Christmas is upon us and I am yet to reread Christmas Carol…but I’ve been pondering a few other things. There is an impressive list by ProWritingAid team here: https://prowritingaid.com/art/814/best-christmas-books-ever-written.aspx
I am reading things off this list and just some thoughts.
And also, I want to wish everyone a Happy Christsmas / Happy Holidays / Season’s Greetings.
The Greatest Gift
The heartwarming story about a man who wasn’t sure he was important to the community / world that served as a basis for Frank Capra’s timeless and favourite Christmas classic is a little booklet by Philip van Doren Stern. The story of the story, expained by Van Doren’s daughter at the end of the book, really goes on to show that stories do find their perfect readers.
Note. In the illustrated edition, the original name Pratt was changed to Bailey
We learn that the idea for The Greatest Gift—which became the basis for the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, came to author, Philip Van Doren Stern, on a Saturday morning in 1938 when he was shaving. The story came from a dream he had during the night. It was edited and revised but Philip was unable to sell it to any magazine. Finally, in 1943, he revised his story again and printed 200 twenty-four page pamphlets—at his own expense, and sent them out as his Christmas cards. A few months later he received a telegram from Western Union saying Hollywood was interested in purchasing the movie rights! The rest is history.
I want to buy the illustrated edition sometimes. It’s a wonderful Life and the short story are a great Christmas tradition to have. The positivity of the story behind the story is also and inspiration I’d like to wish everyone this Christmas.
Letters from Father Christmas
Tolkien wrote Father Christmas letters to his children describing life and adventures in the North Pole. With pictures. This is such a lovely, tender gift. The first letter arrived in 1920 when the eldest son, John, was 3 and continued until the youngest daughter grew. they are full of mischief but also tenderness for the children. What greater gift than this?
But as his Father Christmas says:
J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters from Father Christmas.
“I don’t forget people even when they are past stocking-age, not until they forget me”.
Ray Bradbury – Exiles
On the other end of the spectrum for me is Ray Bradbury and a short story called Exile, part of The Illustrared Man. In the story he clearly talks about a world deprived of imagination and literary- it makes things colourless and dry. when books die, their authors fall into oblivion and die too but in this story Dickens , Poe and others escaped to Mars, almost like the last bastion, frontier. One of the characters says this about Father Christmas
“They took him, a skeleton thought, and clothed him in centuries of pink flesh and snow beard and red velvet suit and black boot; made him reindeers, tinsel, holly. And after centuries of manufacturing him they drowned him in a vat of Lysol, you might say.”Ray Bradbry, Exiles
Because it was superficial. Figments of fiction easily discarded .
I feel like he talks about the joylessness of a world of just rationality and science represented by rocket men who come to Mars and burn the old books. This was an interesting story, especially considering Fahrenheit. A story like that personally encourages me to read more and somehow try to keep imagination and creativity alive. Father Christmas may be as Bradbury says but the gift that Tolkien gave his children is one of genuine Father Christmas spirit, love and creativity and these are the things worth striving to keep.
So, quoting Tolkien again, I’d like to say “Merry Christmas to you all(…). I hope you will all have a very happy time”
Image from Tolkien’s book.