Friday, December 31, 2021

Unpacking Christmas: Thatcher Sisters Conclusion


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Christmas may be over, but I'm still in the holiday mode with reading books set during this joyous season. I was so excited to dive into author Beth K Vogt's Unpacking Christmas: A Thatcher Sisters Novella

(Side note: If you haven/t read Ms. Vogt's Thatcher sisters series I can't recommend it enough. Also, you may need Kleenex. I cried a few times in each novel, including Unpacking Christmas.)

Being reunited with Payton, Jillian, and Johanna felt like coming home.  In Unpacking Christmas, Don and Heather, the parents of the Thatcher sister, take center stage. Throughout the series the parents are in all three novels, but only enough to get a sense they love their daughters and that they'd experienced a tragedy, yet remained intact as a family.  I liked the insight into the parents' backstory.  Heather's home life wasn't a stable one. Her father was always moving the family to the "next big thing," (Vogt, 126).  However, Don and Heather were determined to give their girls a stable life filled with cherished memories. 

While the Thatcher clan is looking forward to the Christmas season they find their world altered with their parents' news, their father's health crisis, and all of the sisters' own secrets - everything is a tangled tinsel mess! 

Ms.Vogt said it best on the back of the book blurb- "This Christmas - Johanna, Jillian, and Payton will laugh and cry together as they realize the true magic of Christmas isn't found in gifts or decorations, but the love of family."  Closing the book with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes, I had a deep refreshed sense of how true this is. I'm so grateful for Ms. Vogt's insights into the love and soul of a family. She really captured this idea in the whole Thatcher sister series, but the theme was especially present in Unpacking Christmas. 

Despite the fact that Don and Heather weren't Christians, I liked the fact they still had a loving marriage. "Promises didn't happen just in churches during wedding ceremonies. They continued again and again throughout the marriage as needed." (Vogt, 72). 

This might be capricious of me, but the two subtle references to Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas classic It's A Wonderful Life made me enjoy and appreciate Unpacking Christmas that much more. Watching this beloved film around Christmas every year is an annual tradition. (Incidentally, this year 2021 marks the 75th anniversary for this treasured film.) 

It's A Wonderful Life shows the impact of your one unique life and the relationships you have. The Thatcher sisters relationship has not always been the best and I love how this quote, "They'd found hard to find closeness with every Saturday morning book club where they drank coffee and talked about everything but books." (Vogt, 104) shows how they they are continuing to work on being in each others' lives and continuing to work on their relationships. 

Just like 2020, 2021 was not easy. We are all struggling with where and what is going on in the world. I love how this quote in the book reminds us that despite the struggles, to focus on what we are thankful for and that we are still here. 

"I'm just leaning into all the reasons I'm thankful. You're still here. The girls are happy and everyone is living their lives, even if there are are struggles. And isn't that what we want for our children?"
(Vogt, 133).

If you need a little love and joy put back into your heart before you walk into 2022, this is the story for you. You will laugh, cry, and be reminded of the many things you have to be grateful for. I pray you have a blessed closing to 2021. I look forward to sharing more book reviews and life with you in 2022.