We’re down to our last two days of adventures in celebrating Christmas that don’t involve chowing down.
To recap, last Monday we explored the world of scent with #1 Body Butter: all the scent with none of the fat.
Tuesday, Day 2 added flavor to scent with Tea: warm, sweet, spicy and good for you.
On Day 3, we added in emotion, with the joyful anticipation of an advent calendar.
So, here we are, a new week, Day 6 and onto one of my very most favorite topics.
#6 Books: a world of pleasure.
Like with the music, I have my collection of Christmas-themed books that I put away with the decorations. Every year I bring them out again, like old friends.
One of my favorites is A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. I have this very version, in fact, though mine has a few more thumbprints. My high-school drama teacher used to read this aloud every year, often on the last day of class before break. If you’ve never read it, it’s well worth it. Written in 1954, it hearkens even farther back to the poet’s childhood, with a lyrical, nostalgic retelling of a simpler, less-commercial time. Here’s a taste:
All the Christmases roll down toward the
two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon
bundling down the sky that was our street;
and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged,
fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the
snow and bring out whatever I can find.
In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued
ball of holidays resting at the rim of the
carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero
and the firemen.
If you prefer something funny, another old favorite is Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Because it’s about a church Christmas pageant, it’s considerably more church-y, but it’s also tears-running-down-your-cheeks funny with all the things that go wrong. In the end the message is about hypocrisy and play-acting compared to truly generous acts. I remember my stepdad, Leo, reading this aloud to us and how he’d have to stop to just laugh. It’s a good memory.
I should give you a taste of that, too. This is how it opens:
The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s old broken-down toolhouse.
The toolhouse burned right down to the ground, and I think that surprised the Herdmans. They set fire to things all the time, but that was the first time they managed to burn down a whole building.
There are other books, of course. A Christmas Carol is standard, but the story has been replicated in so many ways that it sometimes feels tired to me. Still, it’s worth it to read the original tale if you never have.
So now I’m curious – what am I missing? Any wonderful Christmas books that are part of your holiday tradition?