PCS Blog

Favorite Holiday Stories

Posted by Natalie Gilmore | 28 November 2012

David Sedaris is one of my favorite storytellers. He has such a quirky point of view and spins his yarns with such sly craft, I find his tales irresistible. This is one of the reasons I so look forward to our annual production of The Santaland Diaries.  While The Santaland Diaries is my current favorite holiday story (It has just the right amount of snark and warmth), it’s in a long line of stories I love to return to again and again throughout the season.

As much as eggnog, mistletoe and caroling, storytelling is a central part of the holiday season. Whether you have the warm fuzzy memories of sitting on Grandma’s lap while she read to you or you acted out your favorite story in a church pageant, most of us have stories at the heart of our holiday memories.


There are so many holiday stories that we hold in our hearts. Here are a few of my favorites.


The Gift of the Magi

Poet O. Henry’s inspirational tale of a poor husband and wife who give up their most prized possessions to purchase gifts for their beloved inspires us to believe in selfless love. Of course, the two poor lovers each end up with a gift they can’t use and the loss of their prized possessions. But they realize their true gift is their love for each other. It’s inspiring. It also makes me grateful for amazon wish lists.




The Night Before Christmas

This lovely poem by Clement C. Moore is a classic for good reason. Who can resist the lovely images of children snug in their beds dreaming of Christmas toys? Does your family read this aloud on Christmas Eve?



The Polar Express

Who can resist the story of a train ride (all kids love trains!) to the North Pole? This gentle story reminds us to always believe.

“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”



This list is certainly not comprehensive, so now it’s your turn! Tell us your favorite holiday stories and you will be entered to win a pair of tickets to The Santaland Diaries and dinner for two at P.F. Chang's.

Winners will be drawn Friday, December 7!



Comments (23)

A big “thank you” to everyone for sharing your favorite holiday stories and memories! We enjoyed reading each and every one of them. All participants were entered into a random drawing, and our winner is….Jessica!

Congratulations Jessica. We’ll be dropping your prize package in the mail today.

Happy Holidays everyone!

  • Kinsley Suer
  • 10 Dec 12 10:54

Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. I love the book and the original animated version. Nice riff on the Scrooge theme and a great story about the true meaning of Christmas, inclusion of “others”, and how we grow when we are loved unconditionally. Really an everyday morality story, not “just for Christmas”!

  • Lisa Hamilton
  • Portland, Oregon 97212
  • 07 Dec 12 05:41

I love the classic children’s book, Tge Elves and the Shoemaker.

  • Jessica
  • 06 Dec 12 08:50

My favorite is and has always been is “It’s a Wonderful Life” which I’m also appearing in (shameless plug) at Valley Repertory Theatre’s production in Newberg.  check out valleyrep,org for tickets!

  • Patti Hansen
  • Newberg
  • 06 Dec 12 07:51

My favorite Christmas story is, “Polly Anderson’s Christmas Party,” by Stuart McLean. It’s one of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard or read, and illustrates some of the consequences of trying to make Christmas “perfect.” McLean is the writer/host of a Canadian radio show, “The Vinyl Cafe.” I listen to this story every year.

  • Patrick Wohlmut
  • Portland, OR
  • 06 Dec 12 02:55

Would love to win. I think the best story is A Christmas Story.  But I have always read the Polar Express and The night before Christmas. Both are very much classics in their own way. What I really miss the most is Santa Land at Meir and Franks. I have been going since I was born in 1974 all the way through close in 2009. Have a great Christmas season PCS!

  • Jason BaRTON
  • United States
  • 06 Dec 12 02:31

Please stop sending me responses because they are not responses to me. Thjey are just more comments. You are clogging my e-mail box and I am sorry that I placed a comment on your site.

  • Claire Cohen
  • 06 Dec 12 01:48

My favorite christmas story is definitely How the Grinch stole Christmas. I had the Dr. Suess book when I was a child a read it many times during the holiday season. Even now as an adult, I still read it with my wife, and I am sure someday soon, will be able to share the tale of the grumpy old grinch and the power of love and song to my own children.

  • Cory Burnsed
  • 06 Dec 12 01:49

One of my favorite holiday stories is “Santa Calls” by William Joyce. My husband and I have a tradition of buying a new holiday book (or two) every year. Santa Calls was the first one we bought together to start our collection so it will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s not only a fun, magical adventure story with a heartfelt lesson but it’s also filled with some of the most remarkable and imaginative illustrations I’ve ever seen. Definitely a must have holiday story.

My favorite holiday story is It’s A Wonderful Life!

  • Theresa Laney
  • Portland
  • 06 Dec 12 01:43

What a lovely list to read! I had forgotten “We’re No Angels,” and I have to mention Raymond Brooks’ “The Snowman,” which has such a haunting score (the song “Walking In The Air” will stay with you).

