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What is the Best Depiction of Christmas in Literature?

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Christina
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Post by Christina » Sun December 21st, 2008, 10:38 pm

Oh, these are all lovely and thank you, diamondlil for the link to semicolon. I was talking of this to someone who also mentioned 'Little House on the Prarie" but added, "And it was a beautiful picture but always ended with...and then she went blind or some other tragedy."

I have just watched Lark Rise to Candleford Christmas special, which was very beautiful, combining all those wonderful wassailing scenes, snow and scents of Christmas cooking with a lovely ghost story. I thought it was very beautiful.
This isn't from fiction but I trust it's alright to post it here...One of my favourite descriptions of Christmas comes from Baroness Buxhoeveden's "The Life & Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna" and describes Christmas in Darmstadt (childhood home of the last Tsarina and Grand Duchess Elizabeth - Princess Alice being their mother):

"Christmas was celebrated partly in the English and partly in the German way, and was a family feast in which all the household shared. A huge Christmas tree stood in the ballroom, its branches laden with candles, apples, gilt nuts, pink quince sausages, and all kinds of treasures. Round it were tables with gifts for all the members of the family. The servants came in and the Grand Duchess gave them their presents. Then followed a family Christmas dinner, at which the traditional German goose was followed by real English plum pudding and mince pies sent from England. The poor were not forgotten, and Princess Alice had gifts sent to all the hospitals. Later, the Empress continued the same Christmas customs in Russia."

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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Mon December 22nd, 2008, 5:37 pm

The exact title escapes me, but there is an excellent depiction of a Christmas 200 years ago in one of the Sharpe books, the one with the renegade army.

I love the mystery in Gogol's Night Before Christmas. The way he describes the forces of darkness is goodnatured and amusing rather than scary.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon December 22nd, 2008, 7:37 pm

I loved the Gift of the Magi. We also used to read the other Wise Man at Christmas. And that reminds me of another book we read at Christmas with the kids: the Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Our home was also a transition program for women and their children during my kid's teenage years, and they could really relate to the church's problem with the under-parented Herdman brats in the story.

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Post by Eigon » Tue December 23rd, 2008, 8:38 pm

The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston has some wonderful Christmas scenes, as Tolly, the young hero, is sent to what is essentially a stately home to visit his great-grandmother for Christmas. There are floods, and snow, and ghostly children.

Also wonderful is The Box of Delights by John Masefield, where young Kay Harker, home for the holidays (there were a lot of children at boarding schools in English children's fiction at one time), is given a magical box by an old Punch and Judy man - and the Wolves are Running....

Then there's The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper, where Will discovers he's the Last of the Old Ones over Christmas (the recent film is nothing like the book, which is far better).

Antonia Forest was a wonderful writer, and did two Christmas stories involving the Marlow family. Peter's Room has the children imitating the Brontes by creating a fictional world that gets a little bit too real, and Run Away Home has the children helping a boy to run away from a children's home so he can get back to his father in France.

I think Black Hearts in Battersea may have Christmas scenes in it too, by Joan Aiken. There's certainly a lot of snow - and a hot air balloon.

I may get round to reading some adult fiction one day (grin).

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Post by Volgadon » Tue December 23rd, 2008, 8:53 pm

How could I forget A Child's Christmas in Wales?

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Christina
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Post by Christina » Wed December 24th, 2008, 12:14 am

Oh, goodness!! I had forgotten that, too! And what a wonderful description! Did you ever hear Richard Burton reading "Under Milkwood"? It is absolutely beautiful!

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Post by Volgadon » Wed December 24th, 2008, 7:11 am

Yeah radio 4 played it several years ago. Stunning.

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Post by ejays17 » Sat January 3rd, 2009, 6:53 am

Coming into this discussion a little bit late... :)

But another children's book which has a beautiful Christmas scene/chapter is "Jo of the Chalet School" by Elinor M Brent-Dyer. It's a description of a 1930's Tyrol/Austrian christmas, and it really puts my in the right frame of mind (although, one doesn't often get a white christmas in Australia - unless you live in Hobart :D )

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