08 December 2013
More Christmas Stories
The Home Book of Christmas, edited by May Lamberton Becker
I had almost given up on Christmas anthologies last year because they always contained the same stories: always A Christmas Carol, "Christmas Day in the Morning" by Pearl Buck, "A Young Girl's Gift" by Norman Vincent Peale, Taylor Caldwell's Christmas tale, etc. However, last year I found several older anthologies that had earlier stories in them, and rediscovered tales like "A Candle in the Forest." This volume, edited by the woman who took over the reins of "St. Nicholas" magazine after the death of Mary Mapes Dodge, was published in 1941, presumably before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and contains many stories and poems I'd never read. I especially enjoyed Christopher Morley's "Old Thoughts for Christmas," which, although written over seventy years ago, was still pertinent today. A funny story about boys' pranks at Christmas was "Plupy Goes to Sunday School," with a serves-them-right ending that is just perfect.
Oh, some stock pieces are here: A Christmas Carol, of course, and Christmas with the March sisters, Bret Harte and Washington Irving, and a couple are those tiresome "happy days on the plantation before slavery ended" fictions. But mostly I enjoyed this collection, especially the later pieces written on "the edge of" World War II. There are even some "futuristic" pieces at the end, including an ominous entry where civilization has gone underground to protect itself from bombing.
Well worth finding in a used book store.