The Christmas Box was originally written and self published by the author as a gift for some family members. He wrote the story when he was a young father of two daughters with the hope that one day they would understand the joy they brought to him. After receiving requests for more copies of the story, Richard Paul Evans submitted his work to a local publisher but it was promptly rejected. He then self published the story that would eventually climb to the top of the word's bestseller lists, gain national media attention, and ultimately become part of a trilogy. In the 20th anniversary edition, there is an introduction by the author in which he tells how the book came to be, and the impact it has had on his life as well as others. He also tells of three miracles that he believes came about because of the book.
This is a short, touching story that can easily be read in one sitting, yet the message it instills will remain with you long after you turn the last page. The narrator, Richard and his wife Keri, accept a position helping to care for a lonely widow (Mary Parkin) and move into her spacious Victorian home with their daughter Jenna. Mary becomes concerned with Richard's desire for success and the way he seems to be placing his career as a priority over his family. As the holidays draw near, she asks him to consider what the first Christmas gift was, and becomes angered when she feels Richard does not give the question ample thought or consideration. Eventually, with the help of some letters he finds in an old box in the attic, as well as the insight of a neighbor that has known Mary for almost all of his life, Richard is finally able to understand the lesson Mary is trying to teach him.The first gift of Christmas was love...a parent's love for their child. This is manifested by the Christmas story, when God sent his beloved son to earth to care for all of his children.
Ultimately Richard realizes that Mary gave him a sacred and precious gift as well...the gift of appreciating and relishing his daughter's fleeting childhood. He finally understands that while Jenna would be his little girl forever in his heart, someday she would be grown and gone, and he would only be left with the memory of her giggles and secrets.
I urge you to take some time during this beautiful holiday season to grab a cup of hot chocolate and curl up in front of the fireplace for an evening with this book. You may even want to make reading this story an annual Christmas tradition as I do. Though this time of year can be hectic, The Christmas Box can serve as a reminder of what Christmas is truly about and that family should be cherished. I hope you are all enjoying the magic of this holiday season and that you have the joy of experiencing it's wonder through the eyes of a child.