During college, my university hosted a Red Dirt Book Festival featuring Oklahoma authors. While most of the students headed home for fall break, I stuck around to attend the festival, attend writing workshops and meet real authors. I learned a lot during those sessions, which were the first professional writing seminars I’d attended. However, I let myself get sucked in to a few book purchases I probably wouldn’t have made if I wasn’t talking directly to the authors during the trade show.
So. Two of those books have languished on my shelves since then. I’m pretty sure the conference was in 2002. That means they’ve been hanging around for nearly 10 years! Oops. Since one of them was a Christmas book, I figured now was a good time to give it a shot.
When I went to dig it up, I remembered why I was reluctant to read it. The author was very friendly and helpful or I would have never have bought this! It’s called The Gift of Christmas, is self-published and has a cat on the front. A cat. Don’t get me wrong – I love cats. In real life. Not so much in books. Animals on the covers of books are never a good sign. They usually die, although this being a Christmas book, I was assuming it would just be sappy instead.
While it was definitely sappy, I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually well written. Self-publishing may have become more acceptable in recent years, but it still seems like most self-published books were rejected by publishers for a reason. And, usually, these books are in desperate need of an editor. This novel was short, just around 100 pages with not a lot of copy on each page. That may have been why it wasn’t published traditionally – it’s too short to really sell well. Today, it might work well as an ebook.
The story was a bit cheesy, but it was just a nice little Christmas story. Since I’ve been a bit humbug about Christmas in recent years, irritated over the consumerism that has sucked the life and meaning out of the holiday, it was a nice reminder about the importance of spending time with your family while you can.
The main character stopped celebrating Christmas five years ago, when his brother died. His brother loved Christmas and had led the activities leading up to the big day, and he just couldn’t face the holiday without him. Through a serious of mysterious gifts related to his brother, the narrator remembers the importance of Christmas and reconnects with his remaining family members. It’s a simple story, but it was a nice reminder to cherish the time you have with loved ones and that a good way to honor them is to do things that they enjoyed in remembrance of them.