The Christmas Basket
Grade : D

Okay, I have to say it: I feel like Scrooge. I always look forward to reading the Christmas books that come out every year (although there seem to be fewer and fewer), and The Christmas Basket was my first one of the season. Well, this story is the equivalent of a lump of coal in your stocking.

Mary Sutton and Sarah McDowell hate each other. We’re talking Hatfield-and-McCoy hate. Based on a misunderstanding, the former best friends have played malicious pranks and avoid even speaking to each other. The feud spilled over into Mary’s son, Thom, and Sarah’s daughter, Noelle, once high school sweethearts who planned to elope one night but then Thom stood Noelle up and a new generation of feuding began. Noelle left her hometown, moved to Dallas, and hasn’t been back since. But she’s finally home for Christmas to help celebrate her sister Kristen’s engagement. She runs into Thom, and what do you know? The old feelings are still there.

Family feud plots are too often based on a completely stupid misunderstanding; there’s no exception here. What’s worse, Mary and Sarah act like two-year-olds rather than adult women. What’s supposed to be funny – for example, two women ramming their carts into each other and getting thrown out of the Value X store – serves to illustrate how ridiculous these women are. While the basic reason for the feud is plausible, their reaction has been anything but.

As for Noelle, she’s just fine… until she runs into Thom, at which point she joins her mother in the sandbox. Thom is equally silly, though thankfully both talk things out relatively early on and are able to pick up where they left off. Which leaves the problem of the infantile feuding mothers….

Sarah and Mary are forced to work together on a charity project for the Women’s Century Club. Sarah wants to use the club for Kristen’s reception, but a new rule mandates that she complete a service project before the end of December to do so. Naturally, incidences occur, such as the previously mentioned cart incident. A final incident on the way to deliver the baskets to the Salvation Army helps the women get over the misunderstanding in an effortless, unbelievable way. If it were that easy, why didn’t it happen years before? Sigh.

The nicest moments in the story occur between Noelle and her sisters. Other than that, The Christmas Basket is almost a total loss. Thankfully, its short length makes a fast read, and I didn’t have to spend too much time on it. Hopefully my next Christmas selection will have some mature, sensible characters who display love toward each other and allow me to enjoy the story.

Reviewed by Andrea Pool

Grade: D

Sensuality: N/A

Review Date : December 6, 2002

Publication Date: 2002

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