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04 December 2013


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The Little Fir-Tree, by Hans Christian Andersen. This little fir tree grows up in the forest dreaming of doing great things with his life, eventually gets cut down and taken for a Christmas tree, is all thrilled with getting decorated and beloved, and then is first tossed in the attic and then thrown outside, chopped up, and burned.



The gold wrapping paper from Animaniacs comes to mind




Ever read Connie Willis' "Miracle"? Short stories, Christmas themed. I love it. She writes in the introduction about Christmas stories:

"...the Christmas-story writer has to walk a narrow tightrope between sentiment and skepticism, and most writers end up falling off into either cynicism or mawkish sappiness.

And, yes, I am talking about Hans Christian Andersen. He invented the whole three-hanky sob story, whose plot Maxim Gorki, in a fit of pique, described as taking a poor girl or boy and letting them "freeze somewhere under a window, behind which there is usually a Christmas tree that throws its radiant splendor upon them." Match girls, steadfast tin soldiers, even snowmen (melted, not frozen) all met with a fate they (and we) didn't deserve, especially at Christmas.

Nobody, before Andersen came along, had thought of writing such depressing Christmas stories....

In the twentieth century, the Andersen-style tearjerker moved into the movies, which starred Margaret O'Brien (who definitely deserved to die) and other child stars, chosen for their pallor and their ability to cough. They had titles like All Mine to Give and The Christmas Tree, which tricked hapless moviegoers into thinking they were going to see a cheery Christmas movie, when really they were about little boys who succumbed to radiation poisoning on Christmas Eve."


Yet another reason that Connie Willis is THE STUFF. I love her, and I will be sure to snag that book.

Actually, I think I'll go and order it RIGHT NOW.

Brooke Shirts

I learned in my "history of children's literature" course in library school that a poem called "A Dying Child's Request" was a REALLLY popular Christmas poem back in Victorian times up until the early 20th century. You can read it here: http://poetry.literaturelearning.org/?q=node/616

I didn't believe it until I went to a church Christmas party, and a group of little old ladies was asked to share their "favorite Christmas memory," and one of them RECITED THIS POEM. Seriously, it was like cold dark water was thrown on all of us. Wugh.

Also, Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince" has also been a Christmas tradition for a long time. Technically niether of these are "Christmas stories," but geez. Depressio.


I just read the poem, and yeeeeeeeeessssh! I can't even imagine listening to someone recite that without stabbing myself.


For several Christmases in a row, my father got a kick out of reading us The Bird's Christmas Carol-- not only does little Carol get born on Christmas, but the angels call her home on Christmas too. And in the meantime, she gets to patronize the poor from her sick-bed (anything to pass the time while dying....)

(my sisters and I actually enjoyed it)


The darkest, coldest time of the year, when the need for light, warmth, sustenance is high, as are expectations - what a fine time to inflict a boatload of pain and get away with it. Suffering and drama for the whole family!

L. E. Carmichael

There are two carols that are so depressing I have to instantly change the radio station - The Christmas Shoes, and The Cat Carol.

And people REQUEST them.


No, no, no, The Night After Christmas is actually one of the best books ever. That last page is one of my favorites in all of picture-book literature. And I think that Teddy and Annie are just engaging in a little clever homeless-toy banter.

The Little Match Girl, now, that's a book from hell.

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