5 best short stories about the holidays

Here are some of the very best stories about one of the most magical times of the year.

4. 'What Do Our Hearts Treasure?' by E.B. White

E. B. White echoes Siddons’ “Christmas Country” in his own essay on holiday displacement, “What Do Our Hearts Treasure?,” which appears in “Essays of E.B. White,” a survey of his best work. White, who died in 1985, spent much of his life at the Maine farm he shared with his wife Katharine, a revered fiction editor for The New Yorker. The Whites loved Maine, which inspired E.B. White’s classic children’s stories such as “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Trumpet of the Swan.”

But as they aged, the Whites sometimes tried to escape Maine’s harsh winters by renting a place in Florida. “What Do Our Hearts Treasure?” details the emotional displacement the couple suffered during one yuletide among tropical palms. All seems lost until a package arrives from up North bearing, among other things, a branch from a balsam fir. In a small Christmas parcel, the Whites find their home once again.  

I can’t read White’s essay without a little lump in the throat and I’m delighted that the essay and the book are still in print.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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