Charles Dickens helped to create the Christmas Tale genre, but many writers before and after him were also drawn to create (with a wink and a nod to Marcel Proust) remembrances of Christmases past. There exists a diverse and unexpected array of prose and stage works that summon up the holiday spirits including: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby; Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women; Bret Harte’s How Christmas Came to Simpson’s Bar; Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales; O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi; Victor Hugo’s “Cosette” in Les Miserables; Washington Irving’s “The Christmas Dinner” in The Sketch Book; Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “The Christmas Dinner”; Charles Dickens’s “The Great Birthday “ in Seven Poor Travelers; William Dean Howells’ Christmas Every Day and Other Stories Told for Children; Herman Melville’s Moby Dick; L. Frank Baum’s A Kidnapped Santa Claus; Hans Christian Andersen’s The Fir Tree; Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Diary of a Writer; Thomas Hardy’s Yuletide in a Younger World; Robert Louis Stevenson’s Markheim; Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle; and in the world of theatre two classics with actual Christmas trees on stage – Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s The Man Who Came to Dinner.
A lesser known prose piece by the American satirist Mark Twain also exists which is worth sharing. Mark Twain (in the guise of the venerable correspondent Santa Claus) responded to Susy Clemens and her baby sister’s letters and gift requests:
From Santa Claus, whom people sometimes call the Man in the Moon:
I have received and read all the letters which you and your little sister have written me by the hand of your mother and your nurses; I have also read those which you little people have written me with your own hands – for although you did not use any characters that are in grown people’s alphabet, you used the characters that all children in all lands on earth and in the twinkling stars use; and as all my subjects in the moon are children and use no character but that, you will easily understand that I can read your and your baby sister’s jagged and fantastic marks without any trouble at all. But I had trouble with those letters which you dictated through your mother and the nurses, for I am a foreigner and cannot read English writing well.