THE 13TH GIFT
A True Story of a Christmas Miracle
By: Joanne Huist Smith
Published: October 28, 2014
I won this book last year through Bookreporter.com, but since it arrived after Christmas, I decided to save it to read this Christmas. I like reading at least one Christmas story over the holidays and this one didn’t disappoint. I read it in just a few hours between tears of sadness and joy. It’s one I recommend.
Just a couple months before Christmas, Joanne’s husband died unexpectedly from a heart condition. Joanne and her three children, a tween girl and two teenage sons, were left to manage school and work along with the upcoming holiday season while grieving deeply for their father. Even though Joanne knew she needed to find some Christmas spirit for her young daughter, she just couldn’t muster the energy it took to decorate and shop. Then, thirteen days before Christmas, gifts started arriving at their doorstep. Nothing extravangant, but gifts like ornaments and Christmas wrap, helped open their hearts to allowing joy back in their home. Nearly fifteen years later, Joanne brought their story of a Christmas miracle to readers. It offers a lesson for us at any time of year.
Joanne and her children’s grief filled the pages. They missed their husband and father and were angry that he left them behind. Joanne had no interest in being part of the Christmas hoopla and found herself hiding behind her work, avoiding the home and parenting responsibilities that seemed too overwhelming. Her oldest child was missing curfew and her youngest was dreaming of the kind of Christmas all young girls hope for. I felt their pain and yearned for them to find hope in amongst the gifts of strangers.
This true story offers a a number of reminders: there is still kindness in our world, that not everyone is excited about Christmas, and that there is still hope even among the sadness. Even though this is a Christmas story, it offers ideas to care for those who are suffering at any time of year. Small ways to offer a smile or a glimmer of hope to someone will pay the giver back in multiple ways.
By sharing a little kindness with others, every day can be Christmas in your heart.
Favorite quote from the book: “I feel very much the way I did on Ben’s fourth Christmas, when he was so excited about a gift he had made for me that he uwrapped the present himself. His eyes had glowed when he handed me the red scarf cut from the fold of my very best dress with kid scissors.” Page 87
Cover: LOVE IT! It fits this book perfectly and jumps out when amongst others on the shelves. It’s one you can set out at Christmas time, year after year.
|Joanne Huist Smith – source
Joanne (Jo) Huist Smith was an award-winning journalist for the Dayton Daily News where she chronicled the lives of people and issues shaping her Ohio community. She began writing short stories and journaling at age nine. Jo was awarded first place from the Ohio Associated Press for Best Community Service for her 2009 package of stories on heroin’s destructive path through rural and suburban neighborhoods. The judges said her series “delivers information straight to the bloodstream.” Jo’s career has been guided by advice given to her by former Dayton Daily News Managing Editor Steve Sidlo: “Love truth and you’ll be alright.” Those words are echoed in everything she writes, including THE 13TH GIFT.