Charles Dickens’s great story of Ebenezer Scrooge has been depicted in numerous cartoons and movies, but long before this significant story became a commercial success, it was enjoyed by English-speaking families around the world. We learned from Ebenezer Scrooge, a man who personified stinginess, that it is better to give than to receive, especially since the one who gives reaps the benefits of giving, having made a difference in the lives of others. Dickens taught readers that Christmas was a holiday to give, share a meal, and show kindness to those who are lonely and who might benefit from some help. This timeless story enriched the minds of young and old alike, as Dicken’s storytelling was a means of teaching society how to behave in an ethical, rather than selfish manner.
Christmas stories are profound teachers that allow readers and listeners to make informed decisions based on intense internal analysis. Furthermore, it is through reading with a group that these wonderful stories enhance our English speaking skills. Sharing a story is one of the oldest human traditions, a means of intergenerational and multicultural connectivity that evokes all the senses. These great stories fill the hearts of enchanted dreams.
The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future teach Scrooge the negative results of stinginess and greed. These concepts undoubtedly emerge when a group of readers discuss the motivations for Scrooge’s greed. Did Scrooge become so greedy because of his beloved girlfriend whom he lost, or was it his fault that his girlfriend left him when he was young? Did such stinginess make him a mean man? Did the observation of another individual finally turn Scrooge into a caring individual, putting him on the right track? Readers might ponder whether it really was necessary for Scrooge to have a terrifying visit from a ghost in order for him, however stingy, to change his ways. One might wonder if people should do good things with heavenly rewards in mind. Was it ultimately Scrooge’s fault for a young child’s illness that caused Ebenezer Scrooge to see the light? This stimulating debate has continued for decades and will hopefully have readers pondering these questions for decades to come.
The Gift of the Magi (1905) by American author O Henry describes the difficulties faced by young married couples in the early 20th century. The main protagonist Della, a poor housewife, makes great sacrifices, showing parsimony, to save a dollar and eighty-seven cents to buy a meaningful Christmas gift for her husband Jim. Similarly, Jim also makes a deep sacrifice to give Della a suitable gift. The two compare Christmas to gift giving and consumerism, but learn that Christmas means more than a shopping vacation. Rather, your sacrifices made for the benefit of others count more than anything else. It is not only the sacrifice of Christ, but also the personal offerings that people make to those around them that make Christmas an enchanted and magical holiday. The Gift of the Magi is often read in American public schools, but this story deserves in-depth discussion by adults and intellectuals of all ages. It ends with a surprising twist that both pleases and disappoints readers depending on their own personal philosophies. The Gift of the Magi is not very long, making it a perfect reading on Christmas Eve.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) from Dr. Seuss always pleases children during the Christmas season. It not only teaches about feelings of love, but it also helps readers develop a sense of rhyme and rhythm. The Grinch is a greedy creature who steals all the gifts from the inhabitants of Whoville. He discovers that material goods stolen from others do not represent happiness, so he decides to return them. In an attempt to teach young readers that the holiday season is about more than receiving gifts from others, Dr. Seuss employed imaginative verses with rhymes. Readers of all ages will enjoy reading this story over and over again.
The famous poem The Night Before Christmas (1837), possibly written by Clement Clarke Moore, has done much to shape the modern vision of Santa Claus. Santa is represented as a magical person who gives gifts to children on Christmas Eve. In this poem, Christmas focuses more on children than adults. The father tells the story of how he sees Santa while his children sleep. The sound of the poem, which is in the form of limerick, delights readers who enjoy the natural rhythm of limerick.
In The Three Kings, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow portrays the plight of those who sought Jesus at the time of his birth. Kings contemplate a star that represents birth as predicted in a prophecy. The new King would be greater than Herod himself. Such a child would be the child of God, a child born to save humanity. Longfellow paints a portrait of Mary, the mother of Christ who, though concerned, has absolute faith in the promise of an angel. Such a vivid poem reminds readers and listeners of the true origins of Christmas that force us to believe in the child who also represents the possibilities, potentials and capacities of childhood in general.
From the stories we share at Christmas time the stories of our lives are born, many of which are put down on paper to be further explored. May Christmas become the stimulus for growth fruit of such a rich narrative tradition. After all, telling the Christmas story has been passed down to all of us from previous generations who are still our ancestors to be cherished.