For your holiday enjoyment, I present to you the (highly subjective) best Christmas scenes in English literature.
(As you will see, I’m using the word “literature” loosely, because it’s more fun that way.)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Harry and his friends elect to stay at Hogwarts during their first Christmas holiday break.
After a meal of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle, and Christmas cake, everyone felt too full and sleepy to do much before bed except sit and watch Percy chase Fred and George all over Gryffindor tower because they’d stolen his prefect badge.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Catherine has just returned to the manor after recovering from an injured ankle. The house is preparing for Christmas but Heathcliff has hid himself from Catherine, as Nelly, our narrator, ponders their lot.
Under these circumstances I remained solitary. I smelt the rich scent of the heating spices; and admired the shining kitchen utensils, the polished clock, decked in holly, the silver mugs ranged on a tray ready to be filled with mulled ale for supper; and above all, the speckless purity of my particular care—the scoured and well-swept floor. I gave due inward applause to every object, and then I remembered how old Earnshaw used to come in when all was tidied, and call me a cant lass, and slip a shilling into my hand as a Christmas-box; and from that I went on to think of his fondness for Heathcliff, and his dread lest he should suffer neglect after death had removed him: and that naturally led me to consider the poor lad’s situation now, and from singing I changed my mind to crying. It struck me soon, however, there would be more sense in endeavouring to repair some of his wrongs than shedding tears over them: I got up and walked into the court to seek him.
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
It’s Mark Darcy to the rescue when Bridget’s family gathering is hijacked by her mother’s ex-lover.
“Come on,” said Mark Darcy.
“What” I said.
“Don’t say ‘what.’ Bridget, say ‘pardon,’” hissed Mum.
“Mrs. Jones,” said Mark firmly. “I am taking Bridget away to celebrate what is left of the Baby Jesus’s birthday.”
I took a big breath and grasped mark Darcy’s proffered hand.
“Merry Christmas, everyone,” I said with a gracious smile. “I expected we’ll see you all at the Turkey Curry Buffet.”
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Pip joins his sister’s family for Christmas dinner and fears the moment they notice he stole the mincemeat pie reserved for dessert. First, a guest arrives.
Every Christmas Day he presented himself, as a profound novelty, with exactly the same words, and carrying the two bottles like dumbbells. Every Christmas Day, Mrs Joe replied, as she now replied, “Oh, Un — cle Pum — ble — chook! This IS kind!” Every Christmas Day, he retorted, as he now retorted, “It’s no more than your merits. And now are you all bobbish, and how’s Sixpennorth of halfpence?” meaning me.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Immediately surrounding Mrs. Musgrove were the little Harvilles, whom she was sedulously guarding from the tyranny of the two children from the Cottage, expressly arrived to amuse them. On one side was a table occupied by some chattering girls, cutting up silk and gold paper; and on the other were tressels and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and cold pies, where riotous boys were holding high revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire, which seemed determined to be heard in spite of all the noise of the others.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Everyone came to the pageant to see what the Herdmans would do. Imogene and Ralph looked like refugees sent to wait in a strange place with all their boxes and sacks around them. “Hey!” Unto you a child is born” hollered Gladys. The Wisemen marched up the aisle but instead of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrhh they brought their own ham from the food basket. Imogene, who was holding a doll, started to cry. The pageant now had a new meaning. It was about a new baby and his mother and father, who were in a lot of trouble.
What would you add to the list?