money to indulge in to buy some of the lovely Christmas decorations, she would still admonish Benjy to be careful.  And she wryly muses that maybe there should be an inexpensive insurance rider policy for toddlers and their antics.  For four year olds like Benjy, breakage is inevitable.


Benjy:  “I know, Mommy!”  And he also puts his mitten covered hands into his coat pockets.  Benjy is a good little boy who minds his Mommy.


There are several Christmas Village tree barn clerks scattered about the large tree barn indoor shopping area—with a hay bale or two brought in as seating for ambience.  And one of the clerks—a very tall and lanky fellow named Luke—lopes over their way, while still keeping a keen eye on the kids at the coloring station.  Well, he watches one kid, in particular, his own young daughter Heidi.  Kid’s activities are such a blessing for parents at family friendly shopping venues like Christmas Village.


So Luke brings his 4 year old daughter Heidi in to his Christmas Village volunteering stint with him now and again, when she isn’t with their other family.  It gives Heidi a special outing and it gives Luke a chance to spend more time with her.  You see, in addition to Christmas Village’s full and part-time  paid staff, several companies loan out their employees and match their volunteers wages pay via donation to a local charity for kids in need.


Luke:  “Hello, I’m Luke Wharton.  May I help you ladies find something?”  Luke asks smiling politely [(4) below] in his festive red and black plaid flannel shirt over a black sweater,  and blue jeans as he somewhat shyly keeps his hands stuffed into his front jeans pockets.  Then Luke ties a Christmas Village work apron around his waist with front pockets stuffed with tags, markers, etc.—and he tops off his look with him wearing a Santa hat. Luke is at the beginning of his 1 hour volunteer shift this afternoon.

Benjy: “Me, too!”  Benjy smiles brightly at the very tall man as Benjy leans back into his Mommy Diana’s legs and she reassuringly pats Benjy’s shoulders.  Then Benjy notices the Santa hat on Luke.  “Mister, are you Santa?”


Luke collapses his very tall frame and he scrunches down to the little Benjy’s level, so as not to tower over the young boy.


Luke: “Well, little fella, I’m not Santa.  But you could say that I am a Santa’s Helper this Christmas season.”


Benjy:  “Ohhh!”  Benjy’s eyes are wide with awe—to meet someone who works for Santa Claus. Though Benjy thinks that the very tall man must not be one of Santa’s elves, who are small like Benjy.


Martha:  “Well I’m Martha, and these are my neighbors Benjy and his mother Diana.”  Martha gestures to them and Diana blushes slightly—because Luke is a very handsome man and he seems to have an ease with children.


Luke: Luke touches the brim of his Santa hat with a slight head bow. “Ladies, and young fella.” Luke  smiles broadly at the cute little boy, guessing that he is not much older than his own little daughter sitting just a few feet away.


Martha:    “I am looking for a small one foot table top sized tree and trimmings for my apartment.”


Luke:  “Well, Ma’am, you’re in luck! Our small trees and trimmings section is over here.”  He gestures for them to precede him and he pats his daughter Heidi’s head as he passes by her.  Heidi smiles up at her tall and loving Daddy as they exchange smiles.


Diana: “These are lovely decorations!”  Diana enthuses, spying some pretty ivory angel snowflake ornaments.


Martha:  “They are, Diana Dear.   Let me buy something for you and Benjy, too.”  Martha suggests as she touches an 18 inch tall artificial–but very really looking—Christmas tree with a solid heavy base, so it won’t tip over when laden with trimmings.


Diana:  However Diana replies sotto voce to Martha—so that Luke won’t hear.  “Oh Martha, that is a very kind thought.  But you know that as your Care Giver, I cannot ethically receive gifts from you.”


Martha:  “Of course, Diana.  I just want to be able to give you something from me, as a friend.”  Martha pouts.

Diana: “Martha, Your friendship is all that Benjy and I need.  And you have given us something—this outing today.”  Diana hugs Martha in thanks.

Then Luke’s daughter Heidi wanders over to show him her drawing.

Heidi: “See, Daddy!  I dwew a Kwissmass twee.” Translation, I drew a Christmas tree.   Heidi is a sweet and beautiful little girl [(5) below].   And her R’s are still a little difficult for 4 year old Heidi.  So she sees a speech therapist twice a week to help her with her speech development.  And so far, she is the only girl grandchild of her Gwanny’s/Granny’s.


Luke:  “Excuse me, ladies.  This is my daughter, Heidi.”  Luke turns from Martha and Diana, and bends down to little Heidi’s four year old height.  “That is a really great Christmas tree, Heidi Sweetheart!”  Luke hisses her forehead, then hugs her.


Benjy watches Luke intently, mesmirized to see a father and daughter together—since Benjy doesn’t have a living father.  Diana then notices the ring on Luke’s  finger on his left hand, and disappointedly realizes that he is married.  Then another Santa’s Helper clerk walks over toward  Luke and his daughter Heidi.  The Santa hat and Christmas Village apron are the big tip offs that she is also a clerk.


