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Write Anything’s Anything-But-Secret Santa Gift Exchange

December 16, 2008

Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving. And for a bunch of bibliophiles, what could be a better gift than the gift of books?

So with a budget of $0, it’s time for Write Anything’s Anything-But-Secret Santa Gift Exchange.

It’s not hard at all. You’re going to suggest one classic (i.e., traditional (i.e., old)) Christmas Story, and one new (and there’s no definition for what counts as old, and what’s new). The only rules are:

  1. Recommendations must be in print (as much as we all love Snoopy, no Peanut’s Christmas here).
  2. They should be something that aren’t holiday givens. I don’t care how wonderful Dicken’s A Christmas Carol is, we’ve all either read it or are aware of it, and have avoided it.

Be generous…play as often as you want, but only one of each per comment.

Oh.. and I guess there is a third rule…No Re-Gifting!

I’ll gift first…

Old: The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry. Most people have never read this story, though once you do, you’ll realize that you’ve seen at least a dozen adaptations. The original beats out all the impersonators in that it manages to be poignant, without the violins kicking in too loudly. With the commercial monstrosity that Christmas has become, along with the current financial downturn, this story is particularly apropos. It’s in the public domain, so you can find it online for free.

New: Miracle, by Connie Willis. This story (which might be a novella depending on how strict your definitions are) is part of the Miracle and Other Christmas Tales story collection. While the tale is satirical, with a fair amount of slapstick thrown in, and you can see the ending coming a mile away, the journey is what makes this one fun. It pokes fun at the frenzied pace of the modern Christmas and the ubiquity of a certain Christmas movie. There are seven additional tales that range from the devout to the bizarre, and I’m not even sure Miracle is the best, but I think it’s a good suggestion for most readers.

  1. December 17, 2008 7:32 am

    I’m afraid I might be violating the rules a bit here by putting these in, since I think they’re “out of print”, but I actually saw one of them in a book store just the other day, so I know they’re “around.”

    Old:”The Gift of the Magi” is one of my favorites of all time. We read it in High School and I loved it. I agree with everything you said about it and now that it is in my mind, I can’t think of anything else or any other story that matters.

    New: “Christmas” by Issac Asimov, et. al. This is a book of stories that were in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and they’re about Christmas in the far future where “the origins” of Christmas have truly been lost to the mists of time. It is very interesting to read these visions of the distant future and see how “the meaning” is still there, though often not visibly or in the way we might expect. It’s not terrific “hard” science fiction, but good stories nonetheless.

  2. Dark Angel permalink
    December 17, 2008 8:58 am

    Old: Christmas at Mole End, by Kenneth Graham. I’m not actually sure if it’s a book by itself or part of a collection, as I only have it in audio. But it’s a beautiful little story about finding joy in even the simplest things in life.
    new: Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett. This is one of Pratchett’s discworld series and takes place at Hogswatch, the discworld’s version of Christmas. The Hogfather – Discworld’s Santa Claus – has dissappeared and Death takes over his duties. This is a quite humorous book, but does contain strong language.

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