Every year in preparation for Christmas, along with the twinkle lights and the greenery, the crèche and the stockings, I unpack my family’s collection of Christmas books.
Sometimes I try to convince the kids to let me read to them. But the children are all big now and busy and much too old for stories.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. No one is ever too big for stories. With a cup of cocoa, a plate of sugar cookies, and a cozy blanket it’s possible to get even big kids to cuddle up and listen. Here are six short Christmas stories guaranteed to delight all ages.
- Papa Panov’s Special Day by Leo Tolstoy is based on the 25th chapter of Matthew’s gospel wherein Jesus speaks to His followers about welcoming the stranger. Papa Panov is a lonely cobbler. On Christmas Eve Jesus appears to him in a dream and tells Papa that he will come to visit him the next day. All Christmas day Papa Panov waits for Jesus’s arrival, but as the day drags on Papa worries that he has missed Him.
- The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde – This is the story of a giant who refuses to let the village children play in his beautiful garden. The giant’s selfishness costs him dearly. But when a very special child touches his heart, the giant is changed forever.
- A Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck -At fifteen, Rob realizes for the first time in his life that his father loves him. This realization awakens love in Rob’s heart and prompts him to give his father the best gift he can think of. Rob’s gift is simple, but it’s this simplicity and Rob’s father’s reaction to the gift that make this story so touching and so relatable.
- The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry – This is one of the best known Christmas short stories of all time, but it’s still worth reading every year. Newlyweds Della and Jim each want desperately to give the other a special Christmas gift, and they both make a great sacrifice to do so. But in the end, they realize that love is the greatest gift of all.
- Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt is a story is based on the childhood of novelist Frank McCourt’s mother, Angela. Little Angela is worried that Baby Jesus in the nativity at Saint Joseph’s Church is cold. After all, she knows what it’s like to be cold and hungry. So she takes matters into her own hands. This almost gets her into a lot of trouble with her mother, with the parish priest, and even with the police, but when her brother Pat comes to her aid everyone, including the reader, is deeply moved.
- A Christmas Memory by Truman Copote was first published in 1956 in Mademoiselle magazine. It is the mostly auto-biographical story of the friendship between seven year old Buddy and his special friend, an elderly relative who herself is much like a seven year old. This one is a bit longer than the other stories on this list, but definitely worth the time. It’s a beautifully crafted tale of friendship, growing up, and loss.
Christmas is such a busy time. I can think of no better way to slow down and enjoy the season with my family than to share one of these delightful stories together – even if I have to bribe everyone with a plate of cookies
Image sources in oreder:
- Literature Wikia
- All About Learning Press
- Thomas Aquainas College
- 100 Books Every Child Should Read Before Growing Up