BOOKS CHECKED OUT | By JANET CLAPP
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” or so the song says. Christmas decorations and Christmas carols provide light and sound as the darkness descends early at this time of the year. Another sign of Christmas is the pile of Christmas books that publishers produce: romances, mysteries, heartwarming novels and funny stories. Some books hint at magical or heavenly happenings while others exude cheer by capturing Christmas traditions on every page. Here’s a sampling of new and old titles for the season because sometimes in the hustle and bustle of shopping and cooking it’s relaxing to take a break and read.
A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Almost everybody knows the tale of that old curmudgeon Ebeneezer Scrooge who hated Christmas. “Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! … He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.” Movies, musicals and numerous television episodes reiterate the story of Scrooge and how visits by the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future inspire a change of heart. “He became as good a friend, as good a master and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.”
The Christmas Box
by Richard Paul Evans
The Evanses — Keri, Rick, and 3-year-old Jenna — move into the home of a widow, Mary, to take care of her light housekeeping and yard work. Rick spends all his hours working hard building a new business until Mary teaches him an important lesson about the first gift of Christmas. “And to this day, the Christmas Box remains a source of great joy to me. For though it appears empty, to me it contains all that Christmas is made of, the root of all wonder in a child’s eyes, and the source of the magic of Christmases for centuries to come. More than giving, more than believing, for these are mere manifestations of the contents of that box. The sacred contents of that box are a parent’s pure love for a child, manifested first by a Father’s love for all His children, as He sacrificed that which He loved most and sent His son to Earth on that Christmas day so long ago.”
by Debbie Macomber
Macomber has written several Christmas novels in which angels visit earth to help humans find their way. In this light romance, Addie returns home after several years on her own. When she attends a college class, her teacher is the guardian angel, Harry Mills, who has come to Earth for the first time to assist Addie. “This assignment wasn’t nearly as easy as he’d assumed it would be. He’d viewed Earth from heaven and been intrigued. Now that he was here on the other side, he found it to be quite complicated.” When the man next door, Addie’s childhood tormentor, breaks both wrists, she reluctantly and with a heavenly nudge takes care of him and realizes that “This was bound to be one of the best Christmases ever.”
A Quilt for Christmas
by Sandra Dallas
In 1864 Kansas, Eliza Spooner sews a beautiful Christmas quilt to send her husband, a soldier, off at war. “She had never given Will a Christmas present, and the idea of a special gift to her husband-soldier delighted Eliza. A quilt made with loving hands, a quilt that would warm Will against the winter cold, a quilt for Christmas.” Over the course of a year, she must run the farm and raise her children, relying on her quilting friends to keep her company. When Christmas comes again, so does peace and love. “And now, she knew, the ragged quilt would warm their lives for all the Christmases to come.”
An Island Christmas
by Nancy Thayer
Like Thayer’s “A Nantucket Christmas,” this is a story of Christmas traditions and family relationships set on Nantucket. Jilly’s tomboy daughter, Felicia, is returning home for Christmas and her wedding. Although Jilly keeps trying to make everything perfect, dishes get broken, the cat runs up the Christmas tree, and Jilly’s husband sprains his ankle and wrist. In the end, Jilly realizes there is more to life than a spotless house and perfect décor. “What a lot of emotional energy Jilly had wasted, trying to make life fit into a gilt-edged picture frame. Life was much more like her chaotically redecorated Christmas tree that even now was probably dropping needles on the carpet.”
How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas
by Jeff Guinn
Rejecting the traditional life of a housewife in ancient Turkey, Layla spends years anonymously delivering gifts to the poor. In the year 412, she meets St. Nicholas and his traveling companion, Felix. Over the centuries, the immortal Layla, Nicholas and their companions, including King Arthur and Leonardo da Vinci, continue gift giving as Christmas traditions around the world evolve. In 1640s England, civil war creates political chaos, and the Puritans ban Christmas, but Layla is determined to keep Christmas alive. “It may seem to some of you now that one holiday would count very little in the minds of working people, compared to those who would rule their country. But you must remember how hard these times were for the poor, and how Dec. 25 was really the only day when they could forget their troubles and deprivations by celebrating the birth of Jesus.”
Many Christmas books for all ages can be found at Rutland Free Library. What’s your favorite Christmas story?
Happy reading and happy holidays!
Janet Clapp is an adult services librarian at Rutland Free Library.