This short story is about Ellie Newell, a single mother. To help supplement a little income for the holiday season, has taken to letting several elderly people lodge at her home. Mr Millar has been her client for both the last year and this one. With his visit, a strange event happens. I obtained a copy of this thanks to a Smashwords coupon code. This is just an honest review.
My first impression of the story is that it just seems like Ellie isn't very nice. To me, the general writing of the book seems like the author is trying to make Ellie seem that everyone is ungrateful; that she does everything for her children and yet they don't understand what she goes through, that she takes in lodgers and that they don't even appreciate her services. I'll explain a little further so that you might understand my point.
At multiple points in the story, the author goes on and on about the work Ellie does for her children. Yet, she often complains that the children don't understand the situation, that they don't know what she has to do in order to get money. Now, I'm not a mother and thus I don't know what parenthood is like from that kind of perspective. However, it just seems like she really looks down on her kids. When all they want to do is spend time with their mother or play games, she complains about them. When they're trying to talk to her, she simply tries to drown them out with the vacuum cleaner. Mr Millar, their guest lodger, cries because his family has sort of abandoned him. Ellie worries that he's depressing the children. Admittedly, he is being a bit depressing. However, she makes a few horrible comments about him. I think she ought to have been more appreciative about him, especially considering that his money is helping pay for whatever expenses it takes to run a family. It's better to have the money with a depressed guy about than to have no money at all. She even makes a comment to herself that she ought to get a different lodger in future for that time of year because she didn't want to ruin her kids' childhoods. I also felt her kind of rude, that rather than encourage her children to spend more time with him, she subtly bullied him and encouraged her children to stay away from him. She just seemed like a really nasty person to me. She just seems thoroughly unnappreciative of the people around her, instead thinking of herself highly just because she does all the work.
I think the story would have worked better if she might have encouraged the children to spend more time with Mr Millar and extend on the stories he might be able to tell them. Rather than being depressed, he might have found some new family in them and guarenteed a lodger for the next year, which would have allowed them more money. The way the story turned out was just strange. It wasn't properly explained and even seemed kind of cliche towards the end. Actually, I kind of thought her undeserving to be the beneficiary of the will at the end; it just seemed like she was getting rewarded for being so rude and nasty about another person.
Overall, I thought that the story was kind of depressing. It focuses too much on Ellie's own feelings and upsets rather than embracing the magic of Christmas. I would not recommend.