“The Santaland Diaries” made humorist David Sedaris famous in 1997. The story recounts the exploits of a 30-something under-employed author who finds a temporary job at Macy’s department store, working as an elf in Santa’s Village. “I wear green, velvet knickers, a forest green velvet smock and a perky little hat decorated with spangles. This is my work uniform,” the story begins. Sedaris is deservedly famous both for his humor and his keen insight into human behavior.
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. Hear Capote himself read this touching Christmas story as he remembers his childhood with his eccentric, child-like aunt, who made the young author’s troubled childhood not only bearable but special. The story invites us as ghostly guests to
Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning more than twenty years ago. Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; but there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs placed in front of it. Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar.
If you would prefer to read the story rather than listen, a full text version can be found here.
Christmas Freud by David Rakoff. In 1996, New York’s Barney’s department store, famous for their elaborate and sometimes eccentric Christmas display windows, hired essayist David Rakoff to play Sigmund Freud to create a live performance art piece. Rakoff sat in the window. Various actors pretended to be his patients before a crowd of curious and often confused onlookers. Rakoff records his thoughts about his role in the farce as well as numerous funny, cynical observations about the crowd.
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen. Along with “The Brothers Grimm,” Hans Christian Andersen is responsible for recording in print a good number of the folktales with which most of us are familiar. In this sentimental story, written in 1845, a poor child lives out her hopes and dreams in her imagination, even as her life slips away.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. Who doesn’t know Clement Clarke Moore’s famous opening lines? ” Twas the night before Christmas, / And all through the house, / Not a creature was stirring, / Not even a mouse.” Listen to the poem in its entirety as you bake with your kids or wrap up those last minute gifts once they’re in bed!
John Henry Faulk’s Christmas Story. A traditional favorite on NPR, storyteller and musician John Henry Faulk’s recollections of the holidays in his native Texas have been a staple of holiday listening for fans since 1974. The tale begins with Faulk as an adult. He recalls:
The day after Christmas a number of years ago, I was driving down a country road in Texas. And it was a bitter cold, cold morning. Walking ahead of me on the gravel road was a little bare-footed boy with non-descript ragged overalls and a makeshift sleeved sweater tied around his little ears. I stopped and picked him up. Looked like he was about 12 years old and his little feet were blue with the cold. He was carrying an orange.
That orange, who gave this impoverished child so much joy, makes Faulk, and his listeners, re-evaluate their priorities during the hectic holiday season.