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: