I'm getting into the holiday spirit and thought I'd read this thematic collection. I have to admit to a bit of trepidation, but this was actually a pretty good collection.
• Miracle. 1991
I'm guessing this one was Willis' favorite, as it's first, longest, and the title story, but I thought it was the worst in the book (although it's not bad). This is probably because I have never seen EITHER "Miracle on 34th Street" or "It's a Wonderful Life," and the story is really all about said movies, and the contrasts between them (in the context of a harried office worker finding the love that's right in front of her rather than the one she's been chasing after, with the help of an annoying hippie Christmas spirit.
• Inn. 1993
Very non-subtle, but effective story. I cried. A church is busy getting ready for their Christmas Pageant, simultaneously, however, they are all too ready to leave needy homeless people out in the cold in the name of safety. One woman takes pity on the young couple outside - who are, of course, actually Mary & Joseph, lost on their way to Bethlehem.
• In Coppelius's Toyshop. 1996
A horror story. A real jerk of a guy gets stuck in a toy shop (that strongly resembles FAO Schwartz) forever!
• The Pony. 1985
Excellent, very short story. Ominous presents! Ha!
• Adaptation. 1994
A recently divorced man is having a hard time with his ex-wife, who is seeking to separate him from his little girl at Christmas time. The management at the bookstore where he works aren't easy to deal with either, and demanding author-signings are the icing on the cake. But the spirits from Dickens' Christmas Carol may help him get through the season...
• Cat's Paw. 1999
An homage to the classic Holmsian murder-mystery-at-the-manor tale, only with some twists. This manor is inhabited by a woman who's a premier researcher into primate intelligence... Starts out seeming fairly typical... but it gets pretty good!
• Newsletter. 1997
This one's a take-off on the whole Invasion of the Body Snatchers theme. This season, people are actually seeming to get NICER around Christmas time. But they also seem to all be wearing hats... or wigs. What are they hiding? Very funny.
• Epiphany. 1999
A liberal reverend, a black atheist and a retired English teacher all find themselves traveling down a snowy road, following a mysterious compulsion to head West, in this story of the Second Coming, paralleling the original tale of the Three Wise Men. Why should the Second Coming be full of wrath, blood and disaster? Why shouldn't it occur in the form of... a carnival?