Here are some Christmas Tales for you to enjoy and use this coming Festive Season.
If YOU would like to share your favourite Christmas Story with other storytellers, please send it to me. I will give you full credit!
The first one is by courtesy of Taffy Thomas. It is one that he tells from his vast repertoire of Christmas tales. I call it:
The Iron Winter and the Raggedy Old Man
The Little Lame Donkey
The Three Ages of Man
A True Christmas Story
The Miracle of the Poinsettia
A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Tale
The Story of Panettone
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
The Ill-tempered Snowman
Santa's Little Secret!
I started my Christmas shopping yesterday by visiting a well known high street discount bookshop.
They had a good priced Beatrix Potter boxed set of ten 'Peter Rabbit' stories and I thought I'd buy it for my great grandson – he's not old enough yet to read them but they were good value and his mother will read them to him in due course. As I was handing over the payment, I noticed a colourful copy of 'The Night Before Christmas' also at what appeared to be a good price and I bought that as well. I feel it is the role of the grandfather/great grandfather to introduce quality reading to the little ones!
However when I got home and examined my purchase (the Christmas book) I discovered that despite the attractive packaging, the text was a dumbed down badly written ersatz version of this great Christmas classic!
They talk about mince pies and milk, for goodness sake!
Someone in their wisdom (probably a twenty something university graduate who thinks she knows best) obviously considers that today's children will not understand the beautifully written language used by the original writer with all of its richness and texture!
The poem has been in existence in its original form for nearly two hundred years and has delighted millions of children in that time and I'll bet it will still be around for another two hundred years exactly as Clement Clarke Moore told it to his children.
The publisher of this work should be sued and whoever wrote such banal drivel (no author is named, although they do identify the illustrator) should be forced to live in shame in a cave!
It goes back to the shop tomorrow!
End of rant!
While on the subject of books, if anyone is looking for a nice Christmas book this year, I can heartily recommend Wilford Kale's 'A Very Virginia Christmas'. It is a collection of short Christmas stories from a variety of sources - some well known tales, some not so well known and some personal reminiscence. It is the kind of book with which you will want to curl up on the setee, with a glass of something warm and be transported back in time. I love the book - but then, I contributed one of the tales!
This must be my year for receiving personal Christmas stories! Here is one from Ken Patterson, an ex-serviceman from the early 1960's. It seems appropriate at this time of the year, when many of us are thinking of loved ones who are serving their country in lands far away, to remember that this isn't something new!
Here is Ken's reminiscence.......
I love Christmas. It's the most incredible day of the year. Christmas Eve is also very special. That evening before the big day is pure magic to me; quiet, anticipatory, unique.
It was just by the coincidence of shipping to Turkey in June that my 18-month tour of duty would end in mid-December. But for one who loves Christmas so intensely, December 18, 1962 would be the perfect date to fly back to the States. I had a 43-day leave from the U. S. Air Force before heading to my next assignment in Japan. In between, I would be relaxing with Mom, Dad, and my sister Nancy, in our home outside of Boston.
Having spent so long in Turkey, making frequent visits to Istanbul and other places, I had compiled a number of unique gifts: I had wall hangings from Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, hand-carved meerschaum pipes from stores I'd found along narrow, cobblestoned streets, worry beads from the Blue Mosque, gifts from Yalova on the Sea of Marmara, and more. I had carefully packaged them up and shipped them home long before my departure. They would be waiting for me upon my arrival in Massachusetts, and I could wrap them then.
Climbing into a battered blue van on the morning of December 18, my squadron companions drove me to the little airstrip west of Karamursel Air Station. Shortly, I was aboard a Gooney Bird -- an old DC-3 of Turk Hava Yolari -- headed on a 15-minute hop across the Sea of Marmara to Istanbul. A brief wait there, and a Pan Am jet continued my journey westward -- Rome, Paris, then over the Atlantic to New York. One final hop to Boston, and my family met me for the drive home.
I was a shocked to learn my package hadn't yet arrived, but with a week to go, and other Christmas preparations, the worry was held at bay. Day by day, I expected a Post Office van to pull up out front. The time passed.