But for me, ever since seeing Steve Wilkerson at Portland Center Stage (and thanks for reminding me of his name on FB!), Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” has been close to my heart. I recently contributed to a Friends Of The Tualatin Library event at our local Barnes & Noble bookstore by reading “A Christmas Memory” aloud. The music of the language, the emotions between Buddy and his friend, and the aching sense of loss in the face of the holiday’s promise of renewal—it’s a beautiful and powerful story to hear, and a performer’s dream.

If you’re not familiar, it’s on line in a number of places; the first one I found was here:


  • Scott Fisher
  • Tualatin, Oregon
  • 06 Dec 12 01:55

A favorite Christmas film is We’re No Angels.  It’s not a traditional christmas flick, but Bogey doing comedy is heart-warming and hilarious.

  • D Smith
  • Portland
  • 03 Dec 12 08:49

My favorite Christmas movie is Elf. Will Ferrell is hilarious.  Also it is appropriate for all ages.

  • Nicole Johnson
  • Portland
  • 03 Dec 12 05:47

Favorite Christmas Story…Movie…..  A tradition to watch Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswald!

  • Scott Johnson
  • Portland
  • 30 Nov 12 09:14

My favorite holiday story is the story of Hanukkah and last year it had a very special meaning for our family. My husband was able to say the prayers in Hebrew while lighting the candles even though he had advanced Alzheimer’s. We had our children and grandchildren here to celebrate while singing and dancing with him. My husband died in February so I and my family have wonderful memories of that last time we were together.

  • Claire Cohen
  • Lake Oswego, Or.
  • 30 Nov 12 01:46

A Charlie Brown Christmas is one one of my favorite feel-good holiday traditions.  I love the simple message it sends.  The soundtrack is amazing as well.

My father was a baker in Minneapolis, MN.  Every year on the 2 Sundays before Christmas my family would help him make Christmas cookies.  It was fun with the whole family working together and having a great time.  My sister and I would also make Krumkake, a Norweigan cookie, every night.  My father could sell as many as we could make.  I try to carry on this tradition by making Christmas cookies and Krumkake every Christmas with my neice.

  • Mary Rice
  • Portland
  • 29 Nov 12 11:05

I always love the Charlie Brown Christmas!

  • Amy Jarvis
  • Portland
  • 29 Nov 12 11:02

My favorite holiday memory was when I was 7 years old and I lived in the winter wonderland of Auburn Heights, Michigan.  We lived in a farm house built in 1856.  It was a beautiful old house, but all the charm had long since been removed—gone were all the fireplaces, crown molding, built in shelves, etc.  The item I missed the most was the fireplace, Santa’s entry point.  My parents attempted to appease me by installing a fake non-working fireplace made out of plaster board, then finished it with brick wallpaper.  Yes, I mean wall paper that looked like bricks, it was hideous.  But I was happy that Santa had a place to enter and drop off our presents.  Unfortunately I began to contemplate that since this fireplace did not have a chimney that perhaps Santa would be thwarted in his attempts to leave our presents.  My dad sensing my dismay on Christmas Eve attempted to overcompensate by helping Santa’s visit seem longer than possible (given the short length of time he has at each house) by going on the roof and making reindeer noises.  All I remember is seeing my dad fly by the window on his way to the ground and into a snow bank luckily placed there by drifting snow.  He said he was up there to catch a closer look of Santa, but I knew he did it for me and Santa knew too and left some of his cookies for my dad for helping keep Christmas in his daughters heart a little longer.

  • Jodie MacLean
  • Portland, OR
  • 29 Nov 12 11:58

Our favorite story is Polar Express
We are very impressed with the work that POrtland Center Stage does, thanks

  • doyle petersen
  • puget island
  • 29 Nov 12 10:29

There are so many.  Beyond the great ones mentioned, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” is a dreamy short piece by Dylan Thomas that’s improved with time.  And within a book of Christmas stories titled “Miracle,” a story by science-fiction writer Connie Willis, “Inn,” brings the seasonal spirit home.

  • Nick O'Connor
  • Portland
  • 29 Nov 12 09:24

Even though it’s not a traditional story (in book form), “It’s a Wonderful Life” is my favorite Christmas story. Every year in the days leading up to Christmas and on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, I sit and watch George Bailey grow and learn, stumble and soar, and learn life’s greatest lesson… to love and be loved. “No man is a failure who has friends.”

  • Christine Larsen
  • Tigard, Oregon
  • 29 Nov 12 09:17

The Polar Express brings the magic of Christmas to life with a train ride to the North Pole and the wonder of the ringing bell that goes silent for too many.

  • Karen M Bondaruk
  • Portland Oregon
  • 29 Nov 12 09:59

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