Tag Archives: Family Story

The Best Pageant Ever

Christmas Pageant imageWhen I was growing up the church Christmas pageant was a serious event. There were auditions – musical auditions – and even though I sang in the choir and thought I had a lovely voice I never made the cut.

There were rehearsals too. Lots of them as I recall stretching through Advent month with anticipation rising as the weeks passed. The strange thing is I don’t remember a single one of those most likely impressive performances.

Decades later – way past my Northern New York girlhood – my husband Jonathan and I moved to an island in Puget Sound a twenty-minute ferry ride from Seattle. Many things were different in our new home place. Including the Christmas pageant at our small island church.

First of all nobody said anything about auditions. A pageant was listed among the planned holiday events. I waited for an audition schedule to be listed as well but none appeared. I hadn’t even told Jonathan of my intention to try out but eventually I had ask somebody.

“We don’t audition. Everyone participates.”

I had no idea what that answer meant but I didn’t want to appear too eager so I kept quiet on the subject until Christmas Eve. The pageant was at seven in the evening because that was a better time for the children of the parish than the later service near midnight.

Jonathan may have thought midnight was the more adult choice but he’d detected my eagerness as he often detects my secrets. At my insistence we arrived early with home-baked cookies in hand as suggested.

“Are you an angel or a shepherd?”

The question was so unexpected I answered without thinking.

“An angel of course.”

I’d intended that as a rather nervous joke. It was honored all the same and soon a pair of wings was pinned to my back and a halo of silver tinsel garland circled my head.

“This will tell you what to do.”

My dresser thrust the bulletin that was our script into my hand. The line of people behind me was pressing forward so I moved on without asking more. Meanwhile Jonathan was carrying a wooden staff and had a blanket draped over his shoulders. He’d become a shepherd.

Everyone was in a festive mood – much more jolly than reverent – and the following hour was just as joyful. We went forward to the altar when our scripts directed us to do so. We sang carols in unrehearsed voices – “Angels We Have Heard on High” from my contingent.

Wings were askew. Shepherds’ blankets slipped off shoulders. Children giggled and the baby Jesus slept through it all. Eventually most of the congregation was on the altar singing and listening to the familiar nativity story being told by the priest whose halo bobbed over one eye.

A few timid souls still in the pews were our only audience. I was especially glad not to be among them this time because it was the best Christmas pageant ever. And afterward we ate cookies.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.


A Vacancy at the Inn is Alice’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Christmas Novella. Just 95 cents. The Best Price Ever at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC.


All About Family

family diversity imageJonathan and I just returned from our family Thanksgiving gathering. We’re dragging ourselves around this morning but we are smiling. Filled with memories as much as with turkey and my daughter’s divine stuffing.

I remember Thanksgivings that weren’t as idyllic as this one. Fraught Thursdays of problems and grievances lowering over the feast table. Thank heaven the psyche performs a blessed erasure of all that when better times arrive.

I also remember less traditional holidays than this one where everybody at the table was related by blood or marriage. When Jon and I personally hosted Thanksgiving we evolved a tradition of inviting folks with nowhere else to go. Nobody in our acquaintance was allowed to avoid being overfed. That day they were our family and we were theirs.

When I was a single mom finances were perpetually strained. Communal Thanksgiving was a must and a joyful good time. I’d roast the turkey and make the stuffing. Never as from-scratch as my daughter’s but Pepperidge Farm mix plus my own additions turned out tasty anyway.

My single mom friends came with their assorted offspring and everybody brought her best side dish. Plastic glasses of inexpensive wine were raised in toast to everything – including having made it through the previous year – but especially in gratitude for each other.

Each of these assorted configurations was a family in the most important sense. We held each other up. We carried each other when necessary. We were there. We still are.

This history is big among my reasons for writing about families. Not idealized family. Realistic family with problems and personality flaws and screw-ups all at the table – keeping on keeping together through thick and sometimes desperately thin. Plus I write romantic suspense so there’s a murder in their midst to complicate the menu even further.

They prevail as family whatever their configuration or their challenges may be. The Kalli family and their habit of adopting stray souls. The Miller family with trials and tensions galore. And a third family yet to come of – guess what – a single mom and her single mom friends. All in Riverton. All in the family. All eager to welcome you to the feast.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.


A Vacancy at the Inn is the first Christmas novella of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series featuring the Kalli family – and now the Miller family too – in stories of Romance and Danger. A holiday deal for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APC22E.


Giving Thankfuls

Jonathan Carving Turkey 2014When our grandchildren were with us every weekend we began a mealtime tradition we call the Thankfuls. We’d go around the table and each of us would say what we were thankful for that day.

The first thing we’d all mention was how thankful we were to be together. We’ll be together this holiday season and that togetherness will be first among my thankfuls yet again.

Next is the guy in the photo – Jonathan Orr. He’s carving the feast day turkey but I have no idea why he’s peering into the bird’s you-know-what. Jonathan and I have been together for forty-three years and I’m still not certain why he does lots of things. I am certain I’m thankful for us.

My family is another super biggie in the thankful department. As I said – we’ll all be together. I used to cook the holiday dinners every year. One year Jonathan took the turkey out of the roasting pan after it was done and somehow it got loose and slid across the floor.

We plopped it on the platter and said nothing. Years later we discovered the turkey slide as well as our outcries and giggles had been overheard. Maybe that’s why I no longer have to cook holiday dinner. I must admit retirement from that once-beloved duty is among my personal thankfuls.

On the home front. Jonathan and I have found a church we love five blocks away. Jonathan also does work he truly enjoys. We have dear friends across the country. We live in a city we find exciting and stimulating. We are Thankful Thankful Thankful.

What are your Thankfuls? I’d love to hear them and join in your rejoicing. Because I am very much Thankful for you.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.


A Vacancy at the Inn is the first Christmas Novella of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series. A holiday bargain for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC.