Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ten Wonderful Christmas Stories

I'm a primary school librarian, so perhaps I can be excused for urging you, over and over, to read and re-read and re-re-read the same wonderful Christmas stories. You know How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express and The Night Before Christmas and A Christmas Carol, of course. The Little Match Girl. And O. Henry's Gift of the Magi, too.

This year, let me share some others. All four of these are memoirs. All of them are short, just a few pages, but they are all powerful stories. All four reflect those wise words from the Grinch:

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more! 

Francisco Jiménez's The Christmas Gift / El regalo de Navidad

A first grade teacher returned this book to my library last week. Her eyes were still wet and she asked, "Have you read this one?" When I admitted that I had not, she pushed it into my hands, saying, "Well, you must!"

And so I did. What a story. Whew. Based on events from his childhood, Jiménez tells the story of a migrant family who, yet again, are on the move. The family has nothing. They often must make supper out of what they can scrounge from a garbage can. And then the family meets another family that has even less than they have. Beautiful story.

Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory

Truman Capote is a little boy and he and his relative make fruitcakes during the Depression and mail them off to all their friends, including President Roosevelt. Here's a little:

"Buddy, are you awake!" It is my friend, calling from her room, which is next to mine; and an instant later she is sitting on my bed holding a candle. "Well, I can't sleep a hoot," she declares. "My mind's jumping like a jack rabbit. Buddy, do you think Mrs. Roosevelt will serve our cake at dinner?" We huddle in the bed, and she squeezes my hand I-love-you. "Seems like your hand used to be so much smaller. I guess I hate to see you grow up. When you're grown up, will we still be friends?" I say always. "But I feel so bad, Buddy. I wanted so bad to give you a bike. I tried to sell my cameo Papa gave me. Buddy"—she hesitates, as though embarrassed—"I made you another kite." Then I confess that I made her one, too; and we laugh.  

Here it is online, in all its glory. Go read it now.

Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales

Not only is this little poem of a story online, but it is online in an audio version, with author Dylan Thomas reading to us. This story is little bits and pieces from Dylan Thomas' childhood Christmas, beautifully told, sparkling, rich:

"All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen."

Leon Hale's Miracles Out of a '22 Chevy (from One Man's Christmas)

Do you know Leon Hale? He's a long-time Houston newspaper columnist. He's ninety-something and he's still sharing stories of his life. This little Christmas story comes from his childhood, during the Great Depression. His dad is a traveling salesman and he and his mom and his sister are living in a bleak house in the middle of nowhere in Texas. It's Christmas and his dad is away:

"One thing that came clear to us all, in that house: There wouldn't be any Christmas. So as December wore along you could almost feel the sinking of spirits on that lonely hill. Then suddenly one day they said he was coming. To me it was like he was returning from the dead. I can hear him now, coming, chugging up that road in his 1922-model Chevy. I can still get the first glimpse of that shivering old car when it came curving out of the timber. I can see the steam trailing out of the radiator cap. I'm running to the road and he's turning in and I can see the gray boot showing through the hole in the left from tire. I can see the twist in the wire that holds the door shut on the driver's side. He's waiting for me to open the gate and I can see him grinning and his eyes are all wet and his Adam's apple is bobbing in his long old neck and his skinny arm is out the window and hanging there curved, waiting to grab me. That's the day I discovered you can cry about happy things, that tears can rise out of gladness and they can be hard to stop."

What are your favorite Christmas stories? Share them with me.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.


  1. I've never read any of these, not even the must-read classics. I'm not even sure we have translations here. When I was little we certainly didn't have them.

    Thanks for stopping by!
    Happy holidays! :)

    1. I bet you have The Little Match Girl. I'd be surprised if you don't have that!

  2. I've never heard of any of these christmas stories, but they sound really good.
    Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. Thank you for sharing these stories; I have not read them, but now I will. It is good to come and visit your blog now and then! Merry Christmas to you!

  4. Nice list! I've read a few of these when I was little! Thanks for stopping by on my TTT & have a very merry Christmas!

  5. These stories sound so lovely. Merry Christmas.

  6. thanks for visiting my ttt - christmas stories as well.
    all these on your list are new for me :)
    Happy Holidays.

  7. I haven't heard of these stories but they sounds so nice :) Thanks for sharing

  8. I haven't read any of these books, but I love a good Christmas story, I have got to get on reading these. I love Truman Capote so I am moving this one up to the top of my TBR list!! Great post!
    Merry Christmas!!!

  9. Love this idea! I haven't read any one of these stories but they sound really great. I actually haven't read a lot of christmas stories, as much as I read I tend to rely on Christmas movies instead of books. But maybe I should try some of these next year.

  10. Love, love, love this list! Thanks so much for posting.


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