Christmas Stories

Yesterday was our first Christmas with our son. Of course, at just under 3 months old, he wasn’t aware of most of what was going on around him, but we loved it all anyway, and I enjoyed the whole holiday even more because I was thinking of how we’d be sharing it with him in the future.

Because we’re in England – and because my husband and I are both SF fans as well as writers – one of the main events of the day was, of course, the Doctor Who Christmas special. (The new Wallace & Grommit Christmas special would also have been a great feature except that it was on at 8:30, and, as new parents, we’d already collapsed into bed by the time it started!) As writers do, we had a great time watching it and then just as good a time discussing it afterwards and debating how we would have changed bits if we’d written it. (Sorry, Russell T. Davies! No offence meant.)

I grew up without a television in the house, so there were no Christmas specials to watch on TV, but there were stories in books that made the holiday feel real to me. Every year, we read Dickens’s A Christmas Carol out loud, finishing on Christmas Day, and every Christmas Eve, before bed, we read The Night Before Christmas. I still have lines from both books memorized, and they pop into my head frequently around Christmastime!

As we look forward to sharing our Christmases with our son in the future and forming our own new family traditions, I’ve been thinking about what stories make Christmas for different people. I love the new British tradition of Doctor Who Christmas specials – and to fans like us, Doctor Who fighting Victorian-age Cybermen really can make Christmas Day special. So can Scrooge and Marley (in the book or any of the films), or Big Bird and Cookie Monster, in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, my favorite Christmas video when I was a kid. For me, so can an origami bird in “Five Things of Beauty” – it’s not a Christmas-themed story in any way (and in fact, Strange Horizons published it in sunny July), but my husband wrote it for me as a Christmas gift several years ago, and every time I read it, I feel Christmas-y again.

What stories make Christmas, for you?

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There are 10 comments. Get the RSS feed for comments on this entry.

  1. 1. Adam Heine

    With my mom, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (my mom and I share an odd sense of humor).

    With my friends, Diehard (the greatest action movie doubles as the greatest Christmas movie :-) .

    With my family, Home Alone (our kids who don’t speak English really like the slapstick humor, especially the part where the guy counts “1, 2, 10!” then fires his tommy gun).

  2. 2. Stephanie Burgis

    That’s such a good point – Christmas stories are so community-based! Eve now, living in a different country from my dad, it’s him I think of when I think about A Christmas Carol, because he was the one who read it out loud every year as I was growing up.

  3. 3. Marcy

    My daughter and I always watch The Santa Clause, which we agree is a really lame movie . . . but we’ve been doing it for years, so there you go . . .

  4. 4. Karen Wester Newton

    I love watching White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life, although the latter still irks me with its depiction of Donna Reid’s “fate worse than death”– being an unmarried librarian!

    Many happy Christmases to you! Wait until next year! Toddlers love Christmas.

  5. 5. S.C. Butler

    Ah, toddler Christmas, the beginning of ever more giddy Christmases which will probably peak around double digits.

    My family Christmas stories are all about the food. Tidal waves if it, followed by lolling on the floor afterwards like seals on carpet.

  6. 6. Stephanie Burgis

    Marcy – oh, yeah, tradition is WAY more important than quality in these circumstances! ;)

    And Karen – I laughed out loud at your description of the fate worse than death! I love White Christmas, but I’ve still never seen It’s a Wonderful Life – maybe I’ll have to, now…

    And ohhhh, yes, food is hugely important to any good Christmas! :)

  7. 7. hagelrat

    Umm, the Die Hard movies are a christmas staple for us, the week before Christmas we watch them all.

  8. 8. Stephanie Burgis

    Now I’m trying really hard to remember if it’s actually Christmas in ie Hard II or if it’s just winter or if my memory is screwing up completely…it’s obviously been far too long since I’ve seen those movies!

  9. 9. OtterB

    For me it’s the Grinch … the book is fine, but the voice I hear in my head is the original animated Christmas special, not the remake from a few years ago.

    “All the Whos down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot…”

  10. 10. Stephanie Burgis

    Yes – the original Christmas special is the one I think of every time!

Author Information

Stephanie Burgis

Stephanie Burgis is an American writer who lives in Yorkshire, England, with her husband, fellow writer Patrick Samphire, their son "Mr Darcy", and their crazy-sweet border collie mix, Maya. Her Regency fantasy trilogy for kids, The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, will be published by Atheneum Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, in 2010, 2011, and 2012, beginning with Book One: A Most Improper Magick. She has also published short stories in a variety of magazines, anthologies, and podcasts, including Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. You can find out more, or read/listen to her published stories online, at her website. Visit site.

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