I love Christmas. As my kid says, there are more holiday songs on my “Holly Jolly” play list than there are days in the year. I bake an insane number of cookies and start watching Christmas movies in November. Yep, I am one of those people and I’m not sorry about it.
When I was around 9, I got a paperback anthology of Christmas stories. To keep myself occupied until everyone else woke up on Christmas morning (I was the only kid in the house at the time), I would read this little book cover to cover. Sadly, my copy of that book is long gone. I only remember a handful of the stories inside it but not the title of the collection so tracking it down online has proven fruitless. Maybe I’ll find it someday.
In the meantime, I did a little search of Christmas classics and found this book to tide me over. With the new Amazon Prime and Greta Gerwig Little Women adaptations floating around, Ms. Alcott has been on my mind so I took a chance on her Christmas stories being just the ticket for this time of year. I was looking for a comfy couch, cup of Earl Grey, seasonal twinkle lights turned on kind of book to round out the season. For the most part, this little book delivered.
Like all the good holiday classics, the twenty stories here tend to lean heavily on the joy of giving rather than receiving. While the majority deal with the “haves” lending a hand to the ill and impoverished “have nots”, some are better at breaking away from the emblematic “person with surfeit of food, clothing, toys and holiday decorations gives to the needy.” A very moving story set in a Civil War hospital as well as a tender tale about the unspoken longtime love between a landlady and her bachelor tenant round out the more conventional narratives.
This is considered a book for children and so is a bit more tempered than, say, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. However, Alcott is most definitely making a social justice point or two albeit in a 19th century mostly about white folks kind of way. I sometimes have a little trouble swallowing the “self sacrifice” of the wealthy giving to the poor in these kinds of traditional holiday stories. The clueless rosy cheeked well fed kid lounging by a cozy fire is not exactly a candidate for sainthood for giving the freezing kid on the front stoop a pair of used mittens and some Christmas pudding. But, I digress. What I did appreciate was the fact that Alcott poked a little fun at the cluelessness of the wealthier characters in a way that was super cheeky. It was those little moments sprinkled here and there between the very earnest Christmas messages that really spoke to me. Alcott, it turns out, is pretty damn funny.
All in all a great way to end the year and CBR11. Have a great holiday however and wherever you celebrate, crazy Cannonballers! See you next year.