“Do you think Michael’s experiencing a midlife crisis?” Anna mused as she dipped a serving bowl into the sudsy water. She and her younger sister Meredith were cleaning up after a Thanksgiving dinner that Anna had hosted for her extended family. It was the first time she’d entertained this many people at one time, but the meal had gone relatively well, especially considering twelve people had crowded into their rather small dining room. The food had been reasonably palatable, and the table, which was actually a piece of plywood secured to a pair of sawhorses and hidden beneath a tablecloth Anna had sewn, had been elegantly set. Although Anna was now rethinking her choice to use Great-Grandma Olivia’s Meissen china. She hadn’t considered that, thanks to the elegant gold-leaf trim, all twelve place settings and the numerous serving dishes would need to be hand washed.
“I think your hubby is too young for a midlife crisis,” Meredith said with her typical skepticism. “I mean, what is he... like, thirty-seven?”
“Thirty-eight in January.”
“Even so, that seems pretty young for a midlife crisis.”
“Maybe he’s mature for his age.”
Meredith laughed as she carefully dried a platter. “Okay, what’s really going on here, Anna? Trouble in paradise?”
Anna sighed as she scrubbed some stubborn gravy from a dinner plate. “No, we’re okay. It’s just that Michael has seemed sort of distant lately... but then he’s been putting a lot of overtime into this new business, and, oh, I don’t know --- I guess I’m probably just obsessing.”
“Meri?” Todd called from where the guys were huddled in the nearby family room, cozily gathered around the TV in their usual holiday ritual. “I hear the baby crying.”
Meredith rolled her eyes at Anna as she hurried to dry her hands. “Todd hears Jackson crying, but he can’t get off his duff and go pick up his own son?”
“And I’m guessing the womenfolk can’t hear him.”
“Not over the roar of that ball game.” Meredith tossed the towel aside. “Sorry to bail on you, sis, but it is Jackson’s feeding time.”
“No problem.” Anna ran some hot water into the sink, preparing for the next go-round. “I’ll be fine.”
“Want me to send Celeste in to take my place?” Meredith’s tone was teasing now.
“That’s okay,” Anna said quickly. “I can handle it.”
Meredith chuckled. “You just don’t want to hear our sisterin- law going on again about how ‘our big new house will be oh so perfect for a great big ol’ Thanksgiving dinner.’ ” Meri even had the southern accent down just right.
Anna smiled at her sister, then nodded. She didn’t add that she was also getting tired of hearing her sister-in-law complain about how none of her size-two clothes fit her anymore. “I can’t believe I’m only three months pregnant and I’m going to have to go out and get maternity clothes,” she had whined when she’d seen the pumpkin and apple pies Anna had made for dessert. What Anna wouldn’t give for that kind of wardrobe challenge! It seemed such a small price to pay in exchange for a baby. But Anna didn’t want to go there today.
Excerpted from ALL I HAVE TO GIVE: A Christmas Love Story © Copyright 2011 by Melody Carlson. Reprinted with permission by Revell. All rights reserved.