At the close of THE QUILTER'S LEGACY, the Elm Creek Quilters were all in attendance on Christmas Eve, where they were surprised yet overjoyed to witness the wedding of Sylvia Bergstrom Compson, the Master Quilter, to her beloved Andrew Cooper.
THE NEW YEAR S QUILT tells the story of how the newlyweds celebrate their first holiday season as husband and wife. Not content to rest at home by the fire, they set out on a journey across the snow-covered fields of Pennsylvania.
Their destination is Connecticut, and the home of Andrew's daughter Amy. Unlike the Elm Creek Quilters, Amy has not offered her blessing to the union. Though her father has reminded her that marriage endures in sickness and in health, Amy fears that Andrew and Sylvia have passed the age where marriage remains a prudent choice.
Sylvia hopes to win over her new daughter-in-law through the lessons that quilting reveals about the bonds of love and family. As a gift for Amy, she undertakes a quilt titled New Year s Reflections, whose blocks represent the holiday traditions of Elm Creek Manor. As she stitches the blocks, memories of a lifetime come flooding back, along with words of wisdom meant to celebrate the achievements of generations past and create hope for the future.
Just as Christmas and New Year's Day bookend the joys of the season, THE NEW YEAR S QUILT is the perfect holiday companion volume to THE CHRISTMAS QUILT.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Jennifer Chiaverini is the author of the New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, five collections of quilt projects, and several historical fiction novels. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and sons in Madison, Wisconsin. To learn more, visit JenniferChiaverini.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Sylvia spun the radio dial through pop songs and talk shows until she came upon a station playing big band versions of holiday favorites. "We should break the news to her gently," Sylvia said. "We should sit her down, give her a stiff drink, and tell her in calm, soothing voices what we've done."
"You're likely to find that drink thrown in your face," Andrew retorted. "No, we should just tell her straight out, like tearing off a bandage. The sooner we tell her, the sooner she can start getting used to the idea."
Andrew knew his daughter better than Sylvia, but she doubted the direct approach would work. "How about this?" she suggested. "We'll say, 'Amy, dear, we have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that we've gotten married. The good news is that since we got married on Christmas Eve, you won't have to buy us a separate wedding present.'"
"I don't like calling our marriage 'bad news.'"
"I don't either, but I'm sure that's how Amy will look at it."
"If she had any idea how happy I am that you finally consented to be my bride, I can't believe she'd refuse to be happy for us."
"Perhaps you should tell her how happy you are," said Sylvia. "Perhaps it will be as simple as that."
They considered that for a moment, and then in unison said, "I doubt it." Andrew chuckled, and Sylvia caressed his cheek before returning her gaze to the passing scenery, to snow-covered hills alight with the thin sunshine of a late December morning. She could not remember the last time she had been so content. Her husband of nearly two days was by her side, the pleasures of a winter honeymoon awaited them, and dear friends -- a second family -- would welcome them home to Elm Creek Manor after the New Year.
If only Andrew's daughter had not objected to the marriage, Sylvia's happiness would be complete.
She muffled a sigh, reluctant to allow Amy's perplexing disapproval to ruin her good spirits. If only she could rid her thoughts of Amy's last visit to Elm Creek Manor, of her disappointed frown and the determined set to her shoulders when she reminded her father of Sylvia's stroke two years earlier, of how deeply Andrew had grieved when Amy's mother died of cancer. Sylvia and Andrew tried their best to put Amy's concerns to rest, but she had made up her mind, and nothing they said could persuade her that their marriage would not inevitably end in sorrow. "We all would love for you to have many, many years together," Amy had said, "but the end is going to be the same."
Eventually Andrew had heard enough. "If being by your mother's side throughout her illness taught me anything, it showed me that nothing matters but sharing your life with the people you love. Your mother had a great love of life. I'm ashamed that in her memory, you want me to curl up in a corner and wait to die."
Amy went scarlet as her father stormed off. Sylvia tried to reassure Amy that she had fully recovered from her stroke, she was in excellent health for her age, and she had sufficient resources to ensure that she would not become a burden to anyone, but Amy could not be appeased. Having failed to persuade her father, Amy appealed to Sylvia instead, but although Sylvia offered a sympathetic smile to soften her words, she resented the younger woman's ridiculous implications that she was on her deathbed and spoke more bluntly than she should have. "I'm sure you mean well," she said, "but we've made our decision, and I'm afraid you're just going to have to live with it."
Amy's startled expression told Sylvia that Amy had never expected her concerns to be dismissed so quickly. How could she have expected anything else? She should have known that Andrew had too much honor to withdraw a marriage proposal merely to please stubborn children, especially when it went against his own wishes and all common sense.
Sylvia sighed as the winter scenery rushed past her window, dreading their arrival in Hartford and the unpleasant scene that was sure to unfold when Andrew broke the news that they had married on Christmas Eve. She was grateful for the reprieve their two-day honeymoon in New York City would provide, but she knew they were only delaying the inevitable. In her more optimistic moments, Sylvia hoped that Amy would set aside her foolish objections when she realized the deed was done, her father was married, and nothing would change that. More often, however, she feared that learning about the wedding after the fact would only inflame Amy's anger, and the recent months of estrangement between father and daughter would become a permanent condition.
