Thursday, December 25, 2014

Advent Calendar of Stories: Days 22-24

Here we are in the home stretch of the Advent Calendar of Stories project. And while I'm at it, I would like to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Day 22: "Crisp New Bills for Mr. Teagle" by Frank Sullivan
When Mr. Clement Teagle leaves his apartment on Christmas Eve, ostensibly to do his Christmas shopping for his wife, he remembers that he hasn't gotten any money to give the doorman and the elevator operator of his apartment building. So he requests some additional new crisp bills while at the bank to give them, and he is shocked when the teller tears up his check after handing him the cash. It seems that Mr. Teagle has been the ideal depositor, and the bank wants to show its admiration for him with a gift of $100 (the amount of his check). Of course, Mr. Teagle is flabbergasted, but it only gets worse, as everyone he meets the rest of the day wants to give him a gift, just out of the blue. Although this is an absurd little story, I found it enjoyable.

Day 23: "What Love Can Do" by Louisa May Alcott
Dolly and Grace are two young girls who live in a boarding house with their mother and younger siblings. Their father is dead, so they and their mother have to work at menial jobs just to make ends barely meet. Even so, the two sisters have saved up enough money to buy a tiny tree and a few presents for their siblings, but of course there is nothing left over for them, and they expect nothing from their mother. So on Christmas Eve they lie in bed and talk longingly about the Christmas they would like to have. They are overheard by one of the other residents of the boarding house, and soon the love and good deeds start to spread, culminating in a Christmas beyond the girls' wildest dreams.

This is a sweet little story (as one might expect, given the author) that was previously unknown to me. However, I think that it's now one of my favorite new Christmas stories. I read this story out of a special edition of Christmas stories by Louisa May Alcott, published this year by Penguin Books as part of their "Christmas Classics" series. These are beautiful, small books that are a joy to hold in the hand. I recommend them AND this story highly!

Day 24: "The Other Wise Man" by Henry Van Dyke
A classic and wonderful story about Artaban, the fourth wise man (in Van Dyke's mythology) who sets out to find the newborn King, along with his better-known colleagues, but who can never catch up with them or find the King. Owing to a series of "chance" encounters with individuals who need his help, he's always a day late and a dollar short as far as his quest for Jesus is concerned. But in the end, he finds out that he has been seeing Him all along, and his quest ends unexpectedly but successfully. You can find this story online, and it's well worth reading.

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