Luis Alberto Urrea, "Christmas Eve, 1944"


It’s December 24. Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels, will take a baker’s dozen to go.

How would you describe your story?

LUIS ALBERTO URREA: It is a fact-based reenactment of my mother's Christmas Eve during the Siege of Bastogne. I am finishing up a novel drawn from her WWII experiences and this is a glimpse.

When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?

LAU: I wrote it specifically for the advent calendar. I have been working on this novel for a while, so it naturally sprang from the world I have been mentally inhabiting. I know I want it to be part of my novel; this was my first time working through the story and getting down to the very essence of the experience.

What kind of research went into this story?

LAU: This story came out of my mother's tales and research I have done for my novel. 

What, to you, makes the short story a special form? What can it do that other kinds of writing can't?

LAU: Short stories are like the poems of fiction. They strike quickly, but carry great echoes and hauntings within them. If a novel is an LP record, a short story is the 45.

Where should people go to learn more about you and your work?

LAU: The library. The bookstore. Or online, you can find me at There is a ton of stuff there and all over the internet.

What's the best gift you've ever been given?

LAU: My Schwinn Stingray bike when I was in 6th grade. Metal flake blue. Parked under the Christmas tree. Definitely not expected! We lived in an upstairs apartment and I rode it down the stairs like Steve McQueen. I was never off that thing, if I could help it, well into high school.

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What did you think of today's story? Use the hashtag #ssac2018 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to check in with your fellow advent calendarians.

Michael Hingston