I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Fiction



I love Christmas stories. Obviously I love the original Luke 2 Christmas story, but I also enjoy any story that helps me to celebrate the love and generosity of the Christmas season. In a Christmas Past blog, I shared my feelings about Charles Dickens and my favorite movie version of his A Christmas Carol, “A Muppet Christmas Carol.” With just one last weekend shopping frenzy left before Christmas, I wanted to share the first Christmas novella I ever read, and recommend that you slow down long to read it for yourself (or to others). 

I received my first copy of The Birds’ Christmas Carol as part of my December Scholastic Book order nearly 35 years ago. (Scholastic printed it under the title Carol Bird's Christmas.) What an impact this little book had on me! More than three decades later, I can still remember spending Christmas at my grandparents’ house that year, and curling up near the Christmas tree to read this 1887 classic by Kate Douglas Wiggins (best known for Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.) To this day, the smell of pine and the shadows of tree needle in rainbow twinkle lights take me back into the pages of this story. It moved my young heart then, and has become even more meaningful now that I am a mother.

The cover of my Scholastic version
The Birds’ Christmas Carol is the story of a wealthy family who welcomes a baby girl on Christmas morning, naming her Carol as a result of the sound of Christmas anthems being sung by a nearby choir.  Carol is beautiful and sweet, but very sick, and although the author never names the illness, she writes that “by and by it came to be all too sure that no physician save One could make Carol strong again.” When Carol is nearly eleven, her parents are told that she will probably not live much longer. As they discuss her imminent passing, her mother says, "I think we need not be over-anxious. I feel as if she did not belong altogether to us, and when she has done what God sent her for, He will take her back to Himself--and it may not be very long!"

Despite Carol’s terminal illness, she is cheerful and generous and brings much joy to her parents and three older brothers. And although she is mostly confined to her bedroom, when it's not too cold she spends time in a wheelchair out on her bedroom balcony. For some time, Carol has watched the nine rowdy, raggedy neighbor children play in the yard of the tiny house at the back of the Birds’ mansion. This year, Carol decides the best way for her “to really keep Christ’s birthday” is to give the impoverished Ruggles family the best Christmas ever.

I won’t say any more about the story because I know you will want to grab the 99 cent Kindle download of this treasure (or find the free ibiblio version online) to read for yourself, and I don’t want to spoil it for you! It is beautifully written—almost poetic—and I highly recommend reading it out loud. I will warn you to have tissues on hand because I know you will be moved by the Bird family, especially Carol, and their selfless desire to honor God in the season of His greatest gift to us.


Do you have a favorite Christmas read? How is it part of your Christmas traditions?


9 comments:

  1. I notice that many prolific authors have a good Christmas book: Susan Warren's Baby It's Cold Outside, Kristen Heitzmann's Haloes. My favorite other than Luke 2 is The Littlest Angel . . . and then the Christmas music. Thanks, Heidi and Christmas/New Year's blessings.

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    1. Dee~
      I've read SMW's Great Christmas Bowl (hilarious, by the way) but I havent had time for her new one...yet. I will be making time this week!! I think I read Haloes several years ago...I will have to check. Merry Christmas, my friend!!

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  2. There always seem to be a a wealth of new Christmas stories each year -- novellas and full-length books. I just bought Liz Curtis Higgs' new book, A Wreath of Snow, which is a novella, and hope to read that before the new year.

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    1. Beth~
      My book club (you've met!!) always reads a Christmas book in December. The year I became a Ponderer, my friend Chris (who hosts the December meeting) purchased enough copies of Great Christmas Bowl for each member and Susie graciously signed and personalized each one. It was such a treat. Chris works in a library so she sees a lot of the new Christmas books and in nine years we've never read the same author twice. This year we're reading Dan Walsh (I think, lol) but I LOVE Liz Curtis Higgs so I'll have to add that one to my list. Merry Christmas, my friend!!

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  3. I also loved Carol Bird's Christmas and once wrote a book report about it. Unfortunately, my mother got rid of all my childhood books behind my back, so I don't have copies of my favorites. Thanks for this trip down memory lane and for letting me know where I can get a copy. If I can find a few spare moments, I think I'll snuggle up with a blanket and re-read this story from my past.

    Merry Christmas!

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    1. Oh no, Roxanne!! I don't have ALL my childhood books--I was foolish enough to get rid of many--but I have a few. Unfortunately, Birds' is not one of them. In fact, when my boys were young and Amazon was just a baby, I wanted a copy of the book I thought of every Christmas. But I couldn't remember the title. So I googled and googled using bits and pieces of the storyline, and finally found it. I bought a newer copy with the original title--it was only when I searched for images for this post that I found a picture of the cover I remember. And the alternate title. There are a number of hard copies available from Amazon, but you can't beat the .99 Kindle version! I hope you find some quiet time to curl up and enjoy it in the midst of the family reunion chaos!! Merry Christmas!!

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  4. Heidi, I love this story too. :) I first bought it as a teacher, many years ago, and I could never quite get through it without my throat tightening up as I read it to my class. I've also shared it with my kids. Love this story!
    Merry Christmas, my friend.

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    1. Oh Jeanne, I can't imagine trying to read it out loud to a classroom of kids! I struggled just to read it to my own children! But it really is a classic and beautiful tale of the true spirit of Christmas and I love it. I'm so happy to hear that I'm not the only one!! Merry Christmas to you too, my friend!!

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  5. Beautiful post, Heidi. I've never read this story, but it sounds like one I'd love.

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