first story in the collection, Journey into Christmas and Other Stories
by Bess Streeter Aldrich (1881-1954)
Illustrations by James Aldrich
17 pages long
This collection of Christmas stories was given to me by a dear friend just this year, with the directions to 'open before Christmas!' I've had this book, and its author, Bess Streeter Aldrich, on my reading radar for a number of years, and I am so happy to finally own some of her work. As I read about her life here, I couldn't help but think this story was very close to her heart. It tells of a sixty year old woman, Margaret who is facing Christmas utterly alone. Although her children are grown and have families of their own, still every year some of them have been back at the family home at Christmastime. Her husband has been dead for a long time. Bess Streeter Aldrich' own husband died young, leaving her to raise four children, which she did through her writing.
Margaret understands the reasons why they can't be home. But as she says,
The head may tell the heart all sorts of sensible things, but at Christmastime the heart is stronger.She begins to take a journey back through Christmases past, and the memories she finds there help to sustain her on this first Christmas Eve without any of her family around her. And then the phone rings, and she receives the best Christmas gift of all.
I loved this story. It was heartfelt and genuine. There were sad moments, but they were real moments. Anyone whose children are grown, and especially those whose children live far away will certainly understand Margaret's feelings. It is reminiscent of one of my most beloved books called Little Christmas by Agnes Sligh Turnbull. I wrote about it in one of my early letters. Coincidentally, the mother's name is also Margaret, and it was written about the same time. It saddens me that such writings are not published anymore. I long for the days when Family Circle Magazine contained stories like this, by writers such as Gladys Taber. There are still stories in various publications, such as The New Yorker, but I'm quite sure something like Journey into Christmas would never be accepted. When I was a girl, I read about people my own age, but I also read about older people. That is one way we learn about life and growing up and the way people think at different stages of life.
I am especially fond of the cover illustration. This is much the way my home town looked at Christmastime while I was growing up. Oh, for the days of diagonal parking!!
Short Stories on Wednesdays is hosted by Breadcrumb Reads.
I am offering this as a contribution to The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge.