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Told After Supper, by Jerome K. Jerome

There's a long tradition of English Christmas stories, sometimes serious, sometimes humorous, often revolving around ghosts and apparitions. Dickens drew on it in a serious vein in A Christmas Carol; here Jerome K. Jerome tells hilarious stories from around an English Christmas fireside. A few selected Christmas poems and passages rounds out the disk.

Told After Supper, by Jerome K. Jerome

First of all, there's a hilarious 19th-century piece you've probably never heard of, called Told After Supper, by Jerome K. Jerome. It's a wonderful spoof of the grand old English tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas--a tradition Charles Dickens made fine use of in A Christmas Carol and other stories. Only in Jerome's work, everything goes hilariously wrong, and the narrator of the story even winds up wandering around on the streets drunk as a lord, somewhat incompletely dressed!

"Christmas Trees", by Robert Frost.

In this early poem, we hear Frost's dry, matter-of-fact New England voice making "a simple calculation" about "Christmas trees I didn't know I had."

"Mistletoe", by Walter de la Mare.

A dreamlike experience of a gentle touch from a special person late in the night on Christmas is as fine a piece of dreamland as one could wish.

"Ring Out!", by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

A passionate appeal that the new year may be better than the old.

"The Three Kings", by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The majesty and indeed the worldly wisdom of the three who came to give great gifts to the infant in the manger has never been better expressed.

Luke 2:1-20 (King James version)

In the beautiful language of the King James Bible--the only successful contribution to literature ever made by a committee--we hear not only how a babe was born, but how his mother came to believe great things of him.

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