Thursday, December 13, 2012

25 Days of Holiday Book Reviews: Classic Short Stories

Merry Christmas from BetsyI am so happy to be part of Maestra Amanda's 25 days of holiday book reviews! This time of year (the end of November to the first week of January) is by far my favorite time of the year - it is about family, giving and cheer. Last year when Jen and I participated in There's a Book's Twelve Days of Christmas I wrote about Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle and I wanted to write about something else this year. When I couldn't think of anything, I sent a text to my mom and we started reminiscing about holidays. First, we talked about movies, because that is really how we as a family bonded during the holidays. Then, I reigned in the conversation and asked her to focus on Christmas reads that we read when I was a child. She immediately listed 2 short stories and a book: The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, The Shoemaker and the Elves by The Brothers Grimm and Merry Christmas from Betsy (1970) by Carolyn Haywood.  I was so sad that I only vaguely remembered them, so I immediately got the two short stories and reread. 

The Gift of the MagiTitle: The Gift of the Magi
Author: O. Henry
Publisher: Various
Publication Date: 1906
Genre/Format: Romance/Short Story
Goodreads Summary: In a shabby New York flat, Della sobs as she counts the few coins she has saved to buy a Christmas present for her husband, Jim. A gift worthy of her devotion will require a great sacrifice: selling her long, beautiful hair. Jim, meanwhile, has made a sacrifice for Della that is no less difficult. As they exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, the discovery of what each has done fills them with despair, until they realize that the true gifts of Christmas can be found more readily in their humble apartment than in any fine store. O. Henry paints a masterly portrait of unfaltering love, a haven from the harsh world outside.
What I Think: O. Henry has put so much emotion in a bit over 2,000 words. It is a beautiful story that left me tearing up and truly embodies the meaning of Christmas, the holiday spirit and true love.  You, too, can read this great story thanks to Project Gutenberg- 
Snatch of Text: "One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.
     There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating."
Writing Prompts: Della wants to get her husband the best gift possible for him, so she was willing to sacrifice her most precious belonging- have you ever sacrificed a precious item to help you get something for someone else? If not, would you? For whom? What is your most precious belonging? 
Topics Covered: Love, Sacrifice, Giving

The Shoemaker and the ElvesTitle: The Shoemaker and the Elves
Author: The Brothers Grimm
Publisher: Various
Publication Date: 1806
Genre/Format: Fairy Tale/Short Story
Goodreads Summary:  The beloved story of a poor shoemaker, kindhearted elves, and the giving spirit of Christmas.
What I Think: When my mom mentioned this story, I knew the story and almost didn't reread it, but since I already had Grimm Fairy Tales on my Kindle, I decided to quickly read it. Although I did remember the gist of the story, I did not remember the ending and it just warmed my heart. You too should reread (once again available thanks to Project Gutenberg)-
Snatch of Text: "In the morning, after he had said his prayers, and was just going to sit down to work, the two shoes stood quite finished on his table. He was astounded, and knew not what to say to it. He took the shoes in his hands to observe them closer, and they were so neatly made that there was not one bad stitch in them, just as if they were intended as a masterpiece."
Writing Prompts: Write about a time when someone has helped you even when there was nothing in it for them. 
Topics Covered: Work, Giving, Income

I *heart* Them Both:

Happy holidays! 

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