Every December I like to read a book or two relating to Christmas. I’ve read my share of corny and predictable Christmas stories but I’m not writing about those. However, there are a few that I think you’ll find worth your time.

Christmas Jars – by Jason F. Wright
I met the author of this book on a flight to Boise, Idaho a few years ago. He was sitting across from me and I noticed he was doing a lot of typing. While it’s not unusual to see someone typing on the plane, there is a difference between typing a report and typing a manuscript. He was clearly typing a manuscript. I verified this by peeking over his shoulder. (Yes, I snooped.) When we landed and were gathering our belongings I said, “Are you a writer?” He told me he was and had been working on a magazine article. Then he mentioned that he had written a few books. I asked him if any of them were ones I might have read and he casually said, “Well, Christmas Jars is probably my best known book.” I looked it up when I got to my destination and um, yeah, it’s kind of well known. Like NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER KNOWN! And, wow, I can see why it’s a best seller. Great book!

The story begins with a 20-something reporter, Hope, spending her first Christmas Eve without her adoptive mother. To make matters worse, her apartment is robbed. While the police are processing the crime scene she steps outside for a few minutes to compose herself and when she returns she finds a jar filled with coins and small bills, tucked into a paper bag, just inside the doorway of her apartment. Being the newswoman that she is, Hope begins a search to find her benefactor, but what she finds is so much more. Reading this book might even inspire you to start your own Christmas Jar tradition. If you do my address is . . . . (just kidding.)

The Christmas Hope – by Donna VanLiere
The entire time I was reading The Christmas Hope I kept thinking that I knew this story, like maybe I’d seen it in movie form. Either that, or I had a very vivid imagination and memory of the first time I’d read it. I could “see” the main characters, the rooms, even the office and, as it turns out, I have seen the movie and loved it–just the way I loved the book.

In the story, Patricia and her husband are just barely holding what’s left of their marriage together. They live in the same house at least, but that’s about it. Grief over the loss of their son has left them embittered and depressed. One day just before Christmas, Patricia, who works as a social worker, brings home five-year-old Emily whose mother has just died. It’s against all the rules but there was no place for Emily to go. As it turns out, breaking the rules is exactly what this family needed to turn things around.

Christmas at Harrington’s – by Melody Carlson
I’m a huge fan of Book Bub – an online company that allows you to sign up for a daily email with free or low-priced books for Kindle based on your reading preferences. (I’m also a HUGE Kindle fan!) Sometimes the books I get for free are, shall we say, worth the money you pay for them. This one, however, left me feeling a little guilty for the author’s lack of income.

The story starts with Lena Markham, fresh out of prison, on a bus to a town where she’s never lived. She’s has no money, no home, and she’s running low on hope. All she wants is to start over and move on with her life. This book shows community love and redemption at it’s best. And bonus, last I checked the Kindle version is only $1.56!

I hope you take the time to enjoy at least one Christmas story during this season. It might be just the perfect thing to help you “de-stress” in the busyness of December.