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?