I love a good book. I love to get lost, although I am not sure my family loves it so much! I love to get my hands on a book that is going to leave an impression on me, make me thing, or just make me find joy in the day to day.
In November, I typically get to kick off the Christmas season with a few Christmas books. This year I have finished two of my three, and let me promise you – they are all so good!! So much more than a little sappy Christmas story. Wow.
The first one up is Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh. I love to read Dan’s books, no matter the subject matter, I have thoroughly enjoyed each one and walked away a better person, I believe!
Keeping Christmas is about a couple who are empty-nesters, and this is the first Thanksgiving/Christmas they will have without any of the kids coming home. While I know this is a few years off for me, hopefully at least 9, this is a story I could really relate to. It made me think of our friends here who do not have kids in the house, some of our older friends at church that are widows or widowers.
Judith and Stan are the couple the story centers around, and their friends are Barney and Betty. I loved their relationship that was clearly very precious to each of them. I loved to see Barney and Betty really love on Judith while she was in a depression over the empty holiday nest!
While this was a simple story of adjusting to a new normal as a parent with kids out of the house, it was a story that also made me think about how people are feeling in their season of life. It made me think about my in-laws, my friends – people, particularly the moms, who poured everything into their kids. Such a hard truth to realize how much we invest in making memories, repeating traditions, and then watching as our kids move out. This story was a good reminder that this is the way it is supposed to be, and it is good and a new normal is possible. In the end Judith found something she could get involved with, use her talents for good, and help other families.
My favorite part of the story was the homemade ornaments, “The Ugly Ornaments” that Judith really struggled with. The memories attached to those ornaments were too much knowing the kids were not going to hang them or be there to enjoy them. This book made me decide to find some home made ornaments the kids could make this year for our tree – ones they would have the liberty to do what they want with, even if the nativity looks a little like aliens!!
This story was a great kick off for the Christmas season, and I think it would warm the heart of any reader looking for a little Christmas cheer. While the story was serious, and Judith was struggling the relationships of everyone and the end results were worth it all.
NOTE : I received a copy of Keeping Christmas in exchange for an honest review.
Dan was born in Philadelphia in 1957 to a mostly
blue-collar, hard-working Irish family. His father was the first person on either side of the family to earn a college degree. It took him 9 years, working during the day, going to college at night, using the GI Bill. In the mid-60s, GE hired his dad as an engineer for the Apollo space program. Dan’s family packed up and moved to Florida, which is where Dan spent most of his childhood.
Dan’s primary interests through high school were basketball and surfing. His family attended church every Sunday, but it was’t until his senior year that Dan made a personal decision to become a Christian. In the spring of that same year, he met Cindi, the woman who would become his wife. They were married in 1976. Today, they have 2 grown children and 2 grandchildren.
During a personal retreat in 1977, Dan experienced a call to pastoral ministry. He began studying and preparing for the next several years. In 1985, he was ordained as a pastor and served in the same church for the next 25 years. In August 2010, after 3 of his novels were published by a major publishing house (Revell – Baker Publishing Group), Dan retired from ministry to write fulltime.
– See more at: http://www.danwalshbooks.com/about-dan/#sthash.CechqhTo.dpuf