A Louisa May Alcott Christmas

Well, I’m starting this blog a bit differently today than the one I drafted last week because…since then, I learned Marrying Mattie is a Nominee for Best Book of 2010 at Love Western Romances!  Voting starts today, and to celebrate, I’m going to send a signed copy of Marrying Mattie to one name drawn from today’s commenters.  There’s such hefty competition I’m just honored to be nominated.  What a Thanksgiving it was and what a Christmas season it will be! Hee-yaw. That said….

…Christmas wasn’t Christmas at my childhood home without books under the tree. One year,  Santa also stuffed my stocking with  tomes about Trixie Belden and her pals sleuthing her way through upstate New York. The year of The Wizard of Oz, Mom gave me an old Easter basket so I could pretend to be Dorothy. I live where a cold day is 50 degrees, so following an imaginary yellow brick road through our small suburban back yard kept me busy well past New Year’s. And goodness me, the Bobbsey twins and five little Peppers, the Little House and Secret Garden and the Alps of Heidi.  Nancy Drew…Even the Hardy Boys snuck in there.  Ah, the list goes on and on.

But nothing did it for me like Louisa May Alcott. As I’ve said many times here, in other blogs, and to anybody with ears or eyes, the first time I read Little Women I knew I was somehow, some way, someday going to be a writer. 

I pored over that one, and the follow-ups Little Men and Jo’s Boys, wishing the sun had never set on the March world. But her voice continued, and her words resonated in Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, where I anguished over Rose choosing the dorkiest cousin. Oh, the incredible Jack and Jill. I still remember these many decades later the first time I read of their friend Ed’s sudden death. I absolutely couldn’t breathe. Even today, the emotions of that chapter can rack me. What a gift she had, not just for telling a great story but also for touching a reader’s soul. Ed’s death just might be my first taste of grief. 

Not long ago, my hubby and I visited Massachusetts, and highlights were a Sox-Angels game at Fenway and a stay in Concord. My Fenway. There I got to visit Louisa’s last resting place on the slopes of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery along with other great writers at Author’s Ridge. I got to visit Orchard House and see the real “Meg’s” wedding gown laying on a bed as if she’d just taken if off. Saw the real “Amy’s” sketches on the walls as decoration as the Alcotts couldn’t afford wallpaper. The kitchen boasts the indoor well her father Bronson had built for “Abba” that today has compromised the house’s foundation… 

And in the little gift shop of Orchard House, I not only bought yet another volume of Little Women but also the dearest book,   Louisa May Alcott Christmas, Selected Holiday Stories and Poems.  In this book, lovely tales and poems about children from  humbler days charm me even during summertimes with scenes of holiday meals and big surprises, with themes of charity, hope, and of course, family.

 But my favorite is the hymn I’ll leave you with today as we live once again the most glorious season of the year in which our Lord came to live among us.

 O the Beautiful Old Story 

O the beautiful old story!
Of the little child that lay
In a manger on that morning,
When the stars sang in the day;
When the happy shepherds kneeling,
As before a holy shrine,
Bless’d God and the tender mother
For a life that was divine.

O the pleasant, peaceful story!
Of the Youth who grew so fair,
In His father’s humble dwelling
Poverty and toil to share,
Till around Him in the temple,
Marveling, the old men stood,
As through His wise innocency
Shone the meek boy’s angelhood.

O the wonderful, true story!
Of the messenger from God,
Who among the poor and lowly,
Bravely and devoutly trod,
Working miracles of mercy,
Preaching peace, rebuking strife,
Blessing all the little children,
Lifting up the dead to life.

O the sad and solemn story!
Of the cross, the crown, the spear,
Of the pardon, pain, and glory
That have made His Name so dear.
His example let us follow,
Fearless, faithful to the end,
Walking in the sacred footsteps
Of our Brother, Master, Friend. 

Is there any author from the past who has stolen your heart the way Louisa May Alcott has stolen mine?

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39 thoughts on “A Louisa May Alcott Christmas”

  1. Hi Tanya,
    Great blog. You are preaching to the converted. I loved Louisa May Alcott’s stories. Little Women was my favourite. She wrote with such emotion. I remember crying when Beth died.



  2. Yep, I am with Margaret. I reread Little Women often and the Christmas scene where they give up their breakfast for the poor Hummel family is one of those holiday writings I must go to each season to remember what the season is truly about!

    I have been to her house too. My husband had to go to the Basketball Hall of Fame and I had to go to Louisa’s house. I practically burst into tears when I entered.

    The Christmas book sounds so lovely. Thanks for letting me know about it.

    No need to enter me in the drawing. You know I loved your book. 🙂

    Peace, Julie

  3. Looks like its a Louisa May Alcott day here,she too is one of my favorites,Little Women is such a classic an I never get tired of reading it

  4. Little women had been my favorite book for years. I still know some lines by heart. Louisa May Alcott taught me that emotion is the name of the game. Even when her characters laugh or smile, they reach your heart.

  5. I’ve never had my heart touched as deeply as by Bess Streeter Aldrich … A Lantern in Her Hand.
    It’s the most powerful emotional experience of any book.

    I highly recommend it.

  6. I love thinking about childhood reading. I think it really affects any child but when you’ve got those seeds in you that grow into a writer, it’s a very strong connection.

    Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books. Those are the first books I remember reading that I’d wonder, “How did he do that?”

    The way he’d make a horse race last for pages and pages and pages and I was just totally THERE. I was in that pack of thundering horses. Completely connected, living the race. Hearing, smelling, feeling, seeing, touching all of it.

    It was true genius.

  7. Lovely post today. A favorite when I was young and continues to be a classic which I appreciate. Anne of Green Gables, and Heidi.

  8. Hi Margaret, oh, I too bawled when Beth died. The Christmas breakfast, old Mr. Lawrence giving her the piano…ah, be still my heart. Thanks so much for posting today!

  9. Hi Vickie, oh if I could find the time! When I got my Kindle for Mother’s Day, a collection of LMA’s entire works was one of the first things I downloaded.

    Hi Mona, oh, I too have memorized bunches. Last year I took my neighbor to see a LW production at the local college, and the play was so spot-on with the scenes and dialogue it presented. Sigh.

    Thanks, ladies, for stopping by the Junction today.

  10. HI Mary, and Goldie, too. I will look for Lantern in her Hand. Although…if it’s Florence Nightingale, I may be remembering it. Oh, I also loved the Sue Barton nurse books. I so wanted to be a nurse after reading them.

    I haven’t thought of the Black Stallion in a long time. Good stuff for my grandson.

    Thanks for joining me here today!

  11. Anne, weirdly, I didn’t get into LM Montgomery until the Disney TV series (Avaonlea, too) when our kids were little. They loved watching it. Since then, my mom brought me a souvenir wooden doll of Anne from P.E.I. and it’s on display with a copy of Anne of Green Gables. Oh, I love Anne.

    You all are really bringing back memories and increasing my reading and re-reading lists today! oxoxox

  12. Tanya, how wonderful that Marrying Mattie has been nominated for best western of 2010!! I’m so happy for you.

    I was entranced by Louisa May Alcott too. I loved how she put words together in a way that showed so much emotion. The Bronte sisters were other favorites of mine. I’ll never forget Wuthering Heights and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

    A wonderful blog, Filly sister!

  13. I’ve never heard that beautiful Christmas hymn, Tanya. Love it. And I read so many of the series books you mentioned. My sister and I devoured Nancy Drew.
    Would anybody believe my favorite childhood author was Rudyard Kipling? I loved his books about India.
    Congratulations on Marrying Mattie’s nomination. I know you’ll get lots of well-deserved votes!

  14. Hi Linda, oh, I remember Jane Eyre, too, and that awful headmaster at Lowood. What a tragic childhood she had…Catherine and Heathcliff, too. I read all the Jane Austens some years ago when I was on a fitness streak at a gym LOL. It would take 30 minutes on the stairmaster to read a chapter, and I loved all six.

    These days I try to read on my exerbike but I admit to being lazy lately. oxoox Thanks for the kind words, filly sister!

  15. Tanya congrats on your nomination! I remember enjoying a few Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books! 😀
    I have to look for Selected Holiday Stories and Poems… Thanks for sharing!

  16. hi Elizabeth, thank you too for friendship and sisterhood and kind words. I do recall the Mowgli tales from my childhood, too. Oh, I just remembered Swiss Fmaily Robinson. Thanks for the congrats and for posting today. I also love that hymn. Louisa’s Christmas Collection is really a darling book. oxoxox

  17. hi Colleen, it’s a HarperCollins Children’s Book, Lib. of Congress catalog card number 2003115276. http://www.harperchildrens.com Hope that helps. Every story and poem is just adorable. “What Polly Found in Her Stocking”…”Mrs. Podgers’ Teapot”…”Song for a Christmas Tree”…and so many more. Just lovely. Thanks for the good wishes today!

  18. Tanya, You brought back a lot of memories for me today.

    I loved Little Women and A Lantern in Her Hand, but I was addicted to Trixie Beldon. LOL I always asked for Trixie beldon books for my birthday and Christmas. I hid my life savings between the pages. That series was written by different authors and the first six were definately the best.

    You don’t need to enter me in the drawing. I am currently enjoying your Redeeming Daisy. Congratulations on your nomination for Marrying Mattie!

  19. Hi Judy, would you believe I still have a set of Trixie Beldens up in the attic? They aren’t my originals (those would be crumbling into dust) but I got them for my daughter when she was little…she just wasn’t into ’em, too dated, I guess. But I have re-read a couple of my favorites over the decades LOL. Yes, my faves –the one in Arizona and the Thanksgiving one when they look for the “poacher” are definitely my favorites and definitely in the first six.

    Aw, thanks for the compliments on Redeeming Daisy. I love the doggie…mine passed away from that same ailment. I so appreciate you stopping by today.

  20. Hi Marianne, my dear and trusted White Rose colleague and buddy. I am hoping to keep them coming LOL…hacking out Marrying Molly as we speak…too bad holidays and fun are getting in the way LOL.

    I love your Hearts Surrender. oxoxo

  21. I would add Jane Austen as a favorite writer and interesting background. And how I remember the Trixie Beldon books. Normally all our books were from the library but those were the first that were mine.

  22. Hi Appleblossom. You’re very welcome LOL.

    Tracy, you wear the Old West so well….who woulda thunk Sci-Fi? I myself love watching the TV show, Fringe…and I’m an X-filey from way back. Thanks for the post. oxoxxo

  23. Hi Catslady, oh I love Austen. Northanger Abbey is probably my favorite! Although,, hmmmm, Emma was awesome and humorous.

    We were library-goers too. Caddie Woodlawn, Betsy-Tacy-Tib series were beloved books I didn’t own. My mom and I would walk there on summer mornings. Oh, the memories! Thanks for stopping by today.

  24. Enjoyed reading about Louisa Mae Alcott. interesting.
    I was a fan of Nancy Drew mysteries and read those books with a thought of becoming a detective.

  25. Congratulation, Tanya, on the nomination from LWR and success of Marrying Mattie. What a way to wind down a year.
    I did not read Louisa May Alcott, but I don’t know why. I loved some of the same ones you mentioned, but Strawberry Girl books by Lois Lenski, I suppose stuck with me the most. In particular, I loved the huge series featuring American heroes–yes, I know, how nerdy, but…what can I say? I loved all of them, even all the presidents, but those I loved most? Any about a Native American or real life cowboy,like Sacajawea, and Louis and Clark. Very good post–I thoroughly enjoyed your journey. Celia

  26. Congratulatioms on your nomination!!! I have always loved the book Little Women but my favorites growing up were ‘The Secret Garden” and “The Little Princess”. I have some very old copies of these books that belonged to my husbands grandmother and I treasure them.
    My earliest memory of reading to my younger sibling tho were books about triplets called Ricka, Dicka, and Flicka. Their male counter parts were called Snip Snap, Snur. The had all kinds of adventures which now would seem very tame to children. Unfortunately it wasn’t until I started making friends of authors that I started paying attention to who wrote a book so I have no idea who wrote them.

