Christmas is that time of the year when everything seems nice and tenderly, joyful and propitious. It is perhaps the most widespread and loveliest of all festivals…..a festival of kindness and charity, forgiveness and friendship. The warmth of hearts easily beats the chilly wind of winter and the white snow exudes nothing but sheer joy, the joy of being together, the oneness and attachment which we feel even with strangers. It’s time to travel back to my childhood, when I used to sit snugly in that old armchair of grandpa with a new book. The smell of new books, which were mostly Christmas gifts, mingled with freshly peeled oranges hovered around me making the atmosphere heavenly. Happiness is still synonymous to books for me. Let’s rewind and rekindle our memories with some Christmas stories whose glory never fades out and even after reading them for umpteen times they seem to be as enthralling as the first read.
The first Christmas story which I read was Frank Baum’s A Kidnapped Santa Claus. Though Frank Baum is mainly famous for his tale of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, this short story by him is beautiful in its own way and any child would love to read this story where Santa gets kidnapped by the Daemons to make the children unhappy all over the world. It proclaims the triumph of good over evil.
The Holy Night by the Swedish writer Selma Lagerlof unfolds the true spirit of Christmas when a hardhearted shepherd meets with some strange series of events when a man comes to him seeking help for his family, his wife and new-born child. I still find the story amazing!
Then I remember The Other Wise Man by H V Dyke. I happened to read this one in my cousin’s house. He is as much a bookworm as me and the thing I hate about him is that he growls and grumbles when anyone even tries to touch his huge collection! This story is based on the mythology of the fourth Wise Man who set off to reach Bethlehem but couldn’t finish the journey on time. According to the author, he heard ”fragments of it in the Hall of Dreams, in the palace of the Heart of Man”.
Among the other stories which I often read during the Christmas time is A Letter From Santa Claus by Samuel Langhorne Clemens who is better known by his pen name Mark Twain. It’s a sweet, short letter from Santa Claus and perhaps a reply to all those little children who scribble down letters to this fantastic old man.
Most of us, I think, have read these three stories more than once. The Gift of the Magi by O Henry (originally known as William Sydney Porter), The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson and A Christmas Carol a novella by Charles Dickens. The first one is a touching story featuring a young couple Jim and Della and their selfless love for each other, the second story is said to be loosely based on an incident that happened to Anderson’s mother when she was a kid. The novella by Dickens shows emotional transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge as he visualizes the ghostly presence of Jacob Marley and ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future. It actually endorses the quintessential spirits of Christmas, generosity, kindness and love for all.
Finally, let me mention another story which I came through just a few days ago. Mark W. Sasse’s emotionally charged and engrossing story, If Love is a Crime. The story is set in 1852, when on Christmas Eve, a runaway slave happens to knock the the door of Beatrice, an old widow living all alone. Beatrice, a jovial and warmhearted lady, welcomes the fragile, frightened girl with all her love and comfort. On the chilly, wintry night, as the arm of law hunts around to get hold of the poor girl, all that comes in between is endless love and a huge stack of freshly-baked biscuits. It’s a quick read for Christmas and I don’t know why my eyes felt watery as I was reading it.