Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Christmas Glass by Marci Alborghetti - MY REVIEW

“I am just thinking how much the same all families are. Not in looks or race or religion, but in how we act, how we treat each other, how we love – and how much damage we do in spite of the love.” (p. 198)

The Christmas Glass is a story that begins in Italy just after Mussolini declared his support for the Germans against Britian and France in 1940. When Anna’s great-grandmother purchased a set of glass Christmas ornaments as a wedding gift in 1875, she began an annual tradition that was to span many generations. Just as her great-grandmother had done, Anna chose to protect this set of precious glass ornaments, and despite the fact that it broke her heart to let them go, she sends them to cousin Filomena who was making plans to immigrate to America. Anna’s choice to pass along this set of glass ornaments sets in motion a series of events that will touch many other lives for decades to come.

Filomena is not a gracious, loving woman. In fact, she is a manipulative, ornery woman who tears her twin daughter’s lives to shreds with her unending, selfish demands. Catherine and Maria have lived beneath the dark shadow of their mother’s demands all of their lives, and their own families bear the wounds of this family dysfunction. When Filomena, at the age of eighty-four, makes the request that everyone come together for Christmas, no one can imagine what lies in store. Reconciliation and rejoined generations of family is the intended goal, but the end result…well, you’ll have to read the story to find out for yourself!

The Christmas Glass is an interesting concept. The author examines the lives of several generations of a family that has suffered beneath the tyranny of the matriarch Filomena for far too long. When Olivia makes the statement that all families share the same basic flaw – the ability to hurt one another deeply despite the love they may share – she really spoke a great deal of truth. My own extended family bears emotional wounds to this day because of a similar matriarchal manipulator some two generations removed. And even though each piece of Christmas glass bears some significance in each person’s life, I was still disappointed by the ending of the story.

The author goes to a great deal of trouble to tie together many, many threads of a family menagerie. With the exception of one or two members, no one seems to give a thought to Christ at all…they just go about ensnared by the annual traditions that have bound them for so long. Therefore, when the final scene unfolds, it rings hollow to me. The entire exercise that passes around the gathering seems very out of place and surreal to me. The ending itself…vague and unsatisfying. In spite of the fact that a truth about families is revealed, there was no real spiritual message to take away from this story. Considering this is the season we are supposed to celebrate the birth of Christ, this story was sorely lacking.

Marci Alborghetti is the author of more than ten books, including A Season in the South and Hwo to Pray When You Think You Can't. Her devotionals have been featured in Daily Guideposts since 2000. Marci and her husband Charlie divide their time between Ne London, Connecticut, and Sausalito, California.


Mocha with Linda said...

Glad to know it wasn't just me. My review will post in the next day or so. Somehow I ended up with a kabillion of them this week!

Amy said...

ah, I loved this one precisely because everything wasn't wrapped up in a neat little bow and perfect package.