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Chapter 28 - Secret Santa

I love Christmas books and I have the urge to start reading them at Thanksgiving and continue through to New Year's Day. Some books I do read over again each year and others I find yearly and add to my Christmas reading pile. Not only do they get me in a celebratory mood but for some reason I can read them quickly so I end up consuming mass quantities of them.

The books in this week's post are tried and true. I have read each and every one of these at least once and recommend them highly if you are looking to get your Christmas on.

The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry - This is a classic tale about what you are willing to give up to get a gift for your loved one. While O. Henry (William Sidney Porter) has a sad backstory of his own, his stories are often full of hope, as this one is.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Yes, you may have seen the movie countless times in multiple versions but, if you have never read the book, you will miss the quiet telling of this tale. Dickens is at his best in this novella giving us social commentary, villains, heroes, and, at the end, redemption. This is a good one to read aloud but make sure you get the unedited version to get a good idea of Dickens' beautiful prose.

Fezziwig by Danny Kuhn - I am lucky enough to know the author of this wonderful book. Danny Kuhn has taken one of Dickens' minor characters and woven a story that would make Dickens proud. Fezziwig was Ebeneezer Scrooge's first boss and this detailed portrait of his life captures all the social mores, language and rhythm of Dickens. But read A Christmas Carol first.

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry - What is Christmas after all unless a Christmas pageant and all around it go hilariously wrong. Taking place in 1960's New York and told by a 13 year

old boy who has been demoted to a shepherd from a Wise Man in the Christmas pageant, this story will make you laugh and maybe even cry a little bit. One reviewer likened it to a "nice cup of cocoa on a winter's day..."

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris - If you have never read David Sedaris this collection of short stories is a good place to start. While Sedaris touches on many holidays in the book, the best one for holiday laughter is The Santaland Diaries in which he tells about his stint as Crumpet the elf in NYC's Macy's department store. You can also listen to it on National Public Radio.

Silent Night by Stanley Weintraub - For history buffs, this non-fiction book is about the Christmas Day truce between the Germans and the allies in 1914 during World War I. While rumors of this occurred at the time, the real story of it didn't come out until much later.

The Christmas Pearl by Dorothea Benton Frank - For a good old-fashioned Southern Christmas there is just nothing better than Frank's tale of a very dysfunctional Southern family at Christmas. Her trademark wit and snark are, of course, all incorporated into this small tale.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - While I would encourage reading the whole book to your children, for brevity and to fit in more books at Christmas, I recommend reading just Chapters 1 and 2 at this time of year. The book is about the four March sisters who live in New England during the Civil War. As they hope for a peaceful Christmas and remember Christmases past they learn about what is really important.

Do you have a favorite Christmas story? Please let me know.

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