Review: Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh

keepingchristmas_walsh_revellStan opened the ugly ornaments box and pulled out the top three ornaments, the ones wrapped in green paper, the kids’ favorites, and set them on the coffee table. He picked up the first one, the biggest one–Anna’s blue pinecone–and began to unwrap it. Without thinking, Judith walked up, stopped him, and gently took it out of his hand. She wrapped it back up, set it carefully in the box. Then picked up the other two ornaments, put them in the box, and closed the flaps.

“What’s the matter?” Stan said. “Did I do something wrong?”

“I don’t think I can do this.”

Nothing is more beautiful than family

For the first time since their children were born, empty nesters Judith and Stan Winters spent Thanksgiving without the kids, and it’s looking like Christmas will be the same. Judith can’t bring herself to even start decorating for the holiday; her kids always hung the first ornaments on the tree, ornaments they had made each year since they were toddlers. Sure, the ornaments were strange-looking–some were downright ugly–but they were tradition.

With Judith refusing to decorate the bare spruce tree in their living room, Stan’s only hope for saving the holiday is found in a box of handmade ornaments . . .


 

This is one heart-warmer of a book.  Throughout the story I found myself reminded of my parents and their (semi) empty-nest status, and I personally empathized with Judith as well when she questions putting out Christmas decorations that no-one else will see.

About midway through the book, the narrative switches to new characters that will soon encounter Judith.  The switch was unexpected and felt a bit abrupt, but was nicely connected to the main storyline.  This secondary thread also leads to one of the more touching scenes, providing a nice little emotional break from the situation with Judith and Stan.

Judith’s slide into depression and the subsequent efforts to help her pull out of it, even a Sunday sermon having only minor effect, were believable and the frustrations relatable.  Though the writing is sometimes a bit simplistic and sparingly descriptive, the story is nicely told and has great pay-off in the end.  The heartwarming conclusion (which occurred to me as an idea earlier than it did for the characters, but was still effective and had me tearing up) even made the abundance of bass fishing scenes and Bass Pro Shop references worth slogging through.

So, if you are looking for a quick and heart-warming seasonal read, this is definitely one to consider.  3/5 stars.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Revell Reads Blog Tour Program <http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/revell/revell-reads&gt;. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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