CHRISTMAS STORY: The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke

January 5, 2019

PREFACE It is now some years since this little story was set afloat on the sea of books. It is not a man-of-war, nor even a high-sided merchantman; only a small, peaceful sailing-vessel. Yet it has had rather an adventurous voyage. Twice it has fallen into the hands of pirates. The tides have carried it to far countries. It has been passed through the translator’s port of entry into German, French, Armenian, Turkish, and perhaps some other foreign regions. Once I caught sight of it flying the outlandish flag of a brand-new phonetic language along the coasts of France; and once it was claimed by a dealer in antiquities as a long-lost legend of the Orient. Best of all, it has slipped quietly into many a far-away harbor that I have [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: The Last Dream Of Old Oak by Hans Christian Andersen

January 4, 2019

In the forest, high up on the steep shore, and not far from the open seacoast, stood a very old oak-tree. It was just three hundred and sixty-five years old, but that long time was to the tree as the same number of days might be to us; we wake by day and sleep by night, and then we have our dreams. It is different with the tree; it is obliged to keep awake through three seasons of the year, and does not get any sleep till winter comes. Winter is its time for rest; its night after the long day of spring, summer, and autumn. On many a warm summer, the Ephemera, the flies that exist for only a day, had fluttered about the old oak, enjoyed life and felt happy and if, for a moment, one of the tiny creatures rested on one of his large fresh [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: A Christmas Dream, And How It Came to Be True by Louisa May Alcott

January 3, 2019

“I’m so tired of Christmas I wish there never would be another one!” exclaimed a discontented-looking little girl, as she sat idly watching her mother arrange a pile of gifts two days before they were to be given. “Why, Effie, what a dreadful thing to say! You are as bad as old Scrooge; and I’m afraid something will happen to you, as it did to him, if you don’t care for dear Christmas,” answered Mamma, almost dropping the silver horn she was filling with delicious candies. “Who was Scrooge? What happened to him?” asked Effie, with a glimmer of interest in her listless face, as she picked out the sourest lemon-drop she could find; for nothing sweet suited her just then. “He was one [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: The Legend Of The Christmas Tree by Lucy Wheelock

January 2, 2019

Two little children were sitting by the fire one cold winter’s night. All at once they heard a timid knock at the door, and one ran to open it. There, outside in the cold and the darkness, stood a child with no shoes upon his feet and clad in thin, ragged garments. He was shivering with cold, and he asked to come in and warm himself. “Yes, come,” cried both the children; “you shall have our place by the fire. Come in!” They drew the little stranger to their warm seat and shared their supper with him, and gave him their bed, while they slept on a hard bench. In the night they were awakened by strains of sweet music and, looking out, they saw a band of children in shining garments approaching the house. They [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: Solace by Linda Grace Hoyer

January 1, 2019

From The New Yorker Ada dropped a match into the heap of Christmas paper at the edge of the wood and watched it burn the red tissue in which one of the gifts from her son, Christopher, had been wrapped.  It was a clear day, with a stiff breeze from the northwest.  She wore faded bluejeans with unravelling cuffs and a red mackinaw that had belonged to her husband, Marty.  An inch of snow had fallen during the night and, against a cloudless sky, the balsam fir that Ada’s mother had planted to add a touch of green to the gray woods in winter gently waved its wide branches.  With snow on the ground and the wind coming the way it was, the risk of setting fire to the woods was minimal, Ada thought.  But even while she prodded the pile of [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: Frozen Charlotte: A Chilling Tale Of New Year’s Eve by Luke Bauserman

December 31, 2018

The tale of Frozen Charlotte was originally written as poem called “A Corpse Going to a Ball” by Maine journalist Seba Smith in 1843. Smith said he was inspired to write the poem in 1840 when he read a newspaper account of a young woman who froze to death while riding to a New Year’s ball.  His poem was eventually set to music and it made its way into the national folk music of the United States. Now days there are several versions, going by the names “Young Charlotte,” “Fair Charlotte” and “Frozen Charlotte.”  The story and song were so popular that there were even Frozen Charlotte dolls produced from the 1850s to the 1920s. These dolls were molded as a single piece of china. Sometimes they were baked into Christmas [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: Christmas At The Hollow Tree Inn by Albert Bigelow Paine

December 30, 2018

Once upon a time, he said, when the Robin, and Turtle, and Squirrel, and Jack Rabbit had all gone home for the winter, nobody was left in the Hollow Tree except the ‘Coon and ‘Possum and the old black Crow. Of course the others used to come back and visit them pretty often, and Mr. Dog, too, now that he had got to be good friends with all the Deep Woods people, and they thought a great deal of him when they got to know him better. Mr. Dog told them a lot of things they had never heard of before, things that he’d learned at Mr. Man’s house, and maybe that’s one reason why they got to liking him so well. He told them about Santa Claus, for one thing, and how the old fellow came down the chimney on Christmas Eve [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: The Carol Sing by John Updike

