Christmas 1964, brings a mysterious visitor to Cynthia's house; a reclusive great-aunt nicknamed, "Crazy Daisy." Is she really crazy or just eccentric? Cynthia and Gus are determined to find out, but a stray ember and a flaming nightgown take the girls on an unexpected trip through time, back to 1914, where compassion and friendship gives new meaning to the spirit of Christmas.
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Christmas With Daisy
"How crazy is she?"
"I don't know. Her real name is Daisy, but I've heard some members of the family call her Crazy Daisy." Cynthia, my best friend since forever, hangs her favorite pink ballerina ornament on the tree and then stands back surveying her artistry.
I rummage through cardboard boxes filled with multi-colored decorations and grab a silver garland. "And, she's spending Christmas with you? What if she sets the house on fire or murders everyone during their sleep!"
She rolls her eyes and flips her blonde, red-ribboned ponytail. "Gus. Shut down your wild imagination. She's not a serial killer or an arsonist."
I shrug. "I'm just saying that you don't know much about this great-aunt of yours. Why do you suppose no one has talked about her before?" I'll get the scoop on Cynthia's Christmas visitor if it kills me! Er...poor choice of words.
Cynthia makes a big production of straightening the garland I've just thrown onto a large section of branches.
"I liked it that way." I complain. "Not everything has to hang in perfect symmetry. So boring."
"I'll decorate my tree, and you, Augusta Lee, decorate yours. Or, should I say, you stand ten feet away, throw ornaments and icicles in the general direction of your tree and hope something sticks."
I should've expected she'd bring up my given name sooner or later. My mom and dad just had to name me after my grandfather, Augustus Leeander, but when my avid love of sports and my dislike of fussing with my hair and clothes surfaced, they took to calling me Gus.
"Hey! I'm just here to help, so there's no need to be insulting." I grumble but can't dispute her description of my decorating technique. She's seen me in action. So...I change the subject back to this crazy aunt. "Where's she going to stay? Your room?"
Cynthia's attention is squarely on the tree that has stood in the same corner of the den every Christmas since...since either of us can remember. "Doesn't it look beautiful, Gus? I think I've outdone myself this year."
I give an absentminded nod to the perfectly placed ornaments: red, green, silver and blue equally spaced. Silver garland drapes precisely on each branch of the six-foot pine chosen from a tree farm this past weekend. Bor-rring. "Yeah, yeah, it's gorgeous. But, what about your room?"
"Mother hasn't said, but you don't think Danielle has any intention of being inconvenienced, do you?"
I couldn't imagine Cynthia's older sister allowing a stranger to take over her bedroom, and it would take a bulldozer to get her brother's room ready for human occupancy. Obviously, Cynthia would spend the holidays on the living room sofa. "I have an idea. You can stay with me, if you'd like. I'm sure Mom wouldn't mind."
Her eyes widen, and a smile breaks across her face. "I have a better idea! You stay with me."
Huh? She won't have a bedroom. A crazy aunt could be roaming around the house–possibly rooting around for butcher knives and axes–and she wants me to stay with her? "Oh, great. Then both of us would be without a bed. Why not stay at my house? You'll be safe and have a comfortable place to sleep."
"Oh, but then we'd miss out on maybe the best Christmas ever. Aren't you always saying that Christmas is so annoying with your bratty cousin banging on the piano all day and feeding sweet potatoes to your dog, Sam, just so he'll throw up? Wouldn't you rather be here to experience, first hand, the holidays with a strange, maybe scary, aunt?"
She has me there. Getting away from dear, sweet cousin Bradley for a few hours has to be an improvement, even if I have to sleep with one eye open, watching out for a shadowy figure to jam a pillow over my face. "I'll ask if I can stay Christmas Eve. Mom and Dad will want me home in time for the family dinner Christmas night, but someone has to watch your back."
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