More Christmas Gems

Here are some more good Christmas stories from three well-known authors.  As before we give a brief excerpt from each story, and then invite you to connect to the remainder of the story, which resides on another site.  Here are three we are featuring:

Willa Cather     The Burglar’s Christmas

Leo Tolstoy      Papa Panov’s Special Christmas

Henry Van Dyke     The Other Wise Man

You will notice that two of these stories have the same theme of sacrificing to do good for others.  This is the same basic theme as that of the Frank Capra classic It’s a Wonderful Life, which is quite appropriately shown on television each Christmas season.  The other of our three stories here is a more modern look at one of Christ’s most famous parables.

(More stories like these can be found at http://osr.org/christmas/20-famous-christmas-stories/)

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The Burglar’s Christmas by Willa Cather

His cold hands clenched angrily, and for a moment he felt that bitter hatred of wealth, of ease, of everything that is well-fed and well-housed that is common to starving men. At any rate he had a right to eat! He had demanded great things from the world once: fame and wealth and admiration. Now it was simply bread—and he would have it! He looked about him quickly and felt the blood begin to stir in his veins. In all his straits he had never stolen anything, his tastes were above it. But to-night there would be no to-morrow. He was amused at the way in which the idea excited him. Was it possible there was yet one more experience that would distract him, one thing that had power to excite his jaded interest? Good! he had failed at everything else, now he would see what his chances would be as a common thief. It would be amusing to watch the beautiful consistency of his destiny work itself out even in that role. It would be interesting to add another study to his gallery of futile attempts, and then label them all: “the failure as a journalist,” “the failure as a lecturer,” “the failure as a business man,” “the failure as a thief,” and so on, like the titles under the pictures of the Dance of Death. It was time that Childe Roland came to the dark tower.

A girl hastened by him with her arms full of packages. She walked quickly and nervously, keeping well within the shadow, as if she were not accustomed to carrying bundles and did not care to meet any of her friends. As she crossed the muddy street, she made an effort to lift her skirt a little, and as she did so one of the packages slipped unnoticed from beneath her arm.

The rest of this story can be found at … http://cather.unl.edu/ss031.html

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Papa Panov’s Special Christmas by Leo Tolstoy

It was Christmas Eve and although it was still afternoon, lights had begun to appear in the shops and houses of the little Russian village, for the short winter day was nearly over. Excited children scurried indoors and now only muffled sounds of chatter and laughter escaped from closed shutters.

Old Papa Panov, the village shoemaker, stepped outside his shop to take one last look around. The sounds of happiness, the bright lights and the faint but delicious smells of Christmas cooking reminded him of past Christmas times when his wife had still been alive and his own children little. Now they had gone. His usually cheerful face, with the little laughter wrinkles behind the round steel spectacles, looked sad now. But he went back indoors with a firm step, put up the shutters and set a pot of coffee to heat on the charcoal stove. Then, with a sigh, he settled in his big armchair.

Papa Panov did not often read, but tonight he pulled down the big old family Bible and, slowly tracing the lines with one forefinger, he read again the Christmas story. He read how Mary and Joseph, tired by their journey to Bethlehem, found no room for them at the inn, so that Mary’s little baby was born in the cowshed.

The rest of this story can be found at … http://classiclit.about.com/od/christmasstoriesholiday/a/aa_papachr.htm

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The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke

You know the story of the Three Wise Men of the East, and how they travelled from far away to offer their gifts at the manger-cradle in Bethlehem. But have you ever heard the story of the Other Wise Man, who also saw the star in its rising, and set out to follow it, yet did not arrive with his brethren in the presence of the young child Jesus? Of the great desire of this fourth pilgrim, and how it was denied, yet accomplished in the denial; of his many wanderings and the probations of his soul; of the long way of his seeking and the strange way of his finding the One whom he sought–I would tell the tale as I have heard fragments of it in the Hall of Dreams, in the palace of the Heart of Man.

The rest of this story can be found at … http://www.classicreader.com/book/593/1/

 

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