Journey into Christmas and Other Stories, by Bess Streeter Aldrich. I don't think it quite lived up to my expectations, but given its publication date, it was probably just a matter of too intense of a time gap.
The stories in this volume emphasize life in the eighties and nineties. No, I'm not talking the 1980s and 1990's. I'm talking 1880's and 1890's. Yes, it was a bit of a stretch to pull myself back into that time period. After I read a few stories, I checked the publication date and noticed that it was first published in 1928. Our library copy was a seventh reprint from 1949, so it was a quite popular edition ... back in the day. There was an element of timelessness to each tale. Christmas hasn't changed all that much. People still long for a deeper sense of family togetherness during the holidays and want to emphasize a spirit of giving that transcends the ordinary existence of daily life.
Yet, I did find myself wondering why I kept reading. It was almost like I kept at it merely to finish the book. The writing wasn't bad. The characters each held some nugget of truth about Christmas. But, somehow, it wasn't enough to really move me in any significant way.
Today is Christmas Eve. I still hold out hope for a delightful Christmas read. I have a Christmas book my mother-in-law was getting rid of (by Wanda Brunstetter) and another short Christmas book by Jeffrey Archer. The presents are all bought and wrapped (even the ones for Sean's birthday a few days after Christmas), so I should be able to snag a few hours this afternoon for reading in bed (a delightful prospect, to be sure ... much more delightful than cleaning for my family's imminent visit after Christmas - that can wait for the day after Christmas). So, even though this book didn't spur new thoughts for Christmas, perhaps the next ones will.