by Liz Flaherty
We've tried to define Harlequin Heartwarming more than once, I think. We use the words wholesome, sweet, clean, and they all work. But it's been more than that for me. Writing them and reading them and working with the other women who write (and read) them has just been the greatest gift, so even though my post today has nothing to do with writing--other than the fact that it was a writers' group assignment!--it does have to do with gifts. If I've used it before, I so apologize--please just pretend you've never seen it.
In 1990, I had a brand new daughter-in-law I hardly knew. She hardly knew us, either, yet there she was living with us while her husband was at basic and then AIT with the army. She was young and scared and pregnant, giving birth to their first daughter while Chris was at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. Their budget was so stretched as to be nonexistent, but one day when Tahne went to town, she came home with a bottle of gardenia cologne for me. It was her favorite scent, not mine, but she didn’t know me well enough to know what I liked—she just wanted to give me something. Twenty-five years later, I’m not sure what ever became of the cologne, but I still have the daughter-in-law.
We passed a car down to our grandsons. It was a car that had problemsand created problems and should have been made into a nice meringue pie, but it was a pretty SUV, and the price made fixing its relentless foibles a viable option for the boys and their parents. Shea, the one who drives it the most, was thrilled beyond words to be driving the car. He worked at an orchard, and when he found out I loved Honeycrisp apples, he kept me in them until the orchard ran out of them.
My daughter teaches special education. As the mother of three sons, girly isn’t part of her lifestyle, and she misses it sometimes. She decided she wanted to have Tiara Thursday for her girl students—Kari still wears her 40th-birthday tiara every chance she gets—but the cost of the sparkly headbands for all her girls was prohibitive. When I found some in the clearance aisle at the Dollar Store, I texted to find out how many she needed.
That Thursday morning, I took the yellow sack of purchases up to the school, thinking to leave them at the office for Kari to pick up, but she asked me to bring them to the classroom. Where I got to hand tiaras to five squealing, excited little girls who were very happy to pose for pictures and give me hugs and huge smiles. Even the boys in the class put on the tiaras for pictures. I’m pretty sure the tiaras were the best $7.50 I ever spent, and the gift was to me.
No matter how much or how often I write about it, I don’t know how to define love any more than I can define Harlequin Heartwarming—I don’t think anyone does—but I guess if I had to, I’d say it was made of Honeycrisp apples, little-girl tiaras, and gardenia cologne.