WITH ALL the holiday excitement, it’s good to wind down with a good Christmas story that transcends religion and presents uplifting themes of love, hope, faith and trust.
Each year, I include some of my perennial favourites with Mr Ives’ Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos at the top of the list. I keep hoping that it will be converted to a Kindle book. Mr Ives’s story of a man coming to grips with the murder of his son is a moving testimony of love and forgiveness.
Of course, there are the Christmas classics: The Gift of the Magi by O Henry, How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss, and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Christmas Eve by Russian author Nikolai Gogol is a bizarre holiday short story published in 1831 well worth reading. You can listen to a spirited rendition on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usvFn5OaDxk
Christmas is the perfect time to interest children in classics.
Here are the books I’ve added to my list for his holiday season.
1. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L Frank Baum – Not many people know that the author of the Wizard of Oz series has an offbeat, Oz-like Christmas story starring Santa. First published in 1902, Baum’s story for children eight to 12 envisions Santa as a child lost in the forest and raised by fairies. He leads an idyllic life until the day he discovers that many children live in misery.
2. Christmas Paws by RL Williams – We often talk about people who feel depressed during the holiday season. For anyone who has ever lost a friend or family member, this tends to be a difficult time of year. For some people – like me – the holiday season represents a sad time when we lost a beloved pet in our lives. I found myself smiling when I discovered this short story about a dog and a dream. Follow this link to read the story. https://www.christmasstory.us/christmasstories/christmaspaws.html
3. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris – Some of us prefer non-fiction over fiction so discovering a collection of witty essays by David Sedaris hits the spot. There are essays for other holidays as well, including one of his most famous essays about trying to explain the Easter bunny to the French. It’s nice to have a book with holiday essays to enjoy throughout the year.
4. Mr Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva – If you feel like you’ve read Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol 100 times, maybe you need a new take on the classic. This novel, published in 2017, imagines Dickens conjuring up the story that would be famous one day. What was going through Dickens’s mind?
5. 24 Days of Christmas Cookies: A Joyful Advent Baking Journey by Stephanie Wilson – There is no shortage of holiday baking books, but this one differs from the rest. Think of this book as the Christmas cookie organiser. It features 24 Christmas cookie recipes – one for each day of Advent.
The author gives tips for organising your Christmas cookie-baking kitchen and suggests family traditions along with advice on decorating and packaging. You’ll find recipes for traditional gingerbread cookies and snickerdoodles, peanut blossoms – a Hershey’s kiss stuck in the middle of a peanut butter cookie – peppermint and cranberry cookies. Tips on freezing cookie dough and cookies are most useful.
The author thinks of everything to make your holiday baking fun and efficient. Christmas cookies make great holiday gifts.
6. A Dog Named Christmas, A Christmas Home, Christmas with Tucker and Noelle: A Novel by Greg Kincaid – This Christmas quartet presents a series of novels about a family, a special dog and a special needs teenager named Todd McCray.
In the first book, Todd’s father decides to take up the local animal shelter’s challenge to take a dog home for Christmas. The shelter hopes people will get attached and not want to bring the dogs back. The books are fun, uplifting and unpredictable. Kincaid is a lawyer who supports animal shelters.
A Christmas series like this presents the excitement of knowing you have another book in the series to read for four Christmas seasons. I am reading the last book, Noelle, which is about the family’s mother taking up the challenge of being the town’s first female Santa Claus.
Order these books online or ask your favourite bookstore to order them. Browse our bookstores and buy Caribbean literature for Christmas presents.