As we begin battening down the hatches in preparation for the long winter, we look to the Holiday season for the spark of light and hope that will give us the morale boost we’ll need to endure the coming months of cold and darkness.

For most people, this is a time of traditions and rituals of all kinds, both secular and spiritual. Decorations go up in and around our homes, and we groan as department stores pipe in the perpetual loops of holiday music and weigh down our daily newspaper with their inserts that shout Buy! Buy! Buy! Me! Me!

At my house, we have a pact: the Christmas movies only come out on the first weekend of December. This guarantees that our books (1)stash of DVDs, which is significant, will last us till Christmas Eve.

As I watched the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol last night (he is magnificent; it is the best, by far), I got to thinking about all the Christmas classics that inspired the shows and movies that we watch.

What’s most surprising is that the list isn’t all that long.

books (2)Among the beautiful Christmas stories that have stood the test of time, I include, of course, “The Night Before Christmas”, a story wrapped in a poem attributed to Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863), and often referred to as “ ‘Twas the night before Christmas”—from its first line—and also as “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”.: http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/ccmoore/bl-ccmoore-twas.htm

My father read this to us before bedtime every Christmas Eve when we were children. For me, it will always be the most special.

There is O. Henry’s often overlooked story of love and sacrifice, “The Gift of the Magi”, which I found so sad and so moving as a child:  http://www.online-literature.com/donne/1014/

There are also all the stories that many of us first discovered as movies or even in television specials, such as Dickens’ A Christmas How_the_Grinch_Stole_Christmas_coverCarol (originally published in 1843)—that even Mickey Mouse had a  crack at— as well as Dr. Seuss’ wonderful reinvention of Scrooge, in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, first published in 1957.

books (3)But there are so many more! Why, even Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle added to the mix: the first, with a complete novel, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, first published in 1938, and the latter with “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”, a story published in 1892, in which a battered hat and a Christmas goose are the lures that draw Holmes and Watson into a new investigation.

With a little digging, I rediscovered many of the original Christmas tales that inspired the movies and television “classics” that so many of us watched as youngsters and then shared with our own children, Frosty-Splash3_021like Frosty the Snowman (by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins, 1950);   The Little Match Girl (Hans Christian Anderson, 1848); The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (E.T.A. Hoffman, 1816), and Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer (Robert L. May 1939).

To reconnect with these beautiful stories—some old, some less so—follow this link: http://osr.org/christmas/20-famous-christmas-stories/ , and allow yourself to become reacquainted with, and touched by the writing of Oscar Wilde, Anton Chekhov, Tolstoy and Twain.



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