Six candies, long-unread, out of print, and all by women, from anthologist Wheeler in the third of his Christmas in My Soul series (2001), after the four in his Christmas in My Heart series.
Wheeler talks at length about the meaning of “home” and “Christmas,” though less about “soul,” mentioning today’s high suicide rate during the Christmas season, a “tragic by-product of the disintegration of the marriage for life as we once knew it.” First published a hundred years ago, “When Tad Remembered” is the lone story by Minnie Leona Upton that Wheeler has ever found. It tells of little gray Mary Merivale and her hopelessly failing notions shop, her 20-year-old mutt Tad, the rent due and only seven cents on hand from the week’s sales. Widow Mary had eight children in 17 years and diphtheria took seven of them, leaving Bobbie, whom the sick widow allowed the Brown family to adopt. Then the Browns moved far away, taking Bobbie, now unseen by the widow for 20 years. How can we bear to tell what happens on Christmas Eve when the lost dog returns leading . . . ? By far the best piece here, the utterly forgotten Mae Hurley Ashworth’s “The Stuffed Kitten,” which Wheeler calls a “divine gift,” tells of a third-grade teacher’s unlikable, most stupid student giving her a stuffed kitten for Christmas, just before being killed by a reckless driver, forcing the teacher’s reluctant soul to expand. Once famous in the Flapper Era, Grace Livingston Hill, in “Something Quite Forgotten,” mixes romance and Jesus into one big heartbubble, while Temple Bailey’s “The Star in the Well” tells of a Star—and faith—lost and found in a—well, in a well.
A thimble bearing a Niagara of sentiment.