I love Christmas. Everything about it. I love the smells, the sights, the presents, the family time, the songs, the movies, and the stories. Of course the stories. There are tons of Christmas stories out there – many religious, many secular. These are a couple of my favorites:
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Clement Clarke Moore:
This is just, the classic. Written in the early 1800s as a simple poem, I love the way it’s been translated into books and literature over the years. The story’s rhyme structure gives it a magical, whimsical feel in comparison to many of the other Christmas stories we read and hear each year. We had a copy in my house as a kid, and the dark blue background of the front cover with Santa on his sleigh is something I’ll always remember.
The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg:
This…this is a magical story. Different than ‘Twas in its magic (because it’s not a poem), The Polar Express touches on the best and most complicated element of the Holiday season: belief. Until when should kids believe in Santa? What do people believe in (if they are not very religious) after that? Should anyone who does not believe religiously celebrate? There can be a lot of questions. The Polar Express addresses this in such a touching, innocent way. Ultimately, belief is our own choice. As long as we believe, we’ll hear the bell ring. One of the most incredible experiences with this book came for me in my freshman year of high school. The day before our Christmas break, my Spanish teacher read us this book (in English). Then, afterward, she gave each of us a silver bell and told us to always believe in ourselves, and to remember the magic of life. It’s something that has always, always stuck with me. If I’m being honest, I don’t even remember her name most days. But her gesture, to give us all of those bells and say she believed in us and that we’ve got to believe in ourselves, reminds me every year about the magic of this story and of the season.
So those are my two favorites; I can’t say A Christmas Carol is one of my favorites, because I love the story via the movies, but haven’t read the book – Dickens and I are in a longstanding fight – so it’s only getting an honorable mention today.
What are you favorite Christmas stories?