Review - "Simple Gifts (Cornwall Novellas #2)" by L.B. Gregg
Just a Christmas miracle
Very Highly Recommended
I will tell you a secret. Most people I know think that "Silent Night" is my favorite thing about Christmas. It is emotional, quiet, all the meanings of Christmas in one song.
But my real favorite thing, and you have to keep this just between us, is "The Little Drummer Boy". I remember as a kid seeing the stop action special on tv, and the little drummer boy all alone, playing his little heart out for the Boy King. And I thought, even then, that's me - alone, a little different, with nothing much to offer. You see, even then, before I knew what "gay" was, I knew something was different about me and it was something only God would understand. And Christmas was an especially hard time, since I never really thought I fit in with my large family.
And when I read this stunning, haunting and hopeful story, I was right back there as a kid, watching a thing of beauty and instinctively understanding that it was speaking to me, right to my heart.
Jason is an orphan, abandoned by his mother at six years old and raised in the foster care system. He learned the ancient art of origami from his mother, and now uses it to calm his soul. He has never really fit in, but he craves a family, just doesn't know how to do it. He is friends with the Sharpe family, and shared one night with Robb, the older son, before he left ten years ago.
Robb is back from his posting in the Army, home for Christmas, damaged both in body and spirit. He doesn't really want to be there, but the need to see Jason one more time rides him.
When an accident at the Sharpe Christmas party requires that someone watch over Jason overnight, Robb steps in and helps. But will their reunion bring them closer, or will the ten year absence prove too much to overcome?
To say I fell in love with these two damaged, vulnerable and solitary men would be an understatement. Ms. Gregg has done what so few can do - created fully realized, believable, sympathetic and wonderful characters in a very short novella. Robb is broken, home from the Army and in obvious physical and mental distress. And Jason, such a lovely young man, his heart hurting at every turn but capable of creating such beauty (read the description of his apartment and try not to be amazed and shattered) but so very very alone.
And after these two men come together one more time, at Christmas, Jason understands that he has to open his heart and let Robb go, to heal, and to hopefully come back to him. Someday. And Robb leaves. And then the small cranes start to fly back home, a promise.
Like Jason's origami, this simple little tale folds itself into a crane. A promise. The promise of love and reunion and family and Christmas.
If I don't get anything else for Christmas this year, my heart is happy and my soul nourished by this sweet sweet lullaby.