When I was young I had an older brother who lived far away. At Christmas time he would always send me books...the best books. I don't remember the titles of all the books he gave me (although I still have the copy of The Hobbit he sent me), but I do remember they were just the best books. I loved all of them and they fostered my developing and voracious appetite for reading.
One book I often think about this time of year is A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is an Edwardian era novel that centers around the fortunes of a little English girl who, after spending her first years in India, is placed in an English boarding school after her mother dies. Her depressed and now widowed father returns to his business dealings in India/Africa but within the year is reported to have died. There is now no money to pay for her place at the school and Sarah Crewe descends from the most privileged boarder to the lowest scullery maid.
There is a happy ending, of course, and I seem to recall it is somehow associated with Christmas. This slideshow is made up of images from a 1995 movie version.