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My Favourite Christmas Stories

December 7th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Someone once asked me, “What’s your favourite Christmas story?” When I said, The Greatest of These by Joseph Mills Hansen, then I thought of Where Love Is, God Is by Tolstoy. And it went on from there. Later I sat down and put this little book together and I suppose My Favourite Christmas Stories is my best answer to my friend’s question. Certainly it contains some of my favourites.

I say ‘some’ because adding them all would have made a big book. I did not plan to include more than one story from any one author, but found it impossible to omit The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry van Dyke.

One of the selection criteria I used was unfamiliarity. I have met few people who have read The Greatest of These by Joseph Mills Hansen, Christmas in the Alley by Olive Thorne Miller, or The Gifts of the Child Christ by George MacDonald.

You will see that I also seem to like the old stories best. However, having been unable to find the name of the author of A Brother Like That, a short one-page piece I came across only lately, I’m unsure if it’s old or new. I will trust that someone will supply me with this information and that the author — if she or he ever reads this book — will understand how hard I found it to omit such a lovely little story and, if it is newer, will, in the spirit of the season, take mercy on me in my possible violation of copyright.

Another standard for these fourteen stories was diversity. Certainly one can see little in common in length and mood between The Little Match Seller by Hans Christian Andersen and A Poor Relation’s Story by Charles Dickens.

Someone looking for a gift took a quick look through this book the other day and said, “Oh, but it’s a children’s book.” I could tell by her use of the word ‘but’ that she thought children’s stories made it less valuable. She was scanning Why the Chimes Rang and The Velveteen Rabbit. But (to use her word), for me, the presence of children’s stories, or stories for children, makes the book more valuable.

For are we not all children at heart? And aren’t the happiest adults those who have retained (or recaptured) wonder and openness and innocence? Norman Vincent Peale said, “The only thing that really thrills is freshness and cleanness in the soul.” And aren’t these qualities characteristic of little children?

Of course, I wouldn’t call Christmas Stories to Warm the Heart a book of children’s stories. Certainly, The Mansion by Henry van Dyke, is not a children’s story. Nor, I believe, are The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry or Where Love Is, God Is by Leo Tolstoy.

Uncertain how I would arrange the stories — I considered putting the best first (as I judge them) but couldn’t choose between The Greatest of These and a couple others — I finally decided to order them on the basis of length, with the shortest first.

Well, there you have it — my answer to the question “What’s your favourite Christmas story?” Not one story, but fourteen. And although some readers may find I’ve omitted their favourite, I believe I’ve included, from those I’ve read, the stories which left on my mind a lasting impression. In any case, I hope that in reading these pieces in my book Favourite Christmas Stories, you will experience as much comfort and joy (and maybe even inspiration) as I felt when I first came across them. And have felt again on organizing them into this little collection.

Murray C.  Watson has written 25 books and, in December, this one is never far from his coffee table or easy chair. If you would like him to  send you a copy, do a reading, or deliver a speech to your group, kindly contact him.

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