Cozy Christmas: Chapters 6 & 7
Time for church!
Writers of Love Inspired books are generally very…general about church and church services. They’re supposed to be: too much detail and you run the risk of portraying a specific denomination instead of general Christianity.
In a surprising twist for our Wintermas romances, Josh is already RTC! He “went forward” in church months ago, and regularly attends the (apparently one) church in Bygones, and “feels guilty” if he doesn’t go every Sunday. And the coffee shop is closed all day on Sunday, which is a great way to make a profit!
On his way to church, he reflects in a nice humble-craggy way about how he has left his “expensive, hand-tailored suits back home in St. Louis,” and settled on “pressed jeans topped with a suede blazer” for church.
Wow, what a man of the people.
He’s greeted in a rather bizarrely and over-the-top enthusiastically way by the “crew-cut greeter” of the church. Me, I would find the excessive use of vigorous handshaking and exclamation-point greetings to be tiresome and fakey, but Josh apparently digs the hell out of it.
Josh immediately runs into Whitney and her parents. His very basic polite handshake is rebuffed by Dear Ole Dad, and I don’t even think we’re meant to see this as Dad being in a bad mood because of his recent knee surgery. Dad’s just
a jerk protective of his 25-year-old daughter.
But Josh wins him over through shared misogyny!
Josh once again extended his hand. “I guess we better get along or the women folk are going to pitch a fit,” he said quietly.
“Yeah, how weird that women want people to behave with basic human decency when they have no discernible reason to do otherwise! Dames, amirite?”
Josh sits with them, and “right next to Whitney,” too!
When they stand to sing, Whitney “slipped her hand through the crook of Josh’s elbow as naturally as if they had stood together to worship a hundred times before.” And maybe I’m just in a more prudish mood today, but I actually think that’s a bit forward. They’re not a couple yet!
More Christian vagueness, as Josh reflects that every Sunday in church, “he’d learned something new and amazing—about the gospel and about himself.”
Except about how to tell the truth, and how to treat women like human beings.
We vaguely skip past the vague church service, and so have no idea what “new and amazing” thing Josh might have learned. And as the POV switches to Whitney yet again, we learn that for all her teary-eyed sympathy for Josh’s Poor-Little-Rich-Boy childhood, her own parents haven’t exactly been paragons of marital bliss.
“It’s also nice to see you and Dad getting along so well>
“Oh, honey. We’ve always gotten along well, even when it may not have looked like it to outsiders—or even to you.”
Yeah, that’s a ringing endorsement of true love.
Mom wink-winks at Whitney over her “friend” Josh, because maybe someday, Whitney too can have a marriage where everyone, even their own kids, thinks they can’t stand each other’s company! A girl can dream, I guess.
Mom invites Josh over, Josh immediately accept, and they tae three cars back. In her own car, this gives Whitney a chance to thank Jesus (though not her mom) for making this happen. She also once again ponders Josh’s “forlorn” childhood, and “how hard it must have been to grow up in a family where there were no special celebrations,” and how he didn’t know what it was like to “be a part of a loving family like hers.”
Yep, a loving family like hers, where she is shocked when her parents treat each other with basic respect. How blessed she was.
I feel like Whitney is super-overcompensating in her own head, but then again, I really don’t think the author understands how all this is coming across.
When he arrives at the house, Josh wonders if Whitney just has a different (nice) persona outside of work, or if she is “up to something,” so his weird and misogynistic suspicions continue apace.
Before and during dinner, we also learn why Whitney is so accepting of Josh’s misogyny—it’s all she knows. When reminded of all his wife does for him while he is recovering, Dad comments that women “think they run the world,” and goes on to regale Josh with multiple stories of Whitney’s clumsy childhood. I think it’s meant to come across as Da-aad, You’re Embarrassing Me In Front Of A Booooyyyyy stuff, but it just reads to me as mean-spirited, given what we know of the Leigh marriage and Dad’s attitude towards women.
At the end of it all, Mom invites Josh to Christmas dinner, and even though he said no to Whitney, he now gives a tentative yes to her mom. And then they negotiate Josh helping Whitney find out who the mysterious benefactor is. She suggests doing some basic research, which Josh hilariously characterizes as “hacking,” but he finally agrees to “help” her, which presumably means he will help her find nothing at all. He actually almost feels a twinge of guilt about the whole thing but, good Christian that he is, he says nothing.
He heads home, and Whitney shoots the breeze with her annoying parents for a few minutes, then decides that if she delivers a power cord to Josh that evening, he will have to answer questions about his past. Because that’s how it always works!