Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Christmas Highlights in Stories
Christmas is that time of year that brings everyone together. The idea of our divine God being willing to enclose himself in flesh and enter the world through birth, just like every other bub, is mind-blowing. His entry into our world also serves to shatter barriers of time and place for that one day of the year. It doesn't matter if we're in London or Brooklyn, or even Hogwarts or Narnia. Nor does it signify if we're living in 1800, 1930 or 2019. On December 25th, we are one and the same, observing the birth of our saviour wherever and whenever. I've done a brainstorm, and here are eight stand-out incidents from some of my favourite novels that unite real folk like us with some beloved fictional story characters.
1) Fred and George unknowingly hit Voldemort in the kisser
During Christmas season at Hogwarts, the Weasley twins bewitch several snowballs to bounce off the back of Professor Quirrell's turban. Little do they know whose face they're pelting back there. Go Fred and George! Meanwhile, Harry receives a Weasley jumper knitted by kind-hearted Molly, and an anonymous invisibility cloak. (Here's more about Harry Potter)
2) Santa brings gifts to Narnia
The horrible freezing spell that the wicked queen holds over the land is finally weakening. There had been perpetual icy winter with no Christmas for several years, but now a sleigh pulled by reindeer heralds the arrival of Santa Claus bearing gifts. He has a shield and sword for Peter, a bow and arrow for Susan and a flask of healing cordial for Lucy. Nothing for Edmund, who's away from them at the moment, regretting his traitorous move.
3) Pip slides out of a sticky situation
Young Pip's stern sister has prepared a festive Christmas dinner for their guests, but he's robbed the pantry of a succulent pork pie, to feed a convict who threatened him out on the marsh. Pip is biting his nails and dreading her discovery of its absence every minute, but fate steps in to save his butt from a bad thrashing. (See my review of Great Expectations)
4) The March sisters decide to be generous
It's the lean Civil War era, and after grumbling because they're so poor, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy make a pact that they'll spend their bit of money on their mother, instead of buying treats for themselves. And then on Christmas Day, they impulsively decide to take their breakfast to treat a suffering family who live not far away. (See my review of Little Women)
5) Francie and Neeley catch a Christmas tree
The Nolan family are too poor to buy a spruce tree of their own. At midnight on Christmas Eve, unsold ones are tossed out into the crowd, along with the challenge that whoever is strong enough not to buckle beneath their weight can keep them. The tiny sibling duo are up for it. 'Me and my brother are not too little together,' says Francie. The tree cracks her head and scratches Neeley's face, but they have victory! Even undecorated, it's the best tree ever. (Here's my review of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
6) Matthew gives Anne puffed sleeves
Dear old Matthew Cuthbert has noticed that their girl Anne is more plainly dressed than her friends, thanks to Marilla's no-frills approach to her upbringing. He spends an embarrassing ten minutes in the store attempting to order one, before calling on Mrs Rachel Lynde to help sew up a treat. So Anne gets the 'perfectly exquisite' puffed sleeve dress of her dreams on Christmas Day. (Here's more about Anne of Green Gables)
7) Mr Edwards meets Santa Claus and saves Christmas for the Ingalls family
Ma and Pa Ingalls have told Mary and Laura there's no way Santa Claus can cross the wild, flowing river to bring them Christmas presents. But their kind friend Mr Edwards manages to swim across with tin cups, candy canes and shiny coins for the girls. And he tells them the wonderful tale of how he met Santa Claus back in town, who entrusted him with the job of delivery. 'He was too old and fat to make the attempt himself.' (See my review of Little House on the Prairie)
8) Scrooge learns his lesson
Charles Dickens was an expert Christmas yarn spinner, and his most famous of all is about the grouchy old miser who has three supernatural visitors whizzing him to different moments of his life. He comes to his senses in time to join his nephew and the Cratchit family for a wonderful Christmas dinner like only the Victorians could throw. (Here's my review of A Christmas Carol)
Those are mine, and together they make a lovely patchwork quilt of Christmassy moments. If you can think of any extras, I invite you to mention them in the comments. And I'll also add that while all this is going on between the pages of books, I'll be spending a hot Christmas hopefully wading at the beach at some stage of the day, in Adelaide, Australia. How about you?