Published by Bantam Dell, New York 2001 and 2004.
Heading for Peru for a year in the Peace Corps, daughter Blair would spend her first Christmas away from home. Without Blair to share the holidays, it all seemed less joyous and festive. Luther had calculated that last year the holidays had cost them $6100 and what did they have to show for it? On a whim, Luther stopped into the travel bureau on the ground floor of the building where he was a managing partner of an accounting firm. Enticed by the colorful brochures and pitch by the young, tanned travel agent, he commenced on a plan. For approximately half of what they spent the year before, Luther and Nora could spend 10 glorious days in the sun on the Island Princess cruise ship; snorkeling on Grand Cayman, windsurfing in Jamaica, lying on the crystal beaches of the Bahamas. It was an easy decision.
Forget hauling heavy boxes up and down rickety attic stairs. No more fighting the crowds in the stores over the last of the hottest item of the season. They savored the idea of no Christmas cards to purchase, sign, lick and mail to people you never hear from the other eleven months of the year. Most of all, Luther relished the idea that he did not have to risk life and limb to haul the eight foot Frosty the Snowman out of the basement and onto the roof to match all the other roofs on Hemlock Lane.
The anticipation of warm sea air and bright blue waters easily compensated for the occasional “Scrooge” or “Humbug” muttered by fellow coworkers and neighbors as far as Luther was concerned. Nora wavered when the Boy Scouts dejectedly dragged themselves back down the front walk without a tree sale. She almost succumbed to pressure by the police fundraiser and the fireman’s Toys For Tots drive.
The good neighbors were aghast. Who ever heard of such a thing? Without the Krank’s Frosty on their roof, the street did not have a chance at winning the neighborhood contest as Best Decorated Street. When the posters of “Free Frosty” featuring a chain ridden Frosty the Snowman appeared on their lawn, they knew the neighbors had crossed the line. They only had to make it until Christmas day when the ship departed Miami airport.
Twenty four hours before their departure, it all began to unravel. Luther saw his dream of basking in the Caribbean sun seeping away from him. When push came to shove, the Kranks had to learn fast what the true meaning of Christmas was all about. A quick funny book, also available on CD for those less inclined to read, called “Christmas with the Kranks”.
Joanne Tailele has been a full time resident of Marco Island for two years. Born in Youngstown, her last “home” for 12 years was Columbus, Ohio. Between Joanne and her husband, she has six children and nine grandchildren. She works as a receptionist for a local real estate company.