It’s December 23rd. Do your Christmas traditions include family readings, or reading for yourself? Have you pulled out your favorite Christmas books yet? Last year, I bought autographed copies for myself and my two sisters of Connie Willis’ Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. If you only know Willis as a science fiction writer who won numerous Hugo and Nebula awards, the author of To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday Book, and Blackout/All Clear, among others, you’re missing a treat. Connie Willis is passionate about Christmas, and she shares that love in this collection. Her stories aren’t sickening sweet. They’re perfect for the season.
Of course, I’m a little prejudiced. I agree with her that Hans Christian Andersen wrote depressing Christmas stories. And, I like Miracle on 34th Street much more than It’s a Wonderful Life. Read Willis’ wonderful introduction to this anthology, and you’ll see where her stories come from. She recently said on her website, “I have very strong opinions about what makes a good Christmas story--and what doesn't. I hate anything involving Lifetime-Channel goopy sentimentality and/or small children freezing to death in the snow. On the other hand, I don't want to read stories where callousness, cynicism, or downright meanness triumph. Mr. Potter should not win.”
Willis kicks off the collection with “Miracle,” a fun tribute to Miracle on 34th Street, with some It’s a Wonderful Life thrown in. How can any reader resist “Adaptation,” her tribute to A Christmas Carol? But, my favorite story in the entire book is “Inn,” a story that reexamines the Christmas story, the story of a young couple who got lost “Through some accident of time and space, and ended up at the church.” It’s an ironic story, startling in the details.
Connie Willis shares all her love of Christmas, in her thoughtful introduction, and the gifts she gives readers, her lists. One is a list of “Twelve Terrific Things to Read at Christmas,” and the other is “Twelve to Watch,” a movie list topped by Miracle on 34th Street. But, the true gift comes in the form of these stories. The characters are surprisingly well-developed for the short story format. And, the stories are imaginative, thoughtful and entertaining.
It’s quite possible readers won’t stop by today to see my recommendation of my favorite Christmas book, Connie Willis’ Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. I hope, instead, you’re finding time to slow down and read your own favorite book this holiday season.
Connie Willis’ website is www.conniewillis.net.
Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis. Bantam Books, ©1999. ISBN 9780553580488 (paperback), 298p.
FTC Full Disclosure – I own a copy of this book.