Every year in preparation for Christmas, along with the twinkle lights and the greenery, the crèche and the stockings, I unpack my family’s collection of timeless Christmas stories.

Sometimes I try to convince the kids to let me read the books to them. But the children are all big now and busy and much too old for stories.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. No one is ever too big for stories. And while many of us might think we are too busy, it is only through slowing down and savoring some of the season’s simple joys that we can truly prepare for Christmas.

Certainly when it comes to simple pleasures, few compare with a cup of cocoa, a cozy blanket, and a delightful story.

Here are six short Christmas stories that can be enjoyed in peaceful solitude or treasured as a family. Either way, they are guaranteed to delight all ages.

Papa Panov’s Special Day

By Leo Tolstoy, this story is based on the 25th chapter of Saint Matthew’s gospel wherein Jesus speaks to His followers about welcoming the stranger. Papa Panov is a lonely cobbler. On Christmas Eve, Jesus appears to him in a dream and tells Papa that he will come to visit him the next day. All Christmas day Papa Panov waits for Jesus’s arrival, but as the day drags on Papa worries that he has missed Him.

Leo Tolstoy book

The Selfish Giant

By Oscar Wilde, this is the story of a giant who refuses to let the village children play in his beautiful garden. The giant’s selfishness costs him dearly. But when a very special child touches his heart, the giant is changed forever.

book by Oscar Wilde

A Christmas Day in the Morning

At 15, Rob realizes for the first time in his life that his father loves him. This realization awakens love in Rob’s heart and prompts him to give his father the best gift he can think of. Rob’s gift is simple, but it’s this simplicity and Rob’s father’s reaction to the gift that make this story by Pearl S. Buck so touching and so relatable.

Pearl S. Buck book

The Gift of the Magi

This tale by O. Henry is one of the best known Christmas short stories of all time, but it’s still worth reading every year. Newlyweds Della and Jim each want desperately to give the other a special Christmas gift, and they both make a great sacrifice to do so. But in the end, they realize that love is the greatest gift of all.

O. Henry book

Angela and the Baby Jesus

This story by Frank McCourt is based on the childhood of the novelist’s mother, Angela. Little Angela is worried that Baby Jesus in the nativity at Saint Joseph’s Church is cold. After all, she knows what it’s like to be cold and hungry. So she takes matters into her own hands. This almost gets her into a lot of trouble with her mother, with the parish priest, and even with the police, but when her brother Pat comes to her aid everyone, including the reader, is deeply moved.

Frank McCourt book

A Christmas Memory

This classic by Truman Capote was first published in 1956 in Mademoiselle magazine. It is the mostly autobiographical story of the friendship between 7-year-old Buddy and his special friend, an elderly relative who herself is much like a 7-year-old. This one is a bit longer than the other stories on this list, but definitely worth the time. It’s a beautifully crafted tale of friendship, growing up, and loss.

Truman Capote book

The holidays are such a busy time. Between the parties and the baking, the shopping, the errands, the decorating, and the planning, we run the risk of arriving at Christmas exhausted, frazzled, and eager to put the whole season behind us. No, it isn’t easy to slow down this time of year, but I can think of no better way to take a break and enjoy the season with my family than to share one of these touching stories together—even if I have to bribe everyone with a plate of cookies

Originally published on the author’s blog​

Recommendations in this post contain affiliate links. Her View From Home may receive a small commission if you choose to purchase.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Laura Hanby Hudgens

Laura is a junior high teacher and a freelance writer. She lives on a buffalo farm in the Arkansas Ozarks where she enjoys cooking and baking, which is also the key to bringing her busy family together. Her work has appeared on The Washington Post, Huffington, Post, Grown and Flown, Aleteia, ChurchPOP, and elsewhere. Find out more about Laura here.

