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5 Books to Help You Recapture Christmas

If you've lost that holiday spirit, consider reading one of these books to remind you that it's not all about shopping and cooking and Christmas cards.

Christmas -- who needs it!

With the rush of the holiday season, what with buying gifts and sending cards and arranging family gatherings, it's easy to lose that Christmas spirit. The endless onslaught of commercial messages that demand we buy more, do it all, create the "perfect" Christmas, whatever that might be -- can suck you dry.

And without Christmas spirit, the reasons for which we're presumably doing all of this -- to appreciate our family and friends, to contemplate our Christian beliefs, to be thankful for what we have -- fly away like so many snowflakes.

To regain a little of the reason for the season feeling, we suggest you find a quiet place and check out one these books. None is very long, but each is full of sentiment and/or humor ... depending on what you need most.

If there's a book you'd like to recommend, add it to the comment box below.

1 The Homecoming: A Novel about Spencer's Mountain by Earl Hamner Jr. (1970) While Hamner's books were the basis for "The Waltons," his tales of growing up in the Depression in the mountains of Appalachia are far less saccharin than the television series they would inspire. In this story, a mother and her seven children await the return of family patriach during a blizzard on Christmas Eve night. The mother fears something has happened to her husband and sends her oldest son to search for him.

2 The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson. (1845) This heart-breaking tale tells the story of a young girl who's afraid to return home and tell her violent father that she's failed to sell any matches. Instead, she finds shelter in a corner and strikes the matches for warmth. In the light of each she envisions Christmas feasts and her late grandmother, the only person who ever loved her.

3 A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. (1956) A largely autobiograpical short story for Capote, the narrator looks back at the years he spent in the care of his elderly cousin, Sook, during the Depression-era '30s. He recounts pennies they saved to buy raisins and whiskey to make fruitcakes and the humble presents they exchanged, which he never forgets long after they're eventually forced to separate.

4 Louisa May Alcott's Christmas Treasury by Louisa May Alcott. (Anthology of stories written between 1867 and 1888) While Alcott will forever be remembered for the novels Little Women and Little Men, she penned a large number of short stories and novellas with a Christmas theme during the course of her lifetime. This collection captures the many moods of the holiday season, from joy and hope to faith and sorrow.

5 The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris. (2000) If sentimental stories of the past are not your thing, how about six laugh-out-loud, acerbic essays about the "joys" of the season. The masterpiece is Sedaris' first-person satirical account of the December he spent working as a Christmas elf at Macy's in New York.

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