At long last, it’s Christmas. Time for mince pies, Christmas pudding, mulled wine – and heart-warming Christmas tales from across the centuries. Here’s a list of some of the best to get you right in the mood.
I’m not going to lie: I love Christmas. From the seasonal food and drink to the bright-lighted decorations, from the special Christmas offers to the Christmas carols, everything is wonderful. Is it superficial and just a lot of commercialism? Perhaps in part, but I do think there’s something underlying the holiday season which is a bit more genuine.
Especially when it comes to our Christmas stories, there’s been a good number of great ones throughout the years. Some come particularly close to capturing ‘what Christmas is actually about’. They’re usually heart-warming, fun and endearing. Not to mention most of these stories have brilliant film adaptations, meaning that you can enjoy both reading and watching them!
So without much further ado, here’s my list of some of the best Christmas classics to read this December!
Valentine Davies – Miracle on 34th Street
Probably better known as the 1947 film of the same name, Davies wrote this short novella after the script for the film. You can see why – it’s an endearing tale, and it earned him an Academy Award for Best Story, and it proved to be hugely popular. There’s no question about it: this film is very ‘Christmasy’.
It tells the story of a little girl who is highly doubtful of the myth surrounding Santa Claus. Her mother hires a man called Kris Kringle to pose with kids at a store – but he claims to be the real Santa. Needless to say this leads to the threat of institutionalisation, but the girl and her mother come to his aid. It’s moving, funny and entertaining, and reading it is just as good as watching the film. Just avoid the remake…
J. R. R. Tolkien – The Father Christmas Letters
It’s endearing to what lengths parents will go to ensure their children have a lovely time at Christmas. J. R. R. Tolkien with no exception, and starting in 1920 he wrote a ‘letter from Father Christmas’ each year until 1942 for his own. They were released posthumously for the whole world to enjoy.
The stories aren’t always told from Father Christmas’s perspective, but sometimes from the perspective of his secretary (an elf, as one might quote rightly expect). They narrate the adventures of Father Christmas, his helpers, a North Polar Bear and his cubs. Some of the stories even feature references to WWII and battles against goblins. The Letters are imaginative and enjoyable, and the story of their creation is absolutely moving – earning them a spot on this list.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
Oh my god! It’s a Sherlock Holmes story – set around Christmas time! What more could you get? …well, to be fair, as far as exploring Christmas itself goes, this is probably not the strongest entry on this list, but it does contain Arthur Conan Doyle-typical depictions of Victorian/Edwardian London during Christmas time.
It’s probably best to think of this as the late 19th-century equivalent to modern-day Christmas TV specials (such as Dr Who, Downton Abbey etc.) – and it’s brilliantly entertaining. It tells the story of how a priceless blue carbuncle is stolen and a reformed thief is believed to be the culprit. It’s even one of the more humorous Sherlock Holmes stories with plenty of witty remarks and hilarious situations. Great for a light read.
Dr Seuss – How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
I must confess, I’m not the biggest Dr Seuss fan around. It’s just not something I grew up with, and as an adult, while I find some of his rhymes playful and enjoyable, they just don’t do much for me. Nevertheless, I can hardly ignore how important How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is in the world of children’s literature, and I do enjoy this one quite a bit.
The Grinch is a bit like a cartoony version of Ebenezer Scrooge and plots to steal everyone’s presents to ruin their Christmas, only to realise that they still enjoy it by being there for each other. It’s genuinely quite heart-warming to see him realise ‘the true meaning of Christmas’ – and the original cartoon adaptation is almost perfect. Certainly a must-read at some point, especially with/for younger children.
Hans Christian Andersen – The Little Match Girl
Not so much an actual Christmas story as a story set around Christmas, this is no doubt the most depressing of all on this list. It tells the story of a little girl selling matches in winter who ends up freezing to death. She uses her matches in a final act of trying to warm herself and sees some endearing visions of a better life.
Hans Christian Andersen’s writing is amazing, and this story is no exception. There are probably few fairy tales that evoke emotions as well as this, and it certainly makes people want to give money to charity – an excellent achievement by any standard, especially for a Christmas story.
Charles Dickens – Christmas Stories (incl. The Chimes and A Christmas Carol)
I hate to be predictable, but I’d easily put Charles Dickens on the top of this list on any given day. After all, he did practically invent some of the Christmas traditions we still celebrate today (at least in the West), and his stories are moving, funny, astonishingly well-written and all-around just enjoyable.
While there are quite a few good ones to choose from, predictably A Christmas Carol is by far the greatest, and perhaps the most famous Christmas story of all time (well… apart from THE Christmas story). Not only that, but it’s also an excellent story to adapt for television – which you probably already know. I always get excited when seeing new adaptations and like to watch a new one every year.
I hope you found this list enjoyable and will seek out at least some of these to read this December. Christmas is a time of joy to the world and has many great elements to it, and these stories all capture the spirit of the season excellently well. Merry Christmas!
Did you like the list? Think of a book I should have added? Then leave a comment in the comment section below! Otherwise, if you liked it, why not share it on social media? Then click on one of the tender buttons below according to your favourite choice.