Will Martin, 32-years old, is temporarily back in his hometown to take over the family real estate business in the wake of his grandfather's death the previous July. Will's grandparents raised him from the age of four when his parents died in a tragic car accident. He is dating Julia Welsch, a young, beautiful, social climbing woman. After Thanksgiving dinner, Will's beloved grandmother pulls out her late husband's daily journal and remarks he had been seeing a woman named Lillian each Christmas Eve according to the diary. As a result of the discovery Will's loving memory of his grandfather and the 55-year marriage of his grandparents he so much admired is shattered. His grandmother asks Will to find out who is this woman as a Christmas gift to her. Wherever he goes, strangers tell him how much they owe their prosperity and start of their small businesses to his grandfather Warren Martin. Will is touched by their kindness, but troubled by the seemingly Jekyll and Hyde dual life his grandfather led. No one seems to know of the mysterious woman or the relationship in Warren Martin's life.
Matters at the agency are difficult as he tries to modernize the company and change the business philosophy but meets resistance from the staff and agents under his management. The relationship with Julia comes to an end at the annual Christmas Ball as their priorities are at odds. Around that same time he meets Renee and her six-year old son Justin. Renee, now the owner of a dance studio, is a former employee of Warren Martin's and Will is hopeful that she may know who Lillian is. She is unable to help but the two are attracted to one another. Will unearths a photograph of his grandfather, another man, and a woman who has signed the picture, “Love L”. The clue leads Will nowhere and he is further confused as he learns his grandfathers will gave proceeds from the estate to a third undisclosed person. He now believes that Lillian may be an illegitimate child of Warren's.
On the morning of Christmas Eve he is no closer to solving the mystery now then he was a month earlier. He has decided to stay and run the family business the right way. He then takes Renee and Justin to a Christmas tree lot to get the family tree. Will learns his grandfather typically picked out two trees each year; one for the family and the other going to Martha Fields. This news hits Will like a slap in the face. He drives to the address for Martha Fields and learns it is a nursing home. It is here that he meets Lillian, now comatose, bedridden for the past twenty-eight years. That evening Will brings Renee, Justin and his grandmother to visit the other woman from his grandfather's past. Richard Siddoway's book is a touching and uplifting holiday tale about family, love, and forgiveness.
This report prepared by David Fletcher