I loved McLean’s CBC radio show The Vinyl Cafe – listened to it every week, read every book. Followed Dave and Morley and Stephanie and Sam for years, and cried when Arthur the dog died.

You’ve all had something like that, right? A book, a TV show, a movie? So you can imagine how sad I was when McLean succumb to cancer last year. And how happy I was when I found out all his Christmas stories were going to be released in a new book.

This is that book, and I don’t have the heart to criticize it. Not yet.

Is it saccharine in places? Sure. Is it predictable? Sometimes. Does it romanticize the world we live in? Absolutely.

It’s also warm and funny and utterly delightful.

We get to spend time with all our favourite Vinyl Cafe folks – my personal favourite is the tight-assed, prissy, good-hearted Mary Turlington, though I couldn’t tell you why. And revisiting classic stories – Dave and the turkey, for example – has become an annual tradition for thousands across Canada.

These stories may not be perfectly structured, or perfectly written. But they’re gentle and loving, and they understand the importance of appreciating small victories and daily blessings. I wouldn’t recommend it as a staple of your literary diet – it’d rot the teeth out of your head – but we can treat ourselves once in a while, right?

RIP Stuart.