Friday 15 December 2023

A few favourite Christmas scenes from classic children's books

As Christmas gets nearer and nearer I thought I'd share some of my favourite books that have a festive scene that always sticks in my memory! I always feel nostalgic at Christmas time, and going back to old favourite books is definitely comforting when it's cold and miserable outside.

These are all children's books that I have read over and over, both as an adult and as a child, and I'm sure I'll read many times more. They are all classic children's books, and if you are interested they are available to read for free online or to download thanks to Project Gutenberg

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

The book begins with the memorable opening line "“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug." and we are introduced to the four March girls as they contemplate a Christmas without presents and their father away, serving as a chaplain in the Civil War which has made it a difficult time for many people. The girls give their Christmas breakfast away to a starving family, but they still manage to have an enjoyable day performing a Christmas play, and later on they receive some treats from their wealthy neighbours.

"There was ice cream, actually two dishes of it, pink and white, and cake and fruit and distracting French bonbons and, in the middle of the table, four great bouquets of hot house flowers."

I love reading about how they are able to make the best of things and share what they have with others even though they don't have much themselves.

What Katy Did - Susan Coolidge

Katy is a young girl when she is confined to bed after an accident on a swing which damages her spine. At Christmas she is starting to come to terms with the fact that she isn't going to get better straightaway, and she wants to make Christmas special for her family. I love reading about the presents that she chooses for everyone and how they all write their Christmas wishes to send up the chimney. 

"Then they all sat down round the fire to write their wishes on bits of paper, and see whether they would burn, or fly up the chimney. If they did the latter, it was a sign that Santa Claus had them safe, and would bring the things wished for."

Then she helps her father and aunt fill the stockings.

""What's that?" asked Dr. Carr, as Aunt Izzie rammed a long, narrow package into Clover's stocking." A nail-brush," answered Aunt Izzie; "Clover needed a new one." How Papa and Katy laughed! "I don't believe Santa Claus ever had such a thing before," said Dr. Carr. "He's a very dirty old gentleman, then," observed Aunt Izzie, grimly."

This part always makes me smile because I used to receive useful things in my stocking, and so do my children!

Open book on a Christmas festive themed table
Photo credit Sabina Sturzu via Unsplash

What Katy Did at School - Susan Coolidge

A few years later the older two girls, Katy and Clover, are away at boarding school and aren't able to come home for Christmas which has made them and their friends feel miserable. Then on Christmas Eve a box from home is delivered for them which is filled with the most wonderful Christmas gifts and treats. I love reading the description of everything that is included and how everyone at home has remembered them.

"What fun it was opening those bundles! The girls made a long business of it, taking out but one at a time, exclaiming, admiring, and exhibiting to Rose, before they began upon another. They laughed, they joked, but I do not think it would have taken much to make either of them cry. It was almost too tender a pleasure, these proofs of loving remembrance from the little one; and each separate article seemed full of the very look and feel of home."

"Never was such a wonderful box. It appeared to have no bottom whatever. Under the presents were parcels of figs, prunes, almonds, raisins, candy; under those, apples and pears. There seemed no end to the surprises."

Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder

In the first book in the series the family are living in a cabin in the woods, and although they are isolated they still have family that are close enough to visit occasionally. At Christmas their Aunt, Uncle and cousins come to stay just for one night, and the the children have fun playing in the snow and eating all the delicious food. 

"In each stocking there was a pair of bright red mittens and there was a long flat stick of red-and-white-striped, pepper-mint candy, all beautifully notched along one side. They were all so happy they could hardly speak at first. They just looked with shining eyes at those lovely Christmas presents. But Laura was happiest of all. Laura had a rag doll."

Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder

The creek has risen and the children know that now Santa Claus won't be able to reach them. And reading as an adult you can see that their parents are also sad that they aren't going to be able to give the girls any Christmas gifts. Then at the last minute their friend Mr Edwards arrives at their house and tells the girls that he met Santa Claus in town and has brought their gifts. 

"They had never even thought of such a thing as having a penny. Think of having a whole penny for your very own. Think of having a cup and a cake and a stick of candy and a penny. There had never been such a Christmas."

I'd love to hear of any Christmas scenes from books that I've forgotten!

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