Sharon: “Luke, shall I take Heidi home with me?  I’m heading home now because I have to feed baby Eric soon.  And I imagine that Mom is fretting on me getting back in time.”  And she can picture her cherubic four month old screaming for his Mommy’s milk in about 30 minutes.


And Diana winces at the happy family scene that they represent, her thinking that this must be Luke’s wife.  And with them having another baby at home, Diana doesn’t begrudge them their happiness, she simply wants a family with a father for Benjy again someday—and maybe another baby for her to love.  And Martha notices Diana’s subtle clues of interest in Luke, then her dashed hopes.


Luke: “Sure. That would be…”  But Luke doesn’t get further, when a little voice interrupts him as Heidi tugs on his hand.


Heidi:  “But Daddy, I’m not done playing  Kwissmas here.  I hafta make an omament (ornament) and wite (write to)  Santa.”  She pleads as she pats his knees—which is as high that she can reach.


Luke: “Sure, Heidi Sweetheart.” Luke pats Heidi’s back and smiles down at her.  Then he turns to Sharon. “Sis, that’s okay, my volunteer shift is a short one today and over in an hour.  So I can bring Heidi  home with me then.”  He leans in and gives his sister Sharon a gentle hug, and she returns his hug.


Sharon: “Okay!  See you later, Heidi.”  She and Heidi wave goodbye to each other as Sharon departs.


Sis, as in sister.  Diana smiles inwardly that somehow manifests itself in her hopeful smile [(6) below].  Yet she thinks that though this lady might not be Luke’s wife, he might still have one—his wedding ring, and all.  Or, she wonders, if he is divorced.  She blanches at that thought for some reason.  Diana thinks that as sad as losing her husband was and continues to be, being divorced and seeing your ex spouse only at kid visitation times must be extra tough.


Luke:  Now holding his daughter’s hand, he explains.  “Folks, excuse me for a moment while I get my daughter settled at the tree ornament kid station. Would the little fella like to join her?”  He gestures to Benjy.  “Then I’ll come back and assist you with your purchase.” He smiles cordially at Martha.


Martha: A smiling Martha nods. “That’s perfectly fine.  Diana, did you wish to accompany Benjy to the ornament making table?”


Luke:  Seeing Diana’s hesitation, he explains.  “All the kid stations are easy for little ones to do, and there’s only ribbons, tree branch leavings, and glitter glue—nothing dangerous, and only minimally  messy.”  Luke  sheepishly shrugs his shoulders and smiles at the lovely Diana—him also noticing her wedding ring,  and wondering where her husband is.  “This is my daughter Heidi.  Heidi, this is Diana and her son Benjy.”


Diana: “Of course.  Thank you.  Benjy, would you like to make a Christmas ornament with Heidi?”


Benjy:  He nods at his Mommy.  Then Benjy leans over to look at Heidi’s Christmas tree drawing.  “Nice Christmas tree.”  He nods at Heidi.


Heidi: “Thank you.”  She preens at the little boy’s compliment.


Benjy: “I’m Benjy.”  He points to himself with his thumb.  “And this is my Mommy.”  Benjy takes his Mommy’s hand.


Heidi:  “I’m Heidi.”  She points to herself as Benjy had done.  “This is my Daddy.”  Heidi smiles up at her loving and kind Daddy.  Then her face saddens forlornly.  “I don’t have a Mommy.”

Heidi loves her Daddy, Aunt Shawon/Sharon, and Gwanny/Granny.  But Heidi misses not having a Mommy. And Luke moved in with his Mom, in part to give his daughter a womanly influence, as well as to help his Mom out.  But having one’s own Mommy for cuddles and kisses to scraped knees, making cookie baking messes, and specially made Halloween costumes and such is just what a little girl like Heidi wants—and frankly, what she needs.


Luke:  “There, there, Heidi Sweetheart.”  Luke kneels down to Heidi again and embraces her.  “Your Mommy loves you very much.  Remember, she is your Angel Mommy in heaven.”  Luke consoles his little daughter with his soothing deep voice and loving smile.  Luke is doing the best that he can with Heidi—and he is a wonderful father.  But she needs a mother.


Diana: “Ohhh!  I’m so sorry for your loss.”  She says sincerely, knowing how difficult it is to lose a loved one, and your child’s other parent.


Luke: “Thank you.” Luke nods to her with a stoic facial expression that he has perfected over the last four years since he lost his wife in childbirth.


Benjy: “My Daddy is in heaven, too.”  Looking at Heidi, then his Mommy, Benjy purses his lips together as he tears up. The palms of his little hands wipe away his tears.  He was only two years old when his Daddy died.  So Benjy doesn’t remember what it was like to have a Daddy.


