Janet's Jargon

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Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Story behind the story--at McDonald's

OK, people have heard what started the story of "A Christmas Dream," and that story has become almost as popular as the book itself. So here, for those inquiring minds, is where it all began.
Ivan (my hubby) and I stopped at McDonald's for breakfast after we dropped the kids off at school. It was a slow morning, with only a few people there. In the booth beside us there was what appeared to be a very typical family: a mom, a dad, and a 3-4 year old little boy. We commented on how well-behaved the little guy was. We should have known that would spell disaster.
Within a few minutes, the little boy was up on his feet, stamping on the booth seat and yelling at the top of his lungs, "I don't want to go see Santa! I don't want to look at Christmas trees and lights! I don't want to go see the toys! I don't want to pick out a Christmas tree!" He paused for just a second, then added even more loudly, "All I want for Christmas is you for my daddy!"
Well, at that point, we KNEW this was not an ordinary family. By now everybody in the restaurant was focused on the threesome.
The mom, you could just see that she wanted to disappear under the booth where nobody could see her. The guy--obviously not the daddy at all--handled it perfectly. He reached across the table, took the gal's hand in his, reached into his jacket pocket and extracted that little black velvet box he had carefully tucked away, and said, "I wanted to do this tonight, after Jeremy was in bed, the tree was all trimmed, and everything was perfect. But I guess we can do it here just as well." He paused, opened the box and slid the sparkling gem onto her finger, then gazed up at her with great admiration. "Will you marry me?"
I don't know if it was because of shock, or if she was waiting for something more, but she sat in silence, not responding to his proposal.
As if he could read her thoughts, he said, "I DO love you, you know."
It must have been what she was waiting for, as she then quickly answered with a resounding "Yes."
Jeremy began jumping up and down, clapping and hollering at the top of his voice, as he hugged first his mom, and then his new "daddy-to-be," "We're gonna get married--and we did it at Burger Donald's!!!" And the entire group in the restaurant--customers and employees alike--broke into uproarious applause and cheers.
I knew I had the makings of a great story. All I had to do was to figure out the rest of it. What had happened to Jeremy's "real" dad? Why were they alone? Who was the handsome man who was riding to their rescue?
You know it doesn't take long for a writer's wheels to spin out of control. What was conjured up in my mind that day became "A Christmas Dream." Of all of my books, it is by far my favorite. I hope you will get a copy of it. I have heard from lots of people who have told me they have read it together as a family project during the holidays. I hope you will join them.
And the next time I get back here, I will tell you the very special story of how one young woman from California had her entire life transformed because of "A Christmas Dream." Yes, miracles do still happen--especially at Christmas time!


  • At 8:06 PM, Blogger Dorothy said…

    How neat, Janet! I'm suspecting that the guy had died, but that's just my guessing. It's amazing how we get our idea for our books and this is a great story. I loved it.

  • At 8:58 PM, Blogger Jen said…

    Oh my goodness! I love hearing the story-behind-the-story. And now I've got to get that book. :)

    (Hey! Can I blame you for my "to-read" pile being almost as tall as I am?)

  • At 9:59 PM, Blogger JanetElaineSmith said…

    Sorry, but the only way I will accept that blame is if at least half of the books are mine! LOL!

  • At 10:53 PM, Blogger Jen said…

    Darn. That's what I figured. :)

  • At 11:50 PM, Blogger HuntressReviews said…

    I read that story about "Burger Donald's". LOL! Was that part in the book? Or did you post it on one of the groups before? (I read the book. So now I am wondering if THAT is where I read it.)

  • At 9:08 PM, Blogger JanetElaineSmith said…

    It was in the "Author's Letter" at the end of the book, so I'm sure that's where you read it. I loved your review of A Christmas Dream. It is readers like you that make it worth writing. Bless you forever!

  • At 9:20 PM, Blogger JanetElaineSmith said…


    A Christmas Dream had just been out for about a month when I got a call from some young woman in California. She had persuaded my publisher to give her my phone number after telling them her story.

    She never did tell me her name. She began by telling me that her mother-in-law had given her a copy of A Christmas Dream. She said "You changed my life forever."
    I asked her what she meant, and she told me that her husband had been killed in Desert Storm, "and you wrote our story. He even died the same way Susan's husband did in the book. Is that a true story?"
    I told her that yes, it was indeed. Our oldest son had a fellow he had gone to high school with who was in that same "accidental friendly fire" that was used in the book. He was the only one of four men in the tent who survived, although he lost a leg as a result of it.
    She continued by telling me that she, like Susan, had a little boy that her husband never got a chance to see. "In fact," she said, half laughing and half crying, "his name is Jeremy, the same as Susan's little boy." Then she said, "I had not been able to put it behind me after that awful day when those men in uniform walked up to my front door. After I read the book, I was finally able to put it behind me. I could even cry! It felt SO good!"
    I asked her if she, like Susan, had found a fellow with whom she could share her future, and she again laughed.
    "There is one fellow I work with. He keeps asking me out and I keep telling him I'm not ready yet. Well, after I finished the book, I called him and asked him if he still wanted to go out with me. He said he sure did, and where would I like to go?"
    "I didn't hesitate even a moment before I said 'To McDonald's.' He said--just like Kevin did in the book--'I think I can afford a little better than that."
    "Well, we went to McDonald's and I gave him the book to read. I told him once he read it, he would understand." She told me she didn't think she could ever be happy again, but she thought maybe, just maybe she could.

    The next year, about a week before Christmas, I had another call from her--to tell me that she and her new friend were going to be married on Valentine's Day. "And Jeremy just loves him," she said.

    See? I told you miracles still happen--especially at Christmas time!

  • At 7:22 PM, Blogger JanetElaineSmith said…

    Can you believe it? It is Ground Hog's day today! How fast the time flies. They say that is proof you are having fun. Well, nobody has more fun than Patrick and Grace, from their own mysteries. This is the perfect time to jump on board by reading the first book in their series: In St. Patrick's Custody. In just over a month, it will be St. Patrick's Day, so if you order it now either online or go to your favorite bookstore, you can get into the mood. What's that you say? You aren't Irish? Well, as Grace said about her first husband, Jim, "He couldn't help it that he was Swedish!" And his funeral was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Don't you have to be at least a little bit Irish to pull that one off?

  • At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Lynne Mc said…

    Being an author of juvenile work I really related to this story behind the story. We get our ideas from many varied places. You never know where inspiration will come from. Reading the rest of the story of the phone call from the widow was a true blessing to a writer. Hearing how your work has helped another can keep you going for days and weeks and months. Thanks for sharing the information, Janet.


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