It takes a lifelong romantic, and a person who believes that God is about love and joy and laughter to create Home for Christmas. Andrew M. Greeley tells the story of a lifelong romance that went off-track, and God's determination to put it right.
Petey Pat Kane and Mariana Pia Pelligrino have been in love their whole lives. And, they first met Father Jimmy Joyce, who would become Monsignor Jimmy, when they were just second graders preparing for their First Communion. He was a powerful force in their lives, but he was long gone from Poplar Grove, Illinois by the time they went to their senior prom, a special occasion that ended so tragically that Peter left town, and didn't return.
Despite his shaky start as the son of an abusive drunk, Peter ended up in Iraq for three deployments, where he was a hero. And, it was the last deployment that changed his life forever. When Peter died for nine and half minutes, his ensuing conversation with God sent him back to earth, knowing God laughs a lot, and he had plans for Petey Pat and Mariana. But, Peter, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, might have been a hero in Iraq, but he was scared to return to the wealthy girl who loved him.
Home for the Holidays is another Christmas story with a happy ending. But, Petey Pat's conversations with God, known as "the One," puts a different slant on the story, as does Kane's experiences in Iraq. Most Christmas stories do not give the author the opportunity to express an opinion about Iraq. Since Kane had three deployments, three years in Iraq, and three Purple Hearts, he feels he can confidentially tell someone his opinion. "I don't like this war one bit. From beginning to end it has been phony; from 'shock and awe' to 'surge,' the Pentagon has deceived us and the American people. Not enough troops, no WMDs, inadequate armor, no response to roadside weapons, pathetic vehicles like unarmored Jeeps and Humvees, idiots to administer an occupation plan that didn't exist, insufficient Arab speakers, poor care at VA and Army hospitals. This has been a snafued war from day one."
Despite the preaching, against the war, and for a laughing God (an image I like), I enjoyed Peter Patrick Kane and Mariana Pia Pelligrino. And Monsignor Jimmy Joyce was just the right sort of priest to conspire to create a happy ending in Home for Christmas.
Because of Father Andrew Greeley's serious accident a year ago, his family continues to keep his website and a blog active at www.agreeley.com
Home for Christmas by Andrew M. Greeley. Tom Doherty Associates, ©2009. ISBN 9780765322500 (hardcover), 192p.