Finding a Christmas Story

Last year at Christmas, I went through some of my favorite children’s stories for Christmas. These were mostly the traditional ones, and most them have movies (or I talked about the movies…). For good Christmas movies, please visit my friends at ABCs of Classic Film, where there will be a series of holiday recommendations coming soon. It promises to be a good read.

Meet Molly: An American Girl cir. WWII

That said, I was pondering a good Christmas post, and I remembered the Christmas I got my American Girl doll. Now, I wasn’t really the “doll” kind of girl. I preferred other play. However, I desperately wanted an American Girl doll, and settled on Molly. This was a long process with lots of childhood and sentimental reasons, which I will skip. But, suffice it to say, I was thrilled. In fact, I still have her. She’s in storage, but still mine.

This made me think of those American Girl books. They have many more than they did at the time, and truth be told, I have not read the new ones, so this review reflects the girls dating through Addy.  To cut to the chase, I recommend the entire series. They’re wonderful, particularly for girls from about 7 or 8 through about 11 or so. They follow strong girls through real issues that girls can relate to- and they do it at a point in history. Not only do young readers see how these girls handle familiar issues, they see a snapshot of U.S. history, and I’m all for that. Even better, they were popular. They were insanely popular when I was in school. They actually encouraged children to read. So, for that, I just have to be rather over the moon about them.

 

 

 

But really,  what has this to do with Christmas? Well, each series has a book that covers Christmas time, which could be very fun to do at Christmas- comparing how each girl celebrates it and how they are the same and different for the reader. More specifically, though, I want to go back to Molly.

Molly’s Christmas story, Molly’s Surprise, takes place, as they all do, while her father is off fighting in WWII. Throughout the series, Molly lives with her family, missing her father. And he is a wonderful father, very devoted and loving. Through the conversations they have, it is very clear that they love him dearly and are really feeling his absence.

To this day, several scenes stick out for me, and I can remember them almost verbatim. Molly is compared to her father, having all of her Christmas gifts wrapped and hidden well before Christmas time is one of the most notable. Looking at it now, from a different perspective, I see a family feeling a void and each person stepping in to somehow fill it. Molly misses her father and steps in to do some things like he did. Her mother (who makes the comment about her gift-wrapping efficiency), recognizes this. It’s natural. It’s how families often operate.

I also came to a second conclusion: This book, the whole series in fact, is a perfect selection for children, particularly girls, who have a parent deployed, whether it’s long deployments or sporadic ones. Molly expresses the difficulty children face when a parent may be deployed.  Although the current war (avoiding all political commentary- that is not the purpose of this blog) is different from WWII in many ways, the fact that children miss their parent(s) during deployment hasn’t changed. Children may relate well to Molly, and they can see how she handles life well, and when she doesn’t. The books, though upbeat and inclined toward happy endings, tell the truth and continue to be lovely stories with a few beautiful illustrations.

So, my Christmas story of choice this year is Molly’s Surprise, for it’s endearing protagonist, accessible and currently relevant theme, charming story, and, of course, nostalgia. It’s an unusual pick for a Christmas story- not one everyone mentions, but give it a try. Give each girl a try. I won’t give away the ending on this blog, so go read and enjoy.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, etc. etc. Whether you celebrate or not, take a little time out for rest, warmth, and cookies, because, baby, it’s cold outside.

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