Saturday, 13 November 2010

42 days til.......

For my 2nd countdown to Christmas post I thought I would share some of my Christmas reading. Just like the seasonal jewellery I love to wear, there are certain books I get out from my book shelves as the Christmas Season approaches. One such book is Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol".

The first time I read this book was as a 10 year old in my final year of primary school. My best friend of those far away days was Sarah Chopping, (who amazingly tracked my down and read this blog post about my old primary school), and I were the school librarians. I think the headmaster thought we were very good girls, little did he know that sometimes we took our records into school (7" singles at that time) some lunch times, put them on the record player and "quietly" blasted out the tunes of T.Rex and the like! We were trusted to put all the new books into circulation in the school library. This meant putting in date plates (yes in those days you stamped when a book was due back), cataloging them etc. The real beauty of this "job" was that we had the place to ourselves when the library was shut to the rest of the school and we got to see and handle all the lovely new books which came in. I still love wandering around book shops, there is a certain smell to brand new books...mmmm!

In December 1971 (gosh I do feel old now) a gorgeous  Arthur Rackham illustrated copy of this Dickens's book arrived at school to be catalogued and put into our library circulation - I was totally mesmerised by it. The combination of Dicken's story and Rackham's illustrations work so well. The book was a hardback edition and I decided that I would be the very first person to have it out on loan. I remember the first time I read it, how the story kept me entranced until the very last pages. I wonder what happened to that lovely book.....? I went to an exhibition of Rackham's art at the Dulwich Picture Gallery some years ago and saw some of his stunning, almost Gothic fairy paintings in the flesh..wonderful.




These are the postcards I bought  from the exhibition.
(You can click on any of the photos to enlarge them)













Once I got married I decided that I would try to  re read A Christmas Carol every year at Christmas. My husband even bought me a copy with the same beautiful Arthur Rachmann illustrations. It is a short story and is quick to read.

This is my current copy

I just think it reminds us a little of the true spirit of Christmas and indeed Dickens was a passionate believer in charity towards others and for social reform. He was a man ahead of his time in more than one way. I will be honest and admit that I have not managed to re read it every year, some years don't go quite to plan, but I always make a start.

It is something I really treasure.
Some of my favourite quotes from the book are;

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour."


I also enjoy  reading  a wonderful compendium of Christmas stories/thoughts, again which my husband bought me when our children were very young. I love dipping in and out of it, it is something I can look at for a few minutes before I go to sleep or while I have a morning cup of tea before I get going or dash off to work for the day. I don't ever need to read it from start to finish, each piece stands alone.



It is simply called "Christmas" and is
contained within a lovely box sleeve.
The pages are thick and wonderful to
handle.







There are short stories, poems and all sorts of pieces about the season and even the pages are scented with Christmas fragrance.















I also get out my Delia Smith's Christmas book and plