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scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source

For today's Christmas Books post, rather than focusing on one particular book, we're going to feature several classic short stories that celebrate the Christmas season and have stood the test of time.

The first is The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry. While there is a picture book version of this story, the full text is also available on various websites, such as this one. It is also included in The Book of Virtues. This touching, humorous story involves a young married couple (Della and Jim) who are struggling to afford Christmas gifts for each other. After each makes a decision to sell one thing to buy another, they realize that their decisions ultimately resulted in useless gifts! But the focus of the story is on their love for each other despite their difficult circumstances.

 

The second is Papa Panov's Special Day. Apparently this story was originally written by Reuben Saillens, a French author, and retold at a later time by Russian author Leo Tolstoy. The text of the Tolstoy version is available here. This story is about a shoemaker who has a dream in which Jesus tells him that he will visit him on Christmas day. Various people in need show up on Christmas, and each time Papa Panov helps them, wondering when Jesus himself will arrive. This story is an embodiment of Matthew 25:35-40 in which Jesus says that when we give to the "least of these," we are really giving to him. The basic story has been adapted in other ways as well, such as "The Christmas Guest," (here's a video that contains the audio of Andy Griffith narrating that story -- and here's one of Johnny Cash and another of Reba McEntire doing the same).

 

Lastly is Henry Van Dyke's The Story of The Other Wise Man. Van Dyke wrote a poem called "Thou Wayfaring Jesus," which Professor Puzzler and I recorded as a song a few years back. This story (text available online here) involves one of the magi named Artaban, who is delayed in his search for the Christ child, and ends up giving away his treasure in various ways, including one incident where he saves a child from Herod's soldiers. It is similar to the Papa Panov story above (though longer) in that Artaban discovers at the end that he had truly found the Lord by giving of himself to "the least of these."

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