Saturday, December 31, 2011
Later when I was reading Christmas stories from an anthology, the story of The Little Match Girl kept popping up. This story by the Danish storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen is a tearjerker, the kind I avoid reading on the holidays to the kids. I remember as a child shedding a few tears reading The Little Match Girl. This time I decided to read them the story, maybe they needed to hear a story about the bitter sweetness of life. I grew up reading fairy tales by Mr. Andersen and as I recall many of his stories have a tinge of sadness, The Steadfast Soldier, The Pearl to name a few. Forget the idea that fairy tales are sugar coated. This is the story of a young girl left to die in the cold on Christmas night. A good story can evoke empathy and remind us of our social responsibility. There was complete silence while I read the story. After the only questions they asked were, Where were her parents? and Why didn't the families in the window invite her in?
In this age of corporate greed and personal selfishness a good story reminds us to look beyond our window and encounter a bigger truth. The younger children were happy with what they thought was a happy ending but the older children got the message. And that is the way it should be as we grow up. So this was our story for the season.
There are many renditions of this beautiful story, a story for all seasons. How do you handle telling children sad stories? Do you avoid them or do you think they are an opportunity for young people to express their deep feelings.
Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Happy New Year! Happy Kwanzaa!