This was a delightful book to read the week after Christmas, when the tree was still up but the hurry and worry of the season had receded. It is a colThis was a delightful book to read the week after Christmas, when the tree was still up but the hurry and worry of the season had receded. It is a collection of Christmas classics. Here are a few thoughts about each selection:
“The Gift of the Magi” by O.Henry. I have read the illustrated, abridged version of this story to my children many times, but this was my first time through the complete story. It is one of my favorites stories of all time and captures the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of sacrificial marriage, and true romantic love. The dramatic irony in this story is a heart-twister no matter how many times I’ve read it.
“Where God Is, There Love Is Also” by Leo Tolstoy. This is a morality tale, but so sweetly and artfully told that the lesson goes down easily. Martuin dreams that he hears Christ’s voice telling him to look for Him tomorrow, for He will visit him. He watches all day, but sees only the poor and lonely who pass his window and whom he invites into his home to help and comfort.
“The Seven Poor Travelers” by Charles Dickens. This was a new find for me and I loved it. It is a story within a story. The first story is of a good deed done for the sake of remembering a loved one and for the sake of Christmas charity. The story within the story is a Jean Valjean type story of a lost soul reclaimed by love. Those change of heart stories always touch me.
“What Christmas Is as We Grow Older” by Charles Dickens. This is not a story, but an essay. I like the theme Dickens chose of a taking a mature view of Christmas. So often I feel nostalgic for the time when all I had to worry about for Christmas was what to put at the top of my wish list. Now that I am the Christmas-maker, I feel the weight of responsibility for the Christmas joy of others. Dickens reminds us that when we are children, Christmas is about the present merriment. But as we grow older, we bring to Christmas not just the now/this year perspective, but our memories of Christmas past. Our celebration is richer when we invite to our Christmas hearth all that was meaningful from our past. We can welcome the memories of people we have loved who used to share Christmas with us, but who have since died. We can recall the ambitions we had in our youth and the young love that made Christmas a romantic season. These memories can help us love and understand the young people around us whose own ambitions and romantic leanings are now in bloom. We can remind ourselves that Christmas happiness, when we have grown to the age of responsibility, is found in remembering to do our duty to others and to live with charity and compassion and a desire to impart happiness to others. ...more
I reread this book every ten years or so. It speaks to me in new ways each time, but never fails to soothe and inspire. This time I read it on an airpI reread this book every ten years or so. It speaks to me in new ways each time, but never fails to soothe and inspire. This time I read it on an airplane, and it seemed like I was looking down on my life through the window of this book from a higher perspective. ...more