At work the next day, Emma was eating out in the food court. She does eat there, but instead she brings her own food since this place is junk food and not many of them have healthy food like Subway.

She packed a turkey, lettuce and tomato sandwich along with a banana, carrots, and a waterbottle. She was eating with a coworker.

"Emma, I hear you and your husband are performing at the party," a young woman replied.

Emma nodded.

"We are. We both recently wrote a few songs, so that will be the entertainment."

"I didn't know you wrote songs. That's talent."

"Hannah, that's what happens when you're a McCarey. I don't have the gift of music while growing up because I wasn't born a McCarey."

"No wonder you're well – known around this mall. Does Terry know about this performance you're doing for us?"

"Of course he does. He did say that my husband and daughter are welcome to come along."

"How old is your daughter?"

Hannah had never met Jesse and Brandi, but there could stand a chance for that.

"Did Terry ask what genres you will be doing?"

Again Emma shook her head.

"No, but I don't think he cares about that."

"You can tell me."

"Do you like country music?" she asked.

"Once in a while. Why did you ask that question?"

"If you haven't heard, the McCarey family likes country, but we do listen to all sorts of genres out there because of the gift that the Lord has given us."

"I don't believe in God, so don't talk about religion and politics with me."

"We will play a couple of instrumental songs as well. Do you like those?"

"Classical is what I like besides jazz."

"Jazz is good."

When she finished saying that, Emma drank some more of her bottle.

"Mind if I ask a personal question?" Hannah asked.

"Go ahead, but I'll do my best to answer it."

So Hannah asked, "I hear this is going to be a potluck at this party, Emma. Did you know that?"

"I didn't hear anything about that. Thanks for telling me. I'll be sure to tell Jesse and our daughter about the potluck bit. You still haven't asked your question yet."

"This is the question, Emma. It's about food."

Emma still gave her coworker her eye contact as she listened.

"Do you always eat health food?"

That was probably why she wanted to ask, she told herself.

"Yes. Another thing about the McCarey family is that if you are related to Jay, you have to be involved with music, vote Democrats and never touch junk food and alcohol."


Hannah didn't bother asking her if she was ever involved with Jay's shows, so she kept it to herself.

They both heard Emma's name being called. It was a regular customer of theirs. It was a man in his middle forties with blonde hair.

"Hi, Mrs. McCarey. Merry Christmas."

"Thank you, Patrick. Same to you and your family."

"Everyone is talking about your performance at your office party again this year."

"That's exactly right, Patrick. How did you know about the party performance?"

Emma had no clue how it got around at the rest of the mall. She'll talk about this with Terry after lunch.

"I'm going to talk with Terry about this."

"Mrs. McCarey, you don't need to tell your boss about your customers about this. I do need to visit the shoe department if you're going back there when your break is over."

"You are welcome to any time to stop by and I won't mind helping you out. My lunch beak is almost over, anyway."

"Emma, do you plan to bring some food with you at the party? I am," Hannah said.

"I'm not sure. I volunteered to do the entertainment again this year."

"How fun. I think I'll bring some cupcakes or something like that."

Both she and Patrick watched Emma make a gagging face.

"Why do you make that face, Mrs. McCarey? I've never seen you do that before."

"You don't need to, even though you just did. We McCareys gag on junk food every time we hear the word involving cupcake and brownies and rest of the stuff that is out there."

"May I ask a personal question, Mrs. McCarey?"

She and Patrick have known each other since she started this job.

"What's that?"

He asked, "Since you just said healthier food is better, are you a vegetarian or something?"

"No. That's something we don't need to look back in the family history about health issues. My husband and I are talking about it. We're thinking it's going to be our New Year's resolution."

"I've heard of those, but my family and I don't care for that sort of thing."

"Lots of people don't. I'm going back to work, Hannah. Enjoy the rest of your day."

"Same to you, Emma."

He followed her inside the retail store. Patrick watched as she clocked in.

"Are you looking for a gift for Christmas that brought you here, Patrick?"

"Yes, Mrs. McCarey. I'm sorry if I asked that personal question."

"That's okay, Patrick. What type of shoes do you have in mind for your gift?"

Patrick showed her what he was looking for.

"Barbara is having shoes on her list this year because the pair she has now are falling apart. This why I came today."

"Let's see what I have for you this year."

As she followed him, Patrick decided to ask another question.

"I have another question, but it's not about business."

"What sort of personal question is it this time?"

Emma had made friends with him since his first visit to the shoe department.

"Are you on facebook?"

"Yes, but I am hardly on the computer very much."

"I understand. I just want to be your friend there. I tweet too."

"I'm not on the other social media sites. I'll see if I decide to accept any other friend request I add my customers. Us McCareys mostly use it for business, but that's about it."

"I see."

When he finished paying for the shoes, they wished one another Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Then he was gone and she had a busy afternoon. At five – thirty, she left the mall. It was time for a nice evening with Jesse.