Listen here to Christmas in July an excerpt from Katie M. Reid’s A Very Bavarian Christmas here! Or on your favorite podcast app! Or read it below!
Excerpt from Chapter 1 (of A Very Bavarian Christmas by Katie M. Reid):
Behold, She Will Be Called
Holly couldn’t believe this was her actual life. She begrudgingly tied on her red apron and plastered on a forced, albeit festive, smile as she pushed through the swinging doors that led from the break room to the sprawling showroom of Neumann’s, otherwise known as the mile- long Christmas store. Every hour, on the hour, a message rang throughout the store: “Willkommen to Neumann’s—a mile of Christmas joy for every girl and boy. Whether you’re one or a hundred and two, we’ve got something special just for you. Happy shopping!”
As she made her way to her work station in Section 8, Holly wondered why on earth she let her mother talk her into working at Neumann’s. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” swelled from the rafters, but a “Bah humbug!” anthem retorted in Holly’s heart.
This was never the plan.
Holly sighed and tightened her messy bun before taking her position behind the ornament personalization counter. Moving back to her hometown of Bavarian Falls to regroup as a thirty-something had not been part of Holly’s life goals. But here she was, on her fifth day of work, applying her art degree to fragile ornaments.
“Hey, Holly. Ready to make someone’s holiday brighter?” teased her co-worker, Andy.
“I’ll do my darnedest, but truthfully, Christmas and I aren’t the best pairing.”
“Your secret is safe with me, Holly-girl,” Andy assured her.
Although they hadn’t known each other long, Andy reminded Holly of her older brother,
Gabe, particularly because teasing was his preferred method of communication.
Holly flashed him a genuine smile as she picked up her clipboard with the printed spreadsheet of custom orders for the day.
“I don’t understand why we can’t use a computer instead of this clipboard.”
“But that would be out of place now, wouldn’t it?” chuckled Andy, gesturing to the time capsule of Christmas nostalgia that surrounded them—all 5,280 feet of it.
“Hullllooo! Holly! I’ve got some good news to deliver,” sang the store manager, Ms. Betty Jo Wilson.
If ever there was a woman who embodied Christmas cheer, she was it. With her rosy cheeks, blinking necklace that lit up brighter than Rudolph’s nose and had a setting that could induce a seizure, and obnoxious socks that jingled as she walked, Betty Jo was one-of-a-kind.
“Special delivery for Miss Holly Noel! Your beloved name tag has arrived, and now you are . . . official. An official member of the Neumann family” cooed the store manager.
“Um . . . thanks, Betty Jo. Wow, my first and middle names, huh? Well,I haven’t been called by both names since . . . .” She paused.
“I just couldn’t resist. I mean . . . is there not a more perfect name for a Neumann’s employee than Holly Noel? It made my day!”
“Why . . . um, thank you.”
“Now there’s one thing left to do before I’m off to straighten up Section 10.”
Betty Jo explained in a very loud whisper, “The angel ornaments end up in such disarray after the preschool groups visit. Those little cherubs act like little devils sometimes.”
At this heretical admission, Betty Jo snort-laughed before continuing, “But I digress . . . the matter at hand, or should I say, in my hand . . . is to present you with this name tag, Neumann’s style.”
Andy tried to muffle his laughter as Holly fought to maintain her composure.
“We have a tradition here, Miss Holly Noel, that you probably aren’t aware of. When a new employee has been here for a week with satisfactory results, I pin on their name tag. Disclaimer, I’ve only poked two employees to the point of shedding blood.”
Holly’s eyes widened as Betty Jo repeated her snort-laugh.
“It was just a dab of blood, dear, that’s all. I promise. I had you a tad worried, didn’t I?”
One last snort-laugh for good measure.
“As I was saying, I will pin this name tag on your cute self as our theme music plays.
Any employee who is within reasonable walking distance will join in singing, as we Willkommen you to the Neumann’s family.”
Andy’s knowing smile met Holly’s “You knew about this?” glare, as Betty Jo busted out her walkie-talkie to let the higher-up know it was time to cue the music.
N is for Nativity . . . that celebrates the Savior’s birth.
E is for Emmanuel . . . Christmas is with us every day.
U is for the Unique ways . . . we spread this yuletide cheer.
M is for . . . .”
Betty Jo, Andy, and a handful of employees—who’d hustled over from their stations as soon as they heard the opening notes of the theme song—jubilantly sang their hearts out. Andy was loudest of all. After N-E-U-M-A-N-N-S was spelled out and the final chord resounded, Holly’s official name tag was pinned on her apron by Betty Jo.
Spoiler alert: no bloodshed.
To listen to more of A Very Bavarian Christmas, head over to Amazon to purchase the audiobook, or order a print copy of the ebook there too. Or order a print copy through Walmart‘s or Barnes & Noble’s website.
A Very Bavarian Christmas © Katie M. Reid 2020
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