So yesterday I talked about some of my favorite legends. Today I’m going to talk about some of my favorite Christmas fiction. Maybe you’ve read some of these, maybe these will give you an idea of some titles to check out.
Christmas Everyday by William Dean Howells – This tale of what would happen if Christmas happened every day has been in countless collections, but it still cracks me up. A little dated but always charming, it’s a tongue in cheek cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for. The asides between the father telling the story and the daughter requesting it are amusing, too.
A Letter From Santa Claus by Mark Twain – Another one that’s often referenced, this is cute as is and adorable when you consider that it’s a tradition that’s probably occurred between countless parents and children. Sweet and a little gruff at the same time, it’s another one that always makes me smile.
The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter – One of my favorite Beatrix Potter stories. I love all the sewing references, love the magic of talking animals on Christmas Eve and LOVE the cat, Simpkins. One of those cute little tales that’s magical and sweet – something we all need every now and then. I’ll admit when I’m neck-deep in a sewing project every now and then to muttering “but there’s no more TWIST!” in frustration (whether it has anything to do with my project or not. Thankfully those around me are used to my eccentricities.)
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus – This one is popular to the point of being overdone, but I think it’s a message that’s needed at all times. I discussed it last year, but I’m of the strong opinion that this time of year it’s acceptable to allow yourself to believe in the unbelievable and to help magic along, and if believing in Santa Claus makes me happier and leads me to help make my corner of the world a better place, than I’m going to believe in him.
On Christmas Eve by Anne M Martin– This is one of those that I discovered by accident on a library display shelf. I remembered her BSC titles and in a fit of nostalgia, checked it out. Let me say, if you haven’t read her stand alone titles, you’re missing out. Not knocking any of her other work, but this and a few of her other non-series books really, truly shine like beacons. Tess is eight and determined to experience the magic of Christmas for herself…and to ask Santa to help save her friend’s ill father. This book takes many turns and definitely explores the nature of belief and hope through the eyes of a child. It’s sad and heartwarming, and truly magical. It also gets bonus points for talking animals on Christmas Eve, but the whole book kept me spellbound.
On Strike For Christmas by Sheila Roberts – I love all of Sheila’s work, and her other holiday titles are fantastic, but this was the first I read and one I always come back to. I love her magic in The Snowglobe and last year’s Nine Lives of Christmas dearly, but this was the title that pulled my head out of my funk a few years back. When Joy feels that her husband doesn’t understand her love of the holidays and other housewives in town feel like they do all the work without any help they go on a strike that’s covered and enabled by the local paper. All sorts of hijinks follow and everyone learns a little something about Christmas and their respective situations and partners. I love that she covers so many different women at different points in their lives – some more in depth than others – to the point where you really identify with everyone (including the husbands). I haven’t seen the movie this inspired, though I’d love to. This is such a fun read (though I’m a little afraid to let my mother read it because I’m always a little nervous that she’d take the theme and run with it).
Any Christmas Chapter in any of the Little House books – I’m a huge Laura Ingalls fan (the books, not the show as much), and where her charm and descriptions really shine is when describing the holidays. From celebrations in the big woods to nearly losing her father at Plum Creek, from hearing about Mr. Edwards meeting Santa Claus to having Almanzo come home early and surprise her when they’re engaged, most of the books have wonderful chapters on Christmas. Sometimes things are extravagant (like the Christmas Tree celebration earlier in the Plum Creek book) and sometimes they make you feel like you’re in an O. Henry story (scraping to get a little something special and reading chapters from story magazines when there’s not enough food or any presents in The Long Winter…then getting to have Christmas in May when the snow finally, finally clears and the trains come through). You feel the family’s situations and joy, and their thankfulness. These chapters are not only fun to read, but also remind you just how much you have to be thankful for. While there is a book of Little House Christmas stories, I feel that they leave out some rather important ones in an effort to make it as cuddly as possible (admirable, but as an adult I love the full range of stories).
Comfort and Joy by Fern Michaels and co – Being a closet romantic, I will admit to liking the odd cuddly Christmas anthology, and this is one of the better ones I’ve found. All of the stories are pretty strong and have very different types of characters. From feuding with the son of a dept. store owner to a woman trapped in a coma to a former Rockette stuck in a small town, all have their problems and all get a satisfying sort of resolution. It’s all you’d expect for this kind of title, but I don’t find any of the stories overly schmaltzy or completely simplistic. It’s a fun, warm Christmas read for those romantics out there.
So how about you? Which stories can you not go a holiday season without reading? What tales did you grow up loving?