The Appeal of Christmas Stories by Phyllis Lamken

02 Dec

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.” And so began one of the most enduring children’s classic, Little Women by Louisa Alcott.  The story begins at Christmas time and the first chapter’s message about the March girls learning the true meaning of Christmas in the first chapter had a strong impact on me as a child. It was neither the first nor the last Christmas story that has enthralled me over the years. Before I read Little Women, I was enchanted by the Christmas celebrated in the Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Like Laura, I once received a baby doll on Christmas that I cherished for years. Then there are the perennial Christmas classics, How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and The Gift of the Magi by O’Henry.

As I grew older, I found myself reading adult romances with Christmas themes. Among my favorites are two romance stories by Maggie Davis, A Christmas Romance, which was made into a TV movie, and Moonlight and Mistletoe. There are Christmas romances in nearly every romance genre including erotic, historical, regency, contemporary and paranormal. There are also the Christmas mysteries in a variety subgenres, including historical mysteries, A Christmas Homecoming by Anne Perry, cozy mysteries, Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke, and humorous mystery, I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley. In the general fiction section, there is Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah and “Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb.

There are so many reasons why Christmas stories have an enduring appeal to so many readers. The Christmas season is fraught with high expectations and all too frequent resulting disappointments.   Families travel great distances to spend time with loved ones.  These holiday visits could revive uncomfortable family tensions just as the family enjoys a loving reunion. Then there is the gross commercialization of what is a spiritual time for many individuals. All and all,  the Christmas holiday provides a lot of fodder for storytellers, with its themes of dreams, hopes, family, love, anger, disappointment, greed, and humor. It is easy to see how a talented writer could find a setting for a murder in such turmoil.

One of my favorite aspects of the holiday is the sense of magic. Every time I decorate the family Christmas tree, it is magical. Like my favorite heroine in the children’s Christmas picture book, A Nutcracker Noel by Kate McMullen, my Christmas experiences didn’t match my dreams. They were better.

Do you have a favorite Christmas story? What is it and why do you love it?








Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Idaho


6 responses to “The Appeal of Christmas Stories by Phyllis Lamken

  1. Meredith Conner

    December 2, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    The Grinch is my all time favorite. My brother-in-law reads it every year. I just love it and watching the expressions on my children’s faces as they hear it, makes it all that much more special.
    I also love to remember another friend’s reading several years ago when he read “and he himself carved the roast breast” instead of “roast beast.” Somehow that comes up every year along with the reading of The Grinch 🙂

    • gswguest

      December 2, 2011 at 3:43 PM

      I just watched the 1966 version of The Grinch on tv this week. I love Dr. Seuss and How the Grinch Stole Christmas is one of my favorite stories.

  2. Janis McCurry

    December 2, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    Not a story as much as a movie.

    Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen. I watch the movie WHITE CHRISTMAS at least once every Christmas season. This movie first introduced the song, “White Christmas.” I loved the sisters singing “Sisters” and the message of the season.

    A Christmas tradition I’ve also fallen into is watching DIE HARD. I love that movie. “Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” Not sure about that one, but I watch it every Christmas Eve. Weird, I know.

    I do love O’Henry’s GIFT OF THE MAGI.

    Thanks for visiting Gem State Writers.

  3. gswguest

    December 2, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Two of my favorite Christmas movies are Home Alone and A Christmas Story. I

  4. ramblingsfromtheleft

    December 2, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Phyllis, that is an unfair question. You are talking to the descendent of old ‘Clause himself. I watch each of these every year since forever, or since each one either was produced or I found it as a child: A Christmas Carol (MGM in the 40’s), The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant, It’s A Wonderful LIfe, White Christmas (saw it the first time the week it premiered at the Radio Music Hall), Home Alone and A Christmas Story. I also loved the MGM version of Little Women with June Allyson as Jo, my fav sister.

    I have a real connection to A Christmas Story because Darren McGavern reminded me of my big brother. A Charlie Brown Christmas reminds me of my kids and crack up over Scrooghed with Bill Murray. Okay, you tell me your favorite Christmas carrols :).

  5. Lynn Mapp

    December 2, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    Phyllis, I love IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. l used to love watching on Christmas day, before Turner bought it. Now you can only see it on a Saturday night. Sure I have the DVD, but it’s not the same.


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