What other festive Top Ten Tuesday should there be today than our favourite literary yuletides? I am going to do this without once mentioning The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as I always felt Father Christmas was somehow shoe-horned in.10. The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…
We all know this story; it is the classic tale, in rhyme, of Father Christmas’s nocturnal visit, and has led to the prevailing Western legend of him coming down the chimney and filling stockings with presents. The real magic for me is that a miniature version of this book appeared on my pillow one young Christmas Eve – and now I always associate it with a magic believed so fervently it can become real.
A forgotten favourite of mine, set in London during the reign of Henry VIII. The armourer’s eldest son has long been missing, presumed drowned at sea. But when he walks back through the threshold of the cosy armourer’s house on Christmas Eve as the family are singing carols together, it’s a perfectly fitting, emotional end to this cosy historical book.
Who wouldn’t want to spend a Christmas with the Plaza’s most exuberant, hyper and unique resident, Kay Thomson’s hilarious writing and Hilary Knight’s sparky black, white and pink illustrations? For the uninitiated amongst you (why have you not met Eloise yet?!) you’ll love the sheer unbridled joy she takes in everything Christmassy – zooming all over the hotel, buying everyone presents and obviously exasperating Nanny. Eloise is a one in a million and these books are gorgeous – luscious even before you add in the Christmas bits! (Livs)
The Dakota winter of 1880 had so many blizzards that, with no supplies able to reach the town, the author’s family had to postpone Christmas until May. May! Think on that when you are wishing for a white Christmas.
Poor Bridget, forced into a revolting Christmas jumper of her mother’s choosing for Una Alconbury’s turkey curry buffet. But at least she wasn’t alone: Mark Darcy’s reindeer jumper was far worse, and it was perhaps this that brought them together.
5. William’s Truthful Christmas by Richmal Crompton
William vows to be honest (in one of his excessively moral moments) and tells everyone just what he thinks of their presents – and where he got his for them. Like the wallet he got his uncle that was actually given to his father, who didn’t want it as the clasp wouldn’t catch. ‘It’s not kind of me achully’. I also love this for the vintageness of them now – getting a wooden geometry set and a book on kings and queens for Christmas! (Livs)
4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss is a festive staple in North America far more than in the UK, but everyone knows a ‘Grinch’ is one who refuses to join in the Christmas spirit. The Whos of Whoville show this Grinch the true meaning of Christmas when they wake up on Christmas morning delighted and joyful in spite of the Grinch having stolen ‘Christmas’ (all the presents, decorations, roast beasts) from them while they slept. Their Christmas spirit is enough to make the Grinch rethink his actions, return all their presents and join them in a Christmas feast.
While most Hogwarts students return home for the Christmas holidays, poor Harry remains at school. That would be miserable for most school children, but for Harry, far preferable, as not only does he receive proper presents for the first time (even if a lumpy homeknit jumper from Mrs Weasley) but Hogwarts is utterly magical at Christmas. (OK, it’s magical all year round, but now with added Christmas trees…)
First, the girls all wake up with books under their pillows from their mother, then they are all asked if they will give their Christmas breakfast to a poor family in the village to help make their Christmas a little better. The evening is spent putting on one of their famous plays. I remember feeling that Christmas Day in their household was so full of life and heart, despite the fact that Father is not there, and how when I was young I couldn’t imagine the sadness of spending that day apart from one of your parents. (Sarah B)
Yes, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol must be our number one choice, for it is Dickens who gave us our ‘modern’ (Victorian) Christmas. OK, it was also Prince Albert who brought over traditions of a Christmas tree and a more generally flash and exciting feeling to what had previously been ‘just’ a religious festival. But it was Dickens who popularised these ‘new’ traditions by reflecting them back at us in A Christmas Carol. Ghosts, humbugs, turkey. Christmas carols, presents and frosted-up windows. If it’s good enough for the Muppets and Blackadder, it’s good enough for me.
“God bless us, every one!”
What’s your favourite Christmas book? Let us know on Twitter @HotKeyBooks or in the comments!