Every year I pull out all my favorite Christmas books and arrange them under my tree. Most are still in print and available, although I will admit that I have preferred editions (and illustrators) for certain tales.
The collection is led by A Christmas Carol by Mr. Dickens (with Trina Schart Hyman's amazing illustrations for the Holiday House edition), A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (again, the Holiday House edition with Hyman's illustrations), Pacific Northwest Ballet's picture book of the Nutcracker with photographs by Angela Sterling of Kent Stowell and Maurice Sendak's beautiful production that still rules the stage each Christmas in Seattle, A Wish for Wings that Work by Berkley Breathed (because everyone should have an Opus Christmas story in their collection), Santa Calls by William Joyce, L. Frank Baum's Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, and Raymond Briggs' far more sardonic but wonderful pair of Father Christmas picture books.
While I've avoided writing Christmas stories with so many fine examples available, I couldn't resist an invitation to contribute to Timid Pirates' limited edition Cobalt City Christmas, now available through Lulu. Five Northwest writers gathered around the Christmas tree (as it were) and swapping stories about a city where superheroes and super villains battle in the skies above and a modern Christmas bustles past below.
When editor and Cobalt City creator Nathan Crowder issued his invitation, I immediately thought about that moment in Christmas Carol when everyone gathers to enjoy the feast.What if the dinner was being served to the superheroes and preparation was left to one of their sidekicks, a man-panda named Snowflake. Would he remember to pick up everything needed for the dinner at his favorite cut-rate bulk-buy store? Is using the nuclear reactor in the basement for defrosting the goose a good idea? And how about putting the ancient magician Dr. Shadow in charge of folding swan napkins for the table?
I giggled my way through writing "A Very Panda Christmas, Everyone!" Then read with joy the variety of tales created by Crowder, Nicole Burns, Angel Leigh McCoy, and Jeremy Zimmerman. They proved Christmas stories can be sad, scary, very adult, or sweetly childish and still fit neatly into the growing genre of "cape-and-cowl" adventure fiction.
So I'll have one more bright and shiny new book under this year's tree that will join the permanent Christmas collection.