Thursday, and Susan Sarah here, thinking about the holidays…well, trying not to think about them, what with one case of laryngitis/two approaching deadlines/three kids home from college/four packages to mail/fiiiiive gazillion presents to wrap…(and that partridge in a pear tree…).
When my kids were younger, a little tradition developed. Every year I’d buy them a new book or two at the holidays, which they could open days before Christmas, and we’d sit together and read the new stories that week (and beyond, through the winter and endlessly, regardless of season, if it became a favorite). Over the years, we have acquired quite a collection of Christmas-themed books, including Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Tazewell’s The Littlest Angel, Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, Tolkein’s Letters from Father Christmas, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, and my middle son’s absolute all-time favorite, Little Dracula’s Christmas by Martin Waddell (this book is a hoot), and there were so many more. I read The Polar Express and the Grinch so often that I could recite them in my sleep, and probably still could.
This is a great tradition in our family, and continues even now that they’re grown. I remember sitting all snuggly with my boys, the Christmas tree lights softly glowing in the background, the older one listening intently, the youngest dozing on my shoulder, the middle guy tickling the sleepy one….
Some of our favorite lines:
"The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! / Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason."
Barbara Robinson, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever:
“The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.”
Or one of my favorites, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, with the poetic wildness of Dylan Thomas:
"But here a small boy says: ‘It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.’
‘But that was not the same snow,’ I say. ‘Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards.’"
Or another favorite with my kids, the very delightful A Cajun Night Before Christmas, written by Trosclair, with its Bayou beat:
"De chirren been nezzle/Good snug on de flo’/An’ Mama pass de pepper/t’ru de crack on de do’…"
My three guys are older now, but if I come across a good Christmas book, I’ll still buy a copy for them. Last year the favorite in our house was Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel, which opens:
"Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing…."
Christopher Moore (who is always a big hit in our house) wrote a raucous and touching Christmas tale that was soon dog-eared from being passed around from son to son and then lent out to friends, so we bought another copy for the permanent collection.
So our Christmas tradition carries on, and this year I’m still looking for a new favorite for my college kids. I’m hoping you’ll have suggestions!
Many holiday stories appeal to all ages and genders, crossing boundaries and becoming classics and favorites. And romance readers who also love Christmas stories are especially lucky–every year we can always find new Christmas stories. One of my novellas, “The Snow Rose” in A Stockingful of Joy, centers not on Christmas but on New Year’s Day and the Scottish traditions of Hogmanay and the First-footer (Edith also wrote a story about the First-footer, and maybe we can convince her to tell us more about it). I’m sure all the Wenches have written more than one holiday tale by now.
How about you all? What favorite holiday stories hold happy memories, and/or sum up the meaning, the atmosphere, and the magic of the holidays for you? It may be a children’s story, a historical romance, or something else.
Please share with us! I have a wide shelf of Christmas books that I’d love to add again to this year….