Book Review: Home for Christmas, Stories for Young and Old Compiled by Miriam Leblanc
by Peter Menkin 1/20/2009 / Book Reviews
So many good Christmas stories about the promise of the season
This Christmas season I spent time reading this excellent collection of readable, intriguing Christmas stories. All tell of the promise of the season: Goodness, giving, even each a story of a miracle of a kind. The collection subtitled, "Stories for Young and Old" is an apt description of the 332 page paperback compiled by Miriam LeBlanc, illustrated by David G. Klein and published by Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York.
This book has the seal of approval of this reader, and here I quote from the note at the book's beginning written by Emmy Arnold. I think this is the right seal of approval in our contemporary America:
"Even though Christmas is exploited for profit, even though its meaning is often corrupted, it is still the time of year that we feel the impulse to think of others. It is still the season of anticipation and joy. The brightness and fragrance of a Christmas tree under which gifts are laid--here is light and warmth; here is life and love."
Christmas for me this year was marked by the reading of this title, as one of three I used for my devotion. The others: "Run, Shepherds, Run: Poems for Advent and Christmas," by L. William Countryman; "Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas". "Home for Christmas" was my pick as a companion to these two books "...for those who wish to follow the readings sequentially, on a daily basis..." I just kept going at the book of stories, and did not read them sequentially, but on a daily basis. Some of the authors are Pearl Buck, Rebecca Candill, Ruth Sawyer, Elizabeth Groudge, Selma Lagerlof, Henry van Dyke. That from the book's cover.
There are a lot of stories in this book, and I say "goodie" to that for it made excellent seasonal reading, which for some who want to or need to tell a Christmas story will find this an excellent source. Among many, I liked, "The Riders of St. Nicholas" was a good western story. "The day dawned still and clear, with th winternight chill of the high country lingering in the air..." Nice beginning. It is like the others a crisp story in that these bring the specialness and gift of Christmas to the reader, keeping the reader in mind of the season's spirit.
Some may say, these are too sappy. Like "The Chess Player by Ger Koopman that tells of an old man estranged from his daughter and grandson. But since this is the magical season of goodness, peace, and goodwill, the theme of reconciliation between them rings true. So five stars to it, for this is another of the family stories that ring a gifted sound. Not sappy!
I kept going in my reading, finishing the book before the 12 days of Christmas were over. Today is December 28, 2006, and I still feel the remarkable story of God and specialness from "The Christmas Rose" by Selma Lagerlof. It goes at the very beginning of the story: "Robber Mother, who lived in Robbers' Cave in Goinge Forest went down to the village one day on a begging tour." Yes, Christmas is for the estranged, the marginalized, the poor, the old and the holy. For there are miracles and promises--even unusual beauty. This story tells of an Abbot's visit to a garden in the forest. For me, it was almost a tale like a myth. I liked the magical nature of the forest garden.
I have left out telling you, reader, of many other good stories including the visit of the Kings who deliver gifts, and the empty cup of a little boy who fills the life of a distraught woman who lost a child.
Here is one that I will tell you about, and then enough recounting the contents. "The Other Wise Man," by Henry van Dyke. I quote from the beginning: "You know the story of the Three Wise Men of the East, and how they traveled from far away to offer their gifts at the manger-cradle in Bethlehem. But have you ever heard the story of the Other Wise Man, who also saw the star in its rising, and set out to follow it, yet did not arrive with his brethren in the presence of the young child Jesus?"
What I think this book can become for readers is a memorable book of good stories, "...for Young and Old...", a generous selection of Christmas stories you will like to read and remember. Thank God for Christmas, and especially thank goodness for good books that warm the heart and remind us of the spirit of the season: "Home for Christmas: Stories for Young and Old."
--Peter Menkin, Christmas
Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA where he writes poetry. He is an Oblate of Immaculate Heart Hermitage, Big Sur, CA and that means he is a Camaldoli Benedictine. He is 64 years of age as of 2010.