Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Stories

I love Christmas, in all its crazy, frantic, generous, divine aspects, and I love Christmas stories.

Connie Willis says much the same thing in the delicious introduction to her anthology Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. If you've never read it, it's a treat. The introduction insightfully examines the history of Christmas narratives. Having been scarred by unwitting childhood reading of HCA, I particularly enjoy this bit:

"In addition, the Christmas-story writer has to walk a narrow tightrope between sentiment and skepticism, and most writers end up falling off into either cynicism or mawkish sappiness.

And, yes, I am talking about Hans Christian Andersen. He invented the whole three-hanky sob story, whose plot Maxim Gorki, in a fit of pique, described as taking a poor girl or boy and letting them 'freeze somewhere under a window, behind which there is usually a Christmas tree that throws its radiant splendor upon them.' Match girls, steadfast tin soldiers, even snowmen (melted, not frozen) all met with a fate they (and we) didn't deserve, especially at Christmas.

Nobody, before Andersen came along, had thought of writing such depressing Christmas stories. Even Dickens, who had killed a fair number of children in his books, didn't kill Tiny Tim. But Andersen, apparently hell-bent on ruining everybody's holidays, froze innocent children, melted loyal toys into lumps of lead, and chopped harmless fir trees who were just standing there in the forest, minding their own business, into kindling. Worse, he inspired dozens of imitators, who killed off saintly children (some of whom, I'll admit, were pretty insufferable and deserved to die) and poor people for the rest of the Victorian era."

Wow. I wish I'd thought to say that. Still though, with apologies, what follows in the next post is my own short Christmas story, rife with mawkish sappines and impending death. Alas.


Andrew Scott Turner said...

I do have signed copies of Surfacing. Is your address?

What are your girls names?

Begin - writing, yoga, and more said...

Awesome!! Yep, that's my blog-related email (I'm striving for a bit of privacy.)

I'll send you the girls' names along with the cash, if you give me your mailing address and price(See that's why I want you to email it to me - so your address isn't all over blogland. You know. It's just better.)

Heck, if you're interested, you could convince me to add your delightful across-the-entire-country family to our Christmas card list - Last year the "newsletter" was a Mary Oliver poem plus of course a photo of my two darling children!


Andrew Scott Turner said...

i don't mind giving you the mailing details here. (I used to have an author site that listed it and my email, so it's already "out there" I suppose)


Andrew Turner
45 High Street
Buckfield, Maine 04220

I'll take care of postage. The cost for two books is $20.

Andrew Scott Turner said...


email me your mailing address ASAP so I can get those right in the mail for Christmas.

I'm not going to wait for the money to arrive, etc., it would mean missing the holiday!

take care


Begin - writing, yoga, and more said...

Oh, that's thoughtful!

Thanks SO much! Maybe we'll read it aloud together during vacation!