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Anything goes---musings on Christmas music, movies, history, memories---anything Christmas that moves me to write. I hope you find something to enjoy here!

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The Christmas Angel, by Abbie Farwell Brown

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Posted 12-01-2010 at 11:21 AM by MerryCarey



Occasionally a thread pops up in the Merry Forums asking for advice on good Christmas books to read. This little book, one hundred years old this year, is always my answer. I stumbled across it a few years ago, read it, and fell in love with it. Living Age magazine in 1910 reviewed the book by saying, “Not since Charles Dickens laid down his pen forever has there been a prettier Christmas story written, one more full of the real spirit of Christmas or conveying a more seasonable lesson.” High praise, but well deserved.

When you first begin to read the story, you may believe that you’re reading yet another variation on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The main character, old Miss Terry, is a female Scrooge if ever there was one. “What is our Christmas, anyway?” she scoffs. “A time for shopkeepers to sell and for foolish folks to kill themselves in buying. Christmas spirit? No! It is all humbug,—all selfishness, and worry; an unwholesome season of unnatural activities.” She decides that the best way to spend Christmas Eve is by cleaning up for the New Year, beginning with getting rid of the toys from her childhood toy box.

Burning the toys in the fireplace is too tedious, so Miss Terry conceives of a cynical idea. “I will try an experiment,” she decides. “I will prove once for all my point about the ‘Christmas spirit.’ I will drop some of these old toys out on the sidewalk and see what happens. It may be interesting.” One by one, she drops four of the toys out of her window and secretly watches what happens to each one. The scenes that occur seem to confirm that greed and cruelty are indeed lurking behind a false Christmas spirit. She retrieves one toy from the street and places it on her mantelpiece—a pink papier-mâché angel that once topped the Christmas tree when she and her brother, from whom she is estranged, were children. Then the Angel speaks to Miss Terry . . .

Like Marley and the three spirits in Dickens’ tale, the Angel has a Christmas lesson to teach. Here the story takes its own intriguing twist: the Angel informs Miss Terry that she did not see the end of each little scene she witnessed outside her window! He proceeds to show her the true conclusion of each toy’s miniature drama—conclusions that confirm the existence of true Christmas spirit. It’s no spoiler to say that there is eventually a happy ending, but the route to that happy ending is a thoroughly compelling story that I’ll leave you to discover for yourself.

You can download the book or read it online at Project Gutenberg:
The Christmas Angel by Abbie Farwell Brown

If you’d rather have the story read to you, you can download it or listen to the stream at Archive.org:
The Christmas Angel by Abbie Farwell Brown

It’s surprising to me that a story this good has never been adapted into a radio play or movie, especially as it is now in the public domain.

Speaking of public domain, many people aren’t aware of the wealth of out-of-copyright literature that is free for reading and listening to on the Internet. Project Gutenberg, Archive.org, and Google Books are good sources, and audiobooks read by volunteers are available as streams and downloads from Archive.org and LibriVox.org. Plenty of forgotten and overlooked Christmas literature is waiting to be rediscovered—like The Christmas Angel. Happy hunting, Christmas readers!
Posted in Christmas Media
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    [B]Thank you for the wonderful blog about this beautiful and amazing book. From the moment I started it until the moment I finished it I was captivated. It was an early Christmas gift of the most precious kind - one that touches the soul. Thank you for sharing this with me and all of MMC xo[/B]
    Posted 12-01-2010 at 02:47 PM by caninemom3 caninemom3 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    MerryBells's Avatar
    Thank you for the link to this wonderful story!
    Posted 12-02-2010 at 11:56 AM by MerryBells MerryBells is offline
  3. Old Comment
    You posted this last year, and ten months later, I found it.

    Funny how things present themselves when you look.

    Or when you need them.

    Thanks for this!
    Posted 09-10-2011 at 10:43 PM by jimmyolsen jimmyolsen is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Thanks I just downloaded it to my kindle.
    Posted 09-27-2011 at 01:41 PM by justme324 justme324 is offline
 
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