Holiday reading to warm the soul

As promised, I’ve got some great holiday reading to share. There will not be a test. 

But if you find yourself a little bit frazzled, a little bit testy, a little bit in need of a warm dose of holiday spirit that doesn’t come in a bottle, these essays can help.

Some come from my own file of withered newspaper clippings; others were suggested after my last post. Some are poignant; some, funny. None approach the beauty and mystery of the first two chapters of Luke, which never fail to give me chills. But they are worth savoring and maybe worth saving.

*The late John Henry Faulk, on “the wonderfulest Christmas in the United States of America”:

“The day after Christmas a number of years ago, I was driving down a country road in Texas. And it was a bitter cold, cold morning. And walking ahead of me on the gravel road was a little bare-footed boy with non-descript ragged overalls and a makeshift sleeved sweater tied around his little ears. I stopped and picked him up. Looked like he was about 12 years old and his little feet were blue with the cold. He was carrying an orange.” Christmas Story

*The late Erma Bombeck, on the utter necessity of being a child at Christmas:

“There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child. Not to feel the cold on your bare feet as you rush to the Christmas tree in the living room. Not to have your eyes sparkle at the wonderment of discovery. Not to rip the ribbons off the shiny boxes with such abandon.” Where Did Christmas Go?

*Garrison Keillor, on the perfect Christmas gift and why an “achingly beautiful” celebration is so fraught with peril:

“A few years ago, someone near and dear gave me a polo shirt for Christmas and I said thank you, of course, and put it on, and tried to look pleased, but what I was thinking was ‘Burgundy.’?” What I’m Giving You For Christmas

(Note: This essay appeared in a Land’s End catalogue in 1997 and is not widely available online, but I found a wrinkled PDF of it on a family blog. Thanks to Cole Brecheen for posting it.)

*The late Russell Baker, on visiting his mother’s grave at Christmastime:

“We went to the cemetery the other day to put out Christmas wreaths for our kin. They were inexpensive wreaths. We decided that paying more than $10 per tombstone would be gross vulgarity. Money had always been in tight supply with the persons being honored. In their time they would have laughed themselves hoarse at news that some fool had squandered $10 worth of piney twigs on a burial plot.” Wreaths for the Folks

*George Will, on the wonders of Christmas with a 3-year-old afoot:

“David Maseng Will, a prodigiously talented 3-year-old, seemed, at first blush, blase about the news. The news was that on Sunday night a stranger, a jolly fat oddly dressed man, would be coming down David’s chimney with a sack full of toys, many of which would be strewn about beneath the tree in the living room, for David to enjoy, and for David to resist sharing with friends, as he resists sharing everything, other than germs.” At Christmastime, the World Revolves Around Children

*Michael Alvear, on Post Traumatic Mall Syndrome and why presents ultimately don’t matter:

“I was 9 when I experienced my first North American Christmas. I was at a loss to describe my reaction because my English wasn’t very good, but later I realized the word I had been looking for was ‘bummer.’ That’s because I had the disadvantage of having experienced eight Latino Christmases before that first Anglo one.” The Christmas That Comes to the Door

*Debra-Lynn B. Hook, on what happens when you let Christmas be perfectly imperfect:

“A Christmas meme was making the rounds this year: ‘You are not obligated to continue holiday traditions that leave you broke, overwhelmed or tired.’ This stopped me in my reindeer tracks.” The Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

Note: This is not the one I keep in my Christmas treasure box, nor the one that someone else suggested to me. But all of Debra Lynn’s Christmas Queen columns (and post-Christmas-Queen columns) are great. This is this year’s.

*Donald DeMarco, on the power of great music at Christmas:

“The setting was not a stable in Bethlehem, but Macy’s Department Store in Philadelphia.  The time was not Christmas, but October 30, 2010 at high noon.  The attendants were not shepherds, but shoppers.  The singers were not angels, but 650 choristers from 28 different participating organizations.  Nonetheless, in this secular setting, the Messiah arrived and brought joy and good cheer to a surprised and most appreciative gathering of Saturday customers.” An Unexpected Advent of the Messiah

*The late Paul Harvey, on a Christmas Eve conversion via a flock of miserable, frozen birds:

“The man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a Scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that Incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmastime. It just didn’t make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story, about God coming to Earth as a man.” The Man and the Birds