The Golden Ring: A Christmas Story

The Golden Ring: A Christmas Story

by John Snyder
     
 

It is just days before the Christmas of 1918 in a picturesque township nestled in the mountains of coal country. Anna Beal, an idealistic nine-year-old, is very close with her father Joseph, a hardworking railroad engineer. As Christmas approaches, a series of puzzling dreams shared by Joseph and Anna about a golden ring mystifies them both. Based on a true story.See more details below

Overview

It is just days before the Christmas of 1918 in a picturesque township nestled in the mountains of coal country. Anna Beal, an idealistic nine-year-old, is very close with her father Joseph, a hardworking railroad engineer. As Christmas approaches, a series of puzzling dreams shared by Joseph and Anna about a golden ring mystifies them both. Based on a true story.

Editorial Reviews

Washington Times
Destined to become a classic that will be read by anyone who wants to get closer to the essence of Christmas.
Publishers Weekly
Based on a story told to Snyder by his grandmother just before she died, this old-fashioned Yuletide tale was self-published last year, selling over 24,000 copies. Now Warner is hoping to make it a heartwarming perennial favorite (i.e., bestseller) ? la Richard Paul Evans's The Christmas Box. Set in 1918, in the western Pennsylvania town of Meyersville, it concerns Christmas preparations and some supernatural goings-on among the Beal clan. Joseph is the firm but kindhearted father who works as a railway engineer, and Elda is the firm but kindhearted mother who bakes and knits. Of their six children, nine-year-old Anna is featured most prominently. Her cherished gold ring, a birthday gift from her parents, appears, along with Jesus, in recurring dreams that haunt both her and Joseph. Anna gives her ring to the daughter of a poverty-stricken family passing through town, and Joseph finds a replacement that had belonged to a little girl who died when she was Anna's age. All these transactions are, of course, attended by true-meaning-of-Christmas commentary regarding the importance of selflessness, faith and charity. Snyder's prose is like fruitcake: bland and familiar, but laced with vaguely unpleasant bits. For Anna, Christmas is "a very special holiday in her heart," and Joseph is given to talking to himself, in prayer and otherwise: "How foolish to have waited so long to make up your mind, you stubborn fool." But few descriptions are as inadvertently apt as this: "The locomotive sat on the snowy tracks, steam spouting from every orifice. It made noises like the labored breathing of a large animal that had been shot and was struggling to stay alive." Lovers of literature will empathizecompletely; others will read this story aloud to their children. National advertising. (Sept. 21) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
First self-published and hand sold to thousands, this story now picked up by Warner Books recounts a story the author heard from his grandmother and is told as a flashback to 1918. The author intersperses inspirational messages about the true Christian meaning of Christmas with the Beal family getting ready to celebrate the holiday and the gift of a ruby ring which is given away to a poor girl but seems to return mysteriously. The prose is stiff, colloquial from the times, and message-laden but well-intentioned. For those who enjoy Richard Paul Evans's "Christmas Box" series, this book travels the same sentimental turf and will provide a good family read-aloud at the holidays. 2001 (1999), Warner Books, $15.95. Ages 8 to Adult. Reviewer: Susan Hepler

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446530064
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
09/21/2001
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 7.25(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER I
A heavy mist chilled the morning air. The Christmas snow, which had fallen just a few days before, was beginning to melt. A curtain of gray fog rose steadily from the thawing blanket of white, lifting into the cold and lifeless sky. The bald oak trees that lined the backyard stood dripping with thaw, their ashen bark blending into the drab countryside. The scene had the mystic quality of a faded dream.
The cold damp air leaked through the back door and crept up my spine, bringing a shiver that woke me from my daydream. Reaching for a leftover Christmas cookie on the plate before me, I watched her as she cautiously shuffled across the kitchen floor. The dismal light of the morning trickled into the room through the window where she stood, casting her image into a silhouette. Her delicate frame was hunched over at the shoulders as she poured hot coffee into a cup. Her hand trembled slightly as she carefully placed it on the table.
�Here, Johnny,�she said in a hoarse voice. �This ought to warm you up.�
Her caring smile was enough to chase the chill away and make the dreary day seem filled with sunshine. She returned to the coffeepot and drew another cup for herself. As she took her place at the table, it became more apparent that the years were catching up to her. She raised the cup to her withered lips and took her first sip of coffee. It was then that I noticed something on the little finger of her right hand that I had never seen before: a stunning gold ring with an unusual ruby setting.
�That's a pretty ring, Grandma. I don't think I've ever seen you wear it before. Was it a Christmas gift this year?� She paused and looked down at the ring, twisting it slightly with the fingers of her other hand. She sat in silence for a moment, then looked up and said, �Yes, it was a Christmas gift, but not from this year. I received it many Christmases ago, eighty to be exact, when I was nine years old.�
�And you've had it all this time?�
�Yes, but I haven't worn it in years because it didn't fit for a long time. But I guess these tired old fingers of mine are shrinking a bit. I tried it on Christmas morning and it fit on my pinkie just fine,�she said, holding the ring out to admire it. �This is a very special ring, John.�
�Who gave it to you?�
�My father, bless his soul. Every Christmas, I take this ring out of my jewelry box and hold it for a while. It helps me remember that special Christmas Day so many years ago when my father gave it to me.�
�What's so special about the ring?�I asked her.
�The lessons it taught to those who touched it and to those who were touched by it.�
�What do you mean?�
�This ring has a mysterious past. The events that led up to my father giving it to me, and the place where he got it, are mysterious as well.�
�Mysterious? Where did he get it?�
�Wait,�she said, as she put her hands on mine. �I'll tell you the incredible story behind this remarkable ring.�
Grandma clutched my hands and looked into my eyes. Her wrinkled face and silver hair reflected the many years that had passed since she received the gift of the golden ring. She began to tell me the story, and I had a strong sense of being pulled back in time. As I looked deeper into her eyes, the wrinkles seemed to fade, and the face of a little girl with curly brown hair and brilliant blue eyes began to emerge.

Copyright © 1999 by John Snyder

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