4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Exquisitely edited and beautifully illustrated, Christmas Abiding: Stories of Blessings Bestowed reveals James B. Macomson’s gift for storytelling. Generously dedicated to readers at large, the book is a wonderful collection of five short stories carrying the joy and magic of Christmas. All these stories turn into fables that teach valuable lessons, very much like those in the Bible. Apart from rekindling the Christmas spirit, this collection does not allow us to lose faith: one way or another, the divine is always present in our lives.
God works in mysterious ways. This is, perhaps, the guiding principle in all of the five short stories in Macomson’s book. Although the time, setting, and characters are different, the stories work perfectly together due to their common message of love and tolerance. The author’s metaphorical and emphatic style creates a fairy tale atmosphere, somehow reminiscent of ancient epic tales.
“By Lantern’s Light”, the first story in the collection, has undoubtedly something of the unmistakable charm of old legends. Set in a mountain town, the story parallels two kinds of people, those of the mountains and those of the town. Because of their distinct ways of living, they only get together at the town’s open market on Saturdays. As Christmas approaches, the market’s activities increase and the two cultures exchange gifts. Jedediah, a mountain man living with his family in a secluded cabin, is responsible for the harvesting of the Christmas trees, the best gift the mountaineers could give to the town’s people. When Jed breaks his leg and his condition turns for the worse, there are high chances he may not live to see the Christmas morning. More than anything, Jed’s story reflects the importance of mutual understanding beyond any social or cultural differences.
My favorite story in the collection is the second one, “The Pen and the Rose”. It features a young promising graduate in English literature who gets hired by a respected publishing house, but is soon disgraced because of false accusations of plagiarism. Help comes from the most unexpected person, Ethan, an illiterate janitor. What I liked most of this story is the emphasis on the blessings of sharing and the belief in perseverance and redemption.
The light of the Christmas spirit also shines over the other three stories, “The Covenant”, “Of Rails and Envelopes”, and “The Christmas Chalice”. I am sure most readers will warm up to Paul’s story in “The Covenant”. With modesty and humility, the poor laundryman works tirelessly from dawn to sunset to earn a living and raise his 8-year-old son. His honesty and selfless character will ultimately become his salvation in the face of adversity. Similarly, the bankrupt banker in “Of Rails and Envelopes” learns that hard work is the only answer to the most difficult circumstances. Last but not least, “The Christmas Chalice” nicely rounds up the collection with the emotional story of a First World War veteran who has his right arm amputated and suffers from shell shock and combat stress disorder. The Christmas Eve he spends on the battlefield is an excellent reminder of what makes us all human and fragile in front of a greater power.
Even if they are inspired by Biblical fables and revolve around the Christmas light, the stories in this collection do not target exclusively Christian readers. On the contrary, the universal lessons they teach make me recommend them to all those who appreciate stories with a strong moral message. I wholeheartedly rate them 4 out of 4 stars. In a world where we find less and less time to stop and think of the consequences of our actions, Macomson’s collection gives us the chance to meditate on our daily choices and to look optimistically toward the future.
View: on Bookshelves | on Barnes and Noble