By: Linda LaRocque
Publication Date: June 2021
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
A young girl who is sad about missing the Christmas pageant at her church is about to discover that she is truly blessed thanks to her father’s storytelling skills in Grandma Lou’s Wonderfully Weird Christmas Dinner.
Ernestine is nine years old and miserable. She is stuck at home with chickenpox when she should be getting ready for the Christmas pageant. She was supposed to be playing the Heavenly Angel and her friend even loaned her a fairy dress. That dress was then fancied up by Ernestine’s mother with some colored sequins. It was going to be awesome…that was until Ernestine got chickenpox. What could be worse? It was soooooo unfair!
Ernestine’s dad, seeing that his daughter was upset, decided it was time to cheer up the little girl. “If you smile, I’ll tell you my favorite story,” he told her. And it was going to be a true story about Grandma Lou, who Ernestine had to admit was “…awesome and probably the coolest person ever.” Get ready for a heartwarming story, complete with a Christmas turkey and new friends galore.
The story takes place before Ernestine was born, back when Ernestine’s dad had to tell Grandma Lou that he and his new wife wouldn’t be able to make Christmas Day dinner. They’d be there for Christmas Eve but had to visit his wife’s family on Christmas Day. What would Grandma Lou do?
While Grandma Lou might have been sad for a few minutes, she was never the sort to stay sad and instead, preferred to always find the “…silver lining to any cloud.” So Grandma Lou called Gil, a friend who lived in a nursing home because he couldn’t take care of himself. Gil was excited to have a place to go for Christmas and he happily accepted the invitation. But what about his nurse Tom? Well, of course Tom was invited too! But then there was Tom’s daughter Christina. Before long, Grandma Lou added several more people to the guestlist. But as Christmas approached, she began to worry about the dinner. The guests didn’t know each other, she didn’t have fancy plates to serve that meal and she didn't even have a television to entertain her friends. What would they do? Talk all day? Would they notice the stain right in the center of her fancy tablecloth or the chipped plates? Had it been a mistake to invite all those people?
Grandma Lou’s Wonderfully Weird Christmas Dinner is a delightful story that puts the “Christmas Spirit” into a form that young readers can easily understand. Narrated by Ernestine, she tells the reader all about her thoughts - how disappointed she is at the prospect of missing the Christmas pageant, her love for the coolest grandma ever, and how she adores her dad. But the most important thing that she conveys to the reader is her realization, as the story progresses, about just how blessed she is with a family that loves her. Each guest that Grandma Lou invites to her dinner is down on his/her luck and the simple act of showing them love and compassion is enough to brighten each person’s day (or year!). Ernestine comes to understand that God’s love is in the simple things, in family, friends, and even in a gathering of strangers who create new friendships over a Christmas dinner.
Quill says: Grandma Lou’s Wonderfully Weird Christmas Dinner is a feel-good short story that can be understood and appreciated by both young and old and may just be the perfect story to read right before your own Christmas dinner.