What better way to visit with Anne than through some of my favorite Christmas stories about her and other delightful characters birthed by L.M. Montgomery? This collection of stories was edited by Rea Wilmshurst who is one of my literary heroes. I don't know the story of how she became involved in the estate of Lucy Maud, but in 1977, at Montgomery's birthplace, Wilmshurst discovered twelve scrapbooks of stories penned by Montgomery that Wilmshurst had never seen before. Through correspondence with Montgomery's son, Dr. Stuart Macdonald, Wilmshurst discovered that there were more stories. Montgomery herself kept a list of all of the stories that she had ever written and her son gave this list to Wilmshurst who then graciously took the time to hunt down all these little gems. As a result of Wilmshurst's efforts, there are now eight volumes of short stories collected by Wilmshurst that the world can enjoy. One of these volumes is Christmas with Anne.
This particular volume of stories are all of a Christmas theme, naturally, except the last three stories which are New Year stories. Two of the stories are taken from the Anne series and were included mostly for familiarity sake. Wilmhurst decided to include the story of Anne's first Christmas at Green Gables in which she receives the dress from Matthew ("with puffed sleeves!") and then the Christmas that Kathrine Brooke accompanies Anne home. The rest of the stories are unique apart from the Anne books. Most were written for magazine publications who wanted a Christmas-theme based story. In most of these stories, Montgomery seems to keep the theme that it's not about what's under the tree, but the love that is in your heart. The stories are predictable but, quite frankly, I don't really care. I'm an unabashed Montgomery fan and anything written by her is likely to be a hit with me - predictable or not! She has a way of writing that just delights me.
If you have not had the opportunity to read any of the additional short story collections by Montgomery, I would heartily encourage you to do so. Here is the list of the titles available:
Akin to Anne: Tales of Other Orphans (1988)
Along the Shore: Tales by the Sea (1989)
Among the Shadows: Tales from the Darker Side (1990)
After Many Days: Tales of Time Passed (1991)
Against the Odds: Tales of Achievement (1991)
At the Altar: Matrimonial Tales (1994)
Across the Miles: Tales of Correspondence (1995)
Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories (1995)
The Doctor's Sweetheart and Other Stories (selected by Catherine McLay)
I've always wondered if Rea Wilmshurst found all the stories or if there are a few more hidden. I would expect she found them all. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1996 so her work for Mongtomery and her fans is now at an end. Or is it? If you've yet to pick up any of the above titles of short stories, then I suppose her work is just beginning!
Of course, a great place to start (this holiday season) is Christmas with Anne.
Merry Christmas and enjoy!