When it comes to the holiday season, traditions and memories are often brought to the forefront. These couple of months are a time to remember the current year and the years past, loved ones gone and those who are still with us, and find comfort in the telling of timeless stories. Whether the stories are only related to your family or are well-known, the tales hold a special meaning for us. Along with comfort and familiarity, a person can connect with the story on many different levels and find joy, peace, and happiness – all key feelings needed for this time of the year. For this month’s column, let’s take a look at some of the timeless holiday novels that may bring readers those feelings, as well as maybe even a laugh or two or a valuable life lesson.
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman
Growing up, almost every Christmas, my family would go see the University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts’ production of The Nutcracker. The performance is similar to the E.T.A. Hoffman’s original story of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. First published in 1816, the classic tale gives readers a look at what happens when a toy nutcracker comes alive and defeats a Mouse King in a battle. It is Christmas Eve and Marie Stahlbaum is given a nutcracker during the family’s holiday gathering. She is thrilled with her new doll and everything seems to be going smoothly, until her brother, Fritz tries to use the nutcracker to crack a nut too big and breaks its jaw. No worries though, their godfather, Drosselmeyer, quickly mends the nutcracker and all is well, until later that evening the nutcracker comes alive, kills the Mouse King, and he and Marie are taken to a fairytale land of dolls and sweets. The two share many adventures before the night is over. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King has been a beloved holiday tale for many people of all ages throughout the years and will continue to enchant.
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
You may already know the plot of Skipping Christmas through the popular movie, Christmas with the Kranks with Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. Fun fact: the movie is actually based on the book Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. In this novel, to ease the stress and sadness of their only child not being home for Christmas, Luther and Nora Krank come up with the idea of skipping Christmas. No decorations, gifts, or other festivities that come along with the holiday, including their memorable Christmas Eve bash. Instead, the Kranks decide to go on a cruise. However, things go a little askew when their daughter’s plans change and well, I’ll let you read the rest. Skipping Christmas is a can’t miss book, especially if you want a laugh and someone to share the craziness of Christmas with.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! By Dr. Seuss
“Every who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot. But, the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not.” Many people already know the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! but it bears repeating, because of its valuable meaning. A Scrooge-like character, the Grinch, hates Christmas and everything to do with it. To combat his dislike, the Grinch decides to steal Christmas from Whoville. Yet, through his journey and realizations, he comes to the conclusion that maybe Christmas isn’t that bad and isn’t all about the money or presents. How the Grinch Stole Christmas is an annual must-read and one for those who aren’t in the Christmas spirit quite yet.
The holiday season is a very special time for many people. Reading these three stories by yourself or with your loved ones will help make Christmas just a little bit merrier. Happy Holidays!