"Christmas On Jane Street"

Christmas On Jane Street by Billy Romp, with Wanda Urbanska

This is a nice little holiday read, perfect for when you need a quiet hour with a cup of tea in the midst of the all the Christmas chaos. I have a few of these small Christmas books that I like to re-read every year, but this one is new to me. The title was vaguely familiar though and I'm wondering if there might have been a tv movie with the same name. It's a pretty good plot for a holiday movie.

"Christmas On Jane Street" is a true story, and that always makes things a little more interesting, but the writing in this one was lacking a certain something that might keep it off my "favorites" list. I find I'm sometimes disappointed with stories that are told "with" an authour who is helping get it down on paper. They feel a little stiff to me.

Favorite or not, it's still a good story with all the requisite elements for a satisfying Christmas story: family relationships strained and restored, friendly neighbours coming to each others aid and children testing the boundaries and spreading their wings. It all adds up to a low level of sappiness that is more than tolerable in a Christmas story. If you can watch "It's A Wonderful Life" with it's off the charts sap level and enjoy it, you'll be fine with "Christmas On Jane Street".

The corner of Jane Street and Eighth in New York City is where Billy Romp, his wife and three children set up their Christmas tree stand every year. They live on the tree lot in a tiny camper from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve and become part of the neighbourhood where they are welcomed and taken care of by local residents and shop owners. This is the best part of the story to me. It's reassuring, life-affirming to read how generous and helpful people truly want to be even when there is no material reward in it for them.

The story centers around Billy and his relationship with his oldest daughter. Like all parents he's having difficulty letting go of the tight control we keep over our kids when they are little and he feels the pain we all feel when they begin to step away from us and out into the larger world. I'll leave it at that and let you discover the rest for yourself.

I enjoyed this book. I do wish I had waited till tomorrow to read it though because our first big snowstorm of the season is coming and this would have been the perfect book for a snow day. I think it's time to move my Christmas books up from the bottom shelf and see what I can find for a lovely long day of reading and watching the snow fall. That sounds quite picturesque but in truth we usually get a wicked wind that drives the snow sideways past the rattling front window and we often lose our hydro in a storm. That, however, is reality and I don't think I'll consider it right now. Tomorrow will be here soon enough.


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