The wedding had been lovely, for all that it had been pulled together in a matter of weeks. Sylvia and Andrew had hoped Amy would attend with her husband and three children, and naturally, they had invited Andrew's son, his wife, and their two daughters as well. Months earlier, Bob and Kathy had expressed misgivings when Andrew announced the engagement, but after the shock wore off, they seemed to accept his unexpected decision to remarry. Even Amy's husband had privately told the couple that he wished his own widowed father had been fortunate enough to find a second love as they had.
Sylvia and Andrew had invited everyone to Elm Creek Manor for Christmas without mentioning the wedding, a secret they had divulged only to the young couple that would act as witnesses and the judge who would officiate at the ceremony. They had intended to tell Andrew's children about the upcoming nuptials once they arrived at Elm Creek Manor, a few hours before Sylvia and Andrew would exchange their vows -- enough time for them to get used to the idea but not enough for them to arrange flights home before the ceremony. Perhaps, Sylvia reluctantly admitted to herself, their plan had been misguided, even underhanded, and far more likely to backfire than to win the children over. Not that it mattered. Amy had turned down the invitation with a weak excuse about wanting to spend a quiet Christmas at home, and Bob, unwilling to risk angering his sister by appearing to take sides, had stayed away, too.
They had missed a beautiful wedding. Sarah McClure, Sylvia's quilting apprentice and business partner, and her husband, Matt, had staged a holiday wonderland. The candlelit ballroom of Elm Creek Manor glimmered with poinsettias, ribbon, and evergreen boughs. Andrew had built a fire in the large fireplace, then added the nostalgic decoration of the nativity scene Sylvia's father had brought back from a visit to the Bergstroms' ancestral home in Baden-Baden, Germany. The youngest Elm Creek Quilter, Summer Sullivan, had taken charge of the musical entertainment, setting Christmas carols wafting on air fragrant with the scents of pine and cinnamon and roasted apples. Just across the dance floor, the cook and two assistants -- his daughter and her best friend, or so Sylvia had overheard -- placed silver trays of hors d'oeuvres and cookies on a long table and prepared the buffet for hot dishes still simmering in the kitchen. Someone had opened the curtains covering the floor to ceiling windows on the south wall, and snowflakes fell gently against the windowpanes.
Sylvia could not have imagined a more festive place to spend a Christmas Eve.
Soon guests began to fill the ballroom -- the Elm Creek Quilters and their families, other friends from the nearby town of Waterford, college students Sylvia had befriended while participating in various research projects, and Katherine Quigley, the mayor, who was one of the few people in on Sylvia and Andrew's secret. Cocktails were served, followed by a delicious meal of roasted Cornish game hen with cranberry walnut dressing that reminded Sylvia all over again why some quilters claimed they came to Elm Creek Quilt Camp for the food alone. Summer put some big band tunes on the CD player and led her boyfriend to the dance floor. Other couples joined them, and soon the room was alive with laughter, music, and the warmth of friendship.
"I don't think I've ever had a happier Christmas Eve," said Sylvia as she danced with Andrew. "I hate to see it end."
"Is that so?" He regarded her, eyebrows raised. "Does that mean you've changed your mind?"
"Of course not," she said, lowering her voice as the song ended. "In fact, I was just about to suggest we get started."
He brought her hands to his lips. "I was hoping you'd say that."
Sylvia signaled to Sarah, who found Mayor Quigley in the crowd and told her that the time had come. Andrew smiled as Sylvia fidgeted with her bouquet. "Nervous?"
"Not at all," she said. "I just hope our friends will forgive us."
"They'll have to, once we remind them that you and I never said anything about waiting until June."
"May I have everyone's attention, please?" called Sarah over the noise of the crowd. Someone turned down the volume on the stereo. "On behalf of Sylvia and Andrew and everyone who considers Elm Creek Manor a home away from home, thank you for joining us on this very special Christmas Eve."
Everyone applauded, except Andrew, who straightened his tie, and Sylvia, who took the arm of her groom.
"It is also my honor and great pleasure," said Sarah, "to inform you that you are here not only to celebrate Christmas, but also the wedding of our two dear friends, Sylvia Compson and Andrew Cooper."
Gasps of surprise and excitement quickly gave way to cheers. Sylvia felt her cheeks growing hot as their many friends turned to them, applauding and calling their names.
"You said June," one of the Elm Creek Quilters protested.
"No, you said June," retorted Sylvia.
"But I already bought my dress and picked out your gown!"
All present burst into laughter, and, joining in as loudly as anyone, Sarah held up her hands for quiet. "If you would all gather around, Andrew would like to escort his beautiful bride down the aisle."
The crowd parted to make way for the couple, and Summer slipped away to the CD player. As the first strains of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" filled the air, Sylvia and Andrew walked among their guests to where the mayor waited.
To Sylvia, every moment of the simple ceremony rang as tru...
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