Hello from Ashley Clark! I’m so excited to be included once again in A Cup of Christmas Cheer from Guideposts Books. I’ve got another story set in the modern-day South, which appears in Volume Four: Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Present, but this time I’m moving from Charleston to one of my favorite small towns in Alabama.
“Christmas Dreams” takes place in Fairhope, Alabama, which is just about the quaintest, nicest small town you’ll ever see—full of sweet tea, pecan pie, and southern hospitality.
“Christmas Dreams” is about a widow who’s excited to see her family for Christmas, until she gets word their flight has been delayed. Already halfway through her cooking and baking preparations, she decides to finish the food she’s started but realizes she doesn’t have any more eggs, so she phones her neighbor. The neighbor promises to send over a nephew to take her to the store, but what starts as a simple errand turns into an afternoon full of dreams she had long given up on. She dances in the park, for instance, and tries boiled chestnuts. But then the woman gets an unbelievable revelation. What if the man she’s spent Christmas with isn’t her neighbor’s nephew at all…what if he’s actually Heaven sent? She learns you’re never too old to have a Christmas dream that matters to God.
When I think of my favorite Christmas stories, they usually blend the disappointing realities of real life with the glitz and hope of Christmas magic—whether that takes the form of an angel, an unexpected gift, or Jimmy Stuart’s friends lending him a whole heap of money. One of my favorite old movies is The Bishop’s Wife, so I drew some inspiration from that story and put it into a completely new context.
The fact is, everyone has a dream, whether you’re five or ninety-five, but life sometimes has a way of disappointing us. We often think we are being practical or logical in letting go of our long-kept heart dreams, but I wonder if that’s really what’s best? Especially if those dreams were placed in our lives by God. I wrote this story in hopes that readers will be encouraged to fight for their dreams, no matter how hard or far away they seem, because all of our dreams matter so very much to God. And an unfulfilled dream may only be a few steps away from a dream come true.
I have so many favorite Christmas traditions, it’s hard to choose! I grew up in Florida, so my family and I are huge Disney fans. Each Christmas, after we open presents and read the Christmas story in the Bible, we eat waffles and watch the Disney Christmas parade on ABC. Something about the parade just puts me in the Christmas spirit for the rest of the day, and one year, we even saw it live!
What dreams do you have for this Christmas season? They can be anything from a long-kept goal to a gift you hope to receive!
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Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She is represented by Karen Solem of Spencerhill Associates and holds a Master of Arts in English Creative Writing. Her publishing credits include short stories in Guideposts’ A Cup of Christmas Cheer, articles in Susie Magazine as well as SciendaQ, and her editing experience includes two literary journals published by the University of West Florida. Ashley is a 2011 and 2014 Genesis Contest semifinalist, and she teaches writing and literature courses at her local university. When she’s not writing, Ashley’s probably rescuing stray dogs, traveling, or finding new small towns for story settings.