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

In: Grief, Living, Loss
Small dog with head hanging out car window, color photo

Our dog Carlos has slowed down considerably within the last few months. He’s always been outspoken and opinionated–a typical firstborn trait–and to hear him snoring most of the day and tolerating things he normally wouldn’t tolerate (i.e. being carried from place to place by my son, forklift-style) put me on notice that he’s in the fourth quarter. Carlos looks and acts like an Ewok from the Star Wars franchise. According to Wikipedia, Ewoks are clever, inquisitive, and inventive. Carlos checks all three boxes. As a puppy, we tried crate training, but it never took. It wasn’t for lack of trying....

Keep Reading

Her Future Will Not Be My Broken Past

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hold hands by water, silhouette photo

Forty years ago, you were an innocent child. You were brought into this world for a purpose. Your innocence is robbed before kindergarten by a trusted relative. You are broken and bruised by those entrusted to protect you. You are extremely emotional in your childhood, but no one listens to understand. As you grow into your teenage years, emotions are bottled up out of fear. You lean into promiscuous behavior because that is the only way you know how to get men to love you. Because of abuse that no one took you out of, you stay around those who...

Keep Reading

Mom’s Special Recipe Means More This Year

In: Grown Children, Living
Bowl full of breadcrumbs and celery, color photo

Three weeks before Easter, my family and I stood in the hallway talking to a team of doctors whom we had flagged down. We were anxiously inquiring about my mom, who was in the ICU on life support. We hadn’t been able to connect with the doctors for over 48 hours, so it was important for us to check in and see what was going on. The head doctor began discussing everything they had observed in the scans and what it meant for my mom’s quality of life. Every word made our hearts break. The doctor continued to talk about...

Keep Reading

I’m a Mom Who Reads and is Raising Readers

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom with infant daughter on bed, reading a book, color photo

Since childhood, I’ve been lost in a world of books. My first true memory of falling in love with a book was when my mom read aloud Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With each voice she used, I fell deep into the world of imagination, and I’ve never seemed to come up for air. My reading journey has ebbed and flowed as my life has gone through different seasons, but I’ve always seemed to carry a book with me wherever I went. When I entered motherhood and gave my whole life over to my kids, I needed something that...

Keep Reading

You Have to Feel before You Can Heal

In: Living
Depressed woman in bed

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.” -Cheryl Strayed How do you heal? You let the pain pass through you. You feel your feelings....

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed Other Mothers

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Two mom friends smiling at each other

I read somewhere the other day that when a child is born, a parent is too. In my first few months being a mother, I’m learning just how odd that sentiment is. In an instant, I became someone new. Not only that, but I became part of a group I didn’t realize existed. That sounds wrong. Of course, mothers existed. But this community of mothers? I had no idea. It took us a long time to get where we are today. Throughout our journey with infertility, I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mother. I knew that...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

Please Don’t Tell a Couple Trying to Conceive to Just Relax

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Black-and-white photo of medical supplies

This is a plea. A plea to those who know someone who is struggling with infertility. So, if you’re reading this, this is directed right to you. Please, for the love of everything, when someone tells you they are struggling to conceive, do not tell them to “just relax.” I know it’s the cliche, default term most blurt out because they don’t know what else to say. It’s awkward to discuss for some. I’m 10000% positive it is coming from a good place and is meant to be calming and reassuring, and you really do believe it’s true because a...

Keep Reading

My Husband Having a Stroke at 30 Wasn’t in Our Plans

In: Faith, Living
Husband and wife, selfie, color photo

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) This verse in the book of Jeremiah has long been a favorite of mine. In fact, it’s felt relevant across many life events. Its simple, yet powerful reminder has been a place of solace, perhaps even a way to maintain equilibrium when I’ve felt my world spinning a bit out of control. In this season of starting fresh and new year intentions, I find great comfort in knowing...

Keep Reading

That Mom at the Playground Could Become Your Best Friend

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Young mother sitting on bench looking at playground

I didn’t realize I was that mom at the playground. That mom who always smiles at the other moms even if she doesn’t know them. That mom who often makes small talk while she pushes her toddler on the swings. That mom who strikes up a conversation while sitting on the bench watching her older kid play. That mom who can often tell whether you are interested in talking to her or not. And if you don’t seem interested, that’s okay. Because maybe you’re preoccupied with other things going on in your life right now. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with the...

Keep Reading