Uncle Richard’s New Year Dinner {Book Club}

I hate the letdown that comes after Christmas.

The tree is empty and shedding pine needles. There aren’t usually family gatherings to look forward to, and when you don’t have the quiet days of school vacation, time moves along like normal.

Last year I decided to see Christmas Day as the start rather than the end. I don’t know that I celebrated Christmastide in the way it is meant to be honored, but I added in special moments and treats and slower days. It was so lovely!

The letdown after Christmas can also be filled with an ache because your family doesn’t fit the perfect stereotype. It can include the hope for restoration and disappointment for conversations that didn’t go as you would have wanted. Christmas overseas might be nothing like at home and we rush to New Year’s so we can switch the calendar and start fresh.

This week we are reading the short story “Uncle Richard’s New Year Dinner” by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Our main character, Prissy, and her father haven’t been on speaking terms with Prissy’s uncle Richard for eight years.

My family has had our share of disagreement, for sure. There’s been hurt or misunderstanding, and as my siblings and I have grown into adults our views and opinions are varied. One thing I’ve appreciated, though, is that we fight hard to always come back to our bond as family and care for one another. It might mean tough conversations or a message sent once we’ve had time to process. Sometimes it takes acknowledging that our perspectives are different and although we aren’t going to change each other’s minds on any one issue, we can listen well and respect one another.

Prissy wasn’t part of what broke apart her father and uncle, but she suffered because of it. Even with all that had happened and years of silence, when she heard her uncle didn’t have anyone to cook him a special New Year’s dinner she didn’t hesitate but snuck over to his house to do it herself.

When Prissy’s uncle arrived home earlier than expected, they managed to get past the awkwardness to start the process of making amends. Uncle Richard said, “I don’t mind owning to you that I’m sorry for my share in the quarrel, and have wanted for a long time to be friends with your father again, but I was too ashamed and proud to make the first advance.”

Oh, how often our pride gets in the way, doesn’t it? It takes courage to be the one to admit our fault in a disagreement, and then once time has gone on it becomes even more challenging.

It’s not worth it though. Sure, sometimes relationships change, and friendships come to an end. Even teammate relationships shift and we move on. It’s a two-way street, and any one of the characters in this short story could have made a different decision, held on to pride or bitterness and not acknowledged the heart of the other person to extend forgiveness and repentance.

It feels like a good time to look at our own relationships to see if we’re holding on to something that needs to be let go. Can we start the new year with a step toward reconciliation? What might God do with our willing heart?

What did you think of this short story? Did it bring any people or situations to mind? Is there anything you are hoping will shift in 2022?

This is our last regular Book Club post! We have new and exciting things ahead as we shift Book Club over to be part of the Velvet Ashes membership community. Check out all the posts this week about how you can join in the new year!

Photo by Faizan on Unsplash

3 Comments

  1. Bayta Schwarz December 28, 2021

    I do like Lucy Maud Montgomery’s writing! A little while back, I got the complete Green Gables series and have nearly finished them. So enjoyable!

  2. JoyH December 29, 2021

    This was a sweet story, but I hope real life doesn’t really mimic it, with the brothers who never talk for 20, 30 or whatever years. It is good to see forgiveness modeled.

    Also like LMM’s short and long stories. Even though her character types seem to be repeated in her books, the old, crotchety grandmother is always amusing.

  3. Phyllis January 3, 2022

    I love Lucy Maud Montgomery. This story seemed a little too… something to me, though. But it was cute and sweet..

    I’m also reading a book of short Christmas stories by one of my favourite modern authors, Mike Mason. He has one called “Crack” that is about a Christmas miracle of forgiveness. It reminded me of this one, but with more depth, nuance, and realism.

    (And don’t let after-Christmas letdown hit you yet, Sarah. It’s not Christmas yet here, where I live. Christmas is coming on Friday. 🙂

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