While the holiday season tends to be so packed with things to do (shopping, cooking, eating, partying, visiting) that reading a Christmas-themed book sounds next to impossible, Christmas Presence (Catawba, 2008) may have that problem solved.
The collection of 50 stories and poems from 45 Western N.C.-based women writers holds plenty of inspirational reads that clock in at under ten minutes per prose-piece. Need a quick pick-me-up mid-family dinner? Flip to Glenis Redmond‘s sensory-rich poem, “Presence.” Need a laugh? Karen L. Jackson’s “Elves for Santa” is an all-too-relatable tale of home redecorating. Go back in time with stories by Louise K. Nelson and Mary D. Marsh, or take in lesser-known folklore and traditions thanks to Penny Morse’s “Grandpa and the Snow Snakes” and H. Byron Ballard’s “A Season of Lights: How We Celebrated a Hillbilly Yule.”
Some of the tales collected in Presence verge on overly-sentimental, but it is the season for nostalgia and mushiness. If not now, then when? And it’s unlikely that the audience for Presence (or any holiday read, really) is looking for sharp, involved, scholarly literature. No, this is a time for cozy memories, warm ideas, feelings of peacefulness and goodwill and—should the stressful reality of the season encroach—for relaxation and a little humor.
Christmas Presence, edited by Celia H. Miles and Nancy Dillingham, delivers.
Editors Celia H. Miles and Nancy Dillingham will sign copies of Christmas Presence at Malaprop’s on Saturday, Dec. 13. The 11:30 a.m. event is free.
—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter