F_Scott_Fitzgerald_1921Contrary to ethnic and religious stereotypes, I am not celebrating this Christmas Day with a Chinese meal despite my fondness for the cuisine.

But as publisher of TeleRead, I will wish everyone to whom it applies a Merry Christmas from Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., where, in the middle of the night, it’s 63 degrees. Nate got it right. This is our Australian Christmas.

Paul St. John Mackintosh has treated us to Thomas Hardy’s words on the holiday. Now, if the spirit moves you, why not share your own favorite literary mentions of Christmas within the limits of copyright law? Yes, keep it extra-short unless your gem is in the public domain. If you’re reading this after Christmas, no problem. Share anyway.

I’ve got dibs on an F. Scott Fitzgerald snippet from The Great Gatsby:

“When we pulled out into the winter night and the real snow, our snow, began to stretch out beside us and twinkle against the windows, and the dim lights of small Wisconsin stations moved by, a sharp wild brace came suddenly into the air. That’s my middle-west—not the wheat or the prairies or the lost Swede towns, but the thrilling returning trains of my youth and the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark and the shadows of holly wreaths thrown by lighted windows on the snow.”

Note: This is a holiday of course for TeleRead staffers. The Joanna essay I’m about to post was written earlier this week.

Credit for Fitzgerald photo: Here.


  1. Recently, I came across a short poem with a Christmas theme that was attributed to the popular nineteenth-century poet John Greenleaf Whittier, but the citation listed in Wikiquote pointed to a publication in 1901 which occurred after Whittier’s death. Here is a version of the text:

    [Begin verse]
    For somehow, not only for Christmas, but all the long year through,
    The joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you;
    And the more you spend in blessing the poor, the lonely, and sad,
    The more to your heart’s possessing, returns to make you glad.
    [End verse]

    Thanks to the Google Books database I discovered that Whittier did not write the lines above. Instead, they first appeared as the final lines of a 54-line poem crafted by Margaret E. Sangster.

    If we built the type of electronic library long-advocated by David Rothman then more discoveries of this type would be possible.

    More information about the poem is available at the Quote Investigator website.

  2. From my childhood, this was part of our family advent reading for Christmas Day:

    Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
    Christmas in lands of the fir-tree and pine,
    Christmas in lands of the palm-tree and vine,
    Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,
    Christmas where cornfields stand sunny and bright.
    Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!

    Christmas where children are hopeful and gay,
    Christmas where old men are patient and gray,
    Christmas where peace, like a dove in his flight,
    Broods o’re brave men in the thick of the fight;
    Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
    For the Christ-child who comes is the Master of all;
    No palace too great, no cottage too small.
    Phillips Brooks

    Also, my dad always read Clement Clarke Moore’s “Twas the night before Christmas” poem to us kids on Christmas Eve.

  3. @Garson: I had time today to visit the Quote Investigator website—what a treasure trove! I’m also searching for the full version of “The Christmas Tree” by Margaret E. Sangster, but have yet to find it. Time to pull down all my old family poetry books. Thanks for sharing this.

    @David: You’re welcome. I also like the opening from “Mrs. Mike: the story of Katherine Mary Flannigan”. I read this book every December and the opening just shouts Christmas, although it’s not:

    “The worst winter in fifty years … On the north side of the train the windows were plastered with snow, and on the south side great clouds of snow were whipped along by a sixty-mile gale. there was snow on top of the train and snow under the train, and all the snow there was left in the world in front of the train, which was why were were stopped.”

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