Christmas CozyDecember 24

Hi, my name is Zoe Donovan. I’m a newly engaged animal rescue worker. It’s Christmas Eve, and as I do every year, I’ve carved out a little time just for me. The snow is falling gently on the busy sidewalk as holiday shoppers scurry from one brightly lit store to the next. I know this might seem odd, but while I like to complete the bulk of my shopping early, every Christmas Eve I make a solitary trip into town to shop for people I’ll most likely never meet.

The tradition began when I was just a small child. It was Christmas Eve and my grandmother and I had attended morning services at the Ashton Falls Community Church. After the service the pastor mentioned to my grandmother that he’d just been informed about a family in need. My grandmother, who was the type to help anyone anytime, immediately volunteered to provide what she could for the family. I had plans of my own with my best friends, Levi and Ellie, but Grandma insisted that Christmas was about giving to those souls who crossed our paths. I wasn’t happy about it at the time, but I canceled my plans and the two of us went into town.

Neither Grandma nor I had ever met this family, but we had a handwritten note letting us know what type of gifts they’d requested. Most of the items were practical, such as a warm winter coat and heavy wool socks. I hadn’t wanted to be bothered with the errand, but as we shopped for people we would never meet, I found a deep joy I didn’t know I was missing. That special shopping trip turned into an annual event for the two of us, and now that I’m an adult, I continue the tradition in memory of the special woman who taught a little girl the true meaning of Christmas.

I bought my gifts and viewed the windows along Main Street before heading over to Zoe’s Zoo. I’ve always wanted to come down to the Zoo at midnight on Christmas Eve to see if the animals do in fact talk to one another. My guess is that they do, and how wonderful it would be to hear what they had to say. I imagine the bear cubs would tell me to keep it down because they were trying to sleep, and the kittens in residence would talk about what fun it would be to climb the Christmas tree my assistants, Jeremy and Tiffany, had erected in the lobby. The dogs who are visiting would most likely want to have a chat to ensure that I’d find them forever homes with wonderful people who would love them as much as they had always loved the humans in their lives.

After spending some time with my animal friends I returned home to my fiancé, Zak, and our forever animals, Charlie, Bella, Marlow, and Spade. Charlie, a terrier mix, is my best friend and confidant. He’s been with me through thick and thin, and I really don’t know what I’d do without him. Bella is Zak’s dog, a large bundle of fur who was displaced when her mom was forced into a retirement home. Marlow and Spade are both rescues I brought home temporarily but who ended up staying.

I kissed Zak and greeted the animals, then headed upstairs to wrap the last few gifts I’d picked up. Marlow loves to unroll the ribbon and Spade will crawl into any box or bag he comes across. Bella seems content to watch the festivities from her bed near the fireplace, and Charlie, like always, lends a paw to help when it comes time to tie up the ribbons. As my animal friends and I share a quiet Christmas Eve moment, I take a deep breath to embrace the smell of the pies Zak has baking in the kitchen. I know that my family and friends will be arriving soon for our annual dinner, but for now, in the instant, I will embrace the quiet and give a silent prayer of thanks for all that I have and all that is to come.

You can read more about Zoe in Christmas Cozy, the 11th book in the “Zoe Donovan” mystery series, published by Kathi Daley. The first book in the series is Halloween Hijinks.

Christmas MugGIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 31 for the chance to win either a print or kindle copy of CHRISTMAS COZY plus this lovely mug. The print and mug giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. The kindle copy is open to everyone.

Meet the author
Kathi Daley lives with her husband, kids, grandkids, and Bernese mountain dogs in beautiful Lake Tahoe. When she isn’t writing, she likes to read (preferably at the beach or by the fire), cook (preferably something with chocolate or cheese), and garden (planting and planning, not weeding). She also enjoys spending time on the water when she’s not hiking, biking, or snowshoeing the miles of desolate trails surrounding her home.

Kathi uses the mountain setting in which she lives, along with the animals (wild and domestic) that share her home, as inspiration for her cozy mysteries.

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