December 29, 2018

From Early Stories 1953-1975 Surely one of the natural wonders of Tarbox was Mr. Burley at the Town Hall carol sing.  How he would jubilate, how he would God-rest those merry gentlemen, how he would boom out when the male voices became Good King Wenceslas: Mark my footsteps, good my page; Treat thou in them boldly: Thou shalt find the winter’s rage Freeze thy blood less co-oh-ldly. When he hit a good “oh,” standing beside him was like being inside a great transparent Christmas ball.  He had what you’d have to call a God-given bass.  This year, we other male voices just peck at the tunes: Wendell Huddlestone, whose hardware store has become the pizza place where the dropouts collect after dark; Squire Wentworth, who is still [...]


December 28, 2018

A folktale from Norway Once on a time, but it was a long, long time ago, there were two brothers, one rich and one poor. Now, one Christmas eve, the poor one hadn’t so much as a crumb in the house, either of meat or bread, so he went to his brother to ask him for something to keep Christmas with, in God’s name. It was not the first time his brother had been forced to help him, and you may fancy he wasn’t very glad to see his face, but he said, “If you will do what I ask you to do, I’ll give you a whole flitch [side] of bacon.” So the poor brother said he would do anything, and was full of thanks. “Well, here is the flitch,” said the rich brother, “and now go straight to hell.” [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: The Burglar’s Christmas by Elizabeth L. Seymour

December 27, 2018

Note: Elizabeth L. Seymour is a pseudonym of Willa Cather Two very shabby looking young men stood at the corner of Prairie avenue and Eightieth street, looking despondently at the carriages that whirled by. It was Christmas Eve, and the streets were full of vehicles; florists’ wagons, grocers’ carts and carriages. The streets were in that half-liquid, half-congealed condition peculiar to the streets of Chicago at that season of the year. The swift wheels that spun by sometimes threw the slush of mud and snow over the two young men who were talking on the corner. “Well,” remarked the elder of the two, “I guess we are at our rope’s end, sure enough. How do you feel?” “Pretty shaky. The [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: The Legend of the Christmas Rose by Selma Lagerlöf

December 26, 2018

Robber Mother, who lived in Robbers’ Cave in Göinge Forest, went down to the village one day on a begging tour. Robber Father, who was an outlawed man, did not dare to leave the forest, but had to content himself with lying in wait for the wayfarers who ventured within its borders. But at that time travelers were not very plentiful in Southern Skåne. If it so happened that the man had had a few weeks of ill luck with his hunt, his wife would take to the road. She took with her five youngsters, and each youngster wore a ragged leathern suit and birch-bark shoes and bore a sack on his back as long as himself. When Robber Mother stepped inside the door of a cabin, no one dared refuse to give her whatever she demanded; for she was not [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: Candle In The Forest by Temple Bailey

December 25, 2018

The small girl’s mother was saying, “The onions will be silver, and the carrots will be gold –” “And the potatoes will be ivory,” said the small girl, and they laughed together. The small girl’s mother had a big white bowl in her lap, and she was cutting up vegetables. The onions were the hardest, because she cried over them. “But our tears will be pearls,” said the small girl’s mother, and they laughed at that and dried their eyes, and found the carrots much easier, and the potatoes the easiest of all. Then the next-door-neighbor came in and said, “What are you doing?” “We are making a vegetable pie for our Christmas dinner,” said the small girl’s mother. “And the onions are silver, and the carrots are [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: A Child’s Christmas In Wales by Dylan Thomas

January 4, 2018

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six. All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: A Visit From Saint Nicholas (In the Ernest Hemingway Manner) by James Thurber

January 3, 2018

It was the night before Christmas. The house was very quiet. No creatures were stirring in the house. There weren’t even any mice stirring. The stockings had been hung carefully by the chimney. The children hoped that Saint Nicholas would come and fill them. The children were in their beds. Their beds were in the room next to ours. Mamma and I were in our beds. Mamma wore a kerchief. I had my cap on. I could hear the children moving. We didn’t move. We wanted the children to think we were asleep. “Father,” the children said. There was no answer. He’s there, all right, they thought. “Father,” they said, and banged on their beds. “What do you want?” I asked. “We have visions of sugarplums,” the children said. “Go to [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: Nobody’s Story by Charles Dickens

January 2, 2018

He lived on the bank of a mighty river, broad and deep, which was always silently rolling on to a vast undiscovered ocean. It had rolled on, ever since the world began. It had changed its course sometimes, and turned into new channels, leaving its old ways dry and barren; but it had ever been upon the flow, and ever was to flow until Time should be no more. Against its strong, unfathomable stream, nothing made head. No living creature, no flower, no leaf, no particle of animate or inanimate existence, ever strayed back from the undiscovered ocean. The tide of the river set resistlessly towards it; and the tide never stopped, any more than the Earth stops in its circling round the sun. He lived in a busy place, and he worked very hard to [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: The Christmas Angel by Henry van Dyke

