Painting of a stack of 3 books
Painting of a stack of 3 books

An Off-White Christmas


An eBook is also available

A kindle edition of An Off-White Christmas is available at Amazon. Many of the illustrations in the original print book have been reinterpreted in full color.

Hannah Jennings has designed and illustrated countless books, websites, and signs that interpret exhibits in zoos and museums. The focus of her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was her artist’s books; she now teaches design at Dominican University. She is past president of the Society for Experiential Graphic Design. Her love of design, making images, and Christmas is apparent in her non-traditional online advent calendars; see them with her other illustrations at

An Off-White Christmas

An Off-White Christmas features a dozen stories all set on or around Christmas, though with little to no clear religious emphasis. Instead, these stories explore life changes and choices and chaos in times of heightened drama, when family and friends and life partners merge to form cohesive units, happy or otherwise. The stories range from a gambling spree in Las Vegas to a caravan traveling to Baraboo; from a teepee hotel in Kentucky to a retro movie theatre in Arizona; from a jolly Santa lookalike to a frustrated Dickensian actor; from students to retirees. Christmas, in these stories, is a character as much as a setting—it acts upon and with plot to create tension, but each story is unique. It’s hardly all sugar plums and pure white flakes, but always there’s that hope. Just as the notion of a “white Christmas" evokes well worn traditions of the holiday, these “un-white Christmas” stories introduce potential traditions that could expand and augment the Christmas spirit.


Audio book is now available

You can now listen to my story collection, thanks to the outstanding work of Kevin Theis and an ensemble of fine actors affiliated with Oak Park Festival Theatre. Kevin is a top-notch actor with decades of impressive stage and screen credits. He also produces audio books under the imprimatur of his own Fort Raphael Publishing Company, drawing on his experience as a director, as well as his expertise in voice work and an extensive network.

Kevin assembled an all-star team to give voice to the characters in my 12 holiday stories. Savanna Rae, Bryan Wakefield, Belinda Bremner, Matt Gall, and Jhenai Mootz beautifully interpreted the characters, hitting all the right notes.

We went into Timothy Flynn’s AudioWall Studios three separate times. Tim mastered the sound recording while Kevin blocked the scenes and directed the talent. The actors did the rest. When the rough cuts were all in the can, Kevin edited it all together and added special effects to produce a really special narrative.

The audio book is available only through

Length: 6 hrs and 38 mins

Don reading at Volumes Bookstore in Chicago

Now available from Eckhartz Press


The 198-page special collector's limited hardcover book features 24 black and white illustrations by Hannah Jennings. A paperback edition is being released simultaneously.


A portion of the proceeds of this book will benefit the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.

Praise for An Off-White Christmas

Lovingly illustrated by Chicago artist Hannah Jennings, Evan's 12 tales may not always be filled with cheer; but with light humor and tenderness, they do illuminate the human spirit.

Jonathan Fullmer in Booklist

With offhand grace and humor, Evans captures the characters’ burning desires to escape from in-between stages of their lives and their disappointment at the outcome. Illustrations by Hannah Jennings throughout the book resemble ornaments that could hang on a Christmas tree.”

Kate Burns in Newcity Lit

Through it all, Evans works as a quiet provocateur and a bit of a chameleon. In the voices of very different narrators, he explores how past baggage and internal conflicts can collide with the meaningful relationships everyone seeks with those who mean the most to us.... you’re in the hands of a writer with skill for description, setting, and dialogue...

Dennis Hertzel in Windy City Reviews

The stories in Don Evans's excellent collection, An Off-White Christmas, are full of witty, humane moments, vivid characters and settings that range from Chicago to Syracuse to Las Vegas. The people you'll meet here are your friends, your neighbors, your relatives—in all their flawed beauty and pathos. This book is not to be missed.

Christine Sneed, author of Little Known Facts and Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry

Don Evans can get the streets to talk as if they're telling their own stories. One hears in his work an immediately recognizable offhand tone that rings true, empathetic, street smart, and very funny.

Stuart Dybek, author of A Neighborhood and Other Stories, The Coast of Chicago, I Sailed with Magellan, Streets in Their Own Ink, Paper Lanterns, and Ecstatic Cahoots

Donald Evans has a great ear and a light touch and together they lead An Off-White Christmas in unpredictable directions. Underlying what’s funny in these stories are real families, friends and lovers colliding or coming together in what promises, but doesn’t always turn out to be, the season of good cheer.

