Review

Remembering Christmas

by Dan Walsh

Remember Slurpees and cassette tapes? Or what life was like before everyone owned a cell phone? The days when Christopher Cross could be heard on every radio station across the country? Or when gas prices were $1.00? Take a step
back into the 1980s with Dan Walsh’s latest novel, REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS.

"If you love Christmas stories that leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, while offering a message of hope and healing, you’ll want to pick up a copy of REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS."
Rick Denton is living life exactly how he pleases. He’s a successful accountant with plenty of money to spend on parties and women. Best of all, though, he’s in Charlotte, North Carolina, far away from his small hometown of Seabreeze, Florida, a place he couldn’t escape fast enough. As the story opens, Rick has just come from a tense business meeting and is eagerly looking forward to a fun and relaxing weekend ski trip with friends. But then he gets a phone call from his mother, Leanne, informing him that his stepfather, Art, is in the hospital. She asks Rick to come home and manage their small bookstore until Art is up and about again. Rick has never been close to his stepfather, and the last thing he wants to do is return to his hometown. But since he has some vacation time coming, he reluctantly agrees, reasoning that it will only be for the weekend.
 
It turns out that Art’s situation is more serious than they first thought: he has a brain aneurysm. It now looks like that “brief weekend” will be much longer. Although Rick desperately wants to leave, his conscience won’t allow him to bail on his mother when she needs him.
 
Rick agrees to help out at his mother’s and Art’s Christian bookstore, where he has no knowledge of --- and absolutely no interest in --- the products. What he IS interested in is Andrea, single mother to six-year-old Amy, who works part time at the store and is showing him the ropes. But Andrea seems to have no interest in getting to know Rick better on a personal level.
 
As his stay stretches on, Rick learns a few lessons about life and love. By story’s end, he needs to re-evaluate his life and make some choices about his future.
 
REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS is a novel that takes place around the holidays, but could be read at any time of the year. This is a story about broken family relationships, hurt and unresolved feelings, misconceptions and distorted perceptions. It’s about slowing down to experience life instead of letting it pass you by. Each character is real and relatable, and I found myself identifying with them on different levels. Rick is self-absorbed and a little pig-headed, and Andrea is afraid to let down her guard and trust again. I enjoyed the dynamics of their relationship and how it played out.
 
The relationship between Rick, his mother and stepfather was touching. One thing I took away from the book was that because of Leanne’s faith and prayers for her son, God orchestrated the events that took place and the eventual softening of Rick’s heart.
 
There were a few surprises along the way that made things even more interesting and tied facets of the story together. Like his previous titles, THE UNFINISHED GIFT, THE HOMECOMING and THE DEEPEST WATERS, author Dan Walsh weaves a heart-tugging tale that will make you smile and possibly wipe away a few tears. While his other books have been more “historical” than this one, some might say the 1980s is far enough back to qualify in the historical genre. Personally, having been a teenager in the ’80s, it was great to be transported back to such a memorable and fun era.
 
If you love Christmas stories that leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, while offering a message of hope and healing, you’ll want to pick up a copy of REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS. It would make a great addition to your keepsake shelf.
 

Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on November 9, 2011

Remembering Christmas
by Dan Walsh