On the 24th, the family tree sparkled, the gifts below were many, and Dad's recordings of Christmas music brought back the joys of earlier holidays. The bare, snow-free world outside was a disappointment, but at least I was home with family, even if my exotic gifts were not.
Mom, Dad, and Nan were done with their own preparations; the wrapping paper all used up, the ribbons and tags now few and scattered. The big day was nearly upon us. Familiar music was in the air. My gifts from Turkey were nowhere to be seen.
Many people seem to feel that December 24th is Christmas Eve -- the whole day. But, "eve" means evening, and to me, Christmas Eve does not arrive until dusk. As daylight faded that day, my disappointment grew deeper. I wondered if my package was gone forever, lost in some far-off land.
About 6 pm -- and I remember this so clearly -- someone knocked at the front door. Obviously, it had to be a neighbor; no commercial entity would be out and about at that hour.
I opened the door to face a US Mailman, fur-lined collar turned up against the chill, a huge smile on his face. "Merry Christmas!" he said, holding out my package from so long ago and so far away.
I brought it to my room. Mom offered a roll of shiny white shelf paper and a handful of red ribbon. I opened the carton, wrapped everything in the same white and red, and hurried them all under the tree. One of my greatest ever Christmases was just around the corner.
As the flames in our big stone fireplace crackled, and familiar carols filled the house, I glanced outside. There, in total silence, heavy snow began to fall, transforming the landscape.
I have been sent a link to a rather nice Christmas story. It particulaly appeals because of the beautifully presented setting.
I think you will like this:
Chris Keane wrote to me a few weeks ago offering a personal story about his family's attempt to arrive on time to the Christmas Mass.
I liked the story but felt that it might be a bit long for inclusion on this page. However the tale really does typify in an amusing way the somewhat chaotic experience of a large and loving family when trying to organise a collective outing!
And anyway - it's Christmas! So here it is......
My father barreled through our packed family room. “Come on, guys! Put those toys away and get ready for church!” The white shaving cream covering his face like a beard was yet another reminder that Santa was on the way. “Don’t just sit there. Get ready!” He yelled, tripping over a pile of Legos. “We’re going to be on time.”
From the couch, I spotted my Mom peering in from the kitchen. She looked focused, like a great military leader assessing a potentially dangerous situation. It definitely looked bleak from the ground. The neighbors hadn’t been sent home. The dog wasn’t walked. My brothers and I weren’t dressed. The Grandmas weren’t bundled up. My baby brother wasn’t changed. My sister was on the phone. And, the church was all the way across town!
Being late for mass had become a major problem every since my father convinced himself that our family was targeted in a political cartoon that landed in our church bulletin just after Thanksgiving. The cartoon poked fun at a family for sneaking into church late. I had to admit, the drawing of a large Irish-looking family piling out of station wagon looked a lot like us. In our church, nestled in an affluent neighborhood outside town, families typically came in neatly wrapped packages of four, not seven. Parishioners typically rode in sleek BMWs, not big old station wagons.
But, little did Father Dave and the rest of the congregation know, the McCormick family was firing on all cylinders that night. My brothers and I dropped our toys and bolted up stairs to get changed. My sister slammed down the phone and sent our neighbors home. Even our family dog helped out by waiting patiently by the door to go out. This probably had less do with my Dad’s little speech, than the shadow of Santa which loomed large over our household. Whatever the reason, we actually left the house on time!
My Dad scooped up my baby brother from the floor like a pigskin on Super Bowl Sunday as he ran out the door. It was snowing and a white dusting already covered the lawn. My brothers and I played games in the rear bucket-seats of our old Country Squire. The back of the station wagon was very cold. I could actually see my breath. There was no way those puny dashboard vents would make the trek all the way to our corner of the car universe. We passed the time drawing on the windows until my younger brother found a half-frozen McDonalds ketchup packet. Unable to resist its inanimate charm, he squeezed it just to see what would happen. In a blink, it squirted the back of the Grandmas’ hair and coats. The car got very quiet all of a sudden. My brothers and I looked at each other in shock. My Dad drove on steadily.
