Last year, we broke all our usual Christmas traditions to try something completely new. Instead of waking up to a decorated tree loaded with presents, we boarded a plane on December 20th and headed to paradise, literally: Paradise Island in the Bahamas, home of the incredible Atlantis resort.
Our boys, ages 14 and 11, had always wanted to visit this amazing water park. My husband, a former Coast Guard officer, loves all things that relate to the ocean, and this resort has the most beautiful aquariums I’ve ever seen. And *I* love to lie in the sunshine and read till I doze off. Especially when I realize I would normally be running around like a crazy person at the end of December—trudging through the cold, fighting for parking spaces, and scrambling for last minute gifts.
Although Atlantis had always been on our list of dream vacations, visiting over Christmas never occurred to us. But since most people prefer to be home on Christmas morning, the room rates drop considerably. Our best friends saw the deal over the summer, and asked if we’d join them for the trip. As my husband and I thought it through, we realized how perfect it could be. No trying to fill the space under the tree with gifts for boys who are too old for toys and too young to appreciate clothes. No tense moments with extended family. No malls, no wrapping until midnight, no cooking, cleaning, or plowing. This trip would be a gift to all of us, from all of us.
So our family of 4 joined their family of 4, and we had a blast. The kids were all old enough to have the run of the park. The adults spent the days lounging by the pool, floating along the lazy river, and enjoying tropical drinks. We had fabulous dinners every night, including a Christmas dinner at Mesa, one of celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s restaurants.
Santa did bring stockings full of candy in our suitcases, and the resort was filled with Christmas decorations. Some of the employees dressed as elves. Yachts lined up along the marina glittered with colorful lights. Santa led festive parades. And while it didn’t feel like our usual Christmas, the important parts were there: our little family all together, sharing the holiday with some of our very favorite people in the world.
I’ve known the other couple since high school, when we were all part of the same group of friends. As teenagers, we spent all our time together, exploring new ways to get into trouble on a regular basis. College moved us all apart for a few years, and I met my amazing husband in grad school. But that childhood connection drew us all back together, and 30 years later, the bond remains.
This close friendship served as my inspiration for the characters in SILVER LAKE. Rain, Jason, Allie, A.J., and Brandy found that same connection…until Brandy vanished during their senior year. Five years later, Rain is convinced Brandy’s ghost is trying to tell them something, and the former friends reunite at a lake house from their past. Rain is determined to find closure for Brandy’s terminally ill mother, but she’s also anxious to reconcile with Jason, the man whose heart she broke back in high school. Throughout the haunting summer, Rain must find the courage to face a desperate spirit, painful secrets, and a second chance with a first love.
This Christmas will find us back at home, appreciating our usual traditions while fondly remembering last year’s adventure. I’m excited to go back to a busy Christmas morning around the tree. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see our friends on December 25th, as they live 9 hours away. But we worked out another plan, and spent Thanksgiving together in New York City! The holidays remind us to be thankful for our family and friends, no matter where we are…a lounge chair by the pool, or curled up under a blanket in front of a fire. And if you’d like a chance to win a copy of SILVER LAKE to read beside that cozy fire or shimmering pool, stop on over and leave a comment on my blog: http://kathrynknightbooks.blogspot.com/
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