When Amelia asked me to write a guest blog post about a favorite Christmas memory or story, I confess that I had a hard time coming up with an idea. Not because I don’t love Christmas, I do….. but I struggled to find the sort of undilutedhappy memory I thought she might be looking for. So I gave up and wrote what was in my heart.
Christmas has inspired its own genre of relentlessly happy movies, music, and novels. The Hallmark channel plays endless loops of cozy Christmas movies, and romance novelists are urged by our agents to crank out an annual Christmas novella.
And yet….most of those novels and movies are utterly forgettable. They are the literary equivalent of cotton candy, and just as filling. I think this is because most writers aim for the obvious when they write a Christmas story: the cozy settings, the loving family, the sentimental reunions, the adorable kids.They are light, fluffy, and predictable.
Now….I challenge you to think of a Christmas novel or story that blew you away. My hunch is that the story you picked probably had some very dark themes in it. Let’s have a look at the short list of Christmas stories that can truly be called “classics.” I think you will be able to see plenty of darkness:
It’s a Wonderful Life is about a middle-aged man whose disillusionment with his bland life has led him to the brink ofsuicide. The recent classic, Love Actually, is chock-full of broken marriages, widowhood, loneliness, and unrequited love. O’Henry’s The Gift of the Magi is about an impoverished couple struggling to show their love for one another, and Santa Claus doesn’t appear to with a bagful of goodies at the end. Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, is about an old man reflecting on his lost humanity and wasted life.
Despite the weighty themes, all of these stories end with a radiant sense of optimism. I don’t believe you can have a truly powerful Christmas story without that contrast between dark and light. It is through enduring loss or disappointment that we appreciate the gift of light. Christmas comes at the coldest time of the year, and it’s a brief moment to gather together and celebrate what really matters. In How the Grinch Who Stole Christmas (another gloom-
So as we gather together to celebrate the good things about Christmas, it’s okay to acknowledge the dark in our lives as well. Many of us will be lonely at this time of year. We have illness, financial setbacks, and other roadblocks in our way. We can’t have a true appreciation of joy without them.What are some of your favorite Christmas stories? And if you look carefully, are there undertones of sorrow in them? Click To Tweet
About the Author:
Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.