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?