The Christmas Exception by Gail Farrelly

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She always follows the rules and expects others to do the same. But now she finds out that, 28 years ago on Christmas, someone didn't play fair with her. Big time. It's a life-shattering finding. And this Christmas she'll have to deal with it.

A short work from our Nibs literary line.


In her 28 years of life, Nancy MacLeod had never met a rule she didn’t obey. Not that she agreed with every one of them. Far from it. But a civilized society had to have rules, she reasoned, and everyone in that society should obey them. No exceptions.

She crossed only on the green, filed her taxes on time, and recycled as required. Life would be much simpler and better for everyone, she thought, if people would just follow the rules. The problem was—there were always those who thought that they should be the exceptions to the rule. People like that annoyed her; to each and every one of them she wished she could deliver a five-word message: a pox on your house.

Nancy valued efficiency and organization. In her apartment, in her car, and in her life, everything was spotless and in its proper place.

As assistant director of human resources at a huge conglomerate in Manhattan, she ruled with an iron hand. Paperwork for vacation days and other benefits had to be filed on time—or else. She knew that the employees called her “No Exception Nancy” behind her back. She wasn’t insulted. In fact, she was pleased.

But she wasn’t pleased on a Saturday afternoon four days before Christmas when she was at her desk in the tiny wood-paneled study of her Westchester, New York, co-op reading her email. She found an annoying message from the Public Relations Department of the nearby Bronxville Community Hospital. Two weeks before, there had been an article in the local paper that the hospital, planning to celebrate its centennial the next year, was planning a huge party for June. All those who had been born there were invited to contact the hospital so that they could receive special invitations to the celebration. Nancy had responded by email a few days before, and now she had her answer. She read the message more than once to make sure she got it right:

Thank you for the email. Sorry to say, we have no record of your having been born at Bronxville Community Hospital. You must be mistaken about your place of birth. Please be assured, however, that you are still welcome to attend our celebration.

What gall! Accusing her of being mistaken. No way. They were the ones who were mistaken. A bunch of incompetents who can’t keep their own records straight. Oh well, she’d deal with them on Monday morning. Now she had to get a move on for the half-hour drive north to the Cresthaven Retirement Home. Her maternal grandmother, her only living relative, would be expecting her. Nancy was taking her for a pre-Christmas dinner to an elegant restaurant, beautifully decorated for the holidays, a few minutes from Cresthaven. It was a good arrangement for both of them. Her grandmother would be spending Christmas Day with her friends at the home, and Nancy would be with her boyfriend Joe and his family. She turned to look at the mini grandfather clock hanging over her couch and reluctantly put her laptop aside. Better get a move on. She went into her bedroom, slipped her tall slim body into a black velvet pantsuit, and tied a red ribbon with a sprig of holly into her blonde ponytail. A little makeup and she was good to go. Nancy was never late and today would be no exception.

  • Published by: Untreed Reads

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