"Snow is falling and
books are calling"
It's really starting to feel like Christmas around here. As I write, it has been snowing all day....do you see the smile on my face? Frosty outside, it's cozy inside. Festive music plays on the radio, and beribboned presents mysteriously appear under the tree. I'll show pictures but not today. Today, I want to talk about books from my bookshelf, to add to the series I started back in March when the world went into lockdown.
When it comes to Christmas reading, I turn to this delightful quartet of Jan Karon stories to help set the tone and while away the days of Advent. As one book release put it, "If you've ever been to Mitford in Jan Karon's novels, you know it's the perfect place to visit at Christmas." Truly!
I have loved Jan Karon's bestselling books ever since discovering them back in 1998. Not only are her novels gentle, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, they are always lifegiving without being didactic or preachy—even though her key character is a kindly Episcopal priest. Jan Karon's life as a writer has been an inspiration to me in my own writing pursuits. I refer to her in a recent guest post HERE, if you haven't seen it.
I'm including today's post in my series Pressing My Books Into Service. I hope you enjoy.
by Jan Karon
This stocking stuffer sized storybook is filled with seasonal fun when a snowfall brings Mitford's citizens out on Main Street where a snowman building contest ensues. The competition is on. Whose creation will win the prize in the First Annual Snowman Jubilee? What's the prize, Uncle Billy wonders. According to Father Tim, it's doughnuts. "Plain or glazed?"
by Jan Karon
Illustrations by Donna Kae Nelson
In this beautifully illustrated gift book, Esther Bolick is in the holiday spirit and begins dreaming about baking her famous orange marmalade cakes for Christmas giving. When her husband calculates the cost per cake, Esther is astounded. Is it worth spending so much money on people who haven't always measured up to her expectations? Then words from a Christmas carol play in her mind, reminding her about what gifts really mean.
by Jan Karon
Father Tim finds a derelict nativity scene that has suffered the indignities of time and neglect. He imagines the excitement in the eyes of his wife, Cynthia, and decides to undertake the daunting task of restoring it. A bigger commitment than first anticipated, time slips away, and Tim is tempted to hurry the project along—maybe use a bigger paintbrush—but in the end he realizes he wants to give this gift his best effort, his deepest concentration, and his whole heart.
This novel was published the same year my dear dad passed away just days before Christmas. My darling husband knew I loved Jan Karon's novels and made sure this book was under the Christmas tree. Little did he know how much comfort this gentle, hopeful story brought to a grieving daughter's heart. It grounded me during a time when the cornerstone of our family had been torn from our lives.
Shepherds Abiding is now a cherished old friend, and as I prepare my home for the holiday, I let the beautifully crafted slow build-up create a quiet but eager anticipation in my own heart.
by Jan Karon
After five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with Cynthia his wife from the land of his Irish ancestors. He is glad to be back home in Mitford, but something is definitely missing from his life: a pulpit. But when he’s offered one, he realizes he doesn’t want it. Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good is not a Christmas novel per se, but the reader will find herself propelled towards the holy season as the story unfolds like an Advent calendar, with lovely new surprises in every chapter. Each time I read this now seasonal favourite, my soul comes away nourished and satisfied.
* * *
" No man can be called friendless who has
God and the companionship of good books. "
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
Christmas presents for the heart—that is how I'd describe them. If you're missing your family this Covid-spackled Christmas, why not join the convivial Mitford family? You'll be welcomed into the fold, and when you arrive at the last page of any of these tales, you'll feel in your heart that you've had Christmas.
So.... that's my gift to you on this last Friday before Christmas.
Wishing you a beautiful day. Please stay safe.