“Mary Clay looked out of the window of the old farmhouse.”
I’ve deviating from my Everyman Christmas compilation with a Christmas story out of a collection of Librivox short stories. The Christmas Present was written by Richmal Crompton, an English woman author, and is a curious story in more ways than one. Let’s find out why …
Another Christmas season and it’s time to pull out my Everyman’s Pocket Classics with 20 Christmas stories, each written by a well-known classic author. This year we start with Anton Chekhov’s short story Vanka. which is the sixth story in the compilation and one that will pull at your heartstrings. So let’s meet Vanka …
Christmas Greetings ~ From A Fairy To A Child
Lady dear, if Fairies may
For a moment lay aside
Cunning tricks and elfish play,
‘Tis at happy Christmas-tide.
Where God Is, Love Is
Martin Avdéitch is an honest and hard-working shoemaker who lives in the basement of a building with only one window where he can gaze out on the street and see people’s feet passing by. Although his work keeps him busy with little time for socializing, he recognizes the people from seeing their boots as they pass. His wife, poor dear, is dead, as are his many children, however one little boy is still with him and while he thinks of sending him to live with relatives, he decides to keep him with him for company. Yet, alas, his son passes away from an illness and Martin is left all alone.
Christmas at Thompson Hall
Those of you who have read Anthony Trollope’s novels know that he is a master of the art of character creation. Each of the people who populate his novels have distinct personalities that bring them alive to the reader and draw them into his world. With a short story, however, I wondered if Trollope’s fine skills would hold up using a smaller palette. And so I began to read Christmas at Thompson Hall with a somewhat apprehensive curiosity.
The Blue Carbuncle
Two days after Christmas, Watson calls on Sherlock Holmes only to find him scrutinizing an old battered hat. Holmes reveals that Peterson, a commissionaire, saw a man with a goose over his shoulder being assaulted by some ruffians. The man raised his cane to defend himself and broke a window behind him; when he saw Peterson running towards him, he hastily fled, leaving his hat and the goose behind. Peterson sought Holmes for help finding the owner of these treasures, but the only physical clues they discover are a tag on the goose, reading, “For Mrs. Henry Baker” and the initials H.B. inscribed on the inside of the hat.
Does the title of this short Christmas story inspire visions of Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick, sugar plums, presents and little children? Or perhaps you imagine the comfort of a good night’s sleep and the joy of Christmas morning? Well, wipe those thoughts right out of your mind. Gogol’s The Night Before Christmas is as far from the favourite poem of my childhood as I could imagine. He tells of adultery, the devil, thievery and unrequited love in a way that’s rather odd but extremely amusing. It’s certainly a different perspective on a very important evening.
I’m trying to read some Christmas stories to get in the mood for the season and I’ve had this book, aptly titled Christmas Stories, waiting for me since I saw O’s postings last year, and I decided to order it immediately. It’s a lovely collection of stories, mostly from classic authors like Dickens, Gogol, Trollope, Tolstoy, Cather, etc. The Story of the Goblins Who Stole the Sexton is the first story in the collection and it goes like this …
The True Saint Nicholas: “Like many good things, this story begins with a mother’s prayer.”
I downloaded The True Saint Nicholas on a whim as I was trying to accomplish my reading for A Literary Christmas challenge but I decided to read it for my Christian Greats challenge instead. Oh my, what a amazing book, a fascinating biography of this wonderful saint and his transformation into Santa Claus.
Icon of Saint Nicholas by Jaroslav Cermák ~ source Wikipedia
Raised in a prosperous family, Nicholas showed an early intelligence, growing up to become a priest and then experiencing an unexpected appointment as the bishop of Myra. Thus began the Great Persecution under Diocletian where Christians, being suspected as enemies of the empire, were imprisoned, thrown to lions, roasted alive or torn limb from limb. Churches were destroyed and scriptures burned. Galerius followed Diocletian with even stricter edicts, imprisioning and torturing Nicolas until the people became weary of bloodshed and Galerius reinstated Christian rights. Finally Constantine, after seeing a vision of the cross, conquered the empire and proclaimed freedom of religion whereupon Nicolas was eventually released. Both mental and physical destruction of church and families brought about by the Great Persecution was evident in Myra but Nicholas, buoyed by a new inner strength gained by his time in prison, supported people in a way that was nothing short of miraculous and “the doors of his house were open to all.” With his deep trust in God, Nicholas faced life’s challenges with a calm yet active faith which endeared him to all people. Tradition says he was one of the bishops who attended the Council of Nicea which gave us the Nicene Creed, slapping the face of the priest, Arius, who was spreading heresy. He was detained for his troubles but later released. Our good saint spent the rest of his life in Myra, serving the people and in his later years, his greatest joy were the children who came to him. In 340, Nicholas fell ill and died on what is now his feast day, December 6th. He was buried in a marble tomb in the city’s cathedral.
As many of you know, I participated in A Literary Christmas hosted by Tarissa at In The Bookcase in an effort to read some Christmas stories to bring more Christmas cheer. Here is a list of the Christmas stories I read:
For a full review, please go here.