A Merry Christmas, Mr. Scrooge

I think everyone has a holiday story.  That story that you have to go back to every year, or you’ll feel like you haven’t really celebrated Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa–my experience is with Christmas, but I’m guessing it’s a universal thing).

Even though I’m such a big reader, I have to admit my main Christmas stories are movies.  It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, and Holiday Inn.  And, of course, Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special.  (And as a side note to the main point of this post, thank you, Charles Schultz, for insisting on making the special your way when the network wanted you to leave out the scene when Linus recites from Luke’s Gospel.)

But there is one book.  At the risk of being almost too traditional here: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  From the classic first line, “Marley was dead” to the classic final line, “God bless us, every one” it’s such a perfect book for Christmas.

Even though I like twists on traditional stories, I don’t like people to twist things too far.  I guess at heart, I’m ultimately a sentimental traditionalist, especially when it comes to Christmas stories.  I just read Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris (a book I won’t be reviewing here because it’s not young adult), and it’s very much a collection of non-sentimental, non-traditional, non-heartwarming Christmas stories.  I enjoyed it on some level…but it also kind of made me want to run out and read A Christmas Carol.

Because on Christmas, I want to read a story about the virtues of generosity and loving thy neighbor and realizing that family is really what’s most important.  I want a story where the crotchety old man realizes that if he just extends a hand, people will be nice to him in return and welcome him into their family and everyone can live happily ever after.

Actually, I like that kind of story all year ’round.  That’s why I read young adult books.  But I especially like it around Christmas.  And around Christmas, it’s even better when you can throw in wintry, Dickensian things like brass door knockers, and bed curtains, and big turkeys, and gruel, and clanking ghosts, and little British boys who say things like “Walk-er” (which no one seems to know the meaning of).

So when I want to read a really good Christmas story, that’s mine.  What’s yours?

7 thoughts on “A Merry Christmas, Mr. Scrooge

  1. I’ve just realized I don’t have any particular Christmas books. I always sort of want to reread Harry Potter around this time of the year, but that’s more because I once read it over Christmas than because it feels particularly Christmasy to me.

    As far as movies go, I usually watch Santa Claus Conquers the Martians between Christmas and New Years. It’s a very silly old movie, but I always get a kick out of it. Unfortunately, my DVD and I are spending a year apart, so I won’t get to see it again until next year.

  2. ensign_beedrill

    It’s a Wonderful Life. Totally. Dare I say one of the greastest movies ever made? There are a lot of great movies, but this one is up there.

    I also watch The Wrath of Khan every Christmas Eve. A sort of family tradition. Don’t know why excactly, but we’ve since attributed it to them saying “Christmas tree” and “sauce for the goose.”

    As for books… I don’t have one. I think I started A Christmas Carol once, but never finished it.

    1. I think you dare say it. You certainly dare say it here, because I would agree with you! Frank Capra is wonderful when you want something heartwarming and sentimental, and Jimmy Stewart is wonderful too. I quoted “To my big brother George: the richest man in town” in a discussion once, and was completely shocked when half the group didn’t know the reference. Missing one of the great classics, they are.

      Great to see you here! 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Bridgitte

    I like “The Cat Who Came For Christmas” which is a true story about a man and the cat he rescued on Christmas Eve, never intended to keep, but quickly realized he had been blessed. Quick and heartwarming read: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58816.The_Cat_Who_Came_for_Christmas

    I think Christmas books should be heartwarming, but not too sweet. The holiday can become too saccharine a setting if the author is not careful. However stories like those found in “Holidays on Ice” are too cold and fail to actually address what is human about Christmas (I felt icky after reading that book, and I like David Sedaris). A great Christmas story uses the holiday as the backdrop for larger themes, rather than currying favor with the reader’s nostalgia. Both “Christmas Carol” and “The Gift of the Magi” skillfully use Christmas to comment on the human condition. While not a book (though based on one), I think “A Christmas Story” also does this successfully.

    1. I am actually not familiar with The Cat Who Came for Christmas, or A Christmas Story (I’ve heard of it, haven’t seen it)…obviously I have some things to explore! Especially as a cat-person. 🙂

      I found Holidays on Ice enjoyable (at least most of the stories…some were definitely icky!) but it’s not something I’d choose to read on Christmas Eve when I want something heartwarming. It was billed as a sort of antidote to overly saccharine Christmas stories, and I can’t say I even found it to be that. At its best there were a funny stories with a Christmas backdrop, but I don’t think it had anything much to say about the holiday…not anything positive anyway…

  4. Diane

    I’m partial to “The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry. It has a theme of generosity and self-less giving, and the twist ending is good, too. But that’s O. Henry’s specialty, whether it’s a Christmas story or not!

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