Her financial person keeps trying to get ahold of her, but she doesn't call him back. Finally she decides to call him. He tells her that a year ago her husband made a huge withdrawal from his retirement account (850,000) and she only has 50,000 left. She thought she had been set, and she can't imagine what he would have taken the money out for. She imagines maybe that he had some kind of secret life, maybe another family or woman.
She had been asked to teach a writing class and was going to skip out of it. In light of the news of her account being down so low, she decides to teach the class so she will have some money coming in. She also gets asked to speak at the library and she will get paid for it. She kind of freezes up when she was supposed to be talking. I just feel like she just feels so useless and down because she doesn't know what she is going to do with her future. She hasn't had any ideas for a new book and she feels like she is not important. She needs something to get her self esteem back up.
A man called Helen and told her he needed to meet with her. It had to do with some business that he had with her husband. It concerned that huge withdrawal.
(I was very surprised when I found out the reason for the huge withdrawal that Helen's husband had made from the bank. I won't say what it is because you should read the book.)
Helen and her daughter Tessa went to Helen's parents house for Christmas. Tessa asked if Helen brought the box with her and she hadn't. I almost cried when she told of the box (I literally had tears in my eyes). Helen's husband got her a box that was beautifully wrapped. She saved it for last. She opened it and it was empty. Her husband said he got her the empty box because he tried to think of what Helen would need, and he decided that since they had a baby on the way, they had everything they needed. He could have gotten her things, but there was nothing she really needed. That was such a sweet gift. The family takes turns giving the box to someone every year and that person has to tell what is in the box. They have to talk about what they have in their life that is a gift to them. Helen gets to thinking about when her daughter knew about Santa Claus. It was when she was 8 years old. She told her daughter, and her daughter said she knew already. (It's so weird because last night Meredith--my daughter who is 8--was saying there are some kids that were saying that Santa isn't real and she told them he is. She said "my mom and dad wouldn't lie to me about that". I told her there is a Santa, but I did feel a little guilty about "lying". I know it's only a matter of time, but I want to keep the magic alive as long as I can.) Helen looks at her mom's Christmas tree to see if the ornament she made in Kindergarten of clothespins is on the tree. Her mom knew what she was looking for and she said the ornament is on there. Helen thought she would look in the morning to see. (That is so sweet how her mom still puts that ornament on and that it means so much to Helen. It goes to show that no matter your age, we are still kids at heart.)
Here is a quote from this book that I really like. I totally describes how I feel about books.
When Suzie introduced Helen, she told the audience that one of the best things about books is that they are an interactive art form: that while the author may describe in some detail how a character looks, it is the reader's imagination that completes the image, making it his or her own. "That's why we so often don't like movies made from books, right?" Suzie said. "We don't like someone else's interpretation of what we see so clearly." She talked, too, about how books educate and inspire, and how they sooth souls--"like comfort food without the calories," she said. She talked about the tactile joys of reading, the feel of a page beneath one's fingers; the elegance of typeface on a page. She talked about how people complain that they don't have time to read, and reminded them that if they gave up a half an hour of
television a day in favor of reading, they could finish twenty-five books in a year. "Books don't take time away from us," she said. "They give it back. In this age of abstraction,m of multitasking, of speed for speed's sake, they reintroduce us to the elegance--and the relief!--of real, tick-tock time."
Helen teaching that writing class was a very important step in her life. She looked forward to the classes, and even managed to spark a love connection between one of her students and someone very close to her. Helen finds that her life is not over even though her husband has died. She still has life left in her and may have someone new to share her life with.
I enjoyed reading this book a lot. I really like the way Elizabeth Berg writes. Her books just feel so cozy. I gave this 4 out of 5 stars.