Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Review of The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch Anderson
This handsomely presented book begins by giving the reader a glimpse of a happy family -- William and Emma with their three sons and small daughter -- enjoying their time together. But in the second chapter, everything has changed. William has been killed by a hit-and-run driver, and the family is plunged into loss and pain and darkness. Emma, immobilized by grief, wants nothing more than to huddle in the comforting warmth of Grandma’s quilt and think of the past when William was still with her. Christmas is coming, but the joy of the season has died with her husband, as far as she is concerned. She pulls herself together enough to hold down the job she must take to provide for her family, but she feels her life is in total disarray.
Then, to the surprise of all of them, they find a red envelope on their doorstep. Emma is tempted to throw it away. Her children have had enough ‘surprises.’ But the kids are too focused on the mysterious letter to simply dispose of it, so after dinner Emma opens it. The writer of the letter expresses sympathy for their loss and changed circumstances, and then talks about the Christmas season, telling how the word ‘Christmas’ combines Christ’s name with a Middle English word meaning ‘festival’ or ‘celebration.’ The letter goes on to say that a box will be left on their porch each day along with instructions about what the family is to do with the items inside.
The letter is signed, “Santa.”
Thus begins an adventure of mystery and realization and growth. One of the letters speaks of traditions, and inside the box the family finds tree ornaments with instructions to obtain a tree and decorate it as in past years. “Symbols, services, songs, sacraments--they all have withstood the test of time,” the letter says. Another day the letter is about the importance of laughter, with scriptural quotations about rejoicing. Inside the box are a comedy DVD, a box of popcorn, and root beer for all for a festive night at the movies.
And so it goes, with a Santa letter and a box delivered each day. But who is leaving them? There isn’t a clue. Emma is immeasureably grateful to whoever it is because she and her family are once again finding joy and fun in life. They have something to look forward to.
But will they ever find out who this ‘Santa’ is?
This book brings to the reader not only a touching story but also a whole education about Christmas and the Savior and the true meaning of “Santa.”
You can learn more about Stacy Gooch Anderson by clicking here and here.