Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tales of Christmas Past

I have a weakness for Christmas stories. Preferably simple, old-fashioned, sentimental Christmas stories. I've blogged before about how I have a few old favorites that I always like to pull out and re-read in December. But since getting a Kindle and discovering the treasure trove of the public domain, my list has grown from A Christmas Carol and Hercule Poirot's Christmas to include half a dozen delightful short tales by famous and not-so-famous authors of long ago. Now when I discover a likely-looking Christmas story sometime during the year, I stash it in a collection on my Kindle set aside for the purpose and save it up to read during the holidays. What fun!

Last year's discoveries were Beasley's Christmas Party by Booth Tarkington and The Romance of a Christmas Card by Kate Douglas Wiggin. I just love Wiggin's Christmas stories. I suppose you know that I also have a weakness for writing Christmas stories myself, and if I have a role model in this department, it's Kate Douglas Wiggin. This year I read The Old Peabody Pew and The Birds' Christmas Carol, and I am very much hoping that I have not come to the end of her Christmas oeuvre! If anybody knows of more, please do tell me.

I also discovered a new author, Leona Dalrymple, who seems to have written a number of novelette-length stories centered around an old-fashioned country Christmas. Perhaps not quite up to Wiggin's standards of craftsmanship, but delightful short holiday reading. When the Yule Log Burns was good, but it was Jimsy, the Christmas Kid that I found to be the real charmer. Written from the perspective of a stiffly-starched, elderly bank president who, evidently at his wife's instigation, has agreed to host an orphan boy from the city for Christmas, it's tremendously funny and yet touching at the same time.

And among actual short stories, my favorite discovered this year comes from the complete works of Lucy Maud Montgomery, who was also very fond of writing holiday stories. "Aunt Cyrilla's Christmas Basket" is, in my opinion, the best of them, and it may be read online here. All of the stories I just mentioned, in fact, can be read online at Project Gutenberg and downloaded for free on Kindle.

So who else loves old-fashioned Christmas tales? Which author do you think was best at writing them?


Rachel Heffington said...

This post is so much fun! I always do love a good Christmas story too, and have written several. I am partial to Dickens, but that might be too handy of an answer. "The Chimes" is queer but a good story, as is "The Cricket on The Hearth."
As far as other Christmas-y stories go, I seem to remember something Louisa May Alcott wrote--a short one. There is also "An Old-fashioned Thanksgiving" which I loved but was butchered via film several years ago. :P I shall come back if I think of any more!

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Oh, yes, I've read the other Dickens stories too! I don't think any of them can come up to A Christmas Carol, but The Cricket On the Hearth was my favorite of them.

Melissa Marsh said...

There is an author from my home state of Nebraska, Bess Streeter Aldrich, who has an entire book of Christmas short stories written during the 1920s and 1930s. They are an absolute delight. I need to get out my copy and read them again. :)

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Ooo, that sounds wonderful! I'll have to try and find a copy next year.