Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Christmas Orange

December 11th: An easy one. What is your favourite holiday story or or TV special or movie?

Movie: Sound of Music (not Christmas-y but shown on TV on Christmas day)

TV special: 1/2 hour How the Grinch Stole Christmas (I love the Whos and their optimism in hard times)

Story: The Christmas Orange by Don Gillmor

One of my favourite Christmas stories is the children's picture book The Christmas Orange by Canadian author Don Gillmor. Anton's birthday is on December 25th, and he has a mile-long list of things for Santa to bring him, and ends up just receiving one thing: an orange. I love this story because that's what my grandpa Horst used to get as a kid for Christmas - a big Christmas orange and a plateful of nuts and candies. Each of his 9 siblings got the same thing - set out on individual dinner plates for them on Christmas morning.

Anyway, this story reminds me of the simplicity of Christmases in days gone by, and also tells Anton the message that perhaps you don't always get what you WANT for Christmas, but what you NEED. Anton didn't need any more toys; he needed on perfect, round orange to remind him about what really matters. We've used this book in our family to talk about wants vs. needs and to dream about simple gifts that usually aren't on our lists, like a perfect Christmas orange.

Another Christmas orange story (author unknown):

Once there was a little girl who came to live in an orphanage in Denmark. As Christmas time grew near, all of the other children began telling the little girl about the beautiful Christmas tree that would appear in the huge downstairs hall on Christmas morning. After their usual, very plain breakfast, each child would be given their one and only Christmas gift; small, single orange.

Now the headmaster of the orphanage was very stern and he thought Christmas to be a bother. So on Christmas Eve, when he caught the little girl creeping down the stairs to catch a peek at the much-heard-of Christmas tree, he sharply declared that the little girl would not receive her Christmas orange because she had been so curious as to disobey the rules. The little girl ran back to her room, broken-hearted and crying at her terrible fate.

The next morning as the other children were going down to breakfast, the little girl stayed in her bed. She couldn't stand the thought of seeing the others receive their gift when there would be none for her. 

Later, as the children came back upstairs, the little girl was surprised to be handed a napkin. As she carefully opened it, there to her disbelief was an orange all peeled and sectioned. 

"How could this be?" she asked.

She discovered that each child had taken one section from their orange and given it to her so that she, too, would have a Christmas orange.

a Christmas wish come true - an orange that she could drink!


  1. Movie: White Christmas
    TV Special: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    Story: Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti, Illustrated by Michele Lemieux

    As kids, my sister and I would listen to the record of Amahl and the Night Visitors with my mom and sing along. We also had scripts so we would know all of the words :) I loved that! This might be a tradition that should be resurrected...

    1. I love this Amahl idea - I'll have to search for a recording! My daughters love to have scripts too.

  2. The Grinch is a favourite movie in our house right now. Erik was afraid of him at first but now thinks he is funny. I put the story, The Christmas Orange, in our Christmas book bin for the first time this year. It has always been a favourite of mine too. Another favourite story is, Christmas Tree Memories by Aliki. On Christmas eve, a family gathers around their Christmas tree and shares stories and memories of Christmas' past. Each ornament brings back a special memory. Growing up, I received a new ornament every year. My mom gave us each an ornament when we decorated the tree. I have continued this tradition with my kids. I usually pick an ornament that symbolizes a significant event or story from the past year. I have a special book where I record the year, ornament and memory that it represents. My mom also gives each grandchild a new ornament and records memories she has of each child over the past year. Our tree is full of memories and stories. One of my favourite family traditions.

    1. I'm going to have to copy this too - the Christmas ornament idea. I love how intentional you are about keeping a little book and picking an ornament that says something about your family's year together. I too love hanging up each ornament and remembering people or stories associated with them.

  3. I don't know how many times I read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever when I was a kid. I'm looking forward to reading it for the first time with the girls this year :-)

    And of course the Grinch is a must for TV specials. I remember how excited I was when it was programmed on TV and my parents let me stay up "late" to watch it. And the anticipation as we counted down the days until it was on. Now I can just pop it in the DVD players whenever I want, so it's lost some of that excitement, but I still love it just the same.

    The Charlie Brown Christmas Special is right up there too. Our tree this year is pretty sad looking this year. The girls think it is the most gorgeous tree ever, which just makes me smile at the magic of Christmas :-)

    1. I just read TBCPE to our girls this fall! They loved it, and I loved re-reading it as an adult. Those Herdmans!

      Haven't seen the Charlie Brown one for years. I'll have to get that one this year. I love how your girls see magic in your humble tree. Are coniferous trees plentiful in Provence?

  4. Stories - Amahl and the Night Visitors - We read it every year at some point in the Christmas season even now when the girls are older. Twenty four yrs. ago our church performed Amahl and there is talk of doing it next year for the 25th.

    Best Christmas Pageant Ever - I remember the first year we read it to the girls lying together on one of their beds rolling with laughter. So fun!

    A Northern Nativity by william Kurelek - an absolutely delightful book of a 12 yr. old prairie boy who has Christmas dreams mixing up the nativity story with his geography and history lessons. He asks "If it happened here as it happened there...if it happened now as it happened then... Who would have seen the miracle? Who would have brought gifts? Who would have taken them in?" Beautiful illustrations of the Christ child being born in the most unlikely places.

    Little Women - also not specifically a Christmas story but it does incorporate Christmas in the story. Love it in both book and movie form. Love snuggling with the girls Christmas day night and watching the movie.

    The Nutcracker Ballet - Took the girls to see it for the 1st time when Heather, the youngest, was 3 yrs. She loved pretending to be a ballet dancer. We listened to the music and read the story to prepare them. They loved it. I'll never forget when the belly dancers came on and Heather said really loud - "why are their belly buttons showing?" to the delight of the people sitting around us. :-) Now we always put the Nutcracker on when we're decorating the tree.

    I love all the other traditions others of you have shared. I'm going to have to track down the Christmas Orange.


    1. More great ideas, Sue! Boy, I'm going to have to add to my already-large Christmas book collection. Your Amahl tradition is lovely and the Nutcracker Ballet too. We have A Northern Nativity and I love that book too. We haven't read Little Women yet - maybe this Christmas. Thanks for these ideas!