Every Christmas season brings a new offering of beautiful Christmas stories. They are mostly the same, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Oh, you might have the Christmas mysteries that will feature a body found underneath the Christmas tree, but even then the stories are generally not too gruesome.
I love them all. I’ve read a couple so far this year. I will be reviewing Anne Perry’s A New York Christmas in a few weeks. I also read a lovely story called The Christmas Pearl, by Dorothea Benton Frank. Frank’s story is predictably set in low country South Carolina, this time in Charleston. In this story, an elderly woman is given the gift of the magical return of the long-dead housekeeper who for all intents and purposes raised her in the way of wealthy southern households. The housekeeper, named Pearl, straightens out some family difficulties and shows the family the real meaning of Christmas. It was a sweet read.
The theme is familiar – what is really important about Christmas? Our favorite priest, Father Tim, brings about Christmas joy to all of those he meets throughout the season in the delightful town of Mitford. As for himself, he – who always considers himself a man of thought and not a man who works with his hands, takes on the challenge of bringing back to life a terribly neglected and badly damaged Nativity set to give to his wife for Christmas. There is a delightful “Gift of the Magi” twist to the story that I won’t give away. Shepherds Abiding gives dedicated readers a deeper look at some of the Mitford family. It also gives the reader a sense of what Christmas is like in a small town.
And speaking of O. Henry’s wonderful short story, use this opportunity to read yourself – and read to your kids or grandkids – the wonderful Gift of the Magi. There is no better example of the true meaning of Christmas than this story about the young couple, struggling with money but still wanting to give a meaningful gift to the other. The ending, of course, will come as no surprise, but it makes me tear up every single time anyway.
And of course Christmas isn’t Christmas if you don’t meet Ebenezer Scrooge in some form or the other. Charles Dickens’ book A Christmas Carol is likely the best way to meet the old grouch, but if you haven’t seen a performance of A Christmas Carol in some form or the other, you aren’t really trying. This year I watched, of all things, Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Why? Because my son Court told me it’s one of his favorite Christmas movies. I can see why.
What is your favorite Christmas book or story?