What to my wondering eyes should appear, but another new story about Santa and reindeer! Yes, Tim Slover has embarked on a retelling of one of the great Christmas themes, the true meaning of the gift giving which is woven into the Christmas holiday.
This is a well written story. The narration is told by two voices which increased the interest of this reader. I was intrigued by the challenge to separate St. Nicholas from Santa Claus. From a true history perspective this was indeed a truth at the onset but also every bit a storytellers yarn.
The story starts in a contemporary American home, with the ideal family; mom, dad and two children. Slover references Christian traditions of preparing for the holidays with an Advent wreath. The mere fact that Christian traditions were referenced in the opening chapter put my mind at rest as I settled in to enjoy this story.
The magic of the story is that Slover places our saintly gift givers origins as a survivor of the Black plague. The vicissitudes of life, death, survival, responding with a helping hand in the midst of great disaster, building community through honest work and extraordinary concern for others are all woven into this delightful story. Theologically minded folks will be glad to see how Slover has dealt with the problem of evil. Evil is not overlooked in this new Legend of Santa Claus, rather, just as the feast of Holy Innocents is tucked into the twelve days of Christmas in the Christian calendar, the problem of human sin is brought right into the story.
The only complaint I would make in Slovers rendition is the backhanded disrespect toward the church in the person of Fr. Goswin. All in all this book is a fine addition to the genre of Christmas stories.
About the reviewer: Barbara is a former pastor of a church in rural Idaho, and presently serving as Outreach coordinator for St. Timothys Episcopal Church, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. She holds a Master of Divinity from Claremont School of Theology.