History of the Christmas Stories

“Anticipating Christmas,” which was published in the Highland Villager on December 7, 2016, is the 19th story in a long standing holiday tradition.  To read “Anticipating Christmas” click on the link at the top of this page.  

Here is the history behind “Anticipating Christmas” and its 18 predecessors.  St. Paul writer Roger Barr wrote “The Last Christmas” in late 1996 as a one-off short story about a remarkable nativity scene and its impact on a father-son relationship.

The story was published in December 1997 in the Villager, the Twin Cities’ oldest and most respected community newspaper. In 1999, a sequel “The Orphans’ Christmas” was published by the Villager, inaugurating what has become an annual holiday tradition. Each story in the series was written to stand alone.  When read in chronological order, however, they tell one longer story about the faith journey of the central character, Matt Bartholomew.  In 2010, the first 13 stories were collected in the book Getting Ready for Christmas & Other Stories, described elsewhere on this website.

Through the years, the stories have explored family issues, faith, social issues and politics. At the end of the book, “Author’s Notes” detail what local and national events influenced the contents of each story. The Bartholomew Christmas stories remain the only fiction the Villager has ever published in its nearly 60 year history.

In 2003, Roger added a food shelf plot line to the series to call attention to rising hunger issues. In 2004, he organized the first of what became an annual holiday reading to benefit a local food shelf.  Since 2004, hunger relief has been addressed in every story, and Roger has organized a benefit reading each year to support an area food shelf. Book sales and cash donations at the benefits have provided more than 100,000 meals to various food shelves.

The stories published in the Villager since 2010 when the Getting Ready for Christmas & Other Stories was published are as follows:

In The Christmas Spirit (2011)

Making Christmas (2012)

Someone Else’s Christmas (2013)

The Christmas Promise (2014)

The Children’s Christmas (2015)

Anticipating Christmas (2016)