Amanda Cabot, the critically acclaimed writer of Christian historical romances and author of the newly released holiday novel CHRISTMAS ROSES, reminisces on the Christmas gift that still resonates with her today. Her holiday favorite, LITTLE WOMEN, was lovingly given to her by her aunt and uncle, who, despite their financial struggles, wanted to make their niece’s dream of having her own copy of the book come true.
“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.If you don’t recognize this line, it’s the beginning of Louisa May Alcott’s LITTLE WOMEN. I was 10 years old when I first read it, and from that very first reading, I knew it would be what we now call a keeper. I loved everything about the book, except Beth’s death, which invariably sent me running to my bedroom to cry in private.
By summer, I had read LITTLE WOMEN so often that I’d memorized whole scenes, including the opening one. Did I mention that I loved that book? The problem was, although I lived in a family of avid readers, we didn’t own many books. Books were something we borrowed from the library. And so every time I wanted to read about Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, I had to go to the library. Going to the library wasn’t the problem. Returning the book was. I wanted --- oh, how I wanted --- my own copy of LITTLE WOMEN. Since my family wasn’t one that gave gifts other than on designated occasions, I knew that meant waiting for Christmas. And so I made more trips to the library while I waited for December, all the while hoping I’d find that special book under the tree.
What I didn’t know was that Christmas would bring me not just the book I wanted but a wonderful surprise. Unbeknownst to me, my mother had mentioned my love of LITTLE WOMEN to one of her sisters. This aunt and uncle had fewer material possessions than anyone in the family, and, looking back on it now, I realize how they must have struggled at times simply to feed their children. But my aunt, who was also my godmother, wanted to make a young girl’s dreams come true, and so, although we’d never exchanged gifts with her family, she started putting aside a little money each week --- sometimes nothing more than a quarter. By December, she had enough saved to buy me a very nice edition of LITTLE WOMEN.
Decades later, I still have that book, and I still smile every time I open the cover and read the inscription: With love from Aunt Ella and Uncle Andrew. They’re both gone now, but the memory of their love warms my heart and reminds me of just how precious a gift can be when it’s wrapped in love.