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So when Natalie told her she couldn't help today due to the visit from Daniel's parents she told her mom to simply leave all the boxes in the guest room downstairs and she would over later this week to put them in storage for her. She often worried that her mom did too much now that she was older and suffering from the effects of arthritis. What Natalie didn't expect when she hung up with her mother, was to receive a phone call later that evening that would forever change her life. Her mother had suffered from a massive stroke and since she had been alone at the time, the damage was far too great for her mother to return to her former self.
Now plagued with guilt for simply being glad that she didn't have to join her mother that afternoon and instead had a day for herself, Natalie pours herself into her free lance job trying to earn money she knows her father will need to pay for her mom's medical expenses. This drives a wedge between her and Daniel as he tries to fix things between them, and Natalie avoids dealing with their own marriage issues trying to make up for not being there for her mother. She feels if she had only been there, this would have never happened. Will Natalie find a way to restore her own marriage or will this be the first imperfect Christmas to rock her family?
I received One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson compliments of Abingdon Press as part of the Christmas Blog Tour for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I absolutely LOVED this novel based in part to being able to relate to Natalie's character so much. Often times when the holidays are upon us, we feel like we are expected to do our best and meet all family obligations despite having to manage our own. I could relate to the guilt that Natalie felt upon hearing of her mother's stroke and understood the need to do everything to make amends to her what she felt was her mistake. The resolution that evidently comes is believable and everything doesn't come wrapped up in a pretty bow like you would expect. This is real in my opinion and thus why I would rate this a 5 out of 5 stars.
Anyone who has ever cared for a sick loved one will be able to identify with the feelings of Belinda's daughter Natalie. Myra Johnson doesn't just list the usual feelings of grief, sorrow, guilt, etc.; but, and this is the painful part, she delves into exactly why and how these feelings occur. She avoids the tendancy most of us have to catapult the victim into a saint and, rather, portrays her as a three-dimensional human being.
Myra Johnson also does a masterful job painting the many layers of a real marital relationship. It is so poignant to see two people wanting the exact same thing and being within inches of achieving it, save for the lack of communication that so often mars real life love. And Natalie's dad, caught in the crosshairs of trying to hold the family together while keeping hold of his own emotions, is a character that I found incredibly appealing.
Finally, I loved the fact that though this was an undeniably Christian family, they were, without dispute, authentic. Myra Johnson shows that even the most devout faithful don't always skip happy-go-lucky through life, whistling merrily in the face of misfortune. In many cases, as in this story, the believer's faith is hard won through trial by fire. I highly recommend this book. As you read this family tale, your smile may fade, but I guarantee, your hope will soar.
Natalie is a gifted graphic artist and painter; her mother is a very gifted painter as well. With the 50th Christmas celebration of Natalie’s parents coming closer, some things are going to change. Through the last year, a marriage has been rocky, a daughter has run away twice, and a possible job change for Natalie’s husband has occurred in the life of the family. Driven with guilt, Natalie has pulled away from those closest to her and with her mother gravely ill facing reality is even harder.
All the characters in the book are learning what really matters along with facing who they are and where their faith is during this season. I liked how the author painted in the story the truth that sometimes when very heart-wrenching times come, everyone reacts or handles the emotions that come with the storms of life. I liked how this novel portrayed more realistically how sometimes the holidays aren’t all Rockwell portraits. There are those whose holidays are the hardest times of the year to live through and without Christ there can be no sense of hope or peace.
While reading this novel, I kept thinking how much I didn’t want to read it because this is another hard holiday season for my family and that of my friend. Yet, those who know the Lord don’t mourn as those without hope. Even during the darkest times, God does something that only He can do in our hearts and lives that gives us the strength to take the next step one day a time. One Imperfect Christmas is a tear-jerker for sure, but also one that shows how brightly God shines in the darkest days we will know as we journey here on earth.
If you aren’t having a tough season right now, enjoy it, but remember to pray for those who are. You may never know how your prayers can change the heart of those hurting, but rest assured God hears.