Take a few moments out of your Christmas busy-ness to let this magical tale transport you. Right now the Kindle and Nook editions are only $1.99–so you could read this story with your family tonight–maybe in front of the Christmas tree while sipping hot chocolate.
“I’m Molar Alan, and this is my story. It is as real to me as the Santa of my youth, and I share it with an enduring hope that you will carry its message beyond the realm of reindeer, elves, or toys and embed it deep in your heart where the distractions and disappointments of life can’t enter, where the worldly can look but not touch, and where the rich in spirit can come and go at will.” The Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne
It’s the late seventies, and nine-year-old Molar Alan (named by his dentist father!) reluctantly agrees to visit the mall Santa with his parents and brother. The attending elf gives him paper and pencil to write a wish list. As Molar waits in the endless line, he lists everything he can think of or sees in the toy store windows nearby.
When Molar meets Santa, the man explains why Molar and his brother Aaron won’t be receiving anything they’ve asked for. Why? Because Santa has bigger plans for them. He explains that “the gift they will receive will be better than everything they thought they wanted, but since they didn’t think of it themselves, [he calls] it everything they never wanted.”
Santa, aka Dr. Christoffer K. Ringle, is a pediactric oncologist. He instructs the Alan boys to meet him at his hospital and introduces them to the children in the cancer ward. Soon the boys embark on a strange adventure, which involves dressing up as elves, helping with the Christmas pageant, competing in gurney races, and learning some of life’s most important lessons.
Molar is especially affected by his friendship with Katrina Barlow. She is nine, like he, but there the similarities end. Katrina is a cancer patient and an orphan and knows far more about pain and loss than any nine-year-old should. And she loves to create a stir. When Molar first sees her, she is dressed in red pajamas, wrapped in white toilet paper stripes, and sporting a white paper bag on her head—she’s a life-sized candy cane. Even at his young age, he realizes he has met someone he will never forget!
Some compare this book with another children’s classic, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, since both stories involve reaching out to those who are often overlooked in society. I would add that The Paper Bag Christmas highlights even more the theme of selflessness in friendship and service. I consider it a must-read for all ages! You’ll laugh and cry with Molar and his friends as they learn about “giving up their pride and self-doubt and laying them at the feet of Him who is mighty to heal.”
I loved this story! I loved the language, the unique characters, the poignancy of the dialogue. One aspect I especially enjoyed was that each chapter of the book begins with a Christmas quote. Here are a few of my favorites:
- When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? G. K. Chesterton
- God is the God of men . . . and of elves. J. R. R. Tolkien
- Christmas began in the heart of God. It is only complete when it reaches the hearts of men.
- Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself around you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart . . . filled it, too, with melody that would last forever. Bess Streeter Aldrich
Christmas Gift Guide: Grab a copy of this book and read it to a young person in your life. Or just savor it yourself. You’ll be glad you did! Don’t have a Nook or Kindle? Download the free Kindle or Nook app for your computer. Then download the book for $1.99 at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Also, I think there’s still time to have this book delivered by Christmas. However, even if you order a hard copy and don’t receive it until after Christmas, it just might be a great Pick-Me-Up for those after Christmas blues! You can purchase The Paper Bag Christmas at Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, and Half.com.
Bonus Idea: Parents, teachers, and homeschoolers, you can use this story as an opportunity to share age-appropriate service ideas with your children. Check out this possible companion piece, 101 Simple Service Projects Kids Can Do by Susan Lingo, now available at Christianbook.com. Start the new year by lining up a few of these projects for your kids!
I haven’t read the book, but the introduction says, “Welcome to the simplest, surest, sweetest ways to bring God’s love to others. These snappy service projects are easy-to-do, and most can be accomplished in the space of one classtime. With a few simple supplies and a bit of serving background, your kids will be touching lives in no time–and the results will last a lifetime!”
The table of contents includes:
- Marvelous Missions: Powerful ways to support missions around the world or right next door.
- Holiday Helps: Festive ways to help hurried holiday preparations slow down and become meaningful.
- Quick Acts of Kindness: Sure-fire ways to touch people’s lives in an instant.
I hope one of these books will be a blessing to you! And for more great book reviews, follow this link to the Creative Madness Mama blog. (Scroll to the second list and click on any link to read a review.)
And before you go, treat yourself to the introduction of Kevin Alan Milne’s beautiful story:
Two words: Merry Christmas; or perhaps Happy Christmas if such fits your geographic predilection. Two words so full of promise but all too often relegated to commonplace by the jingling bells of wanting that accompany the season. Yet for those fortunate few who stumble across its underlying significance, Merry Christmas becomes a treasure trove of goodwill—a miraculous gift waiting just beyond the oft-hollow words, to be opened and enjoyed by all who comprehend it.