December 31, 2017

It was the hour of rest in the Country Beyond the Stars. All the silver bells that swing with the turning of the great ring of light which lies around that land were softly chiming; and the sound of their commotion went down like dew upon the golden ways of the city, and the long alleys of blossoming trees, and the meadows of asphodel, and the curving shores of the River of Life. At the hearing of that chime, all the angels who had been working turned to play, and all who had been playing gave themselves joyfully to work. Those who had been singing, and making melody on different instruments, fell silent and began to listen. Those who had been walking alone in meditation met together in companies to talk. And those who had been far away on [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: Smee by A. M. Burrage

December 30, 2017

“No,” said Jackson with a deprecatory smile “I’m sorry. I don’t want to upset your game. I shan’t be doing that because you’ll have plenty without me. But I’m not playing any games of hide-and-seek.” It was Christmas Eve, and we were a party of fourteen with just the proper leavening of youth. We had dined well; it was the season for childish games; and we were all in the mood for playing them — all, that is, except Jackson. When somebody suggested hide-and-seek there was rapturous and almost unanimous approval. His was the one dissentient voice. It was not like Jackson to spoil sport or refuse to do as others wanted. Somebody asked him if he were feeling seedy. “No,” he answered, “I feel perfectly [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: Another Christmas Carol by P. G. Wodehouse

December 27, 2017

Christmas Eve had come around again, as it so often does, and London was at its brightest. Garbage collectors whistled at their work, policemen sang, “‘Noel, Noel,'” as they directed the traffic and one would not be far out in saying that happiness reigned supreme, except that Egbert Mulliner had got a funny feeling on the left side of his chest when he breathed. Probably nothing serious, but sufficiently funny to make him look in on Dr. Wilbraham Potter, an old school friend of his. “And what can I do for you, Pudding?” asked Dr. Potter. It was a sobriquet that had been bestowed on Egbert at their mutual school, for even then his ample frame had invited criticism. He had started life a a bouncing baby, had [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: Little Piccola by Nora A. Smith

December 26, 2017

From The Story Hour Suggested By One of Mrs. Celia Thaxter’s Poems Story-telling is a real strengthening spirit-bath. (Friedrich Fröbel) Piccola lived in Italy, where the oranges grow, and where all the year the sun shines warm and bright. I suppose you think Piccola a very strange name for a little girl; but in her country it was not strange at all, and her mother thought it the sweetest name a little girl ever had. Piccola had no kind father, no big brother or sister, and no sweet baby to play with and love. She and her mother lived all alone in an old stone house that looked on a dark, narrow street. They were very poor, and the mother was away from home almost every day, washing clothes and scrubbing floors, and working hard to [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: The Christmas Miracle by Charles Egbert Craddock

December 24, 2017

He yearned for a sign from the heavens. Could one intimation be vouchsafed him, how it would confirm his faltering faith! Jubal Kennedy was of the temperament impervious to spiritual subtleties, fain to reach conclusions with the line and rule of mathematical demonstration. Thus, all unreceptive, he looked through the mountain gap, as through some stupendous gateway, on the splendors of autumn; the vast landscape glamorous in a transparent amethystine haze; the foliage of the dense primeval wilderness in the October richness of red and russet; the “hunter’s moon,” a full sphere of illuminated pearl, high in the blue east while yet the dull vermilion sun swung westering above the massive purple heights. He knew how the sap was [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Monk’s Three Sins by Nathalie Leone

November 30, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom A monk felt resentment toward the abbot of the monastery.  Unable to rid himself of this aggression – rather the reverse – he brooded over it, justifying it, and making excuses; thus, the hatred increased rapidly.  In the solitude of his cell he was assailed by a terrible thought: He wished to see the abbot dead. Hardly had this thought taken root in his mind than the abbot had an apoplectic fit.  He collapsed and died forthwith.  That very evening the Devil appeared to the monk.  He greeted the monk, but the poor brother did not reply.  He moaned, wrung his hands, rolled on the ground, and blamed himself for this vile act. The Devil deployed all his artifices, but the monk could not be [...]

