SNOW SWIRLED DOWN on State Street and landed on coats
and scarves and hats as people moved along Macy’s windows. “Look
how real she looks, Mom,” Megan exclaimed, staring at the small girl
asleep in the Victorian room.
“I am so glad they picked this theme,” her mother replied, looking
The next window had a man sitting at a desk. It was an old-time
newspaper room, and the detail was amazing. George felt his heart
open as Megan jumped up and down in her white muff and hat. The
people, the traffic, the L going overhead, all added up to Christmas in
Chicago. They would finish with the windows then go to the Walnut
Room and have dinner, buy some Frango mints, then head for the
Christmas tree in front of the State of Illinois building. It had worked
out perfectly after the dinner with his father.
George’s phone vibrated in his pocket, and he walked away from
“Mate! Mate, it’s Dean!”
“Dean, thanks for calling me back.”
“Oh, no problem, mate! Mary said you had a little project going
that maybe I could help you on. She was pretty mum, so I really don’t
know what you are looking for, but I’ll be glad to help.”
George lowered his voice. “Yes, do you think we could meet? I
have some pretty technical questions.”
“Oh, no problem, mate! How about tomorrow morning? I’m fairly
wide open holidays and all.”
“Sure how about nine”
“Yeah sure, mate. At my studio.”
“I’m going to bring my dad if that’s alright. He’s helping me on
“Well, you got my curiosity up, I will have to say, mate. But yeah,
bring your pap along, and I’ll see you at nine AM sharp.’
George saw his wife and daughter were already three windows up.
He had been coming down to see the Christmas windows ever since
he was a kid, when Marshall Field’s still ruled State Street. Macy’s
had taken over, and George felt the windows were just not as good.
Still, it was as much a part of Christmas as seeing Santa.
“Sorry, that was Dean,” he murmured as Mary read another window
George’s phone buzzed again. He stepped away.
“This is George.”
“Yeah, this is Joe Gionelli. You called about some work on your
“Right. Right.” George watched Megan and his wife walk to the
next window. “Yes, I have a very old chimney, over a hundred years
old, and it is actually a double chimney with a small wall separating
the two. And what I’m looking to do is knock out the adjoining wall
between them and make one big chimney.”
The phone was quiet.
“You want to knock out the wall separating the two chimneys?”
“Ain’t none of my business, but why would you want to do that?”
“Well, I have my reasons.”
“Can you come out tomorrow, say in the afternoon? I have a
“Yeah, I can do that.”
George paused. “Is this something you think you can do?”
“Well, I tell you. In these times I don’t say there’s nothing I can’t
do. But I gotta see what I’m dealing with.”
“Fine. Say noon?”
“See you then.”
George pocketed his phone and felt it buzz in his hand again.
“Yes this is Big Bill McGruff of Reindeers.com. You the man who
e-mailed me about nine reindeer?”
“Yes, yes, thanks for calling,” George replied, watching his wife
lean toward the windows again.
“Well, I don’t normally get no requests for nine reindeer!”
“Well, that’s what I’m looking for,” George replied, turning, watching
his family go down to the next window. “Do you have them?”
“Well, I have them. I might have to bring some over from another
farm. When did you want them?”
“I need them for Christmas Eve. Probably all day and night.”
“Well, that might be a little tricky. There are handlers that go
with them, and I don’t know who is willing to work on Christmas
Eve … how late?”
“I will need them probably all night.”
The phone aired silence.
“Hmm … now that might be a little difficult to pull off. I wouldn’t
even know what to charge for special circumstances like this and—”
“I’m willing to pay. I need nine reindeer and whoever comes
“Hmm … alright. Well, we should probably meet. I have an opening
tomorrow afternoon. Say about three?”
“Yep. That should work. And, oh.” George turned, picking out his
daughter by the last window. “Do you know where I can get a sled?”
“What kind of sled?”
“A Santa’s sled.”
“I might have an idea.”
George closed the phone and joined his family by the last window.
Megan took his hand while they stared at the Victorian Christmas in
a turn of the century living room. A little girl was opening her gifts
under the tree while a mother and father looked on.
Real Santa....Starred Review Booklist
STARRED REVIEW BOOKLIST
"If somebody doesn't make a movie out of this book, there's something wrong with the world. This could have been played as an out-and-out slapstick comedy, but instead the author approaches the story like a character study: a portrait of a man with the best intentions in the world watching those intentions collide with reality. It's a steamroller of a story, starting small, with George's idea, and getting bigger and bigger as George tries to put the elements together, as his obsession takes him further and further away from reality. Beautifully done."
David Pitts Booklist
"The author marries the everyday dramas found in the novels of Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby to the high camp of Carl Hiaasen or Dave Barry. Adults looking for a funny holiday-themed tale that doesn't lose its sense of wonder in the face of realism will find a treat here. A lovingly crafted comedy about the madness that fatherhood inspires."
Best-selling author Hazelgrove (e.g., Ripples; Tobacco Sticks) captures the human need to believe in something good. This book will satisfy readers looking for a happy Christmas story.-- Library Journal
"Hazelgrove's lively improbable narrative will appeal to the readers in the mood for holiday fiction."