Twelve Tales of Christmas by Cathleen Townsend: Book Review

Title: Twelve Tales of Christmas

Author: Cathleen Townsend

Genre: Short stories, Fiction


Christmas isn’t always Jingle Bells and “Ho, ho, ho.” In these Twelve Tales of Christmas, even Santa has to deal with unexpected German shepherds and reindeer who suddenly want to learn the tango. A dryad works feverishly with a teenage boy to save her tree, now in a stand in his living room, and everyone begs Death to hold off for just one more day.

And no one knows what to do with the fire-breathing dragon. He’s not going on the Christmas card list anytime soon.

Come enter worlds of beauty and dread. Join a house hob as he raises his cup of eggnog high, and enjoy yuletide yarns delicious enough to tempt even St. Nick.


The stories in this collection, meant to be a Chritmas vacation read are delightful, surprising and thankfully all positive because no one wants to feel sad in this season. Every story made me smile. Some for the kindness, others for the love. These tales are magical, more than literally so. The language is lovely. The stories touch your heart in unexpected ways. You feel love, empathy, kindness, hope and joy, which is quite a lot for this short and sweet read.

The language is precise, sharp, witty and the stories present different flavours. Christmas makes up the theme and the spirit of the stories but the settings and the protagonists have a lot of variety.

Short and longer stories are mixed together judiciously. There are short bursts of positivity interspersed with longer, deeper ones. The shorter ones usually leave you with a mood and the longer ones with the feel of the characters. At places, the characterisation is surprising and refreshing like Mori and the irritable dragon in the last and the longest story. The narrative voice is very mature and I loved the language. Each story threw up lovely words at me that evoked new feelings.

I really could not decide which were my most favourite stories. Each one seemed better than the last. ‘The Gift’ portrays the mind of an elderly woman so well that the reader is as delighted as the protagonist. I wished ‘Chritmas Tango’ was longer. And ‘Snowflake’ is both poignant and beautiful. These stories tantalise and because they are short, the reader to forced to think up what happens later. ‘Department Store Santa’ shows a world that is hard up. Everyone has troubles but it is possible to forget them in little lovely moments. I loved the sensitivity of ‘The Angel in the Tree’. ‘Dragon Yule’ is a wonderful fantasy read.

This collection is easy enough for a quick read and rich enough to savour. Read it as your mood demands.

Buy this fantastic book here.



“The chief beauty about time
is that you cannot waste it in advance.
The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you,
as perfect, as unspoiled,
as if you had never wasted or misapplied,
a single moment in all your life.
You can turn over a new leaf every hour
if you choose.”

Arnold Bennett

There is something about beginnings that is quite addictive. It brings freshness, hope, potential. Who is not fond of New Year and the sense of newness it brings? Resolutions are made and hope springs eternal about this being the moment that would be the turning point.

As for me, I not only love the New Year but the beginning of each month as well. The date 1st of … brings joy. I feel excited. In addition, I feel very happy and hopeful and even blessed on each Sangrandh, which is the beginning of the new month as per the Sikh calendar. There are plenty of plans each time. In fact, I feel great every morning as well for that signals a new day, a new beginning.

Every few days, I create new rituals for my mornings. My favourite newspaper, The Times of India, carries a feature on morning rituals each Sunday. People from all walks of life- authors, teachers, spiritual gurus or anybody else considered wise enough is invited to discuss how he/she starts his/her day. I enjoy going through the diverse ways people bring a newness in their lives each morning.

I like to vary the way I begin my mornings. Some days I start with contemplation and reflection. I like to sit silently and just be. Other days, I sit with a mug of my favourite brew and do something creative, like write or paint. Still other days, I like to read inspirational literature. I also like to practise yoga and pranayama (breath exercises). When I start feeling I have been sitting around for too long, I start going for morning walks and having exercise sessions. It does not matter what I do, but mornings , especially early mornings are precious. In my religion, this time is called Amrit vela and every Sikh is exhorted to make the best use of this time daily for a fulfilling life.

So, my mornings are planned to bring peace, hope and fulfilment. Only through this am I able to give the best of myself to others as well.