By Linda Busby Parker, ed.
Excalibur Press, 2008
Reviewed by Sherry Kughn
Christmas is a holiday that evokes feelings of angst and joy, which makes it a perfect topic for writers. Christmas Is a Season! 2008 has twenty-eight short stories and personal essays by writers from throughout the nation. It is edited by Linda Busby Parker, who highlighted writing communities by inviting them to write about Christmas. Many of their voices come from places in their hearts where emotions are as tangled as a wad of string lights.
Take, for instance, Montevallo author Loretta Cobb’s short story “Faces Looking Up.” A younger sister in a family of four describes in the opening paragraph both the beauty and danger of the early versions of bubbling electric lights that her “mama” placed on their tree. Later, the youngster is puzzled about why her sister is resentful of their shiftless father’s merriment during his brief visit.
Consider the angst in Mobile author Delores (Dee) Jordan’s essay “The Grinch Who Didn’t Steal Christmas.” Jordan writes of having to face her first Christmas Day alone after a divorce. She suffers from depression and is hurt that her daughter wanted to spend the holiday with her father and his new family. In a calculated move, Jordan takes on a task that lifts her physically and emotionally above the entire circumstance.
Get out the tissues when reading University of Alabama professor C.D. Mitchell’s “The Tree.” In the weeks leading up to a particular Christmas season, Mitchell discovers how both holiday and non-holiday rituals are necessary to remind people of the value of family. His younger teenage son’s battle with leukemia alters the way the divorced Mitchell and his three children enjoy Christmas trees. The holiday trees in the story become symbols of a ritual that has been altered by necessity. The author learns that ritual is no less valued and perhaps is enhanced.
Former Hawaii resident Joan Stidham Nist writes about life in 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Christmas was dimmed in Hawaii but not forgotten. Los Angeles writer Anthony J. Mohr writes of early Hollywood, stating how innocent and excited residents were in the early 1960s before the days of “gotcha” journalism and the paparazzi. Kathleen Whitman Plucker, a writer from the Midwest, writes of faking happiness while in Paris on Christmas Day.
On and on more stories go, proving that the holiday spirit still burns, even if tangled. Dec 2008
Anniston author Sherry Kughn is a former journalist and author of Heart Tree Books, a series of inspirational books for mature mothers.