Olivia Sawyer manages to get through the holiday rituals only by gritting her teeth. By the time Christmas is over, she's had enough. Enough of her family's ingratitude, their total lack of a Christmas spirit. Desperate times demand desperate actions.
Not in her wildest nightmare did she think her campaign to open their eyes and change their attitudes would take a whole year. But even as the next Christmas draws near, it appears that nothing has changed.
And then fate intervenes, and it's too late for changes.
All Olivia could think about when she returned to work after the holidays was teaching her family a lesson. The idea that had started the night before kept growing and growing. While dressing for work as a medical receptionist that morning, she decided she wouldn’t shop for presents next Christmas. She’d hand out cold, unemotional gift cards. No wrapping paper, no glittering bows. Nick would be happy with the money that would save. In fact, the whole family would probably be happy. There would be no returns; they could choose their own color and size and toy. So where would the lesson come in?
No, she had to do something more drastic, something that would make them unhappy, not happy. They had to learn gratitude. And the only way to do that would be to deprive them of…what?
Olivia ran errands after work with that thought burning a hole in her brain. What could she deprive them of? The Christmas tree? Maybe she wouldn’t buy one next year. That would make Nick happy; he wouldn’t have to get all the Christmas boxes down. But she’d only be depriving herself of the joy of hanging those special-memory ornaments. And if she didn’t have a tree, why put out all the other decorations: the singing Santas and animals, the trailing garlands, pine-scented wreaths, red velvet ribbons of every size, shiny bells, and sparkling stars? Did anyone even notice those things? Friends did, but she wracked her brain trying to remember one compliment from her own family. Not one single “Oh, that’s pretty!” came to mind.
So she’d be back to depriving herself, not anyone else. She wanted her family to be grateful for…?
Olivia was putting away groceries when it hit her like a ton of bricks. “Me,” she said out loud. She wanted Nick to be thankful for the money she saved him, not for the money she spent. She wanted her children and grandchildren to be grateful for the beauty she created around each and every holiday and for the food she slaved to prepare.
So, what she needed to deprive them of was herself. But how was she going to do that? Leave them and spend next Christmas at someone else’s house? That made no sense at all. She’d definitely have to give this idea more thought.
The solution came in the middle of her favorite TV show, Desperate Housewives.