  27. Hi Joye, same here. Also with the Trixie Belden books. But then I realized I lived on the most boring street on the planet LOL. Nothing much happened, fortunately LOL. Thanks for stopping by today.

  28. Hi Celia, so nice to hear from you. I gotta admit I didn’t get to Lois Lenski but I’ve always loved historical books and novels with real people in them. I can see why you write historicals yourself. Thanks so much for the good wishes. oxoxox LWR is having difficulty getting the voting page loaded today, wouldn’t ya know it LOL.

  29. Hi Connie, thanks for posting today. I agree with you about yesteryear’s children’s lit being, well, not treasured by kids today with their vampires and uber-sophisticated interests. Or so they think. A godo dose of some of these books would do them good. Not to get soap-boxy. I like vampires, too. But I loved reading about pioneers when I was a kid.

  30. Tanya,
    WHAT A WONDERFUL POST! Like Celia, I never read LMA much when I was younger. I loved Rudyard Kipling, and the JUNGLE BOOK stories, Ricka, Flicka, and Dicka, and Nancy Drew. You know, when my kids were young, I read to them, even into their teens–we’d take turns. They loved it but were so worried that their friends might “find out” that we read together. To think that “back in the day” that was something that families did regularly–I always think of that scene in Gone With the Wind, where Melanie is reading Dickens at the “sewing circle” when the men had gone out to clean out shanty town. So many lost opportunities for closeness in today’s world, just be losing out on the simple things–reading together, eating together, playing music and signing together, etc. But I truly think that reading to your kids helps them to love reading more than they might already and fosters a love of learning in them. I remember growing up how my best friend and I would go to the library and come home with a stack of books in the summer–we’d put an old packing quilt on the ground out under the trees and take out a pitcher of lemonade and spend hours out there reading and talking about our books. Those were wonderful times. Thanks for a great post, and congratulations on your nomination for Marrying Mattie. I loved that book!

  31. Hi Cheryl, my filly friend. I know…I miss those simple pleasures. I hear Melanie reading “I am born.” Dickens was even entertainment…people would pay to go to an auditorium to hear him read his works.

    I remember with my neighborhood pals, playing Barbie…and reading books together. Each with a different one, but all reading at the same time. Oh, those were the days. You know, when we all walked through ten feet of snow eighteen miles to get to school with no boots. oxoxoxo

  32. When I grew up, we didn’t have many books in our house, just the Little Golden Books for children. So I was totally enthralled when my teacher read Little Women to my clas a chapter each day. I loved it, my first experience with a novel.

  33. Hi Nancy. This reminds me of a substitute teaching job I had during that portion of my career, where I would read a chapter of Little House in the Big Woods. The children were completely enthralled. Thanks for posting today.

  34. Sorry I missed your post yesterday. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were my childhood reading companions. I then discovered Mary O’Hara’s MY FRIEND FLICKA, THUNDERHEAD, and GREEN GRASS OF WYOMING. They were my first books past the childhood mysteries. Unfortunately, my family weren’t readers. I lived at the library, but read mostly science books. An aunt had the complete Nancy Drew set from her girlhood and let me read them or I probably wouldn’t have discovered them. It is sad that I never heard of Louisa May, Laura Ingalls, or all the other wonderful books out there. I am playing catch up on all I missed, but haven’t scraped the surface. I bought a complete set of Alcott’s books at auction years ago, knowing I needed to read them. I worked as a children’s librarian for the past 8 years and have made sure that those who came to the library were made aware of all the wonderful books out there. Unfortunately, I am old enough that “required reading lists” really didn’t exist or contain much of what we consider must reads today.

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