What a lovely novella. It is a family drama, with Christmas being a backdrop really and being a novella it chooses to talk about a pivotal time in the characters' life rather than cram their whole backstory in the limited amount of page space. Russell is missing his husband who is deployed so much that he decides to try and visit with his parents even if he does not anticipate a jolly good time much, but hope dies eternal and he goes there. We meet him when he is on the phone with his mother who upset his stepson with Asperger because his mother just knows best how to parent her grandson whom she barely ever met (Austin is seven). I thought that Russell's love for his two kids was really well done - he had been home with them for two years (story says two Christmases so it could be less I guess?) while his husband is serving and his frustration that his mother just won't listen was excellent.
I liked the subtlety, the shade of greys, the delicate touches in the writing - Russell's mother annoyed me like heck but she was not a caricature and you can see that she wanted to have Russell and kids in their lives. Nothing is neatly resolved between them at the end, but I liked that the possibility of something better was shown.
And of course I loved that Russell and kids got David back for Christmas and David's state of mind after deployment was also well done - we know he could be better, we can see how much he loves Russell that he cant really keep to himself how he really feels and we just know these four would be okay. Loved it.