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Amish Christmas Fiction: Christmas In Sugarcreek by Shelley Shepard Gray-Love Attacks of the Heart
The commercialism of Christmas is rampant; and arrives earlier every year. As soon as we’ve handed out our last Halloween treat to the neighborhood kids; and we are bombarded with holiday ads.
One culture immune to the commoditization of Christmas is the Amish. In these hectic days, they pledge allegiance to their core values, including family, gratitude and love.
Christmas at Sugarcreek is a new fiction book set in the ten days before Christmas in the popular Amish community of Sugarcreek, Ohio:
Judith Graber has always been the good girl of the Graber clan, agreeing to close the family store when relatives have plans. Secretly, she yearns for a more fulfilling life, including a romantic partner.
Enter Ben Knox, a former Sugarcreek bad boy who returns to town after a two-year absence. He plans to spend one last Christmas in Sugarcreek before selling the family home and moving on to his unknown future.
At the age of 13, his mother left the family. His father raised both him and his sister Beth, three years older. Ben’s father took out his frustration with verbal abuse. Beth left the city at the age of eighteen to escape her unbearable home life. Ben then followed suit.
Unbeknownst to Judith, her father hires Ben as a seasonal helper at the store. Ben and Judith attended elementary school together. Now, as they work side by side every day, they are forced to face their long-hidden attraction to each other. Judith begins to ask, “What was it about him that made him happy again? Well, other than his good looks, his confident attitude…” Ben realizes, “To him, she was perfection. polished, too shiny, like the posh Englishmen in the gift shop.”
Escorting Judith home every night with a horse and buggy, breaking bread with her family, and discovering her true nature strengthens Ben’s attraction. The feelings are mutual. Judith learns about Ben’s dysfunctional upbringing; and he is drawn by instinct, not by pity. She also knows that most people misunderstand Ben.
Newlyweds Robert and Lily Miller face traditional marital challenges as well as faith-based ones. Robert, raised Amish, met and married Lily Allen, English, after his first wife, Grace, died unexpectedly. The couple compromised; and joined a conservative Mennonite church. Robert now has access to cars, electricity and telephones. Lily gives up makeup, jeans and short hair.
The Miller family shuns Robert for abandoning his Amish faith; and marry the outsider Lily. Lilly is pained to see Robert cast out, which only increases her doubt that she will ever be able to live up to Robert’s first wife.
Eighteen-year-old Caleb Graeber is wise beyond his years. He has been infatuated with Rebecca Yoder since his confirmation of the Amish faith after his rumspring experience. Working together in the Care and Share project, they prepare and deliver baskets to the city’s needy. Unfortunately, Rebecca never invites Caleb to her house, insisting that they meet and leave public places. Caleb soon learns the reason behind her actions.
As Christmas Day approaches, the characters’ stories come together to illustrate the true meaning of the season, including family, gratitude and love.
Questions for discussion and the author’s holiday greeting, supplement Christmas in Sugarcreek. Alongside today’s obscene invitation to Facebook, Shepard Gray welcomes correspondence as a refreshingly authentic approach in today’s digital age.
If you’re looking for a short, sweet holiday story, add on Christmas at Sugarcreek to your must-read list.
To learn all about the Amish, visit http://AmishAmerica.com.
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