In this literary world, a handful of stories will stand the test of time. A classic novel holds the attention of every generation with a thoughtful plot, complex characters and a scene or two that lingers long after the final page.
These books will never be traded in at the paperback store or sold for a quarter at a garage sale. An ageless romance is passed on to your sister, then to her daughter who loans it to a friend. By the time it makes it back to your shelf, the pages are yellowed, earmarked and appreciated. And every so often, when you need to be reminded of the remarkable power of love, you dust off that old friend and peruse its pages again. These are the stories I want to share with you in Aubrey’s cafe.
By Jason F. Wright
Published: 2005 Publisher: Worzalla Publishing POV: Third person
Setting: Present day in Anywhere, USA
As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of the lilting words sung by Bing Crosby, “Oh, I have plenty to be thankful for.” With the upcoming holidays, I find myself counting my blessings. Since this is a major theme that runs through Christmas Jars, I thought it would be appropriate for my next book review.
No matter how bad life gets, there is always someone who has it a little bit worse. Take Louise, for instance. She is a hard-working, old maid housekeeper. Her Christmas Eve tradition is dinner at Chuck’s Chicken and Biscuits. One year, she comes down with the flu and must postpone her annual holiday meal until New Year’s Eve. That evening, she finds an baby abandoned. A note from a desperate mother explains the abuse in the house and her hopes for a better life for her child. Louise never looks back. She takes on a child she cannot afford and her life explodes with happiness.
After her death, daughter Hope continues the holiday tradition and endures an emotional Christmas Eve meal at Chuck’s Chicken and Biscuits. When she returns home, she finds her apartment ransacked and anything of value stolen. As the police go through the crime scene, Hope finds a paper bag. Inside, is a jar with silver change and some bills and the words ‘Christmas Jar’ painted on the outside.
As an up-and-coming journalist, the mystery and the motive appeal to her. She is determined to find out where the jar came from and why it was given to her. As she investigates, she finds newspaper archives with several letters from others who have received Christmas jars. Each story had a common thread: sadness, frustration, loneliness or despair chased away by the giving of jar. In some cases, it provided financial assistance, for others it offered hope.
The story follows Hope as she searches out and spends a day with the recipient of each jar. The encounters provide not only a great newspaper article but renew her faith in people and their desire to help one another.
Christmas Jars is a heartwarming holiday tale that will remind you to count your own blessings. The reader will not find an actual romance between the pages. Yet, the idea of strangers reaching out to help others is a story of love in its own right. The novel is well written and avoids the sappiness of a Lifetime movie. If you are feeling cynical as this jolly season approaches, I highly recommend this book. It is a short and easy read and good for the soul.
The author tells us in his acknowledgements: “It is indeed thrilling that the spirit of Christmas Jars is now bigger than this book… with countless stories and no limits to the good it can do. Each of you is to be thanked for fueling this simple miracle. I hope that when you give your jar away, or if you’ve received this book with a jar meant for you, you will visit www.christmasjars.com and tell me about it. The world would love to hear your anonymous story.” Go ahead, grab the box of Kleenex and visit the site. Then hug your family and find a way to continue this altruistic tradition.
I give this wonderful, uplifting novel 4 mugs.