“What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more….“–Dr. Seuss
Starting when my son was small and continuing with him and his sons, our Christmas Eve tradition is to start a fire, light the candles and read a favorite Christmas story or poem to each other. Many of these stories and poems come from Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book. Divided into sections about the first Christmas, well-loved stories, carols, poems and essays the book is illustrated with Norman Rockwell paintings. Following is a list of some of the best Christmas stories out there, some of which can be found in Norman Rockwell’s book. Read one aloud to your kids or savor one in solitude.
- “The Gospel According to Luke” (2:1-20) from the King James Bible (1611). The beautiful telling of the lowly birth of the Christ child is possibly the most moving story in all of Western Civilization.
- A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore (1823). More commonly known as The Night Before Christmas, this poem is responsible for Santa (from his suit to his jolliness to his white beard to his jelly belly to his flying reindeer to his arrival on Christmas Eve down a chimney) as we know him today.
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843). Ebenezer Scrooge, whose very name is synonymous with miser, is obsessed with money. On Christmas Eve supernatural visitors show Scrooge who he once was, who he is now, and what will become of him if he does not reform.
- The Fir-Tree by Hans Christian Andersen (1844). A little tree, envious of the bigger trees and longing to be used for greater things, does not appreciate the moments of his life, such as being a Christmas tree, until it is too late.
- The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (1906). A young husband and wife with little extra spending money sacrifice precious possessions to buy one another Christmas presents.
- Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932). In this story from Little House on the Prairie, Santa can’t make it to the little house because of flooding and high water. After meeting Santa in Independence, Kansas, Mr. Edwards saves Christmas, bringing presents and cheer to the Ingalls.
- Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck (1952). Against a pastoral background reminiscent of the first Christmas, a boy gives his father, a struggling farmer, a special gift.
- A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (1955). Originally recorded for radio in 1952, this poem evokes Dylan’s nostalgia for the holiday in the small Welsh town of his youth.
- Christmas Memory by Truman Capote (1956). A seven-year-old boy remembers Christmas during the Depression with his best friend/cousin, a sixtyish child-like woman.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (1957). The Grinch tries to stop Christmas in Whoville by stealing their presents, trees, and feast.
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (1971). The six rotten Herdsman children lie, steal, swear, smoke, and bully, and then take over the Christmas pageant at church.
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (1985). A little boy takes a magical train ride to the North Pole to get a special gift from Santa.
What are your favorite Christmas stories?
Judith Barker and Bonnie James