Merry Christmas!

I thought for the holidays I’d take a short break from my usual blogging topics and look at holiday stories in general, and Christmas stories in particular. During Christmas, stories take a special place in our lives in ways that stories don’t seem to do for most of the year. Even avid readers find a different kind of solace in Christmas stories, even though we read and hear the same ones over and over and over again. Magically, we become children again, ready to hear that one again, even though we can quote it verbatim.

And what is Christmas without them? We’d have a hole, just as if we had no Christmas carols. Christmas is one holiday where stories still play a crucial part in every day America. A very old tradition, stories used to be a part of life year-round, but these days in the United States, we seem to leave the repetitive telling of traditional stories to parents and teachers of small children, if them. However, the story-telling tradition remains popular and important for Christmas, even with those generally disinclined to include stories in their every day lives.  As for shameless bibliophiles (myself proudly included), Christmas stories still hold a special place similar to, but not quite the same as our favourite children’s books. Often these stories fill in both spaces (How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a classic example), and sometimes Christmas stories make us stretch our arms to areas we might normally neglect. For example, while I am no fan of Charles Dickens, I love A Christmas Carol.  I really do. Even more interesting is that although Dickens is hardly the most accessible of classic authors, one cannot last long without being well-versed in this tale. Scrooge has become an important term in our culture (much like the Grinch) particularly around Christmas.

Christmas stories fill us with hope and give us permission to be children again. Like any good story, they alter how we see the world and how we feel about it. The entire Christmas season is designed to give us a year-end attitude change, conveniently for the northern hemisphere during winter. Holiday stress, commercialism, and the surfacing of family or financial problems also may appear magnified during this time. It is the Christmas stories that combat these problems and allow us that glowing feeling and peace we associate with Christmas. It’s the stories that remind us why the time is too important to let pass and encourage us to reflect on our lives and our own blessings. It’s the stories that make Christmas extra special, whether or not you have the perfect family, whether or not you’re spiritual, whether or not you’ve gotten as far as you wanted during the past year. They fill a need that we ignore, or sometimes even forget we have most of the year.

So, here is my list of some of my favourite Christmas stories to enjoy with children or even just to get yourself into the spirit this year.  Feel free to share yours, because I always love finding more. Merry Christmas from Inklings!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Cajun Night Before Christmas

The Littlest Angel

A Christmas Carol

The Nightengale

Gift of the Magi

The Little Match Girl (really one of my all-time favourite children’s books ever)

The Nutcracker