Sharing stories at Christmas
Do you have a story that you share every Christmas? Something you read together as a family each year as a tradition? If so, what was it?
When my siblings and I were children, my father used to read A Christmas Carol to us during the evenings running up to Christmas Eve. We were usually lucky enough to be sitting in front of a fire and the lights were low. Firelight reflected from the Christmas baubles on the tree and the cracking and spitting of the fire added to his voice, which rose and softened to the rhythm of the story. As we grew up the story became harder to read, because it reduced him, and then all of us, to tears.
As a younger child I loved the descriptions of the wretched Scrooge; the horror of Marley's yawning, gaping mouth; the cajoling of the merry nephew; the ghostly spirits and the image of Christmas as a time of cheer. As an older child, the joy of Scrooge's redemption and the understanding that one's future is affected by present behaviour and choices were what I gained from the telling.
The real power the story holds for me now is Dickens' artistic activism. Where he saw hypocrisy and wrongdoing, he spoke out. His glorious writing made his criticism of society more than palatable. His books had the power to move and influence society's thinking without sounding preachy or finger wagging. And this leads me to think about writers today - where is our Dickens? Who can point at our hypocrisy through story and influence the way we think. Who would you say challenges our society with their stories? Is there a contemporary Christmas book you have read that reduces you to tears of joy and at the same time challenges your moral conduct?
If so, please do share your Christmas stories.