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A Christmas Home

Cover of A Christmas Home

A Christmas Home

McCray Family Series, Book 3
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Todd McCray, hero of A Dog Named Christmas, is now twenty-four years old and working at a local animal shelter, where he meets and quickly becomes best friends with Laura, a young volunteer. Laura, like Todd, has disabilities of her own, but her struggles are more physical than developmental. Their friendship is sealed when Todd--with the help of his trusted companion, the tenacious Labrador retriever named Christmas--trains a beautiful dog named Gracie to help Laura with the day-to-day life tasks that are difficult for her.

Life seems good for Todd, but all is not well in his hometown. Struggling families unable to make ends meet are abandoning more and more dogs, and the shelter is swelling to capacity. The local government is struggling to meet its obligations too, and in early December, on the cusp of another holiday season, Todd's boss delivers the bad news. Due to funding problems, the shelter will close its doors before the end of the year. But what will happen to all the animals?

As the Christmas holiday approaches, Todd has limited time to find homes for all the dogs. Not to mention that he needs to secure a new job and figure out what to do when his friendship with Laura takes an unexpected romantic turn. All this seems overwhelming unless you've got a loving family, dedicated friends, and a couple of very special dogs behind you. In which case, nothing is impossible.

Todd McCray, hero of A Dog Named Christmas, is now twenty-four years old and working at a local animal shelter, where he meets and quickly becomes best friends with Laura, a young volunteer. Laura, like Todd, has disabilities of her own, but her struggles are more physical than developmental. Their friendship is sealed when Todd--with the help of his trusted companion, the tenacious Labrador retriever named Christmas--trains a beautiful dog named Gracie to help Laura with the day-to-day life tasks that are difficult for her.

Life seems good for Todd, but all is not well in his hometown. Struggling families unable to make ends meet are abandoning more and more dogs, and the shelter is swelling to capacity. The local government is struggling to meet its obligations too, and in early December, on the cusp of another holiday season, Todd's boss delivers the bad news. Due to funding problems, the shelter will close its doors before the end of the year. But what will happen to all the animals?

As the Christmas holiday approaches, Todd has limited time to find homes for all the dogs. Not to mention that he needs to secure a new job and figure out what to do when his friendship with Laura takes an unexpected romantic turn. All this seems overwhelming unless you've got a loving family, dedicated friends, and a couple of very special dogs behind you. In which case, nothing is impossible.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter 1

    One Year Later

    People would look at the old black Lab and say, "Christmas. That's an unusual name for a dog." In the beginning, George would explain how the Lab was supposed to have been a temporary holiday guest, a brief fostering project to help out the local animal shelter. His youngest son, Todd, thought the name Christmas was a good fit. Now, nearly four years later, the dog had found a permanent home with the McCray family, and George was inclined to lean down, hug his canine friend around the neck, and say, "Best Christmas present I ever got!"

    Christmas was resting his head on Todd's lap in the backseat of the car as they drove down Main Street that evening. George's wife, Mary Ann, and Todd chatted back and forth about the weather--lightly falling snow, smoky gray skies, and a low howling northwest wind. George, a pragmatic sort, smiled at the notion, but wondered if they shouldn't have named the lab Elmer, like the glue. The dog bound and knitted his family together.

    The elder McCray tried to park in the small municipal lot that flanked the west side of Crossing Trails Town Hall, but it was already jammed with cars. The turnout for that night's town hall meeting was going to be huge, particularly for a town of less than two thousand residents. So much was hanging in the balance.

    George turned back onto Main Street and drove north for two more blocks before finding a space in front of what had been the barbershop but was now a Dollar General Store--a sign of the times. Though many older businesses like the hardware store and the diner had managed to hang on, the growing number of discount stores suggested that the town's better days were visible only in the rearview mirror. Once within this tiny six-block area they still called "downtown" there had been a bakery, a movie theater, clothing stores, a Ford dealership, a furniture shop, and much more. Still, the Crossing Trails Chamber of Commerce boasted thirty-four members. The town just had to survive, George thought. Right? Any other answer seemed inconceivable.

    Many of the original stately brick buildings had survived, but there were also plenty of newer, cheaper-looking steel-and-concrete structures, quite a few sporting for rent or sale signs. George was continually amazed at the way the town had changed, particularly in the last several years as the exodus of young people from the rural farming community continued. At least his children, all living within driving distance, had not strayed too far from the McCray homestead. Todd was closest of all.

    "Looks like a good turnout for the meeting," George observed.

    "As it should be. People are worried." Mary Ann buttoned up her coat and collected her purse from the floor of the car. She turned around and poked at her son's knee. "Let's go."

    Todd undid his seat belt and started to get out of the backseat with his headphones still attached and his iPod playing a Scotty McCreery tune that he did his best to adopt as his own. Once completely out of the car, he broke out with the chorus, "I love you this big!" As Todd stretched out his arms, Mary Ann stepped into his embrace, and they repeated the lyrics together. Mary Ann smiled at life. Being a music teacher and having a tone-deaf son was beyond ironic.

    George opened the other rear passenger door. When Christmas jumped out, he snapped a leash on the dog's collar and gave him a gentle pat on the head. "Good boy. You've got work to do tonight, don't you?"

    There was an unusual urgency to that night's town hall meeting. Earlier in the week The Prairie Star--Crossing Trail's newspaper, once daily, but now weekly--had reported that the mayor would discuss the...

About the Author-
  • Greg Kincaid, author of A Dog Named Christmas and Christmas with Tucker, is a practicing lawyer who specializes in family law mediation. He is also an active advocate for literacy and for the humane treatment of animals. He helped to start the Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays program that has found homes for tens of thousands of shelter dogs. The father of five children, he lives on a farm in western Johnson County, Kansas, with his wife, two cats and two dogs.

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McCray Family Series, Book 3
Greg Kincaid
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