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The gang at Lake House Livin’ has reviewed three Christmas books for your holiday reading enjoyment. We hope that one of these novels might be something you’ll enjoy as you curl up by the fire to read and relax over the holidays. The three Christmas selections are very different in style and substance! One book is a lighthearted, feel-good story with a ‘happy ever after’ ending, the next is a heartwarming and uplifting book with hidden meaningful messages and the third book is a spiritual retelling of the Christmas birth story. Brief summaries of our three selections are offered below to help you pick the best book for your holiday reading. We hope one of these books is perfect for your holiday reading. Happy holidays from all of us at Lake House Livin’!
Here are our top 3 favorite Christmas books for your holiday reading:
Dear Santa is written by best-selling author, Debbie Macomber, and is her latest Christmas novel to be added to the long list of her other sweet holiday books. Several of Macomber’s Christmas stories are beloved Hallmark Channel hits and are popular every holiday. Dear Santa is a light and heart-warming story aimed at brightening any reader’s Christmas spirit.
We meet Lindy Carmichael as she arrives at her parents’ home in Wenatchee, WA for a Christmas vacation break. Lindy’s a career girl from Seattle. She’s had a tough year with career pressures and serious personal disappointments. Coming home this year is a special comfort to Lindy. As she pulls up to her childhood home, her mind wanders back to Seattle where she’s had a recent romantic break-up and an abrupt split with her close friend and roommate. Those problems coupled with a stressful year at her job have drained Lindy. Lindy’s parents and family are determined to buoy Lindy’s spirits this Christmas.
To cheer her up, Lindy’s mother shows her a box of Lindy’s childhood letters to Santa Claus discovered when decorating for Christmas. Her mother slyly reminds Lindy that Santa Claus always answered her letters when she was little and maybe she should write him a letter now. As Lindy feels sorry for herself, she thinks about her mother’s suggestion and pens her “Dear Santa letter” asking for repaired relationships and career clarity.
Little did Lindy know that this simple act would trigger a whirlwind set of events for her over the Christmas break. Did Santa come to the rescue or did Lindy change her outlook? Whatever Santa might or might not have done, Lindy’s world is upended. As events unfold in her brief stay in Wenatchee, Lindy must come to terms with a different set of decisions. What is important in her life? Santa can’t resolve the consequences of her recent requests!
If you’re looking for an uplifting novel that’s been a popular holiday staple for years grab a copy of A Redbird Christmas! It’s a heartwarming story with fun Christmas scenes but can be read anytime during the year. But don’t be fooled by the seemingly light story Fannie Flagg offers! There’s a richer message in this book than you might expect.
A Redbird Christmas opens as we meet Oswald T. Campbell on a snowy November day in Chicago. He’s just learned from his doctor that he’s probably got less than a year to live. It’s already cold in Chicago and Oswald’s emphysema has progressed to a grave state. The best his doctor can offer Oswald is a brochure featuring a Spa in Lost River, AL and the recommendation that he get his affairs in order. When Oswald learns that the Spa’s burned down, he throws caution to the wind when the cheerful woman on the phone tells him to come down anyway…. they’ll find him a place to stay.
Oswald’s arrival in Lost River is uneventful as he settles into a rented room. As a single man, he’s become the talk of the town for the gaggle of unmarried local ladies. No one’s ever fussed over him before and he’s now swarmed with dinner invitations and southern hospitality. The little town begins to burrow into Oswald’s soul, and he starts to feel better than he has in years.
Oswald befriends the local grocery store owner and fellow bachelor, Joe Grimmett. Joe’s store is the hub of Lost River’s activity. It’s also got an unusual store mascot. Jack, a lame red cardinal bird, flits around the store and entertains everyone who comes in. Jack’s antics are known far and wide.
