Yesterday I wrote about A Christmas Story, which pretty much everyone has seen. Today I’m writing about a collection of Christmas stories, which many of you won’t have read. I borrowed Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, a recent addition to my “Favorite Things of Christmas” list, from the library, but now it’s also on my “books to buy” list. I’m sure I’ll want to reread some of these stories for future Christmases.
Connie Willis is one of my favorite writers. If you’ve previously shied away from her books because they’re (a) science fiction, or (b) really long, here’s the perfect opportunity to read her. These eight short stories aren’t all science fiction, and even those that have a SF slant are still accessible to non-SF readers.
The book’s preface, in fact, may be my favorite part. Willis writes enthusiastically, yet with her usual sense of humor, about how much she loves all things Christmas. She even claims to love standing in line at the airport, although immediately afterwards she confesses, “I lied.” But she does love everything else.
Since I accidentally returned the book to the library yesterday (don’t ask), I can’t go into too much detail about the stories, but that’s actually a good thing. You need to read them for yourself, not just skim my quick summary. I liked all eight stories, but the ones I enjoyed the most, and remember the best, are “Miracle,” “Inn,” and “Epiphany.”
“Miracle” reads like an old comedy about an office romance, maybe one starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, but with a cool Willis twist. She has a lot of fun with the overwhelming popularity of It’s a Wonderful Life, and is a strong advocate for Miracle on 34th Street. (I’m not giving anything away here–she says this in the preface.) And did I mention the annoying Christmas spirit who won’t go away? Very fun story.
“Inn” opens with choir members at rehearsal for the Christmas pageant, ordinary people going about their life. Then one of the singers runs into two people who are tired and cold and apparently homeless, looking for shelter. But the church members have been told not to let the homeless into the church. You’ve probably guessed that the homeless woman is great with child, but while this story may seem a little predictable Willis does add her own unique wit and perspective to the plot.
My favorite story of all is the final one in the collection, “Epiphany.” This is basically a modern retelling of the journey of the three kings, but one involving a carnival, a snowstorm, and a whole passel of hidden clues and cryptic signs. Loved this one.
Though not all of the stories in this collection are science fiction, they do all celebrate the spirit of Christmas. (The real spirit of Christmas, not the annoying guy in “Miracle.”) Fans of Connie Willis and anyone who’d like to read Christmas stories that are just a little different will like this book. Check it out!
Has anyone read this before? Other suggestions for Christmas stories that aren’t overly sweet and sentimental?