Friday, November 23, 2007

Christmas Jars

Christmas Jars is a little book with a big message about the Christmas season. In an age when Christmas gift giving has become more of an expensive routine than a heartfelt pleasure for many people, Jason Wright offers an alternative that recaptures the spirit of the season.

When young newspaper reporter Hope Jensen experienced one of those horrible Christmas Eves that are often written about in newspapers like hers, she had no reason to believe that anything good would come from the experience. Getting through her first Christmas without her adoptive mother was going to be hard enough already but, when she returned to her apartment wanting nothing more than to sleep the rest of the day away, things would get worse. Hope found her apartment trashed by burglars, something that seems to happen all too often on Christmas Eve.

Finding herself somewhere between bursting into tears and throwing a tantrum, Hope was saved from doing either when she discovered a small jar stuffed with coins and paper currency that had mysteriously appeared just inside her apartment door during all the excitement. There was nothing to indicate its source or why it had been left for her. Smelling a newspaper story, and in need of something pleasant on which to focus, Hope Jensen decided that she would solve the mystery of her Christmas jar.

What she discovered about the Christmas jar tradition in her town, and what she learned about herself in the process, is the heart of this Christmas story. It is a story about strangers giving gifts to those who need them most, and how those who received the jars on one Christmas often gave Christmas jars of their own to others on the next.

Christmas Jars is a tale reminiscent of a 1940s black and white movie in the way that many of its characters are a tad too perfect and too ready to forgive. The length of the book, a short 122 pages, does not allow Wright to flesh out his characters or their story and that is a shame because he has created characters worthy of more attention. Perhaps that is meant to be part of its charm but the book would have been much stronger and would have had more of an impact on the reader if its characters had been more completely developed. But the real point of this book is its message, an inspirational one that will be retold this fall as a “major motion picture.” Here’s hoping that Christmas Jars and its movie version start a new tradition of Christmas Eve giving that is passed from one generation to the next.

Rated at: 3.0

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