About halfway to the church we all smelled it. Seriously, this was one large, toxic whoopsie!. No one in the car could breathe. My baby brother started crying as he realized he was found out. My father, clearly flustered, did a K-turn in the middle of a dark two lane road as cars whizzed by.
Next thing I can remember, we peeled into the driveway nearly taking out our Santa lawn ornament. My Mom yanked my baby brother from the back seat and quickly traversed our ice covered driveway. My Dad and sister gingerly escorted the Grandmas to the ladies room to freshen up. My brothers and I briefly discussed the ketchup stains, which we figured would most certainly would be discovered and traced back to us. The temperature dropped even more when the engine cut off. It was then that I noticed the eight-cylinder monster was low on fuel. I remembered my Dad, who tended to wait to the last minute to do things, complaining earlier in the day that nothing was open Christmas Eve. What else could go wrong?
I checked my digital watch. There was no way we would make it on time now. I felt my hands begin to sweat. Normally I wouldn’t mind if we were a few minutes late for mass. But, it was Christmas Eve and Santa was watching. It just didn’t look good.
A few minutes later the whole neighborhood went dark. My brother broke out our spy flashlights, early Christmas gifts from the Grandmas. We snuck through the house, loving every minute of this unsupervised chaos. At first, all we found was our dog who immediately tacked us. It was really dark and the flashlights didn’t work nearly as well as they had in the commercial. Somehow, we rescued the Grandmas who were stranded on the staircase. They both handed us quarters and exclaimed, “Oh, you’re dears!” I could hear my Dad yelling something to my Mom about a circuit-breaker. Eventually, everyone was accounted for and we made it back out of the house.
As soon as we pulled out the driveway, all the lights went back on. By then, the Grandmas had concluded that both the ketchup stains and blackout must have been the work of some hooligans from the block. Then, without warning, my Mom erupted like a volcano that had been dormant for hundreds of years.
“We’re out of gas!”
It was quiet for a moment. Then my Dad muttered a rather unconvincing,
My Mom yelled again, louder this time.
“We’ll freeze to death out on the highway!”
My Dad, clearly on the ropes, started fiddling with the windshield wiper controls.
“Um…I computed how many miles it is to the church…and how much gas we need. We’ll make it.”
My Mom, angrier still, screamed, “So, you had time to sit down and calculate the mileage per gallon to church, but not stop and fill up the stupid tank!”
My Dad, seeming to get his bearings again, said “I calculated it, and I realized it wasn’t necessary to stop for gas.” I knew my Dad was going to stick to his story. He would rather go down with the ship than admit he had made such a simple error.
My Mom grumbled, “You always wait ‘til the last possible minute!”
Everyone else stayed silent, obviously praying that by some miracle we would live to see Christmas morning. Once the seven o’clock Mass time had come and gone, my father started blurting out the time like a drill sergeant dispensing corporal punishment. “Seven sixteen!” “Seven twenty-one!” And again, “Seven twenty-three!” Each scream grew louder, more desperate. As we gained speed, my brothers and I bounced around the backseat like pinballs.
Finally, we skidded into the back parking lot and headed out of the car towards the less-noticeable side entrance. This was McCormick standard operating procedure for late-mass-arrival. Even my baby brother knew the drill and fell in line like a good little soldier. Through the stain-glassed doors it felt toasty and warm. The church looked beautiful. A freshly-cut tree tipped the atrium. White lights and red poinsettias lined the altar. Throughout the church, we found a few stragglers exchanging niceties. But, there was no one on the altar. Did we miss it? As we filed into the empty front row, we read a stray bulletin. The mass start time was eight o’clock, not seven! We were an hour off. Not only had we made it, but we were actually early! This was a legitimate Christmas miracle!
My Dad periodically stared down the pew, to check on me and my brothers. Being bad at mass was a rookie mistake and I wouldn’t consciously make it. But Christmas drew some unusual characters from town, and tonight was no different. A jolly red-faced woman plucked my baby brother out of the pew, dangled him in the air and sung, “Oh, what a little angel!” Some wild-eyed kid shot random parishioners with a laser gun. Up on the altar, children dressed in pink bathrobes with towels wrapped around their heads reenacted the Nativity. A shaggy-looking guy tried to high-five me as he strutted up to Communion. I had to pinch myself to keep from laughing.
