Ten classic Christmas stories at least a couple of which you haven’t read
Why not compile an oddball little list of Christmas stories, all of which are quick reads and all of which are easily found at the library either on the shelves or on Overdrive? The fun of this list is that some are so obvious that everyone will know them and a few not so much. All are short. In no particular order, here we go.
O’Henry’s Gift of the Magi: Classic American short story author O’Henry gives us a beautiful Christmas story. A young couple with no money to spare nonetheless want to give to the other a meaningful Christmas gift. In case you’ve missed it, I’ll give nothing away except to say that it is a touching ending about the true spirit of Christmas.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is arguably the most well-known Christmas story (other than the original) and it never gets old. Dickens’ tale is a scathing social commentary about poverty and wealth and working conditions in Victorian England. In addition being a fast read, there have been many movie versions you could choose. My personal favorite is Bill Murray’s Scrooged which we watch every year.
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is probably as well known as the Dickens story and an even faster book to read. Which of us doesn’t love that Scrooge moment of epiphany that happens as he watches Whoville?
James Joyce’s The Dead is 180 degrees apart from all these stories, but a Christmas story, nonetheless. James doesn’t have anything easy to read, but everything is rewarding. It is a long short story, part of the collection Dubliners. Imagine, though, a pretty common circumstance – Gabriel and his wife are at a Christmas family gathering that is fraught with history, difficulty, awkward conversation, and much eye rolling. But it closes with an intimate conversation between husband and wife leading to another kind of epiphany.
Hans Christian Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling never mentions Christmas but was published to sell right at Christmas time in 1843. It catapulted Anderson to success and remained a favorite of his. Christmas is still a great time to read a story of the importance of acceptance and belonging vs despair and loneliness.
William Dean Howells’ The Night Before Christmas is, like the Seuss story, pure poetry. I don’t think we ever really get tired of the wonder of believing in the impossible which is really a significant spirit of the season.
Mary Wilkins Freeman’s The Christmas Ghost is from 1900. Freeman is a great short story writer perhaps best known for A Church Mouse (I recommend). Her focus (in both stories) is on those human interactions that poison relationships and lives and the miracles that occur when vast emotional distances are finally breached when things almost go too far.
John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas is a long short story or short novel depending on how you feel about it and a funny one about a family man who simply decides he’ll pass on Christmas one year. But how does one simply skip Christmas? Grisham points out it just isn’t that easy.
Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express is likely much more famous for the movie version than the story but is a magical tale whichever version of it you decide to read or watch. Hop on the train.
Dave Barry’s The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Miracle Dog rounds out our ten stories. A lot of humor and a lot of heart make this story of a near-miss Christmas pageant and a sick dog a winner.
Here’s hoping that you come across one of these that you don’t already know or forgot how good one is to add to the simple joys of the season. What’s more, the library has an absolute pile of Christmas books by well known authors, especially cozy mystery writers. Stop in and check one out.