Monday, December 2, 2013

A Christmas Literature Evening

        We will republish this blog post yearly.....because we are a literature-based blog.......and because this is such a fine idea.......we want to inspire you to start this tradition in your home, in your life.  If you cannot do it, maybe encourage a friend....or work with a friend or a group to make it happen.  Another way to keep celebrating the Christmas season.....after Christmas Day.  Posting this early in December can give you time to make your plan, get it on the calendar and invite your guests.  Please let us know if you do it!  You can even just do it in your own family.

Christmas Literature Evening…….

 What fun we could have, my literature-loving friends, if we could all gather together! In my dreams!

     I guess if I cannot have you all here with me, I will invite you to begin this tradition in your own home.  If you DO take me up on this invitation, please share!

     I like to send an email invitation out to my local friends sometime in early December, so they can save the date.  The date always falls in the first week of the Christmas season.  It usually is on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which I find appropriate considering the room is often full of young people. I find it a nice way to commemorate the feast. 

The official invitation:

Dear Friends,

       The Bryans of Our Hearts' Haven would like to invite you to an old-fashioned get-together. We would like to celebrate Christmas Through Literature.

        Please join us on December 28th, 2013, from 6:30-9:30pm, for an evening of literature with a Christmas theme. Come hear or read aloud your favorite stories, and enjoy new ones, too. Look forward to The Little Match Girl, The Gift of the Magi, The Other Wise Man, and authors such as JRR Tolkien, Hans Christian Anderson, Beatrix Potter & Truman Capote. We have stories, poetry, and Christmas Mad-Libs as well as tea & cake.

       Enjoy an evening like folks used to do. The evening will be held at our home: Our Hearts’ Haven. Please call ***-**** for directions, if you need them, or for more information.

       Please feel free to listen only, or take a turn at reading aloud. If you would like to read aloud, and/or have a favorite story to choose, let us know so we can put it on the literature list.  Feel free to bring something quiet to do during the reading: knitting, crocheting, mending, drawing.....

      Please email me as soon as you know, yea or nay, so we can know our numbers.  Folks deciding to come last minute will be welcomed. :)....though let us know, if you can, that you need to decide last minute. Please email your response, if you can. If you can only come for part of the time, please still come.

       Due to the nature of the evening, we would like to keep this for ages 10 years to 100 years. Eight or nine year olds who can be quiet and still and really want to come, will be considered. Give us a call.

       We hope to make this the first of several literature evenings in the new year, focusing either on a specific author, or theme.

     In the meantime,

     Advent & Christmas Blessings to you and yours this season as we celebrate the Birth of Our Savior.

                       ~~~the Bryans

     We usually have between 12 and 20 people with ages from 7 years to.......well, my age.

     When folks arrive, they are welcomed into a room with a cozy fire blazing, a Christmas tree brightly and prettily lit, and candles at various spots in the house.  I have a lovely seasonal scent melted in the Scentsy, a gift from my little sister.

     I have the books for reading displayed in a basket.  I have Christmas art books within easy reach displayed on a table for perusing.  I have Kapla blocks set out on the side of the room for any youngsters.  I inform them that they must play quietly or the blocks must be put away.  Or, they will be put away.  : )

     I always begin with the The Nativity:  From the Gospels of Matthew & Luke as it has museum-quality artwork, and especially, because it reminds us to focus on the reason for the season.

     We read for about an hour or so, with variety: short stories and poems: serious, sentimental and humorous.  I read a poem or two in between each short story or book excerpt.  After I read at least one story and a couple of poems, I ask others in the room if they brought anything to share and encourage them to do so.  I also ask for volunteers and give them something to read.  There usually are only a handful of people willing to read.  We then follow this hour with a lively round of Christmas Mad Libs.  After a twenty minute break for treats and beverages.........we gather again for about an hour more of read alouds….followed by a last round of the Mad Libs.

     The evening ends with visiting and chatting……..and goodbye hugs.

     I have here below, the list of books that I created for the first year from my own resources, as well as from our local library.  As I researched, I tried to focus on famous stories or stories from famous and familiar authors.  I put “own” if I have it in my own library or “L” if it came from the library.  Collecting Christmas anthologies from the libraries are a great resource for short stories. The underlined words are the actual titles. You can find a copy of this list in Google Docs for easy printing (link will be provided as soon as google docs and I figure out how to get along......grrrrrr). I have provided links below to stories available online. Great resources!


The Nativity:  From the Gospels of Matthew & Luke-own
(read first)  (link)

The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien-L
1.     Read Intro
2.     Share drawings
3.     Read first three letters
4.     Read letter of 1938
5.     Read last letter.
6.     Pass book around.