In the early spring a shy, young girl starts coming to the store and peeks in the windows. She comes daily to watch Jack. The locals speculate the little girl lives in the trailer park near town. After great encouragement Patsy comes inside and is quickly besotted with Jack who returns her affection. Patsy, clearly neglected, worms her way into everyone’s heart. Her clothes are tattered and she’s very thin. Her leg is deformed, and she has no shoes.
The local townswomen decide that they must act when they conclude that she’s been hit in the face. Frances Cleverdon, a pillar of the community, is appointed to visit Patsy’s parents. Frances soon discovers that Patsy is in the care of a woman, Tami Suggs, who says Patsy was dumped on her by her father. After this visit, Frances concludes that there is little Lost River can do to help Patsy.
Some say it was divine intervention when a few months later Tami Suggs leaves Patsy with Frances and disappears. For Frances it was answered prayer and unexpected bonds are formed as Lost River rallies to care for Patsy. Jack and Patsy also have a transformed relationship. Patsy’s deep love for Jack sets up an amazing miracle when the folks of Lost River experience the most beautiful and heartwarming Redbird Christmas ever!
If you want a thoughtful Christmas season book, The Handmaid and the Carpenter may be just what you’re looking for. In contrast to the normal genre of sweet holiday novels, this is a serious and thought-provoking book. Elizabeth Berg reaches back in the time to the birth of Jesus and tells her version of birth story in this book.
While crafted from New Testament books Matthew and Luke, the author adds her own imaginings to the biblical story. In the typical telling of the birth of Jesus, we’ve been captivated by the Wisemen, the Angels, and the shepherds who all visit the manger and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Even the animals living in the stable are elevated for simply being present. In Berg’s book, she invites us to widen the lens on the birth story. We’re led to focus on Mary and Joseph’s feelings and interactions as they prepare for Jesus’s arrival.
The Handmaid and the Carpenter begins as a ‘boy meets girl’ story when Joseph and Mary first become acquainted. We find Joseph, almost 17, and Mary, nearly 13 both hiding under a table at a local wedding celebration in Nazareth. Both are trying to escape the guests’ raucous partying as the evening’s wine flows. As Joseph and Mary talk, a spark catches between the two. Shortly after the first meeting, both Mary and Joseph’s parents see an opportunity to make a good match between the two!
Berg humanizes Joseph and Mary for us. We find Joseph to be slightly older and a more mature person than Mary. He’s quite infatuated with Mary and is physically attracted to her beauty and warmth. Mary, on the other hand, is imagined as a dreamy young woman. She’s a free spirit with an impulsive and independent streak. Mary’s characterization seems almost unnatural compared with typical perceptions of the Virgin Mary.
The depictions of Joseph and Mary shape their behaviors in the novel. They are informative of Joseph’s doubts when he learns of Mary’s pregnancy and we begin to understand why Joseph struggles to believe the Angel in his dreams telling him to stay with Mary. Mary also has conflicted feelings about her betrothal and her unexpected pregnancy. She faces her pending marriage with apprehension as she confronts the loss of her youthful freedoms.
Berg’s description of Mary and Joseph’s relationship is also interesting as the time of Jesus’s delivery approaches. Joseph’s insistence that Mary travel to Bethlehem when she is so close to giving birth is explored. Mary’s frightened and resentful about making the trip. The tensions are palpable when Mary goes into labor and Joseph can’t find a place for her to give birth or an experienced midwife to assist her.
Pressures begin to weigh on the new parents. Total strangers fawn over their baby in unnatural ways. They continue to get warnings for the safety of Jesus. The flight to Egypt puts undo stress on the new parents in Berg’s portrayal. The book explores the couple’s relationship up to the time when Jesus is old enough to work with Joseph. This thoughtful Christmas book inspires us to reflect on our relationships from different perspectives as we enter the holiday season.
Do you have a favorite Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas books or other holiday reads you would like to recommend? The Lake House Livin’ readers gang would love to hear your suggestions! Happy holidays and happy reading from our family to yours!