“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” ― Norman Vincent Peale
At what point does humanity need the hope and faith that belongs to the holidays more so than in a post-apocalyptic world? One that, if I read between the lines with any sort of accuracy, was decimated by a plague that stole Daniel’s husband Grant, and Jake’s partner Marcus, from them without so much as a promise that life would once again someday hold any sort of joy.
Grace R. Duncan’s Celebrating You, like my first Advent choice, isn’t your traditional Christmas tale—it’s a contemporary romance set in a dystopian landscape in which Daniel and Jake have learnt to get back to the basics of what life had once been in a sparer time, though Daniel’s ingenuity has given him a much more comfortable life than some others might have.
Daniel is settled in a home, has rooted himself to a place that means a semblance of normal, while Jake has spent the time since Marcus died wandering through life without much purpose other than existing from one day to the next. When he happens across Daniel digging up a tree to carry home to decorate, Jake offers to help and then stays on at Daniel’s home, for the companionship of a warm meal as much as for the sense that there is something else at play between them, something tangible that can’t be explained in words but can be felt all the same and is worth grabbing on to.
Celebrating You is a touching and heartwarming holiday story that does exactly the job it’s supposed to do. Grace R. Duncan offers a spark of magic and the promise of love between two men who have all the time in the world to rebuild their lives, not on the shared pain of their pasts but on the hope of a future, in a happy-ever-after time in which ever-after now means so much more.