Or maybe I should say I recently devoured The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith.
As stated in the subtitle, this book is the true story of a Christmas miracle. In October of 1999, Ms. Smith's husband of 20 years died suddenly, leaving behind his wife and 3 children. In December of that year she's holding it together for her kids, paying the bills and getting everyone where they need to go, but is not at all in the mood for Christmas. And who can blame her? This is not how it was supposed to be.
Then, 13 days before Christmas, small gifts begin appearing on the Smiths' porch, along with notes changing the words to "The Twelve Days of Christmas" to reflect the gifts left by their "true friends." It's a mystery, who's leaving the gifts, and over the course of the next 12 days, a miracle occurs, as Ms. Smith realizes that just holding it together is not enough, and the Smith family finally begins to heal.
I really, really liked this book. I read the whole thing, all 201 pages of it, within 18 hours of it landing on my porch (and I was sleeping for at least 8 of those hours). Ms. Smith's writing style is real and down to earth. She recalls that time in her life with honesty, recalling the raw emotion of those days. The book is so relatable. I just had to keep reading to find out what happened next, and if the gift givers would reveal themselves.
This is, when it comes down to it, an inspiring story of hope in the midst of despair. It is the story of how a small act of kindness can have amazing long-term effects.
Bottom line: read this book.
I received this book for free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program. All opinions are my own.