A Christmas story

The idea came to me that there must be a romance in the story of the Nativity. But then it also came to me that even suggesting such a thing might upset some people in the post-“Fifty Shades of Grey” era.

Because romance novels these days have sex in them. And there’s no S, E or X in Christmas. Well, there is an S. And—okay—Xmas has an X. But there is definitely no E in Christmas, and, despite what they say about people knowing each other “in the biblical sense,” you can’t have sex without E.

Still, I was convinced there was a love story in there. A sweet one. With historical and supernatural elements, which means it would have lots of crossover appeal. But how do you find it?

Then I saw that Grace Burrowes had written a post at Romance University about how she mined the Nativity narratives of the Bible for elements to include in her novel, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish.

“I opened the first scene in book at a coaching inn,” she writes, “one full to the rafters as the result of a snowstorm, and there was, (all together now, on three…) No Room At The Inn.”

She says her story has wise men coming from the east, an abandoned baby and “liberal doses of Handel’s Messiah.” She adds that “people who suffer intense loneliness at the holidays, the bleakness of winter, the left-out-in-the-cold feeling of a character cut off from community, orphaned feelings, and the traveler far from home” are common romance themes present or implied in Luke, Chapter Two.

“Hope,” Burrowes concludes, “maybe the predominant theme of the biblical Christmas story, is often all that inspires a character to move from the Big Black Moment toward the Happily Ever After.”

No angels sang sweetly o’er the plain, but it nonetheless occurred to me that I didn’t have to think about how to find a romance in the Nativity. I’d already done it.

No one gets born in Palm Springs Heat, but Lara is an orphan who was abandoned by her mother. Due to her divorce and the isolation of having been devoted to furthering her ex-husband’s career, she is cut off from the community. Venturing into the fast-paced world of Fast Lane makes her a traveler far from home—culturally, if not literally. And while she’s already endured a Big Black Moment or two before the book even gets to page one, Lara finds that hope—and love—spring eternal.

So did I lift all that from the Good Book? Or are these tropes that good books have in common? I never opened my American Standard Version when figuring out the plot points of Palm Springs Heat, but I’m well versed in the begats of Matthew and the chain of events sparked by the decree that went forth from Caesar Augustus. But storytellers had been aware of what makes a tale memorable from time immemorial.

We’ve all heard them over and over—and seek to hear them again because these are the things we want and need to hear over and over. Why? Maybe because we’ve all felt like we’re far from home, out in the cold and wishing the skies would part and deliver some good news.

And, so my wish for you is that your holiday season is filled with all the warm, joyous elements found in romance novels, good books and the Good Book, and that the twelve months that follow will bring you closer to the Happily Ever After you cherish most.

Because you can’t have a Happily Ever After—or love—without E.

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