In 1985 as I was reading the December “Reader’s Digest,” I came across Pearl S. Buck’s lovely story, “Christmas Day in the Morning.” I read it and cried. It perfectly expressed the love my own father has for me, and it was a masterful illustration of 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”
When I packed up the Christmas decorations that year, I tucked it away in the ornament box so I wouldn’t lose it. That story became the first in my collection of Christmas stories and poems that I saved in a notebook. I also have gathered a number of beautiful Christmas picture books. But Buck’s story remains my favorite.
Why tell Christmas stories? I love stories, and that includes Christmas stories. Also, stories serve an important purpose. J.R.R. Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings, believed stories, “myth,” as he called them, are essential to life. Patrick W. Curles, in his essay, “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Impact in Literature and Life,” relates Tolkien’s view of myth:
Though most people see a myth as a story of something untrue, Tolkien saw myth as the exact opposite…
There are truths, Tolkien said, that are beyond us, transcendent truths, about beauty, truth, honor, etc. There are truths that man knows exist, but they cannot be seen — they are immaterial, but no less real, to us. It is only through the language of myth that we can speak of these truths. To write or read myth, Tolkien believed, was to meditate on the most important truths of life.
Tolkien believed that what he wrote in The Lord of the Rings was true, not in the sense that the events really happened, but in the sense that they portrayed truth to us in a way that everyday events could not.
A truly great Christmas story, like Tolkien’s myths, should express truth in beautiful, compelling, and unexpected ways. “Christmas Day in the Morning” is one of those stories.
special Note about the download
I have found many variations of Buck’s story, including a beautiful picture book, but most of them leave out the “frame” at the beginning and end of the original story, and some have even rewritten some of the text. I really don’t understand why anyone would take it upon himself to rewrite a nearly perfect story. You can read the original story on the download linked below! It is so much better than any edit or condensation. I also made a story chart for it. Read the story first and enjoy it! Then try analyzing the story elements. Don’t peek at the story chart until you have tried to figure out the parts yourself! 🙂