If you are like me, reading a relevant poem, short story or novel gets you into the holiday spirit, no matter which holiday is. That is why I decided to do a holiday series this year and get everyone inspired to read (hopefully). Today, after some effort, I came up with a list of New Year's stories and poems that should do the trick. If you think of any I do not have listed here, please feel free to leave the suggestion in the comments section!
"A New Year's Eve Adventure" by E.T.A. Hoffmann
While he may be wrong with this assessment, "You must surely know that on this season, Christmas and New Year's, even though it's so fine and pleasant for all of you, I am always driven out of my peaceful cell onto a raging, lashing sea.", at least the idea that it is pleasant for many, E.T.A. Hoffmann weaves an eerie and unusual New Year's Eve tale with this classic that gets overshadowed by his more famous works.
The story starts with hints of an impending sorrow wrought by the Devil juxtaposed with the hint of a promise of a rekindling of passionate love. Quickly, you get the sense that there is a wild joke being played on the narrator, perhaps a very sinister one. The situation is averted when he leaves in a hurry, but it is only to meet a few more strange characters and to immerse himself in the small pleasures of a beer cellar that are expressed as positively sinful, though quite run of the mill today.
During his escape, he seems to find to horridly kindred spirits. One small man with a hatred of mirrors and one tall and sad man who seems to have lost his shadow, but what do the misfortunes of these three men mean? Well, apart from a holiday nightmare, very little to do with New Year's, but the story is great and has enough to do with the holiday to feature on this list.
"New Year's Eve" by Lord Alfred Tennyson (Poem)
I'll keep this description brief, as this is a poem rather than a short story. It will suffice to say that it is a wonderful poem, as the name of the author may attest if you know much of poetry. It is both sad and uplifting. In a way, it is the story of the end of a happy story, if that makes any sense.
"New Year's Night" by Henry Lawson
"New Year's Night" is the story of a holiday and an anniversary set in a hot farmhouse in Australia's farming country. A simpler story is not on this list and it takes a certain appreciation for the little things in family life to understand the magic in this tale. It is certainly not my favorite story of a New Year's Eve or Day, but it has the spirit of love and family between its few pages.
"A New Year's Gift" by Guy de Maupassant
This story begins with the narrator in a place many of us probably hope to be on New Year's Day -- reviewing the previous year and maturely taking stock of experiences. In the case of our storyteller, the thing of most import is the state of his romantic relationship with a woman named Irene. Very soon the woman unexpectedly joins him, but she is no good mood. Because the mystery is so quickly introduced and so clear of other distractions, it builds a natural curiosity that spurs the reader on to finish the brief tale. It is not long before the torrid secrets of their relationship and her life come spilling out.
This story ends with a bit of a shock and, to the modern reader, perhaps with a loss of respect for one of the two characters. Nonetheless, it is a New Year's Eve gift that is sought and it is received.
Happy Reading and Happy New Year,