While I was away on vacation, I read four more Christmas stories: Little Maid Marian, by Amy Blanchard; The Christmas Child, by Hesba Stretton; Rosemary, by A.M and C.N. Williamson; and The Romance of a Christmas Card, by Kate Douglas Wiggin. And I think I have a pretty good idea now of what a Christmas Story is supposed to involve.
First, and most obviously, there is the moral. There is no point to a Christmas story without a moral. Usually the moral has to do with forgiveness.
Equally important is the happy ending, although there is a way around this: if your story is really miserable, you can get away with an ending that’s a bit of a downer.
There also seems to be a sort of age requirement. Apparently, by the beginning of the twentieth century, it was no longer acceptable to write a Christmas story about an old guy. Sorry, Scrooge. The protagonist must be either a small and adorable child, or a young man or woman of about the right age to be falling in love.
Finally, as much of the story as possible has to be set at Christmastime. But not necessarily the same Christmastime. I think of it as the fourth classical unity. This has become one of my favorite things about Christmas stories. I really like it when they skip from one Christmas to the next, and then spend half of the second one recounting what’s happened during the course of the year. Read the rest of this entry ?