5 heartwarming CHRISTMAS TALES
1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 1843. WHAT: Dickens’ characters smell and taste of parsimony and generosity of the human spirit, which exaggerates itself at Christmas – Scrooge becomes more miserly; Bob Cratchit scratches harder to put food on the Christmas table.
WHY: Candlelight, snowflakes, mulled wine and ghosts; Dickens is oft credited with creating Christmas – an occasion the writer delighted in, after a poverty-stricken childhood. 2. The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern, 1943.
WHAT: On Christmas Eve, George Pratt stands on a bridge ready to jump. He tells a well-mannered stranger he wishes he had never been born and the man grants his wish. Returning home he finds his wife married to somebody else.
WHY: It’s A Wonderful Life, the 1946 feel-good movie, is traditional Christmas viewing. When Stern was unable to find a publisher for his story, he popped it in his Christmas cards. One of those cards found its way to director Frank Capra. 3. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, 1956. WHAT: A short (semi-autobiographical) story set in the 1930s, about young Buddy who lives with much older unnamed family members. Pivotal is childlike female cousin “Sook”, with whom he has adventures.
WHY: One Christmas the pair bake 31 fruitcakes which they give as presents, even mailing them to President and Mrs. Roosevelt. Capote underlines how true goodness and kindness are often shown by those society deems as unfit. 4. The Gift by Cecelia Ahern, 2012. WHAT: All the usual buttons are pushed for a tear-jerking Christmas tale: hard-working exec Lou Suffern wishes he could be in two places at one time. He spends more hours at the office than he does with his wife and two kids.
WHY: New York Times bestseller Ahern ( P.S. I Love You) is an accomplished storyteller and when Lou invites homeless man Gabe into his warm office one Christmas, it is a life-changing gift. 5. The Christmas Train by David Baldacci, 2016. WHAT: Second chances have a habit of coming your way at Christmas. Jaded journo Tom Langdon gets some seasonal stardust shone into his tunnel vision, on a train journey from Washington to LA for family festivities.
WHY: The rugged terrain of his journey opens his hard hacker’s heart to the bottom-line goodness of folk in this contemporary Christmas miracle. From grump to good guy ... all because of a “misunderstanding at the airport”.