Why does the holiday season strike terror in the hearts of millions of Americans? Why is it that our economy relies on Christmas purchases to survive and why do our own families insist on forgetting to pick us up at the airport? We are the most wealthy country in the world. We have the most stuff. And that’s not enough to make people treat their fellow man – even their own relatives – with consideration, kindness and love. Or at least to a decent cup of coffee.
The Literate Kitten would like to change all that, but there isn’t enough therapy in the world to make humans more humane, or to keep certain siblings from skipping out on the dishes another year. However, there is literature. By reading, we may share our griefs, vicariously live through another’s (perhaps happier) memories, or laugh at the absurdness of it all.
Since the holidays send us spinning back into the past at warp speed, why not re-enact a positive childhood memory and pick up an old classic that you loved as a child? Forget the humiliations of not having a New Year's date or the petty envy that your sister got the doll you asked Santa for. Just whip out a book and visit some old, old friends.
The LitKit wants to recommend a few titles that relate, some more and some less, to this time of year. We have memories of reading about a Christmas tree that wanted to be showy and grand and loved but was never bought and got tossed in the garbage until it was found by a mountain woman and used as a clothes-pole to hang laundry. We’d love to recommend it, but cannot find that title (there seems to be a new book called “The Littlest Christmas Tree,” and we don’t know if that’s the old classic or not). An absolute tearjerker we hope you’ll be able to find somewhere.
So, take a few moments this maddening season to cozy up by the fire or snuggle under the blankets with a nice fat book. And remember: The biggest thanks we can give this Turkey Day are to all writers courageous and hardworking enough to put their thoughts on paper. Here are some less-obvious (read: no “A Christmas Carol” or “Night Before Christmas”) LitKit picks for ringing in the holiday season with prose and prosody:
Louisa May Alcott: “Little Women” (an oldie but goodie)
Truman Capote: “The Thanksgiving Visitor” and “One Christmas” (memoirs)
Adam Gopnik: “From Paris to the Moon” (essays, including a hilarious one about trying to buy Christmas tree lights in Paris)
Earl Hamner: “The Homecoming” (why don’t they ever show the original TV special, the one with Patricia Neal?)
Frances Hodgson Burnett: “A Little Princess” (the Shirley Temple movie is good, too)
Jay McInerney: “Model Behavior” (LitKit hasn’t read personally but hears there’s an unforgettable Thanksgiving dinner scene included)
David Sedaris: “Holidays on Ice” (wicked funny essays/memoirs)
Johanna Spyri: “Heidi” (still works for adults—and the Shirley Temple movie is good here, too)
Dylan Thomas: “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” (a beautiful audio reading by Thomas himself is available on CD)