Christmas isn't about what we want, it's about what we have. That is the simple but inspiring message at the heart of Kathleen Long Bostrom's Josie's Gift. Josie's mom reminds her of this wisdom, but Josie thinks only about what her family is missing this Christmas. Her father died in the spring, leaving her, her mother, and her younger brother alone during the hard times of the Depression. Josie spots a beautiful blue sweater with pearl buttons in a storefront window and decides this is the gift she wants. On Christmas Eve, Josie sneaks downstairs and finds the sweater waiting for her under the tree. She puts it on and enjoys how perfect it is, but notices she still has an empty, lonely feeling. She goes outside, asking God whether he can hear her and wondering whether her father can see her from heaven. Inside her barn she finds a father, mother and new baby who need shelter because they've lost their home. Josie gives her sweater to the baby for warmth, finally feeling the happiness of Christmas giving.
Josie belongs to a churchgoing family for whom religion is a mainstay, but this touching story about generosity can be enjoyed by religious and non-religious families alike. Period details adorn every page and Frank Ordaz's detailed illustrations are luminous with the golden glow of Christmas warmth.
Alice Cary has been spotted in several New England malls humming her own versions of Christmas carols.