The Christmas Table – Donna VanLiere

In early 1972, John Creighton unloads three slabs of black walnut wood from his pick-up truck and carries them into his workshop. His intent is to handcraft his wife a kitchen table to replace the formica set they presently have, and he hopes to have it completed for Thanksgiving, just six months away, to surprise her. But then a devastating diagnosis brings much change to his family and the plans they all have. 

In 2012, Lauren Mabrey, an assistant at Glory’s Place, which hosts afternoon programs for students, learns to her surprise that she is expecting her first child. Still newlyweds, she and her husband are thrilled, and quickly realize that they need to do some quick renovations to their home. On a visit to a local builder, she finds a table, newly refinished, that will work perfectly in their kitchen. With the help of her friends, she brings it home, only to discover a hidden drawer beneath the table – and in it – stacks of handwritten recipe cards. A foster child herself, she is fearful of not knowing how to be a ‘good’ mother, so fascinated by the recipes, Lauren is determined to teach herself to cook. Using the recipes, she becomes very curious about the woman who wrote them, and the personal messages on each card referencing events of her and her family’s lives. Determined to return the recipe cards to their rightful owner, Lauren attempts to find the family, using clues from the personal notes added. 

Told from past and present, the reader learns about both families, as John and his young family struggle through the hand that they’ve been dealt and learn to trust in faith, while Lauren revels in her pregnancy, learns to cook, and starts her search, fruitlessly it seems, for the family whose lives are chronicled amongst their wonderful recipes. But Christmas is coming, and with it a baby, and perhaps a small miracle or two…

This was a sweet story, and I can totally see a Christmas special coming from it! While the writing wasn’t as in depth as I might like, with personal emotion and reflection from the characters, the message and sentiment is beautiful. A nice easy read that will lift one’s spirits and faith in mankind. 

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.