What would you do if you opened a long-awaited envelope to discover nothing but a blank sheet of paper?
Nellie’s Christmas Letter by Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott hinges on just such a question.
When the Christmas mail arrives in a rural English village on a wintery morning in the 1870’s, Aunt Bessie’s nephews and nieces are looking forward to receiving their special Christmas letters. But when the envelopes are opened, the children are faced with a horrible surprise.
In a lively, amusing narrative this free Christmas story by Victorian author Emily Steele Elliott gives us the tale of the mysterious papers that Nellie and her siblings received instead of their expected Christmas treat—as well as bringing out a deeper message about the Child of Bethlehem, His written Word, and a transformation even more wonderful than the final clue to Nellie’s Christmas letter.
SAW Publishing’s FREE Short Story Series
This coming calendar year (2020) SAW Publishing is planning to offer a free monthly download introducing readers to good and great literature from the public domain. These texts are slightly altered in some places—edited rather than abridged—for the sake of maintaining our good and great standard, but such alterations have only extended to minor details.
We’ll be alternating between short stories and poems—introducing each download with a post highlighting a specific characteristic which makes each work good from a spiritual perspective, as well as another characteristic which makes it great from a literary viewpoint.
These downloads will be available on the Sheep Among Wolves blog on the fourth Monday of each month. Today’s free Christmas story, Nellie’s Christmas Letter, gives you a sample of how the series will work.
Nellie’s Christmas Letter: A GOOD Story
The good characteristic which I appreciate most in Nellie’s Christmas Letter, is the parallel which the author draws between the mysterious blank letters which her characters receive on Christmas morning, and the Word of God which can so easily remain a blank letter in our lives.
While this story is not an allegory in a true sense of the word, Emily Steele Elliott has given us a unique allegorical picture of our need for the illumination of God’s Holy Spirit in approaching His written Word.
I like the fact that this moral, although very unconventional for a Christmas story, really does fit in extremely well with the celebration of Christ’s birth, when “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:14)
Nellie’s Christmas Letter: A GREAT Story
I think the characteristic of Nellie’s Christmas Letter which I enjoy most from a literary perspective is the way the author has captured a child’s expression in her writing style.
The story is told in the first person, from the perspective of Nellie herself, and the narrative truly gives the effect of being written by a child. Obviously, there are times when this forces the author to depart from the formal definitions of “good writing.” Nellie has a weakness for long sentences, and (as she herself admits) a tendency to repeat her adjectives in a way that would scandalize grown-up editors.
But at the end of the day, it is this unconventional style which the gives the story it’s charm. Nellie’s tale is real. It is a story which we can image a child really telling, and it is, accordingly, a delight to read.
Download this FREE Christmas Story
Sheep Among Wolves Publishing is pleased to be able to offer Nellie’s Christmas Letter as a free Christmas story in downloadable PDF format.
May your heart be lifted, and your delight in the gift of God’s living Word kindled anew by this vintage tale of a Christmas long ago. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments when you’re finished reading!
Are you struggling to find worthwhile, Christ-centred reading material for your family? See our previous post:
- Don’t Waste the Holidays: Reading Aloud to Your Children
- My Reading Goals in Retrospect