The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke-own

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, Illustrated by Beth Peck-own

The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert-own

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry-Own

The Little Juggler by Barbara Clooney-own

The Huron Carol by Father Jean de Brebeuf, Iullstrated by Frances Tyrrell-own (link)

Little House Stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder-own
Little House in the Big Woods-pg 59 Chapter 4, Christmas
Little House on the Prairie-pg 238 Chapter 19, Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus
On the Banks of Plum Creek-pg 80 Chapter 12 The Christmas Horses & Chapter 13 Merry Christmas

Christmas Anthologies

The Christmas Story Book published by The Neumann Press
The Goblins and the Sexton by Charles Dickens-pg 51-64

The Reader Digest’s Book of Christmas-L
Amahl & the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti-a dramatization-pg 210-217
Susie’s Letter From Santa by Mark Twain-pg 103-104
A Christmas Alphabet by Marion Conger-pg 241-243
Christmas Meditation of a Young Student (Pope John XXIII)-pg 275-276
(read last)

Merry Christmas to You-own
Christmas in the Woods by Beatrix Potter from pg 55-56

Treasury of Christmas Stories by Ann McGovern
The Bells by Edgar Allen Poe-pg 64

The Christmas Eve Reader:  Selections from A Christmas Feast by Charlton & Gilson
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson

A Christmas Treasury by Jack Newcombe-L
Little Tree by e.e. cummings-pg 97-98
The Oxen by Thomas Hardy-pg 179
On Lending a Punch Bowl by Oliver Wendell Holmes-pg 216-217
The Burning Babe by Robert Southwell-pg 413
Christmas at Sea by Robert Louis Stevenson-pg 414-415
The Magi by William Butler Yeats-pg 472

Christmas Eve by Washington Irving-pg 223-233
A Hint for Next Christmas by A.A. Milne-pg 292-293
The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potterpg-369-376
Christmas by Eleanor Roosevelt-pg 382-389
A Winter Walk by Henry David Thoreau-pg 455-457
Christmas at Claremont:  Queen Victoria’s Journal-pg 463-464

Other pages: 14, 17, 32, 47, 91, 100, 120, 137, 141, 163, 166,179, 180, 183, 189, 196, 236, 239, 277, 294, 302, 315, 369, 438, 440

Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book: Carols, stories, Poems, Recollections by Molly Rockwell-L
Hamlet, Act I, Scene I-pg 20
That Holy Thing by George MacDonald-pg 24
On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity by John Milton-pg 26-28
Christmas Trees by Robert Frost-pg158-159
A Visit from Saint Nicholas by Clement C. Moore-pg 166-167
Christmas Greeting from a Fairy to a Child by Lewis Carroll-pg 169
The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus by Ogden Nash-pg 174-176

The Miraculous Staircase by Arthur Gordon-pg 54-57
A Christmas Dream, and How It Came True by Louisa May Alcott-pg 97-106
Christmas This Year by Booth Tarkington-pg 206

Christmas in the Stable:  Poems Selected & Illustrated by Beverly K. Duncan-own
Midnight in Bonnie’s Stall by Siddie Joe Johnson-pg 9
The Barn-pg 14-15
The Stork-pg 22-23
The Canticle of the Bees-pg 26-27

The Real St. Nicholas: Tales of Generosity & Hope From Around the World by Louise Carus
Pages:  17, 117, 137, 173


Born is He, the Child Divine: Images of the Christ Child in Art by Amy Gelber-own

Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book: Carols, stories, Poems, Recollections by Molly Rockwell-L

A Treasure of Christmas Religious Art, an Ideals Publication-own

The Pageantry of Christmas, A LIFE Book of Christmas-Volume Two-own

Other Resources:

Christmas Carol Mad-Libs-own
-----Christmas Fun Mad-Libs
-----Christmas Carol Mad-Libs
-----Ho-Ho-Ho Mad-Libs

(We never write in our Mad-Lib books…..we use another piece of a paper to extend the life of the book.)

Stories avaliable online:

Free Christmas Short Stories 

Best Christmas Stories

Christmas Short Stories

     Please know that your crowd could be as small as only two people or large as large as you can hold in your space.  Keep things simple.  One beverage and one dessert is all that is needed.  Use the books that you own…..borrow from the library or from friends. 

     Do realize that sometimes your guests will look a little drowsy or bored.  That is normal for anyone listening to an hour of read aloud.  Just be encouraging, provide that variety as well as the Mad-Libs and give them a break with goodies.  They will survive and remember the good memory of being together.

     Have a relaxed and enjoyable evening, in the olde, fashioned way.

Advent Blessings,


P.S.  Here is a little gift for you: Play Mad-Libs online!

It's a Mad Libs World

1 comment:

  1. Chari,

    I've been thinking about your post for a couple of days. Ideas have been racing through my head. A Christmas literature evening? Yes! I think we must have one, even if it's just for our own family. Thank you so much for sharing!


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