Christmas has inspired many authors to write about its spirit and gifts of charity which can generate forgiveness, friendship and generosity.

Everyone's heard the children's story, "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" that was created by Robert L. May in 1939 as part of his Montgomery Ward employment. Johnny Marks adapted May's story into a song which Gene Autry recorded in 1949.

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"The Gift of the Magi," a short story by O. Henry is one of my favorites with its wit, wordplay and clever, surprise ending. A major reason given for its enduring appeal is its affirmation of unselfish love, which is like the gifts given by the wise men, called the Magi, who brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the newborn Jesus; thus, the origin of Christmas.

Every year I avoid watching the movie made from Charles Dickens' 1843 story, "A Christmas Carol." I don't wish to review the transformation of the stingy character, Ebenezer Scrooge, another time. If I could fast-forward to the happy ending where Scrooge is converted into a caring, charitable person, then the focus would be placed on Christmas' ideals of generosity, and kindness. The ending makes me happy but I don't like suffering through the sad scenes.

Oscar Wilde's story, "The Selfish Giant," is a multilayered short story for both children and adults because of the depth of its meaning. Young children can read it literally about a giant who is mean and whose garden refuses to grow. Adult readers can look at the religious symbolism of selfishness and forgiveness. The meaning of the wall around the garden can be thought of as symbolic of us shutting each other out.

Recently, while speedily TV channel-surfing, I bumped into a delightful modern-day Christmas story. I feel fortunate to have found the movie, "Smoke" in time to see the scene where Paul (William Hurt), a writer and a regular customer of the cigar store, owned by Auggie Wren (Harvey Keitel), tells Auggie that he needs to write a Christmas story for the Christmas morning newspaper. "Does Auggie know of any?"

"Sure," Auggie says, "I know a million of them. Did I ever tell you how I got this camera? Let's have lunch and I'll tell you."

And that begins the tale: "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story." The writer, Paul Auster, manages to weave a spell that takes you on a delightfully enchanting roller-coaster ride, starting with a shoplifting at his cigar store. The thief looses his wallet (with home address) while escaping from Auggie. Next you hear about Auggie's solitary Christmas day when, out of the blue, he brightly decides to return the wallet. What ensues next is a "pretend friendship" that seems "just right;" a new unexpectedly rewarding camaraderie materializes into a lovely Christmas dinner for two. Next the brand-new camera makes it's entrance …ending the beautiful Christmas day shared by two lonely strangers. The story shouts "Christmas!"

We are all one; there is no difference in any of us; we all want and need love.

Togetherness at Christmas can mean reading some the many Christmas classics together as a family.

The Rev. Ellin M. Dize is executive director of nonprofit NRS Inc. and facilitates A Course in Miracles spiritual discussion group at St. Paul's UCC. She can be contacted at NRSsolutions@yahoo.com.

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