10 of the Best Holiday Scenes in Literature

When good things happen to our best-loved characters, they also happen to us to. And that’s especially true around the holidays, when our hearts and hopes are well primed for such instances of merriment, good fortune, and cheer. There is something about this time of year that makes me so badly want to crawl inside of a Dickens novel and stay for awhile — blame it on the parties, and the open fires, and the big life lessons learned on the coldest of winter nights. (If I’m being completely honest, it’s also the wassail.)

Our favorite literary characters can rock around the Christmas tree just as well as the best of us. Keep reading for ten of the best holiday scenes in literature — from giving, to getting, to Great Holiday Awakenings, to bubbling pots of hot apple cider. These scenes will have you feeling jolly in no time.

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'Little House On The Prairie'

"Laura and Mary never would have looked in their stockings again. The cups and the cakes and the candy were almost too much. They were too happy to speak. But Ma asked if they were sure the stockings were empty. Then they put their hands down inside them, to make sure. And in the toe of each stocking was a shining, bright new penny! They had never thought of such a thing as having a penny. Think of having a whole penny for your very own. Think of having a cup and a cake and a stick of candy and a penny. There never had been such a Christmas.” —Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie

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'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!” —Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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'Little Women'

"It was a comfortable old room, though the carpet was faded and the furniture very plain; for a good picture or two hung on the walls, books filled the recesses, chrysanthemums and Christmas roses bloomed in the windows, and a pleasant atmosphere of home peace pervaded it.” —Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

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'Pickwick Papers'

"When they were all tired of blind-man's buff, there was a great game at snap-dragon, and when fingers enough were burned with that, and all the raisins were gone, they sat down by the huge fire of blazing logs to a substantial supper, and a mighty bowl of wassail, something smaller than an ordinary wash-house copper, in which the hot apples were hissing and bubbling with a rich look, and a jolly sound, that were perfectly irresistible." —Charles Dickens, Pickwick Papers

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“The Little Match Girl"

"Thousands of lights were burning on the green branches, and gaily-colored pictures, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. The little maiden stretched out her hands towards them when — the match went out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now as stars in heaven." —Hans Christian Anderson, “The Little Match Girl”

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'Moby Dick'

"At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off we glided. It was a sharp, cold Christmas; and as the short northern day merged into night, we found ourselves almost broad upon the wintry ocean, whose freezing spray cased us in ice, as in polished armor. The long rows of teeth on the bulwarks glistened in the moonlight; and like the white ivory tusks of some huge elephant, vast curving icicles depended from the bows." —Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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'The Silver Linings Playbook'

“Miracles happen on Christmas, Pat. Everybody knows that shit.” ―Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook

'A Christmas Carol'

“He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness.” ―Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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'The Book Thief'

“It was the beginning of the greatest Christmas ever. Little food. No presents. But there was a snowman in their basement.” ―Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

"The Gift of the Magi"

"And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi." —O. Henry, "The Gift of the Magi"

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