I love me a good Christmas story. The cozy kind, the warm-up-your-heart kind, the make-you-cry kind--you know, all those great stories that remind us that the reason we celebrate at this time of year is not to out-buy, out-decorate, or out-bake everyone else, but to honor the birth and life of the Savior of the world, who gave us the perfect example of loving service. And a reason to believe in miracles.
I've got the perfect Christmas story for you. It's called An Angel of Main Street, the second book by Kathi Oram Peterson. At a quick 99 pages, it's a satisfying and soul-expanding story worth re-reading yearly and would make a terrific family read-aloud. I can just picture the family sitting around the living room, tree lights on, cocoa in hand. Even little kids would like this tale.
It's 1953, and only three days before Christmas. Micah Connors, a 13 year old boy, has just moved into a new town with his mother and little sister, where he has promised to start over with a clean slate and stay out of trouble. The gambling kind. But poor Micah, overwhelmed with the grief of his father's death in Korea and the illness of his sister, and the heavy responsibilities of being the man of the house for his worried and overworked mother, just can't seem to help being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and almost immediately is being escorted home by the town Sheriff. Not a good start.
But aside from the trouble he keeps finding, someone is building a nativity set on the island in the street, each day adding a new piece to the set--a stable, some sheep, the wise men, an angel--and Micah's very sick little sister feels sure that if she can see the baby Jesus come she will be healed. With desperate love for his sister, Micah determines to investigate around town to find out who exactly is building the nativity so he can steal the baby Jesus and bring it home to his her. But time is running out as she gets closer to death. Micah needs a miracle.
As miracles usually go, this one goes above and beyond what Micah had ever hoped for. The discovery of who is behind the construction of the nativity is just the beginning of the wonders that this new Christmas, in a new town, brings to Micah. Angels are closer than he had believed.
This is a great story, really. I love that the main character is a boy instead of a girl. I love that the boy is real in little-boy ways, and that so many times, even with good intentions, his judgment gets him into predicaments. (I know little boys like that!) I love the message of God's love and awareness of each of us personally that shines through the story. And I think it would make a terrific Hallmark Christmas special. Truly. Kathi Oram Peterson wrote just the right kind of Christmas story, and she wrote it well.
Also, Kathi is hosting a special contest. The contest runs from now until December 15th. Anyone can enter by simply emailing her at email@example.com and writing about an experience you have had with someone who became an angel in your life. The winner will be announced on her blog (http://www.kathiswritingnook.com/). A gift certificate from either Seagull Book or Deseret Book will be given to the winner and an "Angel" in his/her life. This contest celebrates the selfless, kind acts performed daily, many times unnoticed. Let's face it, life is tough and the small acts of kindness shown to us by others need to be remembered and celebrated especially during the holidays. Kathi says, "Christmas brings out the best in people and I wanted to give others the opportunity to thank those who have touched their lives in a profound way. Hopefully this contest will remind us of the angels in our lives."
Here's a trailer for the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTrKWOhKY9k
Grab it for yourself and your family and get ready to get in the Christmas spirit!