Our parish had a nice tradition of passing out lit candles as the choir sang Silent Night. Nice of course, unless you are surrounded by your grandmothers’ bulky fur coats. When no one was looking, my brothers swirled their candles like light sabers as I choked the urge to scream, “Fire!” Luckily, the coats were fake and apparently flame retardant.
My brothers and I managed to do our part in keeping it a somewhat silent night. When the Mass ended, the whole congregation joined in a beautiful rendition of “Hark the Herald, Angels Sing”. The choir never sounded so good. My father nodded down the row to each of us with a wink. My Mom and sister looked pretty in their Christmas dresses. The Grandmas looked festive wearing shiny broaches. My brothers and I looked presentable. My baby brother didn’t smell.
In the foyer, Father Dave was greeting parishioners. He spotted us right away.
“Merry Christmas, McCormick clan!”
We all yelled back our Christmas greetings right on cue. My Dad smiled, beaming with pride. As we passed by Father Dave leaned over to my Dad and whispered, “You thought the Mass started at seven. Didn’t you?”My father’s face fell. On the way out the door, I heard him mumble to my Mother,”I give up.”
The snow was piling up on the ground. Santa would have no problem getting around tonight. Everyone piled into the station wagon for the journey home.
I recently received a Christmas story from Artie Knapp. I was tempted to place it on the 'Inspiring Stories' page - it would sit equally as well there. However, since the tale arrived in November, I decided to included it here, where many of you look to find stories for the Christmas season.
Artie is a children’s author and tells me that one of the largest teachers' sites in the U.S has just published his new children’s Christmas story titled 'Light On a Snowy Day'. Over 20 additional print newspapers are publishing the story in December.
He writes to say that he likes my website (Thank you, Artie!) and sends me a synopsis and direct link to the story on the Teachers.net Gazette. I really like his tale and think that YOU will too.
Here's the link
Artie sent me some additional biographical material that you may wish to see:
Artie Knapp is the author of many published works for young readers. His award-winning children’s book Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand was endorsed by The National Stuttering Association and the American Institute for Stuttering.
A frequent contributor to the Detroit Free Press’ Yak’s Corner, Artie’s children’s literature has been featured in over 100 publications across the world. He is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and graduated from Ohio University. Artie lives in Ohio with his wife Priya and daughter Alanna. To learn more about Artie and his work, please visit www.artieknapp.com.
Something slightly different - a personal Christmas story!
Mary is a police officer; she is our local Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator and Crime Officer. Each month we receive a newsletter, keeping us informed of the issues in our district and the various steps taken to rectify and warn us of potential problems (criminal/traffic/scam salesmen etc.) that are encountered.
Mary writes it and always concludes with a personal tale. This is her story for December 2010:
"THE NATIVITY PLAY."
Having been born on the feast day of Our Lady, and being baptised Mary Teresa Bernadette, I always felt that I was more than qualified to play the Virgin Mary in the School's Nativity Play.
But every year it was the same thing, some sweet little dark haired girl from the class was always chosen, which I felt was very unfair, A) because their real name was never Mary, and B) why did they never choose a blond?
But every year after living in hope, and “Behaving” for a few weeks, I still ended up playing a lamb, donkey, cow, or a Star….but not even the Bethlehem one!
But this particular year tragedy really struck, when I was given the only remaining job left, which was as prompt and understudy.
Mum had always said that “God is Good” so as the nativity play approached I prayed to God that someone would fall ill (Please remember I was only a little girl at the time!).
The final rehearsal was in the morning, and the “real thing” took place in the afternoon of the last day of School, before breaking up for Christmas.
Well the rehearsal was a disaster, on my part……because no one forgot their lines, and everyone was disgustingly healthy, I was gutted. But as I mentioned “God is Good!!!!” and an hour before we were due to start, Sister Monica came running back stage in a panic - “The innkeeper has diarrhoea! Who knows the part?” -
“THANK YOU GOD!” - My hand shot up.
