‘Tis the Season: A Book Review – Home for Christmas by Margaret Jean Langstaff

 Home for Christmas

Home for Christmas is a compendium of Christmas stories from years gone by, assembled by Margaret Jean Langstaff and the Editors at Cedar Press. These editors intended the collection to be a reminder to its readers of what Christmas really means and what every Christmas gives to the human heart. I will tell you about a few.

How could you not like a book with a wonderful cover illustration of a horse-drawn buggy wending its way past snow-covered cottages of Christmas stories and then opens with O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi? That story tugged at my heart strings when I first read it in high school.

In Christmas Day in the Morning by Grace S. Richmond, older parents are facing another Christmas alone because their children are too preoccupied with their own lives. But this year one of their sons decides to plan a surprise Christmas for his mother and father, an old-fashioned one with just their children and all of their old traditions. How will he pull it off?

Christmas with Grandma Elsie by Martha Finley, author of the Elsie Dinsmore series, dates from before the Civil War, so the customs, attitudes and traditions are somewhat strange and clash with current norms. However, it provides a peek into our past, and even though I would say the writing is treacly and spun-candy sweet, it draws you into the innocence, simplicity and unbridled joy of the Christmas season.

Uncle Noah’s Christmas Inspiration by Leona Dalrymple is set on a plantation just after the Civil War and tells the story of Uncle Noah, an elderly slave whose only friend is a turkey named Job. When his master, who has fallen on hard times, asks him to kill the turkey for Christmas dinner, Noah must find a way to save his feathered friend and at the same time give his master and mistress a traditional Christmas with plenty of food for a change. The story is touching, although the master’s demeaning references to Uncle Noah and other slaves can bring the reader up short, reminding us all how far this country has come since that time.

The Mouse and the Moonbeam by Eugene Field, is a children’s story dating from Victorian times, but perfect for adults. You probably know Mr. Field, humorist and author of poetry for children, from his work Wynken, Blynken and Nod. The Mouse and the Moonbeam is populated by wonderful characters: Miss Mauve Mouse, Squeaknibble, the Old Clock, and of course the moonbeam, who relates what it saw on the night of Christ’s birth. How can you not fall in love with a story that begins “While you were sleeping, little Dear-my-soul, strange things happened…”

The Christmas Angel by Abbie Farwell Brown, who co-wrote the song “On the Trail”, which became the official song of the Girl Scouts of the USA, is a story of a female Ebenezer Scrooge, who for many years has not celebrated Christmas and has refused to let her brother visit her. When she finds a box of her old toys in the attic, Miss Terry tosses the toys one by one onto her snow sidewalk and then watches to see what happens, to prove to herself that the people who find them are selfish and uncaring. But when the Christmas Angel, which graced her home for many years, is kicked aside, she rushes to rescue it. The Angel then comes to life to show her the real destiny of each toy. The results reveal the true meaning of Christmas.

Each of these stories is about loss and redemption and provides a new and often different look into the heart of Christmas. I enjoyed reading them, not only from a historical perspective but because they lifted my spirit.

This book is available on Amazon and GoodReads.






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