Joanne Huist Smith

The 13th Gift

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Every day can be Christmas.

After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children – especially with the holidays approaching. The cheerfulness of the season made her feel more alone than ever, no matter how much she wanted to reach out to her children and find some way to comfort them.

But thirteen days before Christmas, a poinsettia appeared on the Smiths’ doorstep. The next day, another gift arrived … then another, and another. Each present was accompanied by a note with lyrics to the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” rewritten to fit the gift and and signed, “Your true friends.” Although Jo resisted the intrusion at first, the gifts began to work a kind of magic on her and the kids. As they puzzled over the mystery together – who were the true friends? when would the next delivery arrive? could anyone catch the gift givers in the act? – their grieving hearts began to heal.

The 13th Gift is a true story about the everyday miracles that can occur during the holiday season. It is a heartwarming reminder that with love, community, and family, even the most broken of hearts can be mended.

Joanne Huist Smith is an award-winning journalist for the Dayton Daily News where she chronicles the lives of people and issues shaping her Ohio community. She was awarded first place from the Ohio Associated Press for Best Community Service for her 2009 package of stories on heroin’s destructive path through rural and suburban neighbourhoods.
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192 printed pages
Original publication
2014

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