We consider a particular Christmas story a favorite for a variety of reasons:
- We heard and read it again and again while we were growing up.
- We associate it with a specific memory or loved one.
- The story takes us back to an era that’s attractive to us; it’s nostalgic.
- The story unfolds a theme that is important to us, such as generosity or miracle.
- We have a special fondness for one or more of the characters.
- We enjoy the way this particular story stimulates our emotions.
Some stories we love are children’s stories; they are told in verse or they are illustrated beautifully, and we enjoy the pictures almost as much as the words. Sometimes a child’s book is saved through generations, passed down to children and grandchildren.
And some stories are not fictional but are memoir or essay, and they help us think about our own lives and memories. What are your favorite Christmas stories, and why?
Here’s a very short list of mine. I did not include children’s picture books because I no longer have them; they’ve gone to nieces and nephews, and I would remember them if I saw them, but their titles escape me now.
A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd, on which is based the movie by the same name. But don’t be fooled; Shepherd is a good writer, and this collection of essays is different from the movie and well worth the read.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
This delightful story doesn’t take more than an hour or so to read, preferably aloud. Here’s the Amazon description:
The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.
None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Their interpretation of the tale—the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating—has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year’s pageant the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
You could include other books by Dickens—a couple of them (Pickwick Papers, Great Expectations) include Christmas scenes—but, even though I watch at least two film versions of this, I never tire of the original story.
“The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry
What a charming story of mutual love. If you’ve never read it, please do. A real literary and holiday treat.
“The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen
I love this because I’ve read it since I was a child. And I was quite close to my grandmother, and the little girl’s grandmother plays an important role in this otherwise sad and tragic little tale.
“The Other Wise Man” by Henry Van Dyke
Van Dyke’s works are often overlooked but shouldn’t be. This story is a good addition to the usual Christmas collections.
Please add your own favorites to this list—DDF folks are always happy to learn about new resources. We will happily add your items to our lists.
Remember that DDF subscribers have access to the free eBook August’s Farm: A Christmas Story. Subscribe now.