Thornton Wilder's "The Long Christmas Dinner" is not really a sad play even if there are tears in my eyes each December when I read it.
Ninety years go by in the Bayard family, all taking place at the Christmas Day dinner table. Family members get married, children are born, people rise from their seats and pass through the "dark portal" while others take their place, all while passing down family names, memories, and traditions.
John Glassner, in the introduction to this and other Thornton Wilder plays in the book, says that "The Long Christmas Dinner" in his opinion "is the most beautiful one-act play in English prose." And that Thornton Wilder in this play "aimed here for the truth of common life, on the one hand, and its theatrical expression, on the other."
It's a beautiful play, one I wish I could see acted by a senior high school class. Even Defee's old bear, who I'll probably have to pass down to Nora and her baby sister one of these days, likes to read "The Long Christmas Dinner."
He may look sad but he looks sad all the time.
"The Long Christmas Dinner" is just about a normal family having a traditional Christmas Day dinner, with all the generations present, for a very long time.
As a bonus book for you, notice that another favorite of mine is on the table above, Mary Randolph Carter's For the Love of Old.
Oh, how I love this book! I love her design philosophy, which is probably summed up perfectly on the cover of this book: