Minor Characters, Major Roles

A Christmas Memory


I just finished reading Richard Paul Evans’ latest Christmas book, A Christmas Memory. It is the twenty-fifth book I have read from this author who has written forty-three consecutive New York Times bestsellers. Obviously, I love his work. I have even made a tradition of reading his annual Christmas offering every December. Usually, I read a few chapters of his latest holiday tale on December 1st in my home library in a recliner in front of the tree. On Christmas Eve, or a day before, I finish it. (The goal is to savor a good book, then reflect on its theme.)

This year, I got a late start. I began reading on December 10th but finished it December 14th. It is my fault—I could not stop reading this penetrating little book that captured much of the author’s life as a very young boy when he lost a brother in the Vietnam war, his mother struggled with migraines, his father lost his job and moved the family from California to his grandmother’s abandoned home in Utah, kids bullied him at school, he suffered from Tourette’s syndrome, and his parents separated. His saving grace? The next-door neighbor. An elderly black man who chases off the bullies and invites him into his home for a cup of cocoa. An unlikely friendship is born. Finally, he finds someone he can trust. Someone who will positively influence his thinking and inspire his love of books. 

It is an emotional novel that speaks to forgiveness, restoration, overcoming grief and finding life-altering relationships in unexpected places—like next door. I wish I could tell you more, but I cannot without giving away too much. This little book (182 pages) may be one of his best. It resonated with me perhaps because I know him and have the privilege of speaking to him on the phone with other authors every month. And something else. I have seen his heart. There is nothing like seeing an author’s heart and what drives them. 

As I savored this novel, I thought about the bigger picture. Sometimes minor characters play major roles. This got me thinking. We all have minor characters in our lives—who have played major roles in shaping us.

Maybe it’s a high school English teacher who inspired you to write, the owner of a Mom & Pop grocery store who shook your hand every time you entered their store even though you were just a kid, an aunt or uncle who routinely attended your track meets or piano recitals, an old friend who mysteriously calls you when you need them most, a college coach who could bring out the best in you, or your first boss who believed in your potential more than you did. 

Over the course of our lives, they are minor characters—but they have played major roles at critical moments. Sometimes we hardly notice them. Yet, upon reflection, they represent turning points in our lives.

This brief novel got me thinking about the minor characters—that played major roles in my life. With Christmas just around the corner, I am so grateful for them. How different my life would be without their impact and influence.

A Christmas Memory reminds me of a quote by Ken Gire, author of The Reflective Life:

 “Much of what is sacred is hidden in the ordinary, everyday moments 
of our lives. To see something of the sacred in those moments takes slowing down so we can live our lives more reflectively.”


I wish you a very Merry Christmas in this, the 75th issue of PAUSE MORE. RUSH LESS. Thank you for riding along with me these past few years. I hope some of the past issues have spoken to your heart. If so, let me know at: jamescmagruder@gmail.com.



SOMETHING TO CHEW ON: Who are some of the minor characters in your life that played major roles? If they are alive, tell them. If they have passed, cherish their memory.


For more information on Richard Paul Evans’ A Christmas Memory book, visit his website at RichardPaulEvans.com or Amazon. https://amzn.to/3W2m1iA



NOTE: You can now read any past issue of this Pause More. Rush Less. newsletter under the BLOG tab on my author website. Jamescmagruder.com. Leave a comment on the CONTACT tab or email me directly at: jamescmagruder@gmail.com.


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