Cover image for Christmas in my soul : a third collection
Title:
Christmas in my soul : a third collection
Author:
Wheeler, Joe L., 1936-
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, 2002.
Physical Description:
130 pages : illustrations ; 19 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Home for Christmas / Joseph Leininger Wheeler -- When Tad remembered / Minnie Leona Upton -- The stuffed kitten / Mae Hurley Ashworth -- Something quite forgotten / Grace Livingston Hill -- The star in the well / Temple Bailey -- Time to expand / Elsie Singmaster -- The red envelope / Nancy N. Rue.
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780385498616
Format :
Book

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PS648.C45 C448 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Holiday
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Summary

Summary

The third volume in Joe Wheeler's popular series brings readers seven heartwarming tales of Christmas cheer. There are dozens of Christmas traditions that bring family and friends together. One of the most beloved is the sharing of stories, and Joe Wheeler has helped to preserve and perpetuate this wonderful tradition in the classic Christmas in My Heartseries as well as the new Christmas in My Soulvolumes. His extraordinary talent for finding stories that embody the Christmas spirit sparkles again inChristmas in My Soul, Volume 3. The seven stories here reveal the true meaning and hope of Christmas. Selected with care by Wheeler, a veteran English professor, a father, and a grandfather, each one rings with a message that is both honest and inspiring. Whether read to a child or enjoyed in peaceful solitude, they will make readers smile, bring tears to their eyes, and touch their hearts. Delightful antique woodcuts add to the old-fashion look and spirit of the book and make it an especially appealing gift for the holiday season.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Wheeler begins this anthology with a surprisingly frank introduction about how divorce, family bickering and geographical transience have created in many people a longing for an elusive "home" at Christmastime. What follows are six sentimental holiday tales, in the same tradition as Wheeler's phenomenally popular Christmas in My Heart and Christmas in My Soul anthologies. All of the stories were written by women. There's a pretty contribution by Grace Livingston Hill, whose yarns have become staples in Wheeler's collections, though this one has terribly didactic moments. ("She suddenly remembered that she was a witness for the Lord Jesus. She must think of her testimony.") There's also a very dated but charming Temple Bailey story, situated in the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the early 20th century. The most powerful and understated sketch is also the only contemporary one of the collection: Nancy Rue's "The Red Envelope." (Oct. 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

When Tad Remembered Minnie Leona Upton Mary Merivale turned, peered eagerly down the length of the quiet elm-shaded street; then the expectant light faded from her tired eyes. She had done this a full five thousand times--but still no Bobbie. That was bad enough, but where was Taddy--Taddy, her beloved dog? This story dates back about a hundred years ago, to a time when diseases such as diphtheria, typhoid, scarlet fever, cholera, tuberculosis, influenza, and so on, came--there being no known antidote--they wiped out entire families; when you add in death because of childbirth complications, you were lucky if half your children survived to adulthood. It was a mighty tough and heartbreaking time in which to live. This is an old story, and I have loved it ever since I first heard it, growing up. I have never been able to find anything about the author. In fact, this is the only one of her stories I have ever found. What a pity! It was closing time for a little notion shop that shyly besought the scant patronage of a sleepy, shabby old side street in a great city. The little notion shop lady sped a last lingering patron with a cheery but decided good-night, then following her outside, closed the snow-burdened blinds with tremulous haste, and, turning, peered eagerly down the length of the quiet, elm-shaded street. One long look, then the patient eyes from which the expectant light had suddenly faded turned for a moment to the remote keen December stars, and a tired little sigh accompanied the clicking of the key in the lock. Full five thousand times had Mary Merivale done this, and nothing more interesting than Sandy Macpherson the cobbler, putting up his shutters, or old Bettina the apple woman, ambling homeward with empty basket, had yet rewarded her searching gaze. But it was part of her day, of her life: and the warm thrill of unreasoning hope had never failed to come. Next time--who could tell? Especially at Christmastime! She hung the key on its nail, and limped back into her low-ceiled sitting room, dining room, kitchen. With resolute cheerfulness she opened the drafts, and woke the slumbering fire in the shining stove, lighted the rose-shaded lamp, drew the curtains, and filled the diminutive teakettle. She was beginning to spread a white cloth on the wee round table (having removed the Dresden shepherdess, and the pot of pansies, and the crocheted doily, and the cretonne cover), when her operations were interrupted by a vigorous scratching on the door opening into the backyard. The little lady's face broke into a welcoming smile, deepening a host of pleasant wrinkles. She