The New Yorker
"Christmas Eve" by Maeve Brennan (Dublin-1917 to 1993) is just a wonderful story about a family on Christmas Eve. I love this story so much I have already listened to the podcast of the story four times. (The reader is Roddy Doyle. Brennan was his second cousin and she lived with his family for a while. He has an perfect accent for this story.)
After hearing the story, I read the Wikipedia article on her. I will retell her life a bit as I think it is worth knowing and tells us something about the millions of Irish who left Ireland never to return but never really found another home.
Brennan's life should have been a fairy tale of one happy and exciting day followed by another. It was not.
"Christmas Eve" is a very supple simply told in almost a child like way story (though it a daemon child as might be found in an Irish fairy tale) about a family on Christmas Eve. The father has just gotten home from work. The mother is preparing the house for tomorrow. The young children are concerned with being sure there is a snack left out for Father Christmas. The parents each have their own room. The reason for this is that the father's job (we do not learn what it is) sometimes keeps him out late and he does not want to disturb his wife. Or so they say but really each is quite happy to have their own room. Somehow I could relate when I heard the father was happy he could have his books in his room with him. Parts of the story are very moving. When the parents kiss each other under the mistletoe plant, the children cheer them on for more. The parents are a bit embarrassed and pull apart. This is a world of restrained emotions. There are some wonderful touches in the story. I really liked what the wife says about her cats and her dog. "Christmas Eve" should be listed among the very best Christmas short stories of all time.
Resources for the Week
Thanks VERY much to all those who have joined in. I will say this has worked out better than I had ever hoped and I plan, providence willing, to make this an annual Reading Life event.