7 Holiday-Themed Short Stories To Read When You Need A Break From Family

by Melissa Ragsdale

The holiday season is a time defined by stories — from the tales that get told to children everywhere, to the memories that your family laughs about around the dinner table. 'Tis certainly the season to share a good story with those you love, which makes it the perfect time to always read some holiday-themed short stories.

There are so many classic stories that get told again and again during the season. Think, for instance, of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and all the other characters that have become an essential part of holiday celebrations. Plus, of course, there are the stories that are central to the winter holidays themselves, like the story of the first Hannakuh and the legend of Santa Claus. Every culture and every family in the world tells different stories to each other at this time of year.

So, here are a few more short stories to help you ring in the holiday season. In the stories on this list, you’ll find heaping helpings of all the things that make the holidays special. There’s plenty of magic within these stories, along with a delectable serving of family drama. These are stories you can share with each other as you deck the halls, or read quietly to yourself when you need to take a break from all the festivities.

The best part is, you can read them all online for free! So, no matter how you’re celebrating, consider this a gift from me to you:


"We Live in a Tree for One Month Every Year" by Reina Hardy

This short short story is told from the point-of-view of a box of ornaments.

Click here to read.


"Year’s End" by Jhumpa Lahiri

Written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies, this story is about a college student who comes home for Christmas to meet his new stepmother and stepsisters for the first time.

Click here to read.


"North Of" by Marie-Helene Bertino

In this charming story by the author of 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas, the narrator brings Bob Dylan home for Thanksgiving.

Click here to read.


"A Burglar's Christmas" by Willa Cather

From the great Willa Cather, this short story (set on Christmas Eve) centers on a destitute and desperate man who decides to become a thief, and stumbles upon a surprise.

Click here to read.


"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry

You can't get any more classic than this story about a couple who go to great lengths to give each other Christmas gifts.

Click here to read.


"Seasonal Work" by Laura Lippman

In this story, the narrator's family moves to a different town each year so that her stepfather can pull off a Christmas con.

Click here to read.


"Lucky" by Jen Knox

In this story, a group of siblings spend New Year's Day together at their grandmother's house, as their family goes through some dramatic changes.

Click here to read.