Myra Johnson in her new book, "One Imperfect Christmas" published by Abingdon Press takes us into the life of Natalie Pearce.
From the back cover: Only love makes a Christmas perfect.
Christmas is the season of miracles, but when blame and guilt keep two people apart, sometimes a miracle needs a helping hand.
Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she's allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she lovesâ€”most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she's one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom
Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit's end. Nothing he's done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa's adolescent rebellion isn't helping matters. As Daniel's hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear
What are the ingredients of Christmas? If you think about it certainly not snow, colored lights, evergreens and brightly wrapped presents. I think the real answer is family and friends. Myra Johnson has not given us the syrupy sweet Christmas stories that you get on the television at Christmas time. Instead Ms. Johnson has given us a story about a real multigenerational family that has some real problems that they have to deal with. That is what makes it imperfect. Natalie, Daniel and Lissa are not the perfect family but they are a family and it great to hang out with them, to suffer when they suffer, cheer when they cheer and, honestly, get mad at Natalie when she deserves it. Ms. Johnson has given us a very interesting Christmas book that will give you new thoughts about Christmas.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Abingdon Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Traditions tend to run for many generations, often times morphing into something newer with each remembrance of how the tradition began. For instance, in my husband's family, we all would make side dishes except for the turkey to go along with his mother's stuffing. Now, with family in heaven, we still eat a turkey with stuffing and watch football just like way back in the day. In this work of fiction, Myra Johnson paints a tradition built around Christmas.
Natalie is a gifted graphic artist and painter; her mother is a very gifted painter as well. With the 50th Christmas celebration of Natalie's parents coming closer, some things are going to change. Through the last year, a marriage has been rocky, a daughter has run away twice, and a possible job change for Natalie's husband has occurred in the life of the family. Driven with guilt, Natalie has pulled away from those closest to her and with her mother gravely ill facing reality is even harder.
All the characters in the book are learning what really matters along with facing who they are and where their faith is during this season. I liked how the author painted in the story the truth that sometimes when very heart-wrenching times come, everyone reacts or handles the emotions that come with the storms of life. I liked how this novel portrayed more realistically how sometimes the holidays aren't all Rockwell portraits. There are those whose holidays are the hardest times of the year to live through and without Christ there can be no sense of hope or peace.
While reading this novel, I kept thinking how much I didn't want to read it because this is another hard holiday season for my family and that of my friend. Yet, those who know the Lord don't mourn as those without hope. Even during the darkest times, God does something that only He can do in our hearts and lives that gives us the strength to take the next step one day a time. One Imperfect Christmas is a tear-jerker for sure, but also one that shows how brightly God shines in the darkest days we will know as we journey here on earth.
If you aren't having a tough season right now, enjoy it, but remember to pray for those who are. You may never know how your prayers can change the heart of those hurting, but rest assured God hears.
Belinda and Bram Morgan have been married for almost 50 years and have set the example for all their children to follow in what makes love work in a marriage. They celebrate Christmas the same way now that their children have grown beginning with the celebration of Natalie's birthday and then trimming the tree. But for Natalie, those are high expectations to have even within your own home. She is far from the perfectionist her mother is and often procrastinates more than she should. That's why her husband Daniel asked her to take down the decorations before his own parents arrived later that afternoon. So when Natalie's mom called enlisting her help to take down their decorations she had the perfect excuse. Her mother wanted to help since Bram and their oldest son were on a trip leaving her alone to begin the task if she didn't want to wait.
So when Natalie told her she couldn't help today due to the visit from Daniel's parents she told her mom to simply leave all the boxes in the guest room downstairs and she would over later this week to put them in storage for her. She often worried that her mom did too much now that she was older and suffering from the effects of arthritis. What Natalie didn't expect when she hung up with her mother, was to receive a phone call later that evening that would forever change her life. Her mother had suffered from a massive stroke and since she had been alone at the time, the damage was far too great for her mother to return to her former self.
Now plagued with guilt for simply being glad that she didn't have to join her mother that afternoon and instead had a day for herself, Natalie pours herself into her free lance job trying to earn money she knows her father will need to pay for her mom's medical expenses. This drives a wedge between her and Daniel as he tries to fix things between them, and Natalie avoids dealing with their own marriage issues trying to make up for not being there for her mother. She feels if she had only been there, this would have never happened. Will Natalie find a way to restore her own marriage or will this be the first imperfect Christmas to rock her family?
I received One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson compliments of Abingdon Press as part of the Christmas Blog Tour for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I absolutely LOVED this novel based in part to being able to relate to Natalie's character so much. Often times when the holidays are upon us, we feel like we are expected to do our best and meet all family obligations despite having to manage our own. I could relate to the guilt that Natalie felt upon hearing of her mother's stroke and understood the need to do everything to make amends to her what she felt was her mistake. The resolution that evidently comes is believable and everything doesn't come wrapped up in a pretty bow like you would expect. This is real in my opinion and thus why I would rate this a 5 out of 5 stars.