Christmas Classics Challenge

How familiar are you with the literature of Christmas?

Below are snippets from five Christmas "classics." Can you identify the book or short story from which each is excerpted? Can you identify each work's author? What about each work's original date of publication?

Answers will be found at the end of this post. Have a safe and joyous holiday!

The Challenge:

(a) "Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!
Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!"

(b) "[T]he butler brought in a huge silver vessel of rare and curious workmanship, which he placed before the Squire. Its appearance was hailed with acclamation; being the Wassail Bowl, so renowned in Christmas festivity. The contents had been prepared by the Squire himself; for it was a beverage in the skilful mixture of which he particularly prided himself, alleging that it was too abstruse and complex for the comprehension of an ordinary servant. It was a potation, indeed, that might well make the heart of a toper leap within him; being composed of the richest and raciest wines, highly spiced and sweetened, with roasted apples bobbing about the surface."
(c) "In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring."

(d) "It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the people in the court outside, go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them. The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already--it had not been light all day--and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a large scale."

(e) "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."

The Answers:

(a) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dr. Seuss). First published by Random House in 1957.

(b) Christmas Dinner (Washington Irving). First published as one of five "sketches" that appeared in the 5th installment of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., on 1 January 1820. The five sketches--Christmas; The Stage Coach; Christmas Eve; Christmas Day; and Christmas Dinner--usually appear in reprints as chapters of a single story, Old Christmas. These sketches had a profound influence on Charles Dickens' depictions of Christmas.

(c) The Gift of the Magi (O. Henry). First published in 1906 as part of the author's second collection of short stories, The Four Million.

(d) A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas (Charles Dickens). First published 19 December 1843, the entire press run of 6000 copies selling out that same day.

(e) A Child's Christmas in Wales (Dylan Thomas). First published in Harper's Bazaar, December 1950, under the title "A Child's Memories of a Christmas in Wales;" first published in book form in 1954 (as part of New Directions' printing of Quite Early One Morning); first published as a separate title by New Directions in 1955. The poet's own 1952 recording of this classic, now part of the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress, is widely credited with launching the audiobook industry in the United States.

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