Donna Getzinger

Illustrated by Ernie Gilbert

Shadowbox Media Publishing / 192 pages / (November 12, 1998)

ISBN: 0966812611

Before the Hallowe’en candy displays have barely been picked through and long in advance of the squeaky-clean pilgrims propped up on the cranberry sauce pyramids, Christmas decorations are crowding everything else off the shelves. The malls are jammed in the mad rush to shop. Possible sociopaths are ringing bells and guilting donations from passersby. Houses and even entire neighbourhoods are swamped in so many lights it looks like Reddy Kilowatt threw up.

The best parts of the season — excited children, generosity, warmth, and caring — get pushed a little bit further into the background. And what happens when the last present is unwrapped? Scoop all the trappings into a pile and deposit at the curb to get the “mess” out of the way. The loving spirit does not outlast the mashed potatoes these days.

But, but… it doesn’t have to be like that. Ask Donna Getzinger, and she will tell you that keeping that spirit alive is something we can all do. Even though this book is entitled Saving Christmas Spirit, it really speaks for all the holidays, of every faith, country, and inclination.

It speaks of character. And it is never too early to teach children to infuse theirs with a share of love, tenacity, and a capacity for wonder.

Five children are about to learn how valuable that kind of outlook can be. Savannah, Travis, and Kit are growing up on the leaner side of life. With only their mother to provide for them, money is tight. That doesn’t keep them from cherishing what little they have in material possessions and how much they have in each other. Hayley and Crystal have life easy, but that doesn’t stop Hayley from wanting more and appreciating nothing. Together, they are going to be faced with a daunting task, the quest to save the spirit of Christmas.

After receiving a surprise visit from the Fairies of Christmas Spirit, the children leave the safety and comfort of their homes to help rescue hundreds of endangered Fairies. This kind act results in a visit to Joyeux Terre, the place where all holidays live year round and where the Fairies, Pixies, and Brownies live under the threat of invasion by the Elves of Christmas Greed. Before their adventure is over, the children will find themselves in the middle of a war of magic and helped and betrayed by a cast of amazing characters. In the midst of it all, they will learn more about themselves and mankind than they could have imagined.

Saving Christmas Spirit is a tale for the older child or the whimsical adult. There is violence, treachery, suffering, and death. Most children will probably miss it, but there is also a tale of kidnapping, with a hinted-at rape in the past.

Let me put it this way: if your child can read all the words, they should be fine with it. Then again, you may want to read it with them. It’s not the definitive holiday story, but it is a chance to raise some questions that everyone needs to address sometime.