Best Christmas Story Ever (now $1.99 as an e-book) plus Kids’ Service Project Idea Book

Renee Ann Smith —  December 18, 2010 — 24 Comments

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.


Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

24 responses to Best Christmas Story Ever (now $1.99 as an e-book) plus Kids’ Service Project Idea Book

  1. I will certainly need to get a copy of this book! I don’t think my boys are quite old enough to “get it,” but it won’t be long!

  2. BTW – Just bought the book! I’m excited!

  3. What a great post, and a book I definitely need to share with my son. I look forward to reading it to him. Thank you! Merry CHRISTmas!

  4. I’ve never heard of this book, but from this wonderful post and review you did, I will have to get a copy. I don’t have Kindle or Nook (oh will I ever catch up to the tech. age?), or their apps, but will look into the hard copy version. Thanks for a great suggestion and ideas to share with my children! Thanks also for stopping by my blog and posting a comment! Did you get the Target gift card yet?
    Have a blessed Christmas!

  5. This looks like an amazing book. What a great idea for the kids!!

  6. This sounds amazing! Thank you so much for the review. I’m off to check out more about this book :)

  7. That book sounds so sweet. I’ll have to check it out. Thank you!

  8. This book sounds great! I’ve never heard of it, but I look forward to reading it with the kiddos.

  9. Good website! I actually love how it is easy on my eyes as well as the details are well written. I am wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which really should work! Have a good day!

  10. HI Renee Ann!
    I just posted about The Paperbag Christmas story that I have been reading to our family and I have linked the post back to your review here! :) Thank you so much for the review and recommendation! We love this story! Also, my children were asking about the picture on your post here. Who are the children in the photo? Is this book based on a true story? Here is the link to my post: http://asliceofsmithlife.blogspot.com/2011/01/paperbag-christmas-wonderful-book.html

    Thanks again!
    Tracy at “A Slice of Smith Life”

    • I just love to post pictures that illustrate my article. I think the kids in the photo are from St. Jude’s. I didn’t take the picture–I just became really interested in St. Jude’s when I visited my sister in Memphis. I’m hoping to get a tour of the place next time I visit her! . . . Thanks for linking here, Tracy. I appreciate it!

  11. Just saw Tracy post and quickly came over here to see your review. I am late but I just downloaded it to my kindle and am going to read it. Then I will be able to read to my kids next year at Christmas time.

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