A Little Christmas Spirit
Warning: A Little Christmas Spirit not only tackles life post-Covid, it’s also one of those throwback novels where only The Magic of Christmas And Other People can heal extreme emotional trauma. If you want to dodge either subject, this book definitely isn’t for you. But the book’s off-kilter sense of humor got to me after a while, as did the honestly sweet story about a bunch of souls becoming a found family. If you’re in the right mood, the author’s talent helps pull you through and ultimately wins the day.
The amazingly-named electrician Stanley Mann has been hermiting in his Fairwood, California home ever since the tragic death of his wife Carol in a car accident AND the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, so the last thing he wants to deal with is the cheer of the holiday season or family togetherness. He’s ignored his sister’s pleas to get together for Thanksgiving and is resolutely avoiding human contact or participating in holiday rituals as he indulges in some mourning. Then his wife appears to him in a dream, demanding he get on with the process of living and telling him to participate in holiday celebrations again – something he barely did when she was alive. She proceeds to haunt him during his waking hours forcing him through the customs of the holiday season.
Kindergarten teacher Lexie Bell* has no living family other than her young son, six-year-old Brock, who is the result of one of a string of failed dead-end relationships. When she buys the house next to Stanley’s and moves in just after Thanksgiving, it’s in the hope of trying to establish a happy and orderly life – and Christmas – for the boy. Which means lights, tinsel and a traditional Christmas puppy**. When Brock pops over to Stanley’s house to interrogate him – when Brock is supposed to be climbing a tree within his mother’s line of sight – it brings the two families in contact.
Stanley does not want to be anyone’s adopted grandpa. Lexie does not want to bother the lonely older man next door. But thanks to Brock, the spectral Carol’s stubbornness, and a stray dog, the two of them begin to care about one another.
A Little Christmas Spirit is, one should be aware right off the bat, not a flat-out romance. It’s definitely fluffy women’s fiction, and definitely about Brock, Lexie and Stanley becoming a found family. Even though Lexie and Stanley spend a lot of bonding time together – to the point where I honestly believed they were going to become an item – he becomes the dad she never had in a lot of ways. While there are two secondary romances – Stanley’s ongoing love for and infatuation with the ghostly Carol, who is trying to get him to let go, and Lexie’s connection to the handsome Truman Phillips, whom she meets during the last third of the book – they are nowhere near as important as family bonding is to this book. And I truly enjoyed the very sweet connection between this newfound family, which boosts this grade up to a B.
And that’s quite all right. Sweet, even. The book has a sense of kindness that is soup to the soul and it really works – for every character but Brock. Good lord, the saccharine sweetness of Brock, who comes off as a child even younger than six and cloys and simpers like someone half his age. He’s the main reason this doesn’t make it to DIK level.
If you can tolerate all of that sweetness, that kindness, that light, then A Little Christmas Spirit will be right up your alley. But if you’re a trifle diabetic – well, trust me when I say it’s worth avoiding.
Note: * I do not encourage readers to google the character’s name with SafeSearch off.
** Multiple animal experts encourage adopters NOT to adopt “Christmas pets” and instead pick them up after the holidays, because it’s bad and stressful for the animal. Just putting that out there…