Stocking Stuffers and Last Minute Gifts
Some of us by nature procrastinate and others I know have the gift giving arranged and wrapped months ahead. Whether you are one or the other that last minute invasion of the Christmas spirit can compel.
Here is an anthology that is sure to delight. Pick and choose or send the entire list.
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, 1843
I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. Their faithful Friend and Servant, C. D. December, 1843
The Life of Our Lord, Charles Dickens, Written for his children 1846 – 1849, Published 1934
My Dear Children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in any way ill or miserable, as He was.
The Night Before Christmas, Clement C. Moore, 1823
The poem, “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American”,[was first published anonymously in the Troy, New York, Sentinel on December 23, 1823, having been sent there by a friend of Moore, and was reprinted frequently thereafter. The poem was first attributed in print to Moore in 1837. Moore himself acknowledged authorship when he included it in the 1844 anthology of his works Poems, at the insistence of his children, for whom he had originally written the piece. Moore had not wished at first to be connected with the unscholarly verse, given his public reputation as an erudite professor. By then, the original publisher and at least seven others had already acknowledged his authorship.
It was Christmas Eve and although it was still afternoon, lights had begun to appear in the shops and houses of the little Russian village, for the short winter day was nearly over. Excited children scurried indoors and now only muffled sounds of chatter and laughter escaped from closed shutters.
The Elves and The Shoemaker, Brothers Grimm, 1812
A shoemaker, by no fault of his own, had become so poor that at last he had nothing left but leather for one pair of shoes. So in the evening, he cut out the shoes which he wished to begin to make the next morning, and as he had a good conscience, he lay down quietly in his bed, commended himself to God, and fell asleep.
A Child’s Christmas In Wales, Dylan Thomas, 1955
Some years ago a dear friend knowing my interest in literature, writing, and all things Christmas gave me a special gift that continues to give and go beyond. My friend Kathryn’s gift was Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales. I have read it more than once every Christmas season since with more appreciation and delight.
Plotsky, David Mills, 1995
Old man Plotsky, it seems, got very, very mad at the world sometime back and never got over it. Christmastime did not make circumstances any better.
The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry, 1905
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.
Amahl and the Night Visitors, Gian Carlo Menotti, 1951 NYC
This is an opera for children because it tries to recapture my own childhood. You see, when I was a child I lived in Italy, and in Italy we have no Santa Claus. I suppose that Santa Claus is much too busy with American children to be able to handle Italian children as well. Our gifts were brought to us by the Three Kings, instead.
The Polar Express (Film), Robert Zemeckis, 2004
On Christmas Eve of the late 1950s, a young boy living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, questions his belief in Santa Claus. While sleeping, he magically discovers a steam-powered passenger train named “The Polar Express”. The conductor (Tom Hanks) tells him that the train is headed to the North Pole. At first the boy refuses, he boards the train while it leaves.
The Little Drummer Boy (TV Special), Rankin/Bass, 1968
The song was adapted into an animated television special by Rankin/Bass. The Vienna Boys Choir sang the title song in this version, which was narrated by Greer Garson, with Jose Ferrer providing the voice of Ben Haramed, the evil caravan driver.
A Letter from Santa Claus, Mark Twain,
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), well known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. Twain is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has been called “the Great American Novel”, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Twain was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. His elder daughter, Suzy Clemens, was born in Elmira, New York, and lived a short life, dying at the age of 23 from meningitis. In childhood, Suzy often had poor health, similar to her mother. At 13, she wrote a biography of her father, which was included as part of Twain’s Chapters From My Autobiography. Mark Twain wrote a letter to his daughter, which he sent from Santa Claus, during one of her childhood illnesses.