Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Thursday Night Club and Other Stories of Christmas Spirit

36513399A joyous and deeply emotional collection of three unforgettable Christmas novellas.

The Thursday Night Club: Five college friends, three men and two women, have been getting together every Thursday night to share humble meals and an abundance of laughter. But when tragedy takes one of them, leaving the others to question the fairness of life, the Thursday Night Club decides to embark on a contest in the memory of the generous spirit of their fallen brother. The objective of the contest is simple: whoever performs the kindest deed by Christmas night wins the pot – four quarters. And there are only two conditions: the benevolent deed must be anonymous, and it cannot cost a single penny to pull off. As the four friends undertake the contest, the healing begins and they become inspired beyond their expectations. There might be a winner in this competition, but it is very clear there will be no losers.

A Christmas Wish: Steph is on a search for truth in her heart as she faces the prospect of real love for the first time. Brian is out to enjoy his favorite season in a way that doctors never thought he could. And at the center of it all is their grandmother, affectionately known as Mama, a woman of remarkable commitment and charity who knows something very important about making Christmas wishes come true.

The Tin-Foil Manger: Published in this volume for the first time, this is the story of Nancy, an elderly woman with little to live for and Jeanne, the caretaker who wants to believe that Nancy has more to live for. Together, they embark on a journey to the past – a past of modest Christmases, tin-foil mangers, and abundant love – to rediscover the time when Nancy felt truly alive. Nancy’s memories and how they touch Jeanne, will turn this Christmas into one for the ages.

Rich with emotion and profound with meaning, these three stories of Christmas spirit that will strike a chord in your heart any time of year and make you look at the holiday season in new ways.

*May Contain Spoilers*

If you're ready to get in the holiday spirit, The Thursday Night Club and Other Stories will certainly have you on your way! Steven Manchester shares three heart-warming stories with his readers in this short, easy to read collection. 

I've previously reviewed The Thursday Night Club and therefore, will skip over it here. However, if you want to read my review, click here and enjoy. :)

Now, out of the two remaining stories, both compete as compassionate and moving. What I loved most about these stories was their subject matter. "A Christmas Wish" tackles an important and relevant topic: homosexuality. I love that Manchester brings this sometimes controversial topic into his collection of Christmas stories and shows it support. Bravo! The wish of the main character of this story is simply to learn how to accept herself and show her true self to the world. With her grandmother's help, this wish just might come true. Who am I kidding? It does! And it's beautiful. Self-identity is a hard thing to recognize and accept and through that emotional and universally human feeling, readers will connect with Steph and realize that the journey for self-acceptance is a deeply personal one that can and will be influenced by outsiders. 

"The Tin-Foil Manger" tackles a different topic: Alzheimer's and the struggle family members have with it. Though the daughters of Nancy are not presented in the best light, Nancy forms a deep friendship with one of her nurses, Jeanne, who is determined to help slow the advancement of Nancy's disease. After learning that Christmas was Nancy's favorite time of year, Jeanne decides to use that holiday season joy to try to bring Nancy back to the present. I enjoyed Jeanne's character and how dedicated she was to Nancy's care. It was also inspiring to see an elderly woman, who was essentially left alone by her family, find friendship and hope in her care facility. It was also enjoyable to read about the Christmas traditions of so many cultures around the world as Manchester fit them into Nancy's memories. Though the flashbacks got a little tenuous at times, it provided the story with a rich background of information. 

Overall, The Thursday Night Club and Other Stories shares the spirit of hope, generosity, acceptance, and love of the holiday season. They were stories that simply made me smile and I think other readers will enjoy reading them just as much. 

Rating: 3.5/5 Cups

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