Archives for posts with tag: Christmas stories

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A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES (Excerpt)

by Dylan Thomas

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six. 

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen. 

It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero’s garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats never appeared. 

We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows – eternal, ever since Wednesday – that we never heard Mrs. Prothero’s first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor’s polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder. 

“Fire!” cried Mrs. Prothero, and she beat the dinner-gong.

And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining-room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier in Pompeii. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row. We bounded into the house, laden with snowballs, and stopped at the open door of the smoke-filled room.

Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, “A fine Christmas!” and smacking at the smoke with a slipper… 

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Read the rest of the story here.

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PAT HOBBY’S CHRISTMAS WISH (Excerpt)
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was Christmas Eve in the studio. By eleven o’clock in the morning, Santa Claus had called on most of the huge population according to each one’s deserts.

Sumptuous gifts from producers to stars, and from agents to producers arrived at offices and studio bungalows: on every stage one heard of the roguish gifts of casts to directors or directors to casts; champagne had gone out from publicity office to the press. And tips of fifties, tens and fives from producers, directors and writers fell like manna upon the white-collar class.

In this sort of transaction there were exceptions. Pat Hobby, for example, who knew the game from twenty years’ experience, had had the idea of getting rid of his secretary the day before. They were sending over a new one any minute — but she would scarcely expect a present the first day.

Waiting for her, he walked the corridor, glancing into open offices for signs of life. He stopped to chat with Joe Hopper from the scenario department.

“Not like the old days,” he mourned. “Then there was a bottle on every desk.”

“There’re a few around.”

“Not many.” Pat sighed. “And afterwards we’d run a picture — made up out of cutting-room scraps.”

“I’ve heard. All the suppressed stuff,” said Hopper.

Pat nodded, his eyes glistening.

“Oh, it was juicy. You darned near ripped your guts laughing –”

He broke off as the sight of a woman, pad in hand, entering his office down the hall recalled him to the sorry present.

“Gooddorf has me working over the holiday,” he complained bitterly.

“I wouldn’t do it.”

“I wouldn’t either except my four weeks are up next Friday, and if I bucked him he wouldn’t extend me.”

As he turned away, Hopper knew that Pat was not being extended anyhow. He had been hired to script an old-fashioned horse opera, and the boys who were “writing behind him” — that is, working over his stuff — said that all of it was old and some didn’t make sense.

“I’m Miss Kagle,” said Pat’s new secretary.

She was about thirty-six, handsome, faded, tired, efficient. She went to the typewriter, examined it, sat down and burst into sobs.

Pat started. Self-control, from below anyhow, was the rule around here. Wasn’t it bad enough to be working on Christmas Eve? Well — less bad than not working at all. He walked over and shut the door — someone might suspect him of insulting the girl.

“Cheer up,” he advised her. “This is Christmas…”

READ THE ENTIRE STORY (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN ESQUIRE, JANUARY 1940) AT PROJECT GUTENBERG HERE.

The Pat Hobby Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald are available at Amazon.com.

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL RETOLD IN THE MANNER OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY

By New Street Communications

1: Marley’s Ghost

Marley was dead to begin with. Ten years dead. He had carried every weight the world could lay upon a man, but in the end he died all the same – in fact, made his own exit in his own time – and did so without complaint. He wanted more. There was none. And so he departed. He was cold in the ground, his eyes closed to all things, his feet pointed east.

Scrooge no more thought of his old friend, however, than he did of his second divorce or of the time (on a Christmas Eve, just like this) at Havana’s Floridita when he’d matched drinks one-for-one with a man who was a coward. Each downed glass after glass of rum; neither got drunk. The coward, who claimed to be a good Catholic, was long gone. Over the course of six decades, one left much behind and could count many graves. But, if one was honest and unflinching, he understood that there was no tragedy in this.

The snows of Idaho were as beautiful as they were silent. Light from the full moon fell across the Big Wood River. Sprays of pine rose with great dignity amid the white of the valley and the white of the distant Boulder Mountains. Cottonwoods stood naked. Trail Creek, Warm Springs Creek, Silver Creek and even the river itself lay frozen on their surfaces…

BOOK DESCRIPTION (FROM AMAZON): Ketchum, Idaho – Christmas, 1959: Blizzard-bound, Ernest Hemingway occupies himself with wine and prose, recreating his own rendition of Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol. The story he spins carries echoes of himself. Afflicted by depression and concern over what he feels are his failing artistic powers, he reaches back to a timeless story of renewal, and to memory, to kindle a sense of joy and redemption. (Note: The book is 48 pages in length.)

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A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES (Excerpt)

by Dylan Thomas

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six. 

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen. 