Diana:  “Oh Benjy Dear.”  Diana kneels down and takes Benjy into her arms.


Luke: “Ohhh!  Now I’m sorry for your loss.  You have my deepest condolences.”  He stands up again.


Diana: “Thank you.”  Diana stands up again.


Now Diana’s face also assumes a mask of stoicism.  Neither Diana nor Luke fool the other about their deep loss and grief—for they have and are feeling and living it themselves as they parent their little ones.


There is a slightly awkward pause as Luke and Diana each privately ruminate about their respective widowed states.


Benjy:  Always one to fill a silence, Benjy suggests brightly.  “I know what we can do, Heidi.”  Heidi tilts her head in curiosity,  waiting for Benjy to continue.  “I’ll share my Mommy with you, and you can share your Daddy with me.”


Heidi: “Okay!”  She smiles hard, grinning from ear to ear.  “Your Mommy is pwitty (pretty).”  She wanders three feet over and hugs Diana’s knees.  And Diana reflexively soothingly pats the little girl’s back.


Benjy:  “Great!  And I like that your Daddy is tall.”  Benjy detaches himself from his Mommy and hugs Luke’s knees.  Although in Luke’s case, he looks like he might topple over from surprise.


Diana and Luke are too stunned and embarrassed to speak—out maneuvered by two 4 year olds.  So each of them pats the other parent’s child’s backs and then walk the kids over to the ornament making station.


Diana:  “Luke, I’ll stay with the kids while you help Martha.”  Though Diana will remain watchful of Martha, to make sure that she doesn’t become flustered or too tired from standing.  Martha does have her rolling walker chair with her that she can sit on.


Luke: “Thanks, Diana!  Let me know if you need help with the kids.”  Then Luke walks back to Martha, looking over his shoulder once and seeing Diana tending to both her son Benjy and his daughter Heidi.  Both kids look very happy—and Luke is especially happy for his little daughter Heidi, whatever may come of this new acquaintance with little Benjy and his Mommy Diana.


And the smile on Martha’s face cannot be contained.  Martha taking Diana and Benjy on this Christmas Village outing and meeting Luke and his daughter Heidi might be just the serendipitous catalyst for love between Diana and Luke and their children.


And who is to say that a little Christmas magic isn’t involved, as Martha looks up at the brightly twinkling Christmas lights hanging from the indoor mall’s Christmas Village tree barn ceiling?  And romantic at heart that she is, Martha thinks that all they need now, is some well placed mistletoe.

To be continued with Chapter 3


References for Ch. 02  of “Of Magic & Mistletoe”, December 22, 2020 by Gratiana Lovelace

1) “Of Magic & Mistletoe” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:

a) Luke—at full height, is Richard Armitage smiling at the 2019 Sundance Festival wearing red & black plaid overshirt_Dec21-2020 viaPinterest-Grati; image edit; original image is found at https://i.pinimg.com/474x/61/da/41/61da418236dba7895c883c32074e0e12.jpg

b) Mistletoe image and history found at https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tillamookheadlightherald.com%2Fcommunity%2Fthe-history-of-holly-and-mistletoe%2Farticle_6d7751e2-9aab-11e5-ac05-cfbfafc221da.html&psig=AOvVaw0pTsPU6tMlqIj1Mh8qHTco&ust=1608640745445000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=2ahUKEwis-PLyi9_tAhVnhXIEHSmEDVAQjhx6BAgAEBI

c)  A textured red background that I/Grati created.

2) 4yr old Benjy Cls is Thomas Brodie-Sangster, found at https://i.insider.com/59a58d7db065da44008b47b0?width=750&format=jpeg&auto=webp, via a Games of Thrones actors article.

3) Martha in closeup is the late Helen Hayes; the original image was found at https://qt.azureedge.net/resources/authors-images-large/helen-hayes.jpg in conjunction with an article about her famous quotes at https://www.quotetab.com/quotes/by-helen-hayes.

4) Luke Wharton is Richard Armitage  smiling at the 2019 Sundance Festival  wearing red blk plaid overshirt (cropped), Dec21-2020viaPinterest-Grati; image found at https://i.pinimg.com/474x/61/da/41/61da418236dba7895c883c32074e0e12.jpg

5) Heidi Wharton is Anna Knyazeva with bangs; original image was from https://www.allure.com/story/6-year-old-called-most-beautiful-girl-in-the-world

6) Diana Groves smiling at Luke is Erin Krakow from a Blasting News article (image flipped);  original image found at https://us.blastingnews.com/showbiz-tv/2019/10/when-calls-the-hearts-erin-krakow-sends-social-media-messages-of-support-sleeplessness-003003597.html


The link for the Ch. 02 on my Wattpad  site, will be found at:

Posted in "Of Magic & Mistletoe", Christmas, contemporary romance, Creative Writing, Family, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Hope, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment