So, finally, on a rainy, cold Sunday afternoon I finished the last of the stack of Christmas-themed novels I’d purchased during the holidays. What could be better than smart, poignant stories filled with twinkle lights and cranberry strings, right? Maybe I had too much bah-humbug to fall in love with the novels this year. I plodded through, instead of savoring. Guess that’s more of a reflection on me than the writers. Susan May Warren told a funny, heart-warming tale in The Great Christmas Bowl (I’m thinking there was a whole lot of personal experiences in this novel) of a football-crazed mom and her youngest child’s final year in high school. When her misguided husband signs her up for the church hostess position, she has to coordinate the annual Christmas tea (following long held Swedish traditions) and her life goes amok. (Don’t judge–I’m living proof just this sort of chaos exists. Although some events are still too fresh for me to really laugh about them.) It was a really cute story. Since I love Susan Wiggs’ books, I picked up Lakeshore Christmas, the third in her series from Avalon, and it was a delightful love story between two unlikely people. Throw in a bit of the paranormal, a financial crisis, a church pageant and you have a magical Christmas tale. I did like these stories, and I know you would too because they make you feel good about being alive.