Friday, December 23, 2011

Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies

As someone who watches a great deal of Christmas movies, I would be hard pressed to name my absolute favourite. Is it A Brady Bunch Christmas? It's just so cheesy and wonderful! Elf? Sure, it's recent, but it does have that whimsy that a great Christmas movie needs. A Muppet Family Christmas? What could be better than all of the muppets together for the holidays? A Charlie Brown Christmas? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Frosty the Snowman? A Christmas Carol? There are just so many strong contenders. But if I was absolutely forced to name a favourite Christmas story, I think I might have to go with Miracle on 34th Street.

After spending many years enjoying the movie versions (both the original and the 1990s remake), this was the first time I'd read the written story. It wasn't published until after the original movie was released, but it doesn't seem to be an exact duplicate of the story. It's largely the same, but there are some minor differences - nothing that really changes the story in any way. It adds a bit of detail onto the mysterious character of Kris Kringle with a few pages dedicated to his story before he shows up at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. At just over 100 pages, it's not a long story; I think it would be most properly called a novella. The original 1940s edition does have some of the casual racism from the time (there's a brief reference to Cleo, the "colored maid"), but for the most part it holds up rather well. There's a timeless quality to the question of Santa Claus and the true meaning of Christmas. I don't know if reading the book is going to be come a holiday tradition for me in the same way that watching the movies has, but if you can find a copy of the book (particularly one of the original 1940s editions with its original design) it might be worth giving it a look, especially if you're a fan of any of the movie versions.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Christmas at the Movies edited by Mark Connelly
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

1 comment:

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