Faced with spending Christmas alone, two widows resolve to leave the holiday hustle to others.
But as the simple joys of the holiday surround Loraine, will she relent and share good will with her neighbors and the less fortunate? And will elderly Mary Martha's classified ad to sell some old furniture entangle her in the life of young Charlie Justice, who needs more than a dining room table? More
In No Holly, No Ivy with her children grown and scattered for the first time since her husband’s death four years ago, Loraine is preparing to spend her first Christmas alone. Trying desperately to convince herself that she is happy with the situation—no baking, no shopping, no wrapping, no staying up all night to complete last-minute tasks—she settles in to enjoy the peace and solitude, with the birds at the bird feeder her only guests and her cat Tigger her only company.
Her Christmas Eve plans include dining quietly on the small baked ham and salad waiting in the refrigerator, leisurely reading John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas, and attending the midnight service at her church. She doesn’t know how she will fill the long hours of Christmas Day, but she acknowledges with determined satisfaction that it certainly won’t be at the frantic pace she has endured in years past. She resolves to get through the hours ahead by ignoring the holiday, much like the nice Jewish lady next door who celebrates only Hanukkah, or the Muslim gentleman two doors down on the other side who keeps only Ramadan. Then the phone rings...
In O Little Town of Progress,Mary Martha has spent her marriage to Parker Sims in the tall dark Sims house, under the watchful eyes of her mother-in-law. Now that both Mother Sims and Parker are gone, her friend Dolly is urging her to sell the house and move into the assisted living apartments where Dolly has found such contentment. Mary Martha acknowledges that the house really is too big for one lonely widow, much too crowded with unneeded furniture and unwanted memories. Still, she can’t quite entertain thoughts of selling Parker’s house. It was his family heritage, one of the things that had given him his identity—and had engulfed hers. Sometimes she had felt that, if she hadn’t stood where his shadow gave her substance, she would have faded away completely.
A few days after Parker’s funeral, she had replaced Mother Sims’ portrait over the piano with a Paul Sawyer print of sheep grazing peacefully along a country lane. Parker would not have liked her relegating Mother Sims to the attic with her face to the wall, but Parker was gone, and now when she dusted or ran the sweeper, she no longer felt those condemning eyes following her every movement.
Now, with her daughter in the convent and her son and his family leading busy lives elsewhere with little time to visit, she has decided that she no longer needs Mother Sims’ huge dining room suite. As she places the ad in the local paper, she eases her conscience by adding the piano her arthritic hands can no longer play and, reluctantly, the rocking chair she used when her babies were small.
What Charlie Justice was looking for was a dining room table and chairs so she and her husband could do some Christmas entertaining in their small apartment in a nearby town. That’s how she ended up on Mary Martha Sims’ front porch, newspaper ad in hand. But what she soon will be needing is a rocking chair, and some way to tell her unsuspecting husband that their plans to acquire another newspaper and to become a vital part of the jet set of Olde Towne will have to be put on hold.
Mary Martha detects Charlie's condition right away, and sets out to steer her from the dining room suite toward the rocking chair. Charlie, though, wants no part of this old woman’s meddling—until circumstances combine to draw the two together in unexpected ways and with totally unexpected results. Can two women from different places and times find common ground during Christmas—and healing for the pain in their hearts?