A couple of years ago, I found this book half-price in a gift shop after Christmas and snapped it up to save for the next December holidays. What a good impulse buy that turned out to be; having read it from cover to cover, I can say it was a most excellent bargain, and would be at full price.
From the lovely (and rather unexpected) cover art, you might guess that this isn't going to be a full book of Scrooge-finds-his-way stories. And it's not. There's very little treacle in here at all; the worst offender is a brief tale by Leo Tolstoy, and if you know a little about his religious views, that story offers an interesting Mary Sue viewpoint. But beyond that, while there are happy endings, that's not a guarantee in these stories. Some are funny, some are heartbreaking, appearances are made by goblins, witches, and the devil. The well-known and well-loved Truman Capote story, A Christmas Memory, is here, as well as lesser-known pieces from prominent (and, unfortunately, pretty much all white) authors.
But how can you not enjoy a book that opens with a story by Dickens, but it's not from A Christmas Carol; instead, it's a tale told within The Pickwick Papers of goblins who teach a mean gravedigger a lesson? Evelyn Waugh's Bella Fleace Gives a Party seems like a dainty period piece, but then goes a different direction. Grace Paley has a story of young Jewish children being co-opted into their public school's Christmas programs, back when public schools re-created the Nativity scene as part of that production. John Cheever's Christmas Is a Sad Season for the Poor becomes a fascinating study of human nature at all income levels. And of course, you can never go wrong with a story by Alice Munro.
So if you're looking for a holiday collection that isn't entirely sweetness and predictable, this one is a fine choice, one I'll return to in future years.