Today I am so pleased to welcome Pat Henshaw to Joyfully Jay. Pat has come to talk to us about her latest release, Heart of the Holidays. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


Holiday Movies That Aren’t About Christmas

For the past few years, my husband and I have been meeting our daughter at the vintage downtown movie theater to watch a big screen showing of the classic White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. The screening is a family sing-along event which makes it even more fun.

This year? With COVID and the theater closed, we won’t be doing that. Instead, my husband and I will be watching holiday movies alone at home. This got me to thinking about why we watched movies at the holidays in the first place. What was the point?

I realized it isn’t the movies themselves—many of which are syrupy sweet and uncomfortably cloying. Some even grate on the nerves.

No, we watch the movies for the fuzzy, warm, awwww moment at the end when we love everyone and everything is at peace in our world.

So why a holiday-themed movie? Why not watch a great movie that makes us feel good without Santa, elves, fir trees, candy, and fakely happy relatives? Why not just watch a joyful family flick?

Here are my choices for this year’s holidays:

  • The Big Year: Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, Brian Dennehey, and Dianne Wiest are only some of the great actors in this movie about—um, yes, well, birdwatching. I know, I know. B-O-R-I-N-G sounding. But it isn’t. Trust me.
  • We Bought a Zoo: Based on a true story of a man in England, this film transfers to America with Matt Damon playing a widower who, as the title says, buys a zoo to help himself and his kids get over the death of his wife and their mother. Cute but never cloying.
  • Finding Forrester: Stealing the show from Sean Connery is Rob Brown as a basketball player from the projects who is recruited by a posh boys’ school because he’s also a brilliant student. F. Murray Abraham gets to play a pompous teacher, Anna Paquin is the love interest, and Busta Rhymes is wonderful as Brown’s supportive brother.
  • Big: Tom Hanks as a toy developer—well, once he becomes “big”, that is. Until then he’s a geeky 13-year-old who loves to goof off with his best friend. All the silliness of growing up and being a kid enthralled with toys will come back to even the oldest in the audience. This one is pure happiness.
  • Princess Bride: When in doubt, fall back on the classics. And this is THE classic family movie. Who can do better than a cast made up of so many wonderful actors doing their best work? Cary Elwess as Westley and Robin Wright are not overshadowed by Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Peter Falk, or Peter Falk. It’s warm fuzzies delivered in an hour and a half—without bathroom or snack breaks.

So if you find yourself watching a made-for-TV holiday movie that isn’t making anyone happy, try one of these to smother yourself in the happiness of the holiday season.

You might also want to give yourself a gift of cheer with four HEA romances to take the edge off 2020:

  • Blame It on the Fruitcake where a motorcycle shop owner and a location scout bond over a grandmother’s holiday recipe;
  • The Orpheum Miracle in which a squatter in a revival theater meets the man of his dreams;
  • Making the Holidays Happy Again that sees a blacksmith forge a future with a chemist; and
  • Heart of the Holidays where a bicycle repairman and a baker travel down the road to love.

And whatever you do, remember that Every day is a good day for romance.


Around two thirty after the bakery had closed for the day, Patty walked up to me.

“He needs to talk to you.” She nodded to the picture window with Rick’s Rack scrawled across it. “I’ll help Charlie hold down the fort here.”

I nodded and glanced at the window, but Rick wasn’t standing there.

“Go in through the kitchen. He’s waiting for either me or you to show up.”

I touched her arm as I passed her.

“Thanks for doing this and giving us a few minutes alone.”

She nodded and strolled up to Charlie, sitting in the chair next to him.

“So how’s it going? You keeping Dan busy today?”

I tuned them out as I hurried across to the bakery. We hadn’t left things very well last night, Rick and I. It was time to get back on track. We liked each other, dammit. We were already solid friends.

True, I couldn’t see the end of our road, but I could look down it further than we’d walked so far. We might not belong together for all time or some bullshit like that, but we had a shot at becoming a couple in love, possibly way more than friends.

He was standing in the middle of the industrial kitchen looking lost, like a first semester student at the Culinary Institute in his whites, jeans, and clogs.

I rapped lightly on the door so I didn’t inadvertently sneak up on him.

He whipped around, taking a large gulp of air as he did.

“Look, I’m really so—”

“Nope. Not doing it. I’m not sorry about last night and you shouldn’t be either. Your ex showing up wasn’t your fault. Yeah, it was embarrassing. But it shouldn’t be, not for us. We didn’t do anything except—”

He’d walked toward me and put his hands on either side of my face and kissed me.

He kissed me like if he didn’t, the world would end and we’d be swept away with it.

After a second of surprise, I felt his lips and the rasp of his beard, and got with the program. He smelled like cinnamon and flour and butter, and kissed like a champion.

I grabbed him as he started to retreat.

“Yes! Get back here.”

This time I gave him all I had.

Our lips, our tongues, our breath lasted forever, at least a full minute. Our bodies rubbed together. The feel of my erection sliding next to and over his made fireworks go off in my brain.

A dog bark and children laughing outside pulled us apart.

“Oh, God! This is how I wanted last night to really begin.”

His breath was chugging as fast as mine, so I almost missed his whisper.


Everyone hopes his road to happily ever after will be carefree and smooth, but too often hair-pin turns and detours seem to get in the way.

Having thought he was on the road to forever before, former Silicon Valley programmer Dan Lassiter is leery about pedaling down it again. His elderly companion Charlie urges him to get to know Rick Reardon whose bakery is across the street from Dan’s bicycle shop.

Under the watchful eye of Charlie, Dan and Rick take tentative steps toward each other, all the while trying to avoid potholes such as exes, homophobes, and family problems.

As summer turns to fall and then winter, they hope that the road will be smooth going from their first date and first kiss to having what Rick’s sister euphemistically calls their “sleepovers.” At each step, though, they are tripped up and wonder why there seem to be so many bumps in their road.

Maybe Dan and Rick should heed some of Charlie’s sage advice, or maybe they should listen to their hearts instead of the ghosts from their pasts.


Pat Henshaw, born and raised in Nebraska, has lived on the U S’s three coasts, in Texas, Virginia, and now California. Before she retired, she held a number of jobs, including theatrical costumer, newspaper features reporter and movie reviewer, librarian, junior college English instructor, and publicist. She also loves to travel and has visited Canada, Mexico, Europe, Egypt, and Central America as well as almost all fifty US states.

Now retired, she enjoys reading and writing as well as visiting her older daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren on the East Coast and playing havoc with her younger daughter’s life in NorCal. She thanks you for reading her books and wants you to remember that every day is a good day for romance.

For more information about Pat and her books, visit her website at

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