The Christmas List
Mandy believes everything can be made better by making a list—including choosing a husband. Lists make everything clear and easy. Lists keep all the pluses and minuses of life in their own neat little columns with no room for surprises…and the key to happiness is structure and avoiding surprises.
Max is a free spirit with a God-given gift for sculpture. If he’s ever made a list, it was by mistake. He insists the key to happiness is to let God take the reins of his life.
When Max lands a huge project, and employs Mandy to handle his business’s accounting, she struggles to accept that God can keep all her checks in balance.
This December, can Max learn that sometimes a little structure is a good thing? And can Mandy relax enough to enjoy the holidays and actually fall in love, or will she firmly stick to The Christmas List?
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“Isn’t he dreamy?” Jennifer showed Mandy the magazine with the spread of pictures. “I’d love to marry a prince and be Princess Jennifer. Look how perfect her hair is, and her outfit is to die for.” Jennifer threw the magazine on the coffee table. “Can you call me Princess Jennifer a few times with a ‘Your Highness’ thrown in?”
Mandy picked up the magazine and sighed. “Isn’t twenty-eight a little old to be dreaming about a prince? He doesn’t do it for me. Besides, you need the perfect hair first and nice outfits before you get a date with the prince. He’s not my type anyway.”
“Oh, you’d say no to a prince? Get out.” She shoved her friend’s leg.
“He doesn’t fit my criteria. I have things to finish before I get married. I want to expand my accounting firm and buy a house. A boyfriend is pretty far down.”
Jennifer rolled her eyes, “Don’t tell me—”
“I constructed a list,” finished Mandy. “How you can get through life, meandering from dating one guy to another is beyond me. It’s so disorganized.”
“I’m a blonde right now. What can I say? I intend to have more fun. I’m four years older. I don’t have as much time as you. A woman has a shelf life. I already have my business up and running. I’m ready for my prince.”
“When I’m ready to marry, everything will be perfect. My husband will fit my expectations. See, I know what I’m looking for in a mate. You’re like a meteorite, hoping to hit on the right combination. I’m more like a laser, with a keen focus.” Mandy pantomimed a meteor whizzing across the sky.
“Don’t you believe in true love?” Jennifer stopped, popcorn halfway to her mouth.
“I’m an accountant. Numbers don’t lie. Probability says the chances are better if I narrow my search and know what I’m looking for.” Mandy patted her always-present leather-bound notebook.
“What’s on your checklist, Mademoiselle Accountant?” Jennifer demanded, eyes twinkling.
“It’s stupid, forget it. Everyone pictures accountants as boring, but I can tell you, we get what we want. We’re goal-setting achievers,” Mandy said.
“Come on, help a girlfriend out. Lay the information on me. Perhaps I can learn something.” Jennifer propped her chin on her palm and smiled.
Mandy made a great show of opening her notebook and finding the correct spot. Lines of neatly spaced writing covered the pages. “Brown hair and brown eyes,” She began.
“Eyes? What do eyes have to do with anything?” Jennifer demanded.
“It’s my criteria. Men with brown hair and eyes complement a woman who has different coloring from them. Perhaps more appreciative of someone like me, a raven-haired woman with blue eyes. Then, the children have more options for unique colorings, a wider gene pool.”
“Point taken. Continue.” Jennifer nodded, her grin lighting up her face.
“Strong hands are vital.” Mandy ran a finger down the list.
“So, a masseuse or a violinist?”
“Not sure. I like the way some men’s hands are so strong and rugged. I’d like him to be big. Tall and big, not fat, but solid and tall so I feel like a tiny fragile flower.”
Jennifer snorted. “You? A fragile flower? I’ve seen you scoop up a line drive and almost knock over the first baseman with your throw.”
“My softball days are long over. That’s why I need a big man,” Mandy said. “I am a substantial woman.”
