Chapter 41 - Mr. Dickens and His Carol
Those of us who grew up in the 60's and 70's, and even those of you who grew up in the 1980's perhaps, remember the days of the great Christmas department store displays. Decorating never started until the day after Thanksgiving. Overnight it seemed the stores and towns had beautiful decorations up. Store windows sparkled with the latest fashions and windows full of toys abounded with glistening strings of lights and, often, tinsel.
I grew up outside of Baltimore City. Nothing was more exciting than going downtown to shop at some of the wonderful department stores there. Even in my small town of Towson, lighted garlands hung over the streets along with festive displays at the courthouse and, of course, store windows spilling their Christmas merchandise for all to see. I look back on those times with fond memories and often I think of how special that time was.
If you find yourself missing a hometown Christmas this year there are quite a few books that will bring it back to you. Here are some I've especially enjoyed.
A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg - Written in Fannie Flagg's folksy style, this book will enchant you from start to finish. Oswald T. Campbell leaves the cold of Chicago behind to spend his last years in the welcoming little town of Lost River, Alabama. The people he meets and the miracles he experiences make this Christmas story one of the best.
The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg - While not technically a Christmas story, this book continues where Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistle Stop Cafe' left off. The story is told in vignettes and Christmas letters which interweave and all come together at the end. It will leave you wishing for the small town of Whistle Stop.
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry - The story of a married couple trying to navigate the Christmastime gift exchange on a seriously tight shoestring budget takes place in a small town in the 1930's. It is a perfect tale of what we do for love.
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote - Written as a sort of love letter to his childhood and hometown, Capote has the reader wishing to make fruitcake with Buddy and his cousin Miss Sook Falk. You won't get more hometown than this.
A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd - Even if you've seen the movie a thousand times, A Christmas Story still has lots to entertain the reader. This is a collection of curated essays about Jean Shepherd's time growing up in a small town in the Midwest.
Do you know of any small town Christmas stories? Please share.