Christmas Classics: Stories You Should Read With Your Family This Season
It's that wonderful time of year when even the most practical of people fall in love with their traditions and memories again. The music of hundreds of years ago comes back in the forms of Christmas carols, sung by the artists of fifty and sixty years ago. Advent stories from all of the centuries are retold, dating all the way back to the most important of all, the first Christmas story.
Here are a few of those tales for you to enjoy with your family this year, whether it's curled up with a child on your lap by the tree reading by twinkle light, or to a group of little ones at the family party, these are better shared. So find somebody you love to share them with, and create a new tradition that you will love for years to come.
The Christmas Story
It's the most important story you can ever tell anyone-- how a holy God became man, that he might bear the sins of created man by suffering, dying, and rising again. Though the traditional Advent story is found in the first chapters of the gospels of Matthew and Luke, but if you wish to give it context and meaning, the last chapters of all of the gospels will complete your tale. What good is knowing of a Redeemer as a helpless baby unless you understand how the redemption was carried out?
If you only read one on this list this year, please make it this one. It can change your life, and just as importantly the lives of those you share it with.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
This one is a family tradition, and my favorite Christmas story outside of the Bible's. It tells the story of one Jonathan Toomey, a wood carver of great talent who lives by himself on the outskirts of town, known by everyone for his gruff, unhappy exterior. In fact, the village children call him "Jonathan Gloomey."
Then one day, the lonely woodcarver hears a knock on his door, and opens it to find the widow McDowell and her son Thomas. They just moved to the village, and need a new nativity carved. Jonathan agrees to take the job, and when Thomas asks to watch the carving, he and his mother slowly begin to understand the reason for Jonathan's gloominess, and bring a bit of happiness and hope back into his life.
Children and adults alike will love this story. I remember my mother crying every time it was read for years, so it's quite likely it will leave a few teary eyed.
The Quiet Little Woman
Louisa May Alcott wrote beautiful children's stories, and this one is no exception. In it we meet Patty, an little orphan girl hoping to one day find the love of a family. Finally her wish comes true, and she is chosen to be taken away by one of the rich families looking for a little girl to help with their household.
In her new family, everything isn't quite as Patty imagined it would be. But somebody does end up loving her, and eventually everyone comes to appreciate the quiet little woman who has given so much to them.
Here's a link to download a free ebook of The Gift of the Magi!
The Gift of the Magi
The Gift of the Magi tells the story of Jim and Della, a newly married couple trying to find a way to buy each other a Christmas gift without any money to do it. Most of the story focuses on Della, searching desperately to find a way to buy her beloved husband something, and ending up making a large sacrifice to do it. The irony comes when Jim comes home from his job at the bank, and they both realize that they both gave up what they needed to make the other person's gift useful.
It may be sentimental, but it's a beautiful telling of sacrificial love. O. Henry's best work is a perfect holiday story for sharing.
A Christmas Carol
No Christmas list would be complete without Dickens' famous work. Don't assume that simply because you've seen one of the many film adaptions that you are familiar with it, because the writing is truly masterful, and no film could ever do it justice.
I don't have to tell you about Scrooge and his transformation from a miserly old crank to a generous, loving soul. Even Scrooge's name, as well as his favorite "Bah humbug" phrase have become famous and almost cultural icons. While an abridged version might be preferable for children, sometime you should sit by a fire in a dark room and let the nuances and emotion of the story sink in. The mastery and meaning of it will come alive to you, and you'll be sorry when it's over.