“Are you sure?” asked Sister Monica “Yes Sister” I replied, as I thought, “How hard can it be!”
Once Bishop Billington and all the Nuns and Guests were seated we began, it was all very exciting and I remember wishing that Mum and Dad could have been there to watch me. After what seemed like ages I started to think how bored everyone must be getting, watching the same “Play” every year, but then I had an idea!
Mary, Joseph and the Donkey arrive at the inn. Joseph knocks on the inn door; door is opened by innkeeper (ME!);
“Good evening innkeeper, this is my wife Mary and she is heavy with child. Have you any room at the inn?”
Innkeeper (ME!) replies;
“You are so lucky; I have just had a cancellation, come in!”
Well at this “Joseph” was taken aback, but as she was a clever clogs, she also ad libbed;
“That is very kind of you, but as we love our Donkey so much and do not like to leave him on his own, we thought we could stay in your stable”
Innkeeper (ME!) replies;
“Oh do not worry about that, this is a pet friendly inn, he can stop in your room”
At this point, Mary, Joseph and the Donkey were forced to come through the “Cardboard Door” into the inn.
A deadly hush descended in the assembly hall, and it was only then I realised that I had just “killed” the end of the play. I could see a couple of Nuns racing towards the stage, so I flung open the “Cardboard Door” of the inn and yelled;
“FIRE!” “FIRE!” “Everyone out, the chip pan's on fire, everyone get to the stable.”
At this point, Mary, Joseph and the Donkey ran to the stable.
I ran the other way, before the Nuns could catch me, and I hid in the toilets until it was home time. So, I never got to see the end of the Nativity Play, that year, and the following year's Nativity Play went ahead in my absence, as I was not even allowed into the assembly hall!
Nuns have long memories!!!!!!!!!
Thank you, Mary - as late comedian Frank Carson might have said, "That's a Cracker!"
Here’s a new Christmas poem (at least it’s new to me!). It was sent to me by Ed Solomon, my good friend in the U.S. and may very well resonate with those of a certain age!
'Twas the night before (senior) Christmas
'Twas the night before Christmas at Rock-Away Rest,
And all of us seniors were looking our best.
Our glasses, how sparkly, our wrinkles, how merry;
Our punch bowl held prune juice plus three drops of sherry.
A bed sock was taped to each walker in hope,
That Santa would bring us soft candy and soap.
We surely were lucky to be there with friends,
Secure in this residence and in our Depends.
Our grandkids had sent us some Christmasy crafts,
Like angels in snowsuits and penguins on rafts.
The dental assistant had borrowed our teeth,
And from them she'd crafted a holiday wreath.
The bed pans, so shiny, all stood in a row,
Reflecting our candle's magnificent glow.
Our supper, so festive (the joy wouldn't stop),
Was creamy warm oatmeal with sprinkles on top.
Our salad was Jell-O, so jiggly and great;
Then puree of fruitcake was spooned on each plate.
The social director then had us play games,
Like "Where Are You Living?" and "What Are Your Names?"
Old Grandfather Looper was feeling his oats,
Proclaiming that reindeer were nothing but goats.
Our resident wanderer was tied to her chair,
In hopes that at bedtime she still would be there.
Security lights on the new fallen snow
Made outdoors seem noon to the old folks below.
Then out on the porch there arose quite a clatter
(But we are so deaf that it just didn't matter).
A strange little fellow flew in through the door,
Then tripped on the sill and fell flat on the floor.
'Twas just our director, all togged out in red.
He jiggled and chuckled and patted each head.
We knew from the way that he strutted and jived
Our Social Security checks had arrived.
We sang -- how we sang -- in our monotone croak,
Till the clock tinkled out its soft eight-p.m. stroke.
And soon we were snuggling deep in our beds.
While nurses distributed nocturnal meds.
And so ends our Christmas at Rock-Away Rest.
'fore long you'll be with us. We wish you the best.
Thanks Ed. Have a Very Merry Christmas yourself!