Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Christmas PortraitThe Christmas Portrait by Phyllis Clark Nichols
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Christian fiction

When a young patient grieving the death of her sister recognizes the man in a portrait hanging in her office, Dr. Kate Harding, an art therapist, is startled but not entirely surprised. The face in the painting takes her back twenty years to snow-covered Cedar Point, Kentucky, and to her first Christmas without her mother.

As Christmas approached, John Harding, his daughter, Kate, and son, Chesler, were struggling to adjust to life’s changes after the September death of his wife and their mother. When a conversation with Granny Grace convinced Kate that there was Christmas in heaven, she was determined to get her mother a present, a special gift that would make her mother happy forever. No one could tell Kate how to get her gift to heaven—not her daddy, not Uncle Luke the medical student, not Aunt Susannah Hope, and not even Pastor Simmons who she was most certain would have the answer. But Kate devises and executes a Christmas Eve plan that changes her life. Kate’s Christmas is filled with surprises—taking in a runaway girl who had no mother, a tender exchange of Christmas presents, a meeting with Mister Josh, and finally, an astonishing family Christmas portrait.


There's not enough stars to rate this book! Just an incredibly entertaining, inspirational and moving read. A Christmas gem, for sure.

A Christmas Portrait is a poignant, coming-of-age story that begins with the passing of 10-year-old Kate's Mama from cancer, then becomes about family love, support, faith, and kindness. I love the realism, for death is a part of life. I'd rather face it and breathe in inspiration than avoid the topic. But for a Christmas-themed read? Yes! Christmas is a joyous time, but Christ was born to die for us. There were times when I smiled through tears, but this story is not a downer. Anything but, in fact! I loved young Kate and her family, her girlfriend Laramie, and the symbolism of a cardinal. And I loved the grown-up Kate, who worked with grieving children, and the mysterious Mr. Josh who appeared when children were in need. There's a wonderfully fulfilling epilogue at the end.

Two themes of faith run throughout the story... First, Kate's Mom gives her three stones symbolizing the way to keep her head above water in life.

"This rock is your faith. Praying is talking to God. Faith's depending on Him. You just keep doing it, even when you don't feel like it, or you don't want to, or it doesn't make a dab of sense ... The second rock is your family. They'll take good care of you, but you must remember life's going to get rough for them too, and you're one of their rocks. So sometimes, you'll have to be strong for them ... This final rock is for forever. Life as we know it here on this planet is not all there is. There are things we cannot see here, but they are real. So you live and love knowing it's forever."
"Faith, family, and forever. I won't forget, Mama."

Second, living life in a way that reflects kindness...

     “Granny, why are you kind to everybody?”
     “Why, child, I’m building my mansion in heaven, and with every act of kindness, I’m adding another brick.”
     Granny’s mansion is gonna be big and tall.

This story will stay in my heart and be read again.

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  1. Hi Carole! It's wonderful to read your reviews again! You were missed. I hope life is going well for you!

    1. Thanks, Heidi. I've been keeping up with your reviews, though. I had to quilt official blogging due to my husband's health, but am trying to do a little reading and quiet promotion. We're just taking each day as it comes. So good to connect with you again, Heidi!