Wednesday, January 6, 2016

O Little Town by Don Reid of the Statler Brothers and other Christmas titles

I enjoyed  Don Reid's fictional account of three friends in THE MULLIGANS of Mt. Jefferson and how their lives mingle as adults, so I was delighted that he had written a Christmas tale set in the same small town.  O LITTLE TOWN, published in 2008, takes us back to the so-called simpler times of 1958.  Reid describes the town as being big enough that you did NOT know everybody, but small enough that you couldn't take a walk or run an errand without seeing someone you know.  Now, I live in a very, very small village but I have to say that these days that describes our place quite well. On any excursion, I no longer know everyone, but I still always see someone I know and can visit a bit.

As the Christmas beckons in just a few days, three families will have their small town acquaintances intersect in ways no one could expect and suddenly each person will face situations that will define what kind of people they truly are.  Three momentous events thrust the ordinary people together --- an elderly father/grandfather receives a frightening diagnosis, the minster's daughter is caught shoplifting, and another teen tells her parents the news that no parent wants to hear.  This is a book that could be portrayed so many ways.  The old man could curse at the world for wrongs done in the past and his current illness.  The parents of the three teens involved in the story could march around in vocal tirades and  blame each other.  The shoplifting teen could point fingers to permanently cause a rift between her parents.  But that is not how Reid chooses to tell the story.  As one other reviewer says these characters are imperfect people (like all of us) trying to do their best each and every day.  Mistakes have been made, but change and forgiveness are not withheld, and new chances result.  The title comes to mind -- O little town.  We all associate that phrase with Bethlehem and it is because of Bethlehem that we have forgiveness and second chances.  What better lesson to stick right smack in a story of small town life, the same kind of small town that many of us frequent every day of our lives.
That Reid was able to add life to a decades old legend about a neglected grave that always is adorned with roses right before Christmas adds another touch that sets this book apart.

I pointed out that this book was published in 2008 specifically to remind readers to go beyond the latest publications for your reading.  If you missed a holiday gem, get it on your list to read next holiday season.  And honestly, I still love a great Christmas story in January.  Back in December, I did take time to read a bit almost every night, but did not always have time to blog.  Two books I read but did not blog about were A PLAIN AND SIMPLE CHRISTMAS by Amy Clipston and

The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith.  

Clipston's book is about a former Amish woman who has married outside the faith and wants to reconcile with her family on Christmas and to be able to share the news of her upcoming birth.  THE 13TH GIFT is nonfiction and relays how a series of 12 Days of Christmas gifts left anonymously on the family's doorsteps helps Smith and her children deal with the recent death of her husband.  This is a touching and, even at times, humorous look at the dark days of grief and how loved ones and even strangers can make a difference in the rocky road to a new normal.  I squeezed this book in right after Christmas (and right after attending the funeral visitation of a colleague and friend who had fought a courageous 10 year battle with cancer) and I am so glad that I read Smith's book.

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