You know you’re in for an emotional read with any Hallmark-inspired story. Greg Kincaid continues the tradition with his new book, Christmas with Tuckerdriven by sales success, A Dog Named Christmaswhich became a 2009 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, capturing more than 12 million American viewers.
George McCray, in his sixties, awaits his mother’s Christmas visit at his dairy farm in Crossing Trails, Kansas. He now suffers from memory loss. To make it easier to remember him, he selected key McCray family memorabilia, including a dog named Tucker’s collar, his grandfather’s tin mug, and the last puzzle his father, John, gave his mother. Grandma Cora.
Those items come to life, as George recounts in the winter of 1962, as he awaits the arrival of his mother. It was then that, at the age of thirteen, George made the transition from a boy to a young man.
In June, George’s father was killed in a tractor accident on the farm, shaking the McCray family to the core. George lived with his parents, sisters Hannah and Trisha and Grandpa Bo and Grandma Cora McCray.
In late summer, George’s mother and her college-age sisters ventured back to Minnesota to be near their parents. Everyone, including George, thought it best that she stay on the farm until Christmas, help run the McCray dairy farm; and adjust to life without his father.
Kincaid plunges you deep into George’s young world; and describes the impact a four-year-old Irish setter has on his life.
Neighbor Frank Thorne asks the McCray family to look after his unnamed dog while he serves time for drunken disorderly conduct at the local jail. He learns how Tucker earns his name while he stays with the McCrays.
George is initially reluctant to befriend the canine, whom he regularly sees from afar before boarding his school bus each morning; tied to a circular chain. It’s not long before the two become inseparable, sharing a warm bed together during the bitter cold Kansas nights. Tucker is loyally there for George, as he often contemplates the loss of his father and the unfairness of life.
Central America, simpler times prevail. Grandma Cora is quietly working at the puzzle table. She builds challenging puzzles that, until her death, her son John provided. Grandpa Bo drinks every day from the tin cup that has been in the McCray family for generations. He also makes a leather necklace; showing “Tucker McCray”, once, through a turn of events, George gains ownership of the Irish setter.
Experience the realities of life on the farm. George gets up every day at 4:30 am to help Grandpa Bo milk the cows before he goes to school. It is a generational task that he inherited after the untimely death of his father.
Feel also the cattle’s affinity for walking on frozen pond water, which often results in death when the ice breaks up and they cannot escape. Kincaid describes George’s harrowing attempt to save the animals, as he endured near frostbite and bleeding bare feet.
Cherokee County, Kansas experiences one of its worst winter storms days before Christmas. With roads blocked by snow, many residents are left to fend for themselves. Grandpa Bo decides it’s time to teach George how to operate the giant machine, called a maintainer (today’s grader), to help clear the roads. “My grandfather was giving me a new rule book for adults so I could get rid of the childish primer that had let me down so much that year. I learned to be suspicious of rules rooted in my rights and needs, and to respect the rules instead.” based on truth and concern for others”.
The Christmas spirit alludes to George, given his father’s death and ambivalent feelings about moving back to Minnesota to live with his mother: “Christmas, I thought it wasn’t going to be a good one this year. How could it be when you had thirteen years old and I knew, I just knew you weren’t going to get what you wanted?”
Christmas with Tucker culminates in a citywide celebration of the season, not unlike It is a wonderful life. Spend some time over the holidays and read Kincaid’s 180-page short story, sure to enhance your holiday season.
Author Greg Kincaid lives on a farm in Kansas; and he is an advocate for pet adoption. To find adoptable pets near you, visit http://www.petfinder.com.