It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero’s garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats never appeared. 

We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows – eternal, ever since Wednesday – that we never heard Mrs. Prothero’s first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor’s polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder. 

“Fire!” cried Mrs. Prothero, and she beat the dinner-gong.

And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining-room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier in Pompeii. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row. We bounded into the house, laden with snowballs, and stopped at the open door of the smoke-filled room.

Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, “A fine Christmas!” and smacking at the smoke with a slipper… 

###

Read the rest of the story here.

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Excerpt)

by Charles Dickens

“Nephew!” returned the uncle, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

“Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew. “But you don’t keep it.”

“Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge. “Much good may it do you! Much good has it ever done you!”

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time…as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

Illustration: Victorian Christmas Card (Cambridge University Library Special Collections)

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A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS IN THE HEMINGWAY MANNER

New Yorker Story

(Dec, 24, 1927)

by James Thurber

It was the night before Christmas. The house was very quiet. No creatures were stirring in the house. There weren’t even any mice stirring. The stockings had been hung carefully by the chimney. The children hoped that Saint Nicholas would come and fill them.
 
The children were in their beds. Their beds were in the room next to ours. Mamma and I were in our beds. Mamma wore a kerchief. I had my cap on. I could hear the children moving. We didn’t move. We wanted the children to think we were asleep.

“Father,” the children said.

There was no answer. He’s there, all right, they thought.

“Father,” they said, and banged on their beds.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“We have visions of sugarplums,” the children said.

“Go to sleep,” said mamma.

“We can’t sleep,” said the children. They stopped talking, but I could hear them moving. They made sounds.

“Can you sleep?” asked the children.

“No,” I said.

“You ought to sleep.”

“I know. I ought to sleep.”

“Can we have some sugarplums?”

“You can’t have any sugarplums,” said mamma.

“We just asked you.”

There was a long silence. I could hear the children moving again.

“Is Saint Nicholas asleep?” asked the children.

“No,” mamma said. “Be quiet.”

“What the hell would he be asleep tonight for?” I asked.

“He might be,” the children said.

“He isn’t,” I said.

“Let’s try to sleep,” said mamma.

The house became quiet once more. I could hear the rustling noises the children made when they moved in their beds.

Out on the lawn a clatter arose. I got out of bed and went to the window. I opened the shutters; then I threw up the sash. The moon shone on the snow. The moon gave the lustre of mid-day to objects in the snow. There was a miniature sleigh in the snow, and eight tiny reindeer. A little man was driving them. He was lively and quick. He whistled and shouted at the reindeer and called them by their names. Their names were Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen.

He told them to dash away to the top of the porch, and then he told them to dash away to the top of the wall. They did. The sleigh was full of toys.

“Who is it?” mamma asked.

“Some guy,” I said. “A little guy.”

I pulled my head in out of the window and listened. I heard the reindeer on the roof. I could hear their hoofs pawing and prancing on the roof.

“Shut the window,” said mamma.

I stood still and listened.

“What do you hear?”

“Reindeer,” I said. I shut the window and walked about. It was cold. Mamma sat up in the bed and looked at me.

“How would they get on the roof?” mamma asked.

“They fly.”

“Get into bed. You’ll catch cold.”

Mamma lay down in bed. I didn’t get into bed. I kept walking around.

“What do you mean, they fly?” asked mamma.

“Just fly is all.”

Mamma turned away toward the wall. She didn’t say anything.

I went out into the room where the chimney was. The little man came down the chimney and stepped into the room. He was dressed all in fur. His clothes were covered with ashes and soot from the chimney. On his back was a pack like a peddler’s pack. There were toys in it. His cheeks and nose were red and he had dimples. His eyes twinkled. His mouth was little, like a bow, and his beard was very white. Between his teeth was a stumpy pipe. The smoke from the pipe encircled his head in a wreath. He laughed and his belly shook. It shook like a bowl of red jelly. I laughed. He winked his eye, then he gave a twist to his head. He didn’t say anything.

He turned to the chimney and filled the stockings and turned away from the chimney. Laying his finger aside his nose, he gave a nod. Then he went up the chimney. I went to the chimney and looked up. I saw him get into his sleigh. He whistled at his team and the team flew away. The team flew as lightly as thistledown. The driver called out, “Merry Christmas and good night.” I went back to bed.

“What was it?” asked mamma. “Saint Nicholas?” She smiled.

“Yeah,” I said.

She sighed and turned in the bed.

“I saw him,” I said.

“Sure.”

“I did see him.”

“Sure you saw him.” She turned farther toward the wall.

“Father,” said the children.

“There you go,” mamma said. “You and your flying reindeer.”

