For the grown-ups, the season is less simple. It's true, the churchgoers are filled with a profound sense of peace as they re-enact The Nativity Pageant, a tradition that they hold dear. But Will Jenkins, a young man who has arrived late at the Pageant, is crushed to see that the girl he loves is stepping out with someone new. Still, there's heartening news in the field of love -- Miss Bates has a suitor! Jack Jones has finally got up the courage to approach her, and things look promising. Even her dog seems to like him.
There's good news, too, for Old Man MacGowan. The City Council has decided to let him set up his Christmas tree lot right in front of City Hall this year. City workers have even strung lights on the Elm tree above his head. Business is definitely better than last season.
And that brings us to Harmony Anderson. A year ago she was waiting for her sea-captain husband to return home from a months-long voyage. Their beautiful house was decorated, her hopes were high. But there's been no sign of his ship, and her situation is increasingly desperate. Will she be able to hold off the bank? So many certainties, so many unknowns ....
The rest of the village, not far from the Pole, is serenely unaware of the nearby bustle. In the country, Christmas moves at a quiet pace. There's not much change from year to year, and that's the whole point. Just as he always has, Lucas, the shepherd, will lead his sheep straight down the middle of town, his dog Boots keeping everyone organized. Father Andrew will be perfectly happy to listen to and not conduct the boys' choir, because he's hopelessly tone deaf. And John Hooks will be hard at it, feeding the livestock and scolding his son for trying to slip away to the center of town. It's too cold to finish painting the fence, true enough, but the ladder's not there for decoration, boy. That window's busted and has to be fixed. Now.
There's a reason that young Johnny is so eager to sneak away. He, like everyone else, has fallen madly, wildly, achingly in love with Sonja, who takes her name seriously and has become a wonderful skater. There she is, alone on the ice and dazzling her admirers. Everyone wants her attention, and no one can figure out how to get it. Jeffrey and his brother Jimmy try acrobatics, but nope. Big Billy, shy and a loner, hides behind a tree as he tries to figure out a strategy -- but that won't work. Mickey Sullivan has his own system for knocking out the competition: use a snowball. He has Big Billy in his crosshairs.
Christmas! It's for those who are eager, desperate, impatient, happy, and just plain bursting with wonder at the possibilities of it all. If you find yourself bounding from one state to the next -- welcome.