Every Christmas, there are certain books that my family pulls off the bookshelf. They are absolute must-reads for Christmastime, like Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol or Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. However, occasionally between stealing the last can of Who Hash and God blessing everyone, I need to read something that will take me out of the holiday while still capturing the holiday spirit, if only for a moment. Here is a list of classic novels that includes the holidays, but are about so much more.
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
This classic novel begins with a heartwarming Christmas scene, but it takes you through several seasons in the March girls’ lives as they face each blessing and trial together. The love and support the March girls give each other through the years illustrates the importance of family.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
In C.S. Lewis’s classic fantasy novel, it’s always winter but never Christmas, until the four Pevensie children enter Narnia. There they receive a visit from Father Christmas, break the White Witch’s power and bring hope and Springtime back into the world with the help of Aslan, the ferocious but kind lion.
A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Christmas comes towards the end of this classic middle-grade novel, just when orphaned Sara begins to lose hope and her vivid imagination begins to fade, but the rest of the book is a beautiful story of a little girl who rises above her circumstances and proves time and again that it’s not what you have, but how you treat others that makes you a princess.
Emma, by Jane Austen
The Christmas Eve scene in Emma proves that Christmas can be a trial for many people, especially when you’re beginning to wonder if the man you picked out for your friend actually has his unwelcome eyes on you. This Jane Austen classic carries readers through an entire year, but this Christmas chapter provides pivotal plot points that make this horrible but hilarious Christmas Eve one to remember.
Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
This classic middle-grade novel recounts the adventures of a certain red-haired orphan whose unfettered imagination often lands her in trouble. One such adventure happens when Anne attends her first Christmas ball, where she is full of joy and wonder just because she is wearing a dress with puffed sleeves, and gets to sleep in someone’s spare room.
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
I don’t think it was by chance that Dickens’ classic tale of a poor boy that gets plucked out of obscurity and given a chance at a better life begins during the holiday season. Though a vein of comedy runs through the book, the mystery of Pip’s unnamed benefactor, and how Pip’s elevation in life change the way he sees those who used to be dear to him, is anything but comical. Pip’s realization of all he has thrown away for money and status, and his desire to change his life towards the end of the novel puts, one in mind of a miserly old man who was once visited by three ghosts.
The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
In Anne Frank’s entry of December 7, 1942, she mentions both Hanukkah and St. Nicholas Day, and she notes that while they could only light the Hanukkah candles for ten minutes due to a shortage of candles, St. Nicholas Day was a celebration to remember. She remembered the joy of that day so much that she and Pim did their best to recapture that joy when St. Nicholas Day rolled around the next year. Though The Diary of a Young Girl may seem like a strange choice to read during the holiday season, it is a great reminder of how much we still need peace on Earth and good will to all.
These are just a few of the classic novels that include holiday scenes, but if you are looking for a read that only touches on the holiday season, one of these just might put the jingle back into your bell. And remember, whether you choose to read a classic holiday tale or a classic tale with a holiday scene, you can find all your holiday reads at your local Half Price Books or at HPB.com.
Happy Holidays, and Season’s Readings!