Favourite Christmas Stories from Fireside Al by Alan Maitland

Alan Maitland was a Canadian radio broadcaster, starting as an announcer with CBC in 1947. He frequently read short stories on air and became known as "Fireside Al" for his winter readings and "Frontporch Al" for his summer readings. His reading of Frederick Forsyth's "The Shepherd" on the radio became a Christmas Eve tradition for many Canadians; he read it himself for over 15 years and though he's no longer with us, the recording of his voice reading the story is still greatly anticipated and enjoyed on Dec 24th. Some of the stories have been collected and published in several Christmas collections and I've just discovered there is also a CD of Maitland's Christmas readings that's going on my wishlist for next Christmas. Maitland passed away in 1999 leaving his voice and his stories as a legacy, a national treasure for Canadians.

There are thirty-five stories, poems and even a couple of recipes in this collection. There are selections from Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde, W.O. Mitchell, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dylan Thomas, Stephen Leacock, Robert Louis Stevenson, O. Henry and many others. Some of my favourites are here: A Child's Christmas In Wales, The Gift of the Magi, The True Meaning of Crumbfest, Christmas at Fezziwig's Warehouse, and Hardy's poem, The Oxen, but there's something for every taste. There is comedy from Thomas Hardy (a bit of a Christmas miracle in itself), stories and memories of Christmas long ago, and the hauntingly beautiful story from Frederick Forsythe, The Shepherd. 

This is one of my favourite Christmas books. I don't read it every year now because the list of "every December" books is getting too long but when I do, I love seeing it sitting on a side table knowing there's something lovely waiting for me next time I take a break. I think any reader will find something to love here and hopefully a new tale or two that will come as a nice surprise. If you haven't ever read The True Meaning of Crumbfest or The Shepherd, do yourself a kindness and get your hands on them before next Christmas. I'll bet you, like many others, find yourself drawn to them again and again as the holidays roll around.


Joel Hagen said...

I love Fireside Al's readings... do you know if the CD includes A Child's Christmas in Wales?

Ordinary Reader said...

I'm not sure Nadine. I never did get the CD and I couldn't find a full list of the stories online anywhere. A Child's Christmas In Wales is one of my favourite Christmas stories that I look forward to reading every year. Have a merry Christmas!

Brenda said...

I remember being transfixed the first time I heard ‘Fireside Al’ read “The Shepherd “. Even as an adult, I love being read to. I’m afraid that may be becoming a lost art. Thanks for the information on this book. I think I’ll order this and treasure it as you do.

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