Jingle Bell Romance: Chapter 8
The whole family, including Nick, head to church again for another rehearsal. Nick very volunteers to keep an eye of Hannah for, like, half an hour, while his sister is doing other things, and honestly, that’s kinda the least he can do these days. After all, remember he’s staying at his sister’s “humble” home for an ENTIRE MONTH, eating their food and partaking of their hospitality, and buying expensive presents for Julia but not for the people actually putting up the rich relative?
Nick chats with his mom for a minute, long enough to hear that Pastor Dad is already ignoring doctor’s orders, outside knocking icicles off the gutters, even though BIL offered to do it. Dude, it has literally been less than 48 hours since he was hospitalized. At this point, he has nobody to blame for anything except himself. But I’m sure he’ll still find a way to blame Nick. And Nick will find a way to displace his feelings of resentment and inadequacy onto others.
Later that week, five feet of snow falls onto the town. The tough ole New Englanders band together to battle the snow, and a gang of helpful townsfolk go around getting the snow off the roofs of the stores on Main Street.
Yep, it’s another Main Street, just like last year!
Julia asks for a spare shovel to do her portion of the sidewalk, and really? It’s mid-December and she still hasn’t bought a single shovel? Ben offers to just do it for her, and Julia refuses, since in the past, “she’d accepted that kind of help, and it had spoiled her terribly.”
Really? Cause it doesn’t seem that way. Also, great lesson, kids—don’t accept help from anybody—it’s the Christian way!
Of course, Nick is one of the helper snow-removal crew, though unrecognizable beneath all he winter layers. Apparently, the biggest advantage of this is the feelings of smugness he can enjoy:
…anyone who’d written him off years ago had no clue he was one of the crew…he couldn’t help grinning. If only these grateful folks knew…
Then he gets all pissed because they get to the rectory, and Pastor Dad is shoveling his own snow. 52 hours after being released from the hospital. And the power is out. Nick invites them to stay at Lainie’s house, which is both sensible and presumptuous of him.
As they’re loading the parental units, power on the whole street goes out, so nick also ropes in Julia and Shakespeare to come crash at Lainie’s, too, which is also kind and yet presumptuous. Also, how does he know they have power?
I guess they do, because they all arrive, and Lainie is making some soup and homemade bread, all of which starts a conversation about living on a budget, which in turn leads to some shaming of working moms. Lainie explains that if she can live within a budget, she can stay home until both kids are in school, then she can be a substitute teacher. BIL is a teacher, too.
Julia says how much she admires that:
“Lots of people plan their careers around how much money they can make. They forget that children just want someone to spend time with them. Kids don’t care if that happens on the Riviera or in the backyard.”
That’s big talk, coming from someone who had not only a stay-at-home mom, but a stay-at-home mom…on the Riviera.
Tis the season for the mommy wars!
Lainie even oh-so-humorously observes that if the kids ever want a car or a college education…they can just ask rich Uncle Nick! Speaking of speaking from a position of privilege…
Later, Nick and Julia talk about the next part of the gripping biography, and Nick offers to completely leave out the part about how a Swiss banker broke her heart and robbed her blind. He says that is “none of [the readers’] business,” which yeah, I guess, but at the same time, it’s a BIOGRAPHY and the whole reason she moved to Holiday Harbor to open a toy store in the first place.
Honestly, it also humanizes her, which seems to be a big concern. After all, being taken in by a handsome charmer and being ripped off can happen to anyone.
It also ends up coming off as rather manipulative on Nick’s part, because not two minutes after suggesting leaving the painful part of her life out…he strongly implies that he wants more than just a reporter-subject relationship. Julia decides to take her turn being manipulative and says that sounds great, knowing that is encouraging him, even though she “intended to hang onto [her heart] for a very long time.”
‘Tis the season to dance around the Friendzone!