27 December 2017
Once Again, A Gift from Joe Wheeler
Christmas in My Heart, Book 12, Joe Wheeler
Wheeler has done almost thirty of these little books that combine old Christmas stories from magazines with an original Christmas story he writes for each volume. The later volume also started including more modern stories from "Reader's Digest" and what you might call "Chicken Soup for the Soul" type tales, but nevertheless, all the entries are heartwarmingly appropriate, from the pre-1927 stories like "Christmas Bread" (written by Kathleen Norris, who was my mother's favorite author, and which has a woman surgeon as a protagonist) to 2000's "Merry Christmas, Mr. Keene," about a wealthy man and a Christmas pageant. There was even a Temple Bailey (author of the lovely "Candle in the Forest") story I had never read. This volume concludes with Wheeler's "Christmas Sabbatical," about a Ph.D. who lost track of life in his pursuit of a degree, and a wonderful opening essay about Joseph, the "hidden man" of the Holy Family, which including an excerpt from one of the Pearl Buck stories I had just finished reading yesterday.
Grab these when you can! They are out of print now, but occasionally turn up in used bookstores. I liked the earlier ones better, when he just resurrected vintage magazine stories rather than using the "Chicken Soup-y" entries, but they're all worth the trouble, just for his stories.