Monday, December 31, 2012

A Christmas Surprise


            On the morning of a rare Texan white Christmas, my parents bestowed upon me a gift; namely, a novella entitled A Wreath of Snow. Although it had been quite some time since I last read a book by Liz Curtis Higgs, the old passenger train charging down snow-covered tracks intrigued me and sparked my interest at once. I immediately wondered, what type of journey might the young lady on the cover be taking and whom might she meet along the way?
            The story’s heroine, Meg Campbell, finds herself stranded on the snowy railroad tracks to Edinburgh, Scotland, with a kind stranger to whom she opens her heart about the tragedy that left her younger brother paralyzed and angry for the last twelve years. She struggles to forgive the man who was at fault in the accident—and hopes not to run into him again. How will she react when she discovers this stranger she opened up to is in fact the very man she despises?
            Gordon Shaw made a mistake twelve years ago. He’s paid for it in guilt every day since. As he finds himself stranded with Miss Campbell, the sister of the boy he injured, he tries to muster up the courage to apologize to her. When he attempts to confess his sin to her family, he finds himself thrust into a web of deceit on Christmas Day. Will a stranger’s revelation about Gordon’s own father help him discover that God’s love conquers all things?
            While reading A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs, Meg and Gordon’s story reminded me that forgiveness can be given or received. It’s difficult to say which is the easier to do. To give forgiveness is to let go of hard, angry feelings that want to keep their stranglehold on us. These grudges harbor the hurt first caused by the person seeking forgiveness. If we choose to grant mercy, we are giving a second chance to that person even as we risk our hearts being broken again. Receiving forgiveness can be just as challenging. Asking the injured person for mercy requires a humble apology in which our guilt is confessed, which opens our hearts to the possibility of rejection. When we finally do receive forgiveness, if the injured one is willing to give us that second chance, relief swells within our chests and a new sense of purpose settles in, demanding that we try not to be hurtful again.
            A Wreath of Snow is a newly-found treasure with lots of similar lessons to be learned. This book should definitely be shared with friends and strangers alike, an easy way to pass on the Christmas spirit. Liz Curtis Higgs has woven a refreshing reminder of God’s loving forgiveness wrapped in the traditions of Christmas spent with family. Artistically placed plot twists and down-to-earth characters will keep your heart yearning for more of this heartwarming yuletide tale long after you reach the final page.

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