BRENDA KNIGHT GRAHAM has written and published a new book, “Christmas Carols in my Heart.”
When a Cairo author’s mother died in December 1997, she turned to the pen to help herself work through the grief. “That January I felt the need to do some journaling, so I started writing about the Christmas carols,” explains Brenda Knight Graham.
What Graham began working on 21 years ago is now published in paperback, an interactive journal with a Christmas theme. “It was such good grief therapy, I decided I’d do it every year, and I thought it might be a good book and help others,” she says.
“Christmas Carols in my Heart” centers around 12 familiar songs from the holiday season, such as “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “What Child is This?” The lyrics of each song are included along with a story about the song’s origins and Graham’s personal recollections that connect her to the carol. She says the holiday music stirs her memory. “It seems to me when I near the Christmas time, I not only think about the Lord, but also of Christmases past,” Graham says.
Readers of the book are encouraged to think about their own Christmas memories, and the publication includes space for them to write their stories. “The reader is invited to remember, and I give journal prompts,” explains Graham.
In the chapter “O Holy Night,” for instance, the reader is prompted to “describe an unusual trip or event that took place near Christmas.” In the “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” chapter, the reader is prompted to write about family traditions for opening gifts.
Each chapter also includes illustrations by Graham’s daughter-in-law, Christina A. “Christi” Graham, who was the chief encourager of the book idea.
Although Graham is the author of several books, she had given up on getting this particular book to print. “I’d prayed the Lord would let me forget about it, and I thought I had,” Graham says. Then, last year, her daughter-in-law asked when the Christmas book was coming out. “I told her I’d shelved it. She was so passionate about that I must publish this book,” Graham recalls. Deciding to rise to the challenge, Graham issued her own challenge to her daughter-in-law. “She’s an attorney and wife with three children. I said I’ll finish it and you have to illustrate it,” Graham says. With a tight deadline, Christi Graham managed to juggle work and family demands, and sketch 12 illustrations, one for the beginning of each chapter. Christi and Will Graham and their children live in Birmingham, Alabama.
Raised in the North Georgia mountain town of Clarkesville, Brenda Knight Graham, now 77, lives in Cairo with her husband, veterinarian Dr. Charles Graham. The two met at the Baptist Student Union while attending University of Georgia where she was majoring in journalism and he was in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “We feel the Lord put us together,” she says. The couple has been married 54 years, she says.
A career in writing was a childhood dream says Graham. “It’s all I wanted to do since I was 6 or 7 years old. I didn’t know it would be books,” she says. The book path started at the prompting of her mother. When Graham’s children napped, she wrote, then when they went to nursery school, she wrote, and in 1978 her first book, “Stone Gables” was published followed by a series of three novels for middle grades readers, “The Pattersons at Turkey Hill House,” “The Pattersons and the Mysterious Airplane,” and “The Pattersons and the Goat Man.” She authored “Juliana of Clover Hill” in 1984, and later came “On Wings of Song,” “Her Name was Rebekah,” and the children’s picture book “One Brown Cow.”
In addition to Will, the Grahams have a daughter, Julie, who died in 2012 at the age of 42 from complications connected to a rare, debilitating disease. They have five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“Christmas Carols in my Heart” is for sale at Cairo stores, including Miss Myrt’s and Center Drugs, and the Grahams will be on hand for a signing scheduled for Oct. 12, 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Rayann’s in Thomasville, and at Center Drugs on Nov. 8, 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. The book is also for sale at traditional bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million.
Graham says, “I am excited about this. I hope it’s a blessing to many people. I want to bring glory to the Lord.”