Giving is The Real Joy of this Special Season
A Review by Leard R. Daughety
Since it's the holiday season, I decided not to select just one title this month and instead asked the library staff to provide me with some of their favorite Christmas stories:
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI
This is the masterful story of a young couple at Christmas time from the master story teller, O. Henry. Like all stories and lives, it is open to interpretation. It is the well-known tale of the young wife selling her beautiful hair and spending it on a chain for her husband's heirloom watch while at the same time the husband is selling the watch so that he can buy his wife the hair combs that she has longingly admired. From a logical standpoint, the couple acted foolishly, especially considering their economic condition. On the other hand, each sacrificed their most precious possession in order to please their beloved. There was no anger, bitterness, or envy present, only love that came from a pure heart.
MR. WILLOUWBY'S CHRISTMAS TREE
Mr. Willouwby lived in such a huge mansion that he had to special order a Christmas tree to match the size of his house. Like so many trees, this one needed to be trimmed at the top. The discarded top was first used by Miss Adelaide the maid for her house and like Mr. Willouwby found it to be just a little too tall. Similarly, Tim the gardener, Barnaby the Bear, Frisky Fox, Benjamin Rabbit, and even Mistletoe Mouse were all able to have a tree "exactly like Mr. Willouwby" since each was the recipient of the leftover portion of one mighty tree. Each tree was the perfect size for those who chose to receive it rather than allowing themselves to miss out on a blessing by ignoring what had been provided.
While this is the season of the year for giving, for some, it can also be the season to be selfish. For the record, this character trait is not just limited to those 18 or under. However, in Renfroe's Christmas, we learn that "selfishness is something you can make up your mind to overcome". When a new angel is placed on top of the family Christmas tree, Renfroe hangs the old angel on the door of the smokehouse. When Renfroe's father bargains for two pocket knives, Renfroe decides to give his brother the least of the two. Renfroe notices that the angel on the smokehouse door doesn't seem to be smiling at him as much as she had before. Christmas day brings the joy of Renfroe receiving some very special gifts along with awareness that some of his friends are not so fortunate. Read RENFROE'S CHRISTMAS to find out which special gift Renfroe chose to give to one of his friends.
THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER
Meet the Herdmans. They lie, steal, cuss, smoke cigars, have a cat that's meaner than most dogs, and are the terror of their town. Their father is in jail and their mother works two shifts at the factory mainly to avoid being at home. When they discover that refreshments are served during Sunday School, they decide to start attending. This just happens to coincide with practicing for the town's annual Christmas pageant. Of course the Herdmans volunteer for all of the parts in the pageant. After a small uproar and since the Herdmans have intimidated all of the other children, every major role is played by a Herdman. Of course, the Herdmans have never heard the Christmas story and simply don't' understand how Jesus could be born in a barn, why Joseph didn't raise a fuss with the innkeeper, and why Jesus received such lousy presents from the Wise Men. Where do they go to find the answers to most of their questions? Why naturally, the library! While everyone in the town is expecting the Herdmans to ruin the pageant, a small miracle takes place. The Herdmans instead bring a sense of awe, tenderness, and human reality to their roles. They give the ham that they annually receive from the Charity Committee to the baby Jesus and refuse to accept any candy at the party after the pageant. The Herdmans' story has many lessons we can all learn yet it does so in a delightfully humorous way.
Besides being the season for giving, Christmas can also be a time for receiving gifts of thanks and gratitude from people that have blessed us during the past year. As we all know, it's not the size of the gift but the size of the heart of the one who gives. During the past year, a number of people have blessed Frenasee and I with their openness and friendship as we have tried to become part of the Dublin-Laurens County community. A special Merry Christmas to all of you who have taken the time and effort to make us feel at home here.