At this time of year I like to read stories about Christmas. Of course, the best one of all is found in the Gospels, but there is something about Christmas that seems to bring out the best in most authors of every era. I highly recommend my first book for this season: “The Christmas Wish” by Richard Siddoway.
The protagonist of the novel, Will Martin, was brought up by his grandparents, after his parents were killed in an automobile accident. When his grandfather dies and Will inherits his real estate business, he takes a leave from a lucrative job in New York to get the business organized.
Will’s grandmother has been reading the journals her husband kept. Every Christmas Eve has an entry reading something like this: “Ruth and Will are out Christmas shopping. Now I can go and see Lillian.”
When Will asks his grandmother Ruth what she’d like for Christmas, she tells him the only gift she wants is for him to find Lillian. His search for Lillian reveals more and more about his grandfather and sometimes about other people in his life as well.
The book has many themes which are well worth pondering. One is the confrontation between old values and modern progress as Will tries to bring his grandfather’s business up to date. Is progress always a good thing? No. Should we always be bound by the customs of our parents and grandparents? No. The question then becomes when should we welcome progress and when should we embrace the old-fashioned values which have made this country great. The answers are not always easy ones.
Another theme is the exploration of relationships inside and outside of the nuclear family. How well do we really know our parents or the people who reared us? What is the ideal foundation upon which to build a relationship that could lead to marriage and the establishment of a new family.
Perhaps the other themes are a part of this examination of relationships.
For example, what part does trust play? If you know someone’s character, can you trust him or her, even when you find evidence which seems to condemn?
Does love demand complete loyalty to the beloved? Are loyalty and trust inextricably combined? When Ruth is confronted by the mystery of Lillian, she is also faced with the choice of blind trust in her late husband’s morality or loyalty to his memory in spite of any moral lapse that may have taken place.
The most moving theme of all is the theme of forgiveness. I will not give you specific examples of this from the book because I do not want to spoil the suspense for those who want to read the book for themselves.
I hope you will take time in the midst of Christmas shopping, Christmas baking, addressing Christmas cards and other Christmas preparations for a little Christmas reading. We can enjoy reading or re-reading the old classics like “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, “The Other Wise Man” by Henry Van Dyke and “A Child’s Christmas In Wales” by Dylan Thomas. Then there are a plethora of modern classics. A few of my favorites are “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson, “Stubby Pringle’s Christmas” by Jack Schaefer and, of course, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss. I also love a collection of Guideposts stories titled “Christmas Stories of Faith.”
If you’d like to get in on a more in-depth discussion of “The Christmas Wish,” come to Little Pleasures for this month’s library reading group at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 9.