Rosellen Brown, author of Street Games, Before and After, Half a Heart and others

A series of stories about families of all types as they each enter the holidays, the tales here range from the sentimental to the bleak, strongly reflecting Evans' natural love for our city's strong history of gritty social realism. My personally favorite story of the collection, for example, "Tiny Flakes of Bone," is an ur-example of this, as two former school chums celebrate Christmas with a sybaritic gambling binge in Las Vegas, their hazy 48 straight hours at the casino slowly revealing the fractures that initially drove the two apart, and how one has been able in middle-age to shed himself of his addictive demons, the other lost in a permanent wallowing in them.

Jason Pettus, reviewing in Goodreads

This Book Will Change Your Life... [T]hese stories are ostensibly about Christmas, and Evans build the stories around that framework, but holidays especially, are about emotions, all of them, and in all ways and combinations, and Evans knows this, and shows it.

Ben Tanzer, This Blog Will Change Your Life

“It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a short story collection as much as I enjoyed An Off-White Christmas by Donald Evans. Funny, and extremely touching without ever being sentimental, this book makes a great Christmas gift and is also, I feel, a must read for everyone.”

Natalia Nebel, co-host of Sunday Salon

 “The stories are wonderful.”

Belinda Bremner, Artistic Associate at Oak Park Festival Theatre

 “His stories are funny and poignant and written absolutely beautifully. This book is a work of art.”

William Turk, co-host of WCGO-1590s Playtime with Bill & Kerri

“A delightful, wise, funny, and heartfelt collection about family connections made and missed.”

Michael Barsa, author of The Garden of Blue Roses 


Excerpts from the Stories

In every family there’s a rite of passage into adulthood: your first beer, moving to the adult table at holiday meals, the dropping of your nickname. In our family, you knew you were all grown up when Willie finally borrowed money off you.

from “An Off-White Christmas”

This old couple was about as old as old couples get. A write-up in the local newspaper said they had just celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. Seventy-five years: I’d have to hit the streets running to even contend for that. Say I found a woman I loved, got her to love me back, and we eloped to a drive-through Vegas chapel—we’d still have to both make it into our low hundreds.

from “Everyday's a No Repeat Day”

Woman throwing a Christmas tree over a fence
Electric Christmas light of Santa Clause on a playing card

Time’s a mystery in the casinos. There aren’t any clocks or windows, and pumped oxygen keeps you unnaturally energized. I felt juiced. It’s like, you’re minding your own business, and there’s a fire engine, and you don’t even realize you’re chasing the fire engine—you never decided, here I go after the fire engine—but before you know it you’re on the lawn watching the house burn down.

from “Tiny Flakes of Bone”

The thing was, I didn’t know what I would say, what I would do. I so wanted to be married. I dreaded the prospect of hunting down another potential life partner. There was so much preliminary blah blah blah you couldn’t skip. Then if you guessed wrong, and so far I’d only guessed wrong, you were back at Square One. How was I ever going to get a baby blue Ford Explorer with She’s The Boss vanity plates from Square One?

from “His Side of the Family”

I woke before dawn and could not fall back asleep. I never remember a time when I believed in Santa Claus. Maybe nobody does. It’s impossible, I suppose, to reconstruct naiveté.

from “One Person’s Garbage”

Electric Christmas light of Santa Clause on a playing card
Army helmut, pad of paper, and Kool cigarettes

I looked at my hardly started letter to Mom. I’d been telling her about the usual things here, and asking about the usual things there. I hunched over my pad. I fell back to recording little details—weather, food, rumors about travel and promotion and leave. Every time I tried to take up the subject of the little girl dying, I just couldn’t do it. For the first time I understood why you rarely heard veterans speak of their war experiences. The thing you most wanted was to leave that there, and go back to whatever was left of normal.

from “Whatever’s Left of Normal”

Wigley’s 9 a.m. energy level annoyed, no pained, me. It hurt just to stand there. Knowing Christmas Day would be sacrificed to this, I’d overdone Christmas Eve. It had started innocently enough but ended at a sticky kitchen table with sucked limes, spilled salt and a bottle of Jose Lopez. I thought, as Wigley went on and on about how knowing your lines did not mean knowing your character, that it only lasted one day. One dry Christmas, and I would wake tomorrow to a clean bill of health.

from “Bah!”

Hannah Jennings Design