“Substantial means fat, which you are not, by any stretch of the imagination, girl. Women would kill for a set of curves like yours, but you hide behind your baggy neutrals and beiges. You ought to let me dress you sometime. With that figure, you could be a knockout.” Jennifer sighed before giving up on the old argument. “What does this mountain of a man do for a living?”
“A professional man. Someone who wears a suit and sits at a big solid desk and makes a good living. That’s all.” She snapped the binder closed.
“Well, that’s a relief. I’m sure the combined masses of mankind just breathed a sigh of relief that at least some of them made the cut.”
“I want to make sure our marriage lasts forever, and that takes some serious pre-selection homework. How about you? What do you picture in the man you marry?”
Jennifer leaned back and stared at the ceiling. “I’d rather enjoy the surprise. If I only focus on a certain thing, I might miss something else.”
“You’re like the little boy who missed everything because he was waiting to see if something better came along,” Mandy scoffed.
“Good thing something better always does,” Jennifer threw a piece of popcorn at Mandy, who caught it in her mouth, smiling.
They both finished their snacks and got ready to leave.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” complained Mandy. “It’s snowing too hard. We should stay here tonight and be safe.”
“It’s my birthday, and you promised, bestest of best friends. That’s why we’re taking your car with the new tires instead of my car with the bald tread that are more like riding a water slide.”
“I could make you a copy of my regular maintenance schedule for vehicles,” offered Mandy. “You could put it right in the glove compartment.”
“Keep it. I’d rather live on the edge. Let’s go paint us a picture.” She slipped on her coat and gloves.
“You should change your shoes. There will be snow in the parking lot, almost certain to be unplowed.”
Jennifer looked at the strappy red sandals with the kitten heels. “But they’re so cute.”
“Do you want a small bag for your shoes? You could carry them and change once you get there.”
“No, I’ll brave it. I hate to carry things.”
Mandy rolled her eyes at her friend and left her apartment through the garage door, locked the house and double-checked the knob.
“This is new, you made a note to remind you to lock the house. Oh, my, you are a list maker extraordinaire.”
“There’s beauty in being organized. Flowers don’t just grow all disorganized, each one is different. There are a certain number of petals for each flower. That repetition is what mathematicians call a Fibonacci sequence. It’s one of God’s glorious miracles.” Mandy led the way into the garage.
Jennifer was humming a popular tune and paying zero attention to her.
“Mathematics is so interesting. I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but I won’t give up. You’ll see the beauty of mathematics eventually. On the opposite end of the life scale, group painting has to be an all-time low in my life.”
“There’s wine and snacks too, catered by Grits and Grins. I wonder if my prince will be there.”
“This is horrible.” Mandy sank her head onto the steering wheel.
“Start the car. Our artistic side awaits discovery.”
Question 1: 1. Have you ever felt resistant to God’s plan like Mandy does?
Answer 1: individual
Question 2: 2. In what areas are you organized like Mandy and which are you spontaneous?
Answer 2: individual
Question 3: 3. When do you start Christmas shopping and when do you end? Have you already got yours wrapped in October, like Mandy or are you out at the 11th hour like Jennifer?
Answer 3: individual
Question 4: 4. Do you or have you ever wanted to run your own business? What is/was it?
Answer 4: individual
Question 5: 5. Could you live the life of Max, letting God take care of everything?
Answer 5: individual
Question 6: 6. Do you have that one friend who is always taking risks or are you that friend? What was your or their riskiest idea?
Answer 6: individual
Question 7: 7. When have others disappointed you? When have you disappointed others?
Answer 7: individual
Question 8: 8. God doesn’t distribute gifts like art, equally. Why do you think this is true or isn’t it?
Answer 8: individual
Question 9: 9. Jealousy rears its ugly head when Mandy hears about Sophie. Have you ever had a similar experience?
Answer 9 individual
Question 10: 10. Have you ever had a friend who complains about your “obsession” with God like Jennifer does? What do you say to them to help them understand?
Answer 10: individual