5 heart­warm­ing CHRISTMAS TALES

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Books -

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”.

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