Christmas Season brings out the best in the world. People push away their differences, if even just for a while, and celebrate what matters most. Every Christmas season we hear people vow to be better, to change, to improve, to stop feeding vices and instead embrace virtue, and every Christmas season we believe that the world will, in fact, change for the better.
Why do we have this belief every year? For Christians celebrating, we are reminded of the birth of our savior over 2,000 years ago. For non-Christians you have the love of family and friends getting together to share joy and celebrations of your own. It is truly a beautiful time of the year.
Yet, amid the joy, many find themselves worn down the closer we come to December 25. We find we are tired, grumpy, overstimulated, under appreciated, and even amid all the parties, lonely. To put it simply, we feel like a Scrooge or perhaps a Grinch.
These feelings are natural and normal during the Christmas season, yet one does not want to stay boggered down by them while everyone around you is joyous. What can you do?
While everyone has their own quick fix to the holiday slump, mine is, naturally, books.
Christmas literature has been a cornerstone to the season for centuries, and many authors focus in on the sadness that comes before the season, and find their own way for their characters to discover what Christmas is all about. The most famous Christmas book, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, is precisely about getting out of the bah humbug attitude during Christmas.
While I will always recommend Dickens’ famous work, I would also like to recommend three other stories, which you may not know, that are helping me see the joy of Christmas this year!
1. Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien
Recommended for all ages, Audiobook or read aloud.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Tolkien fan, but I had no idea this book existed, and I was overjoyed when I found it.
This series of letters follows Father Christmas’ letters to a family of boys (and eventually a girl), in response to their letters to him about their christmas presents. These letters not only contain his well wishes, but also stories of himself and the North Polar Bear as they prepare for Christmas. The North Polar Bear also writes the letters and mostly complains about how Father Christmas is being too hard on him, and Father Christmas complains about the North Polar Bear messing everything up. They also draw pictures depicting the stories told.
While the letters are hilarious, they are also very touching and sweet. Tolkien gave Father Christmas the perfect personality for the job. He is humorous but very caring and thoughtful to the family, and always remembers the little things about them (even if they forget things about him).
Tolkien was a deeply religious man, yet surprisingly there is little, almost no, religious talk or references in the letters. Only Father Christmas talking about presents and North Pole shenanigans…the latter takes up way more time than the former, apparently a lot of shenanigans take place in the off season.
I listened to this book on Audible, and I loved it. The voice actor for Father Christmas was very good, and the voices for the polar bear, and eventually the elf, and fantastic. However, this might be a good one to listen to while you read it, or to read aloud to the family, because the illustrations (as seen below) are fantastic!
A story in which the North Polar Bear fell down the stairs with all the presents, breaking some and hurting his paw.
This one if definitely going to be a regular in my Christmas reading list!
The Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck
Recommended for older middle school to adult.
Glenn Beck is known more for his political commentary than his storybooks, so I was very surprised to see he wrote a book about Saint Nicholas, or more commonly known as, Santa Claus.
While I don’t always agree with Beck’s politics, I was intrigued enough to read this work of fiction and I was pleasantly surprised.
The Immortal Nicholas does not, as I assumed it it would, start off with the famous St. Nicholas but before the birth of Christ, and with the protagonist being a man who is very far from how we would picture Santa Claus.
This would also be a great story to read aloud to your kids when they are in middle school. Also, apparently Beck has another Christmas book called The Christmas Sweater, but I have not read that one yet.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
Recommended for young adult and adult readers.
Wow! This book was far far better than I expected! I flew through it and I was sad to see it end (even though the ending is a satisfying one). Samantha Silva does a fantastic job with this book and I highly highly recommend it, especially, but not exclusively, for Dickens fans.
Charles Dickens’ life was spiraling out of control just when he thought he was at the peak. His new work was not selling like it used to, and to add insult to injury, his publishers found a sneaky clause in his contract saying if he did not release a book by Christmas, they could lower his wages. If he were a single man this may not be an issue, but as they told him this, his wife was upstairs giving birth to their fifth child. He took the news hard, and was determined not to give into their demands.
His hardness of heart became worse, which led him to bad decisions, and to his wife packing up the kids and taking them up to see her parents in Scotland. Deflated and alone, Dickens walked the streets of London, searching for something to make his words flow again, and what he finds makes for a most interesting story.
I do not want to give any spoilers away, because everyone should go out and read this book this winter. It’s charming, intriguing, well-written, and captivating. Like I said before, I could not put it down. It enlightens A Christmas Carol in the best of ways, and makes you want to go out and have a huge turkey dinner with all of your friends while shouting “God bless us everyone!” (I’m not even joking, the book really lifts you to a whole new height. It’s marvelous).
This is a debut novel by Samantha Silva and all I can say is I will be the first in line to read whatever comes next!
Merry Christmas, everyone, I hope this season is joyful and bright!