WISDOM STORY: Saint Francis And The Wolf by Nathalie Leone

November 16, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Francis loved animals.  He saw a sacred link between animals and men and spoke to all his brothers in the same way, whether they were feathered or furred, and whether they walked upright or on all fours. One day Francis was on his way to the abbey of Gubbio.  He walked at a brisk pace, leading his donkey by its bridle.  Just as he began to see the towers of the abbey coming into view above the trees, his path was blocked by some peasants. “Brother Francis, do not go any further!  Ferocious wolves are prowling around.  They are starving and will devour you if you go on!” “I have not hurt them at all and neither has my soul.  Don’t worry.  Return to God!  Good night.” Francis then passed by [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Clothes Chest by Nathalie Leone

November 9, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Father Poemen used to say, “If you have a chest full of clothes and do not open it for a long time, the clothes inside will go moldy.” The same is true of the thoughts in our heart.  If we do not act upon them, they eventually spoil and change for the [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Miser by Nathalie Leone

November 2, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Once upon a time there was a miser, a man whose hands were shaped like an eagle’s claws.  The moment he held anything, he was unable to let it go.  This was useful for grabbing hold of branches if he fell from trees, but painful if he grasped a poker the wrong way. If his stomach had functioned the way his money did, it would have split as soon as he was born, like a bag bursting at the seams.  And yet his avarice ruined even his health, for the larger his nest egg grew, the more worn out the merchant became.  In fact, he constantly checked his stash of money; he no longer slept or ate, as he was so anxious about its security. However, one night in the small hours an idea occurred to him.  In his [...]

WISDOM STORY: Three Pieces Of Advice From A Bird by Nathalie Leone

October 26, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom A man caught a small bird.  “I am no use to you as a captive,” the bird said to him, “but give me back my freedom and I will give you three pieces of advice that will be more useful than the miserable scrap of flesh that you might garner from my small body.” The bird said it would give the first piece of advice while still in the man’s hand, the second from a nearby branch, and the third from the top of the mountain. The winged creature was scrawny, so the man accepted.  The bird’s first piece of advice was this: “If you lose something – even if you value it as much as your life – do not be distressed.” The man released the bird, which then settled on a branch.  It ruffled its [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Knight And The Keg by Nathalie Leone

October 19, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom The knight was as comely as an angel.  Even if he rode all day, on his return he was fresh and the folds in his clothing were as unruffled as they had been before he set out. And yet he spread horror.  He desecrated, burned, killed, and ravaged men and beasts who crossed his path.  He was so cruel that people even thought he was born heartless. He did not distinguish between respected holy days and normal days, never went to church, and never fasted, not even during Lent.  And rumor had it that he had never in his life heard a sermon.  “He isn’t even baptized,” it was whispered.  He instilled the fear of an antichrist.  On Good Friday, the knight joyfully proposed to his companions that they [...]

WISDOM STORY: Providence by Nathalie Leone

October 12, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom A priest had shut himself in his cell to write a sermon on divine providence. Suddenly he heard an explosion.  The dam that protected the small town had just given way and the river burst its banks in a roar of flood water that swept along everything in its path. The priest, distraught, was about to give way to panic when he caught sight of his sermon on divine providence.  He pulled himself together and calmed down. The village was flooded and most people stayed cloistered indoors.  Some of them, however, did venture out, waist-deep in water, in search of help.  A rescue boat soon arrived under the presbytery windows. The rowers called out to the priest, gesticulating to him. “No, no,” he said to [...]

WISDOM STORY: Prayers Heard! by Nathalie Leone

October 5, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Two men in conversation were seated on the edge of a pubic fountain whose fine jet of water splashed them gently. The first man said: “When I need a favor, either for myself or others, I ask for it on my knees, behaving with the good Lord as I would with a merchant who seeks only to dispense his surplus knowledge.  And I pray, ask, and beg.” “Are your prayers always answered?” asked the other man, skeptical. “Always.  Either the favor is granted or I feel my will merge in such a manner with God’s will that, at that very moment, I wish for everything he wishes [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Louse by Nathalie Leone

September 28, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom In a monastery in the Loire region, there lived twelve monks under the lax law of their father abbot.  Lulled by the rhythm of the seasons, working in the fields, transcribing manuscripts, and fulfilling duties, they were quite happy and had no other desires. But one day the father abbot died.  After respecting the mourning period, the twelve monks gathered one morning in the common hall, where they looked at one another in dismay. Having entered the monastery at almost the same time, they were like true brothers.  So who amongst them was going to take the place of father abbot? “Brother Jacques.” “No,” Brother Jacques moaned in response.  “I… I… would never be able to.  I… I… [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Desert And The Locust by Nathalie Leone

September 21, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom A young monk who had just reached the desert decided to consult an elder. “Father, I have been living here for one year and locusts have come six or seven times already.  You know what a scourge they are.  They infiltrate everything, enter the tents, slip between the blankets, make their way into clothing.  They even hop into food.  I’m at my wit’s end.” The elder, who had been living in the desert for forty years, answered him: “The first time a locust fell in my soup I threw away the lot.  On the second occasion I threw out the locust and kept the soup.  The third time I ate everything – soup and locust.  Now when a locust attempts to get out of my soup, I put it back in.” [...]