By Hannah Mason, Assistant Editor
The last two months of every calendar year, our days are decorated with holiday stories. We learn them from classic holiday movies and television specials, holiday music, and real-life stories, new and traditional, told to us by relatives at family gatherings this time of year.
We know all about beloved Christmas characters like Santa Claus, Rudolph, Buddy the elf, Ebenezer Scrooge, and the Grinch who stole Christmas. But many of these stories we know and love from movies and TV started out as books and written stories. Revisiting a few of these this Christmas season myself, I’ve realized that in the cases of some of my holiday favorites, the movie I know really is different than the book it started out as.
Here are three well-known holiday stories that are worth reading for yourself this winter break:
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Everybody knows Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future, but for a lot of us, most if not all of our knowledge of Dickens’s 1843 classic novella come from the overabundance of movie, television, musical, and theater versions of the story. Each version is enacted and told just a little bit differently, and as a result, there are many Christmas Carols floating around during the holiday season.
Enacted by everybody from Jim Carrey, Michael Caine (alongside the Muppets), and Scrooge McDuck, Ebenezer Scrooge’s “bah, humbug,” miserly colors show up best when you read the surprisingly not very lengthy original Dickens novel yourself. Long out of copyright, this story can be found for free online or as an e-book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
This heartwarming 1905 short story about a young couple who trade their most prized possessions to buy a Christmas present for each other has also been adapted over and over again. From the screen and stage, to an episode of Rugrats, to a number of movies and even a Disney Mickey Mouse Christmas special, Magi has taken many iterations over the years and across many cultures. In fact, The Gift of the Magi itself is based on a far older tale, of the biblical magi bringing gifts to the infant Jesus. The original short story is worth reading, especially since it only takes a few minutes to read, and can be found online or in book form.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
One of the most-loved children’s Christmas stories probably ever, Grinch was originally published in 1957 and the title character is said to represent Dr. Seuss (real name, Theodore Dreiser) himself. Legend has it, the story was written to help Dreiser figure out what Christmas really means for himself and to recapture his holiday spirit. The story is recounted pretty faithfully in the 1966 animated movie and the 2000 live-action movie starring Jim Carrey, but the original book and illustrations are always worth revisiting for yourself, no matter what age.
These are just three of the many beloved, heartwarming holiday tales that have jumped out of books and onto the screen and into our lives. This holiday season, take a few minutes’ break from the last-minute shopping, holiday movie marathon, family get-together busyness to revisit a few of these classic holiday stories for yourself in their original form, and to, in doing so, remind yourself what all the rest of the holiday craziness is really about in the first place.