As far as I could remember, I’d never read a Christmas story at Christmastime (or anytime), other than the story of Christ’s birth—until this one.
Perhaps it was because I didn’t grow up having Christmas stories read to me. Or maybe I tried reading one myself and couldn’t take it. Too sappy. Somebody once again “saves” Christmas (yawn). Or it was otherwise redundant. Who knows? Someday I would read one, I promised myself—when the right story came along.
So, what made me consider reading Tamera Lynn Kraft’s novella, A Christmas Promise? For one thing: novella, rather than full-length novel. Surely I could make time for a novella, even at this busy time of year. I was curious about current novellas in general, which were gaining popularity. But I hadn’t suddenly warmed up to Christmas stories. Tamera’s just sort of fell into my lap.
Then I noticed from its description that it had a special quality I look for in any story. It would teach me something totally new. About history–my favorite subject, no less.
This was a story that takes place in a pioneer setting, but pre-Revolutionary, right before the American Revolution. In Ohio. That was different.
The subtitle of A Christmas Promise is “A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773.” The main characters, John and Anna Brunner, are missionaries for a religion I wasn’t familiar with. I was interested. They are in Ohio to convert a tribe of Native Americans I never heard of before. Even better. I started reading.
I was fascinated by some of the Brunner family’s Moravian customs, including building a Christmas tree from a pyramid-shaped frame filled with branches, instead of chopping down a live tree. I found myself wishing for additional information about the Moravian religion worked into the story in the beginning, but that didn’t prevent me from understanding and appreciating the characters or the plot. I took a short break to learn more about the Moravian church on the Internet.
The Brunners and their children left Pennsylvania for Ohio to share the Gospel with the Lenape tribe, and that action is central to both their internal and external conflicts. I won’t spoil your enjoyment of this touching story by giving further details about A Christmas Promise, but I longed for more facts about the Lenape (which I will research at a later time). History of the natives in both North and South America has always held a special attraction for me. However, if this novella had contained enough information about both the Moravians and the Lenape to completely satisfy me, I think it would have ceased to qualify as a novella.
Then I probably would’ve convinced myself that I was too busy to read it at all this Christmas. Think of what I would’ve missed.
(Plus, I’m now primed for a Christmas novel.)
Note: The author of A Christmas Promise, Tamera Lynn Kraft, is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry. You can contact Tamera online at Word Sharpeners Blog: http://tameralynnkraft.com or her Website: http://tameralynnkraft.net
Do novellas appeal to you more than full-length novels at Christmas—or any other time? Why? If you plan to read this one, what attracted you to it?