BY SUSAN SCHWARZ , valley dispatch contributor

OK, the season has officially started. The holiday books are arriving and I have a single question: why do so many of these authors feel they have to make you cry to be popular?

I could deal with last year’s variety of books, including the little boy wanting to buy his dying mother shoes, the little kids with no money peering into the shop windows but giving their pennies to a homeless person and more. Then I got to the one where Santa gets conked on the head and the zombies take over, and of course hit-and-run reindeer.

Maybe I am more than a little jaded with what I read, but give me the ones where funny things happen to people being happy, to the type of book where the angels come down on missions to get people together (thank you Debbie Macomber) and the gentle stories of giving and caring, which is what I thought the season was about.

After reading the first of the books, Christmas Hope by Donna Van Liere, I have decided to let others read them first. Who needs to have the problems of losing family, children, mothers at this time of year? We live with it; we know it happens, but does it make life any easier around this time? I don’t think so. So there I sit with tears running down my face as I read about the mother dying in a car accident leaving, a 5-year-old who of course is taken in by someone who is “frozen” inside due to the death a few years ago of her own 18-year-old on Christmas Eve. Need I say that after you add in a couple more problems, the story ends with everyone enjoying Christmas, coming together and living happily ever after, except of course for those who are no longer with us.

I give up. Unless I find a special holiday book to tell you about, you are on your own to find one that makes your time special. I think I will continue with the Grinch, Charlie Brown and the other fantasy specials. Off the soapbox and onto reality!

We need help. This is the hardest time of the year for many people. If you are just managing to keep your head above water and everyone around you is talking about shopping for their kids and making special foods and how much they are spending this year, your self-esteem gets even lower and the concern for your children and their happiness has to be beyond belief. I can remember back when my dad died, leaving four kids for my mom to deal with, and how hard it was that first year when Santa was still a presence in our house and money was not.

Help us out here. We have a green bin as you come into the library. It needs foodstuffs and we need toys to wrap. The food and the gifts will stay in Dracut. Anything you can donate — like new toys and nonperishable food — would be appreciated. We are also adding a small Salvation Army kettle to the desk that needs to be filled.

I know how much many of you have given to hurricane relief. Our little kettle took in more tnsar $65 dollars in just a couple of weeks for New Orleans, but this time, it will stay local and local needs help. Can I trust in you again to provide a helping hand? Never have we been let down before, and I know how much help is needed. I will mention this again just as a reminder but for now, thanks for remembering. All toys have to be in hand by Dec. 12 so they can be assigned, wrapped and the holes filled in when a child gets missed.

See you soon and do keep reading, there are a lot of good books around.

Susan Schwarz is the director of Dracut’s Moses Greeley Parker Library.