The Christmas Box

I just read The Christmas Box.  Again.  For the 15th time.  No, I’m not exaggerating.  Scout’s honor.

The Christmas Box is a seasonal tradition at my house.  I’ve read this book every year since it first came out in 1993.  It’s a favorite family read-aloud.  We also watch the made-for-TV movie (1995) each Christmas like clockwork.  It’s another family tradition.   We love this poignant, powerful story of a stressed-out young couple, the Evanses, and their nearly four y.o. daughter, Jenna, who share the estate of  lonely widow MaryAnne Parkin.   The Emmy award-winning movie stars Richard Thomas as Richard Evans and screen legend Maureen O’Hara as Mary Parkin.  The movie presents Mary as a terse character who’s considerably more austere and chilly than the kind, grandmotherly Mary we find in the book (p. 55, etc.).  But that’s another story.

Richard and Kerri Evans and their daughter, Jenna, move from crowded southern California to the “quaint streets and white-capped mountains” of Richard’s hometown, Salt Lake City, where Richard starts a formal wear rental business.  (Not a ski company, as in the movie.)  Regarding his ever-increasing absences from home in favor of entrepreneurial demands, the young husband and father rationalizes, “Perhaps if I had seen my daughter’s loving eyes staring back at me from the gold-plated scales, I would have rethought my priorities” (p. 59).  That’s just before the Dream, the Angel, and the Letter, and the “ornate heirloom box” that reveals a past tragedy.

As a New York Times best-selling author, Evans has a remarkable ability to transcend time, geography, busyness, age and even language to touch hearts and focus minds on what really matters.   Through the pages of this short novel (you can read it cover-to-cover in half an afternoon) the author gently reminds us of the ephemeral nature of our time here on earth and the importance of aligning our plans, priorites and calendars around what lasts: faith, friends, and family.

In addition to Evans’ uplifting messages of hope and inspiration woven throughout all his titles, I find him a gosh-darn good writer.  His descriptions are delicious. Everything from the Parkin estate in the Avenues (pp. 21 and 22) to Mary’s copy of the “wicked” Bible (p. 49), the tear-stained pages of the Gospel of John (p. 81), asking which of the senses are most affected by Christmas (pp. 77, 78), or the man looking for a suit for his young son (pp. 94-96) radiate warmth and three-dimensional personality.

So.  Why do I keep coming back to The Christmas Box?  For one thing, my husband bought me my very own copy for Christmas several years back.  I’ve treasured it ever since.  Also,  The Christmas Box is a good story, plain and simple.  The kind that never wears thin.  Or, as Richard Paul Evans concludes in his Epilogue (p. 125):

The sacred contents of that box are a parent’s pure love for all His children, as he sacrificed that which He loved most and sent His son to earth on that Christmas day so long ago.  And as long as the earth lives, and longer, that message will never die.  Though the cold winds of life may put a frost on the heart of many, that message alone will shelter the heart from life’s storms.  And for me, as long as I live, the magic inside the Christmas Box will never die.

It never will.

Merry Christmas.

One Response

  1. i love this exciting book

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