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.