“Go to sleep,” I said.

“Can we see Saint Nicholas when he comes?” the children asked.

“You got to be asleep,” I said. “You got to be asleep when he comes. You can’t see him unless you’re unconscious.”

“Father knows,” mamma said.

I pulled the covers over my mouth. It was warm under the covers. As I went to sleep I wondered if mamma was right.

Editor’s Note: Ernest Hemingway came to prominence in 1926 with the publication of his novel The Sun Also Rises. By Christmas of 1927, the book — and Hemingway’s style — had gained enough renown to inspire Thurber’s Yuletide parody.

Illustration: New Yorker cover (Dec. 24, 1927) by Andre de Schaub

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PAT HOBBY’S CHRISTMAS WISH (Excerpt)

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was Christmas Eve in the studio. By eleven o’clock in the morning, Santa Claus had called on most of the huge population according to each one’s deserts.

Sumptuous gifts from producers to stars, and from agents to producers arrived at offices and studio bungalows: on every stage one heard of the roguish gifts of casts to directors or directors to casts; champagne had gone out from publicity office to the press. And tips of fifties, tens and fives from producers, directors and writers fell like manna upon the white-collar class.

In this sort of transaction there were exceptions. Pat Hobby, for example, who knew the game from twenty years’ experience, had had the idea of getting rid of his secretary the day before. They were sending over a new one any minute — but she would scarcely expect a present the first day.

Waiting for her, he walked the corridor, glancing into open offices for signs of life. He stopped to chat with Joe Hopper from the scenario department.

“Not like the old days,” he mourned. “Then there was a bottle on every desk.”

“There’re a few around.”

“Not many.” Pat sighed. “And afterwards we’d run a picture — made up out of cutting-room scraps.”

“I’ve heard. All the suppressed stuff,” said Hopper.

Pat nodded, his eyes glistening.

“Oh, it was juicy. You darned near ripped your guts laughing –“

He broke off as the sight of a woman, pad in hand, entering his office down the hall recalled him to the sorry present.

“Gooddorf has me working over the holiday,” he complained bitterly.

“I wouldn’t do it.”

“I wouldn’t either except my four weeks are up next Friday, and if I bucked him he wouldn’t extend me.”

As he turned away, Hopper knew that Pat was not being extended anyhow. He had been hired to script an old-fashioned horse opera, and the boys who were “writing behind him” — that is, working over his stuff — said that all of it was old and some didn’t make sense.

“I’m Miss Kagle,” said Pat’s new secretary.

She was about thirty-six, handsome, faded, tired, efficient. She went to the typewriter, examined it, sat down and burst into sobs.

Pat started. Self-control, from below anyhow, was the rule around here. Wasn’t it bad enough to be working on Christmas Eve? Well — less bad than not working at all. He walked over and shut the door — someone might suspect him of insulting the girl.

“Cheer up,” he advised her. “This is Christmas…”

READ THE ENTIRE STORY (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN ESQUIRE, JANUARY 1940) AT PROJECT GUTENBERG HERE.

The Pat Hobby Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald are available at Amazon.com.

Image

A CHRISTMAS CAROL RETOLD IN THE MANNER OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY

By New Street Communications

1: Marley’s Ghost

Marley was dead to begin with. Ten years dead. He had carried every weight the world could lay upon a man, but in the end he died all the same – in fact, made his own exit in his own time – and did so without complaint. He wanted more. There was none. And so he departed. He was cold in the ground, his eyes closed to all things, his feet pointed east.

Scrooge no more thought of his old friend, however, than he did of his second divorce or of the time (on a Christmas Eve, just like this) at Havana’s Floridita when he’d matched drinks one-for-one with a man who was a coward. Each downed glass after glass of rum; neither got drunk. The coward, who claimed to be a good Catholic, was long gone. Over the course of six decades, one left much behind and could count many graves. But, if one was honest and unflinching, he understood that there was no tragedy in this.

The snows of Idaho were as beautiful as they were silent. Light from the full moon fell across the Big Wood River. Sprays of pine rose with great dignity amid the white of the valley and the white of the distant Boulder Mountains. Cottonwoods stood naked. Trail Creek, Warm Springs Creek, Silver Creek and even the river itself lay frozen on their surfaces…

BOOK DESCRIPTION (FROM AMAZON): Ketchum, Idaho – Christmas, 1959: Blizzard-bound, Ernest Hemingway occupies himself with wine and prose, recreating his own rendition of Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol. The story he spins carries echoes of himself. Afflicted by depression and concern over what he feels are his failing artistic powers, he reaches back to a timeless story of renewal, and to memory, to kindle a sense of joy and redemption. (Note: The book is 48 pages in length.)