Some of the most beloved Christmas tales I read in childhood always made me cry.
The Birds’ Christmas Carol was one of my favorites. This story by Kate Douglas Smith (Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm) of the frail, sweet child named Carol and her Victorian era parents and rambunctious brothers was so lovely that I never read it without crying, even though I considered them tears well-spent. That didn’t stop me from writing a happier ending in my head though.
When The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen was presented as a drama on television in the 50’s, I sobbed. I had read the book, but seeing that poor, wretched little girl in the doorway. . . oh, the pain of it! There are several animated versions online now and even this one from 1954, but I don’t remember it as being the one I saw.
The Gift of the Magi frustrated me. I understood the beauty of the giving what was dearest, but I couldn’t get past the tragic irony to agree with O. Henry that the two lovers were magi. She could grow more hair, but he wasn’t going to get his watch back, I thought.
Why the Chimes Rang by Raymond Macdonald Alden, the story of two poor brothers who made the magnificent church chimes ring by their acts of selflessness and generosity was much more satisfying. It was achingly beautiful and sweet, I thought.
Do children read these tug-at-the-heartstrings stories any more? Rudolph’s red nose pales in comparison!
So if I knew all these beautiful stories, which did we read aloud to our children each Christmas Eve? (sigh) None of the above.
The Night Before Christmas and the New Testament story of Christ’s birth were mainstays, but beyond that, I blame my husband for the literary void. He was, after all, the one who introduced them to the one they always asked to hear… Ogden Nash’s poem about Jabez Dawes, The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus.
If you missed any of these as a child, or want to share them with your children or grandchildren, consider the links my gift to you.
And Merry, Merry Christmas!