drew the bolt, the door burst open, and in bounded a little rough-coated, brownish-yellow--or yellowish-brown--mongrel, yapping joyously, and springing up, albeit somewhat laboriously and rheumatically, to bestow exuberant kisses upon the beloved hands of his lady. "There, there, Taddy--there, there--that'll do," she said. But there was not a marked firmness in the prohibition, and it was several minutes before Tad subsided, and sank, with asthmatic wheezes, upon a braided rug that looked as if it might have been made from Joseph's coat of many colors. "Been watchin' for the rat, Taddy?" Tad thumped the mat with his happy, lowbred, undocked tail. He took no shame to himself that a year's efforts had failed to catch and bring to justice the canny old rat that, under the wastebarrel house, made carefree entrances and exits through a hole that led to regions unknown. He knew nothing of the countless times when the bold bandit had skipped nonchalantly forth while he was taking forty winks. Once the villain would not have escaped him so arrogantly, nor, indeed, at all! But almost twenty conscientiously active years, with asthma and rheumatism, had stolen away, bit by bit, his alertness of observation and elasticity of muscle, though not one iota of his warmth of heart and lightness of spirit. He curled up contentedly on his rug, and watched proceedings with eager interest, now and then putting out an affectionately arresting paw when his mistress whisked near him in her bustling to and fro. Presently his bowl of broth was set down before him, on a square of blue-and-white oilcloth, and his lady sat herself down to her frugal meal. It ended with a tiny square of fruitcake (brought in by an old customer) for the lady, and a lump of moist brown sugar for the dog. "If you'd only chew it, Tad, 'pears to me you'd sense it more," observed Tad's mistress, in a tone of gentle reproach. Tad promptly assumed an expression of penitence and hopefulness, fetchingly blended: not from any reason of the nature of his offense, but because that tone in her voice always indicated that he had done something; hopefulness, because of expectation of a small supplementary lump which he had hitherto received--he seeing no reason this night why the second lump should not continue. But tonight--tonight--no second lump was forthcoming. The little woman spoke apologetically, "Tomorrow, I hope, Taddy dear, perhaps three lumps--who knows--business hasn't been very good this week [she had sold just seven cents' worth of notions, and the rent was due], and I never ask for it, you know." Tad didn't know. But he felt the lump in the dear voice. He got up, stiffly, and laid his common little head in her lap, and looked comforting volumes with his great shining eyes. He licked the queer salty water that dropped on her hand from somewhere, and she began to smile, and call him her comfort, whereat he wagged hilariously. Presently Mrs. Maguire, who had moved in next door, and whose red, white, and blue sign read, washing and scrubbing dun inside or out, ran in for a friendly chat. Neighborliness burgeons at Christmastime! "A foine loively little dawg, Mis' Merivale!" she commented enthusiastically, directing an approving pat at Tad's rough head. It descended on air. Tad had flopped over on one side and was lying with one paw raised appealingly, one eye alertly open and the other tightly closed. "Was ivver the loikes av thot, now, for the way of a dawg!" exclaimed the admiring Mrs. Maguire. But Mary Merivale had dropped on her knees beside the little performer, tears and smiles playing hide-and-seek among her wrinkles. "It's a trick my Bobbie taught 'im, when he was yet a wee-bit puppy near twenty years ago. Who's Bobbie? Why--but there, you're a newcomer in the neighborhood. Bobbie is my little boy--that is, he was my little boy. I--Mis' Maguire, there's something about you makes me feel you'd understand; somehow my heart and my head have been full of remembering today. I--I would so like to tell you about Bobbie, and how it is that I'm alone--if it wouldn't tire you--after your hard day's work." "Mis' Merivale, just lit it pourr right out! It'll do the hearts of the two ov us good--you to pourr it out, an' me to take it in! I brought me Moike's sweater to darrn, an' its a good listenin' job." A big red hand gave the soft gray waves of Mary Merivale's hair a gentle pat; then Mrs. Maguire began to rock to and fro as she threaded a huge darning needle and essayed to fill in a ragged aperture. Mary Merivale, knitting swiftly on a sturdy red mitten, took up her story. "Nineteen years ago last October, my husband died; the kindest, best husband that ever lived. But we'd never been able to save much, havin' had eight children in the seventeen years we'd been married, and all of them went with diphtheria except Bobbie. So doctors' bills and funeral expenses kept us in debt, the best we could do. "And somehow, when John left me, I went all in a heap, and I was sick a long time, and when I got around again, I didn't seem to have any strength or courage. So when a nice old couple with money offered to adopt Bobbie, and give him the best education money could pay for, I felt that I ought to let him go--I never could have done for him that way. "He was such a bright little fellow--seven years old, and could read right off in the Bible and the Old Farmers' Almanac without stoppin' to spell out hardly a word! Mr. and Mrs. Brown--that was their name--took to him from the start. They had him take their name at the very first. That did hurt somehow, though 'twas right. And kind of them. They'd just bought a fine place over in the next town to Benfield, where I'd always lived, and first I thought I'd see Bobbie often. But they didn't seem to like very well to see me come. What? Oh, no--no! They were very kind, but I guess they thought it kept Bobbie too much stirred up to have Taddy and me droppin' in every little once in a while. I'd a left Taddy with him, but Mrs. Brown didn't like dogs. "Well, that winter they sold their new place, and went away, and they fixed it so I never could find out their address--" "The sthony-hearrted crathurs!" exploded Mrs. Maguire, sitting bolt upright, and dropping Mike's sweater. "Hiv'n'll punish--" "Oh, no, no, Mrs. Maguire--they thought they were doing the best for Bobbie. They wanted to make a gentleman of him--and so did I. And finally I saw 'twas selfish of me to try to keep a hold on him, when he had such a good chance to grow up different, somehow, and I stopped tryin' to trace him up. "Well, instead of gainin' strength, I seemed to lose it, after I got to work awhile. I tried to give up the washin' and scrubbin' that I'd tried to do. So when I heard from my husband's cousin Mary--she used to dressmake on this street, but she went back to Benfield for her last sickness--that this little shop was for sale, with the good will and fixtures, and stock, I took the bit of money that was left after the house was sold and the debts paid, and came here to the city and started for myself. "Hard? Yes, it seemed so, for John had always stood between me and business--still, I'm not the only one that's had to bear hard things. And I've made a livin'. "But even so, if it hadn't been for Taddy, I don't know what I'd have done! He was a puppy then, and just as bright for a dog as Bobbie was for a boy. Bobbie taught him a lot of the regular tricks such as other dogs do; but this one he just did was one that Bobbie himself invented. It was intended for an apology, and Taddy was to do it whenever he thought he'd been naughty. "Well, first after Bobbie went, Taddy'd never do it except when I took him to see Bobbie. But after Bobbie went where we couldn't visit him any more, the little fellow began to do it for me, whenever he saw me lookin' downhearted. The little scalawag had noticed that it made folks laugh, and so he thought 'twould answer that purpose, as well as be an apology. At least, I'm pretty sure that was what was in Taddy's mind. "But now, for a long time, he hasn't done it. Got out of the way of it when his rheumatism was bad. But this evenin' he saw I was a bit down--this raw weather is so tryin', don't you think?--and that reminded him, bless his heart! "Haven't I ever heard anything of Bobbie? I was comin' to that. Two years ago an old Benfield neighbor who was sight-seein' here in the city thought she saw Bobbie with a lot of medical students goin' into one of the new buildins of the medical school. She said he looked just as she knew Bobbie'd look, grown up. And I thought maybe 'twas here the Browns lived--Benfield's only twenty-five miles out--and it seemed real likely, somehow, that Bobbie'd be learnin' to be a doctor, for he was always doctorin' up sick dogs and cats and birds. I went right out to the school, leavin' Miss Jenks, the neighbor, to tend shop. Seemed as though I couldn't get there soon enough. But no, there wasn't any Robert Brown there studyin'. All the strength went out of me. Not that I meant to thrust myself on him, and mortify him, when he'd got to be a gentleman, but I just thought I could plan to see him once in a while, as he went in and out." Mrs. Maguire made a noncommittal sound, something between a sob and a grunt. Mary Merivale went on, unheeding. "No, I'd never thrust myself on him. But somehow, I know it's weak and selfish, but somehow, way down in my heart, I've never give up the idea that sometime Bobbie'd trace me out. Mis' Maguire, I've never said this to another livin' bein'. But someway, 'twould seem like Bobbie. "He's twenty-six now, almost. When I go out to close the shop blind at night I can almost see him comin' along the street, with his fine, big square shoulders back, and his head up! He looked so much like his father when he was little that I'm almost sure he looks just like him now. "Yes, yes, Mis' Maguire, it is a true sayin'--'If it wa'n't for hope, the heart would break!' Yes, thank God for hope! "Must you go now? Well, it is gettin' late--I've run on so. Yes, I will run in soon. Real neighborin' is such a comfort. And I can talk freer to you than I ever could to anybody else. You don't try to--to plan for me, or criticize. Just sit and listen, with your face so kind. Rather go in at your back door? Then I'll go out with you to the back gate for a bit of fresh air." Tad politely preceded the two, as escort. But just outside the gate he caught sight of his ancient foe, the cobbler's big gray cat, and started in ardent pursuit. "He'll soon be back!" laughed his mistress, and propped the gate ajar with a brick, and left the back door open a bit, as she went about her preparations for the night. But Tad did not come back, triumphant over a routed foe, or comically disgruntled over one who had proved far too quick for him. All night his mistress lay broad awake, getting up every few minutes to go out in the alley and call and listen--but in vain! Morning came at last, and she rose listlessly and opened the little shop, prepared her scanty breakfast, and cleared it away--untouched. Excerpted from Christmas in My Soul: A Third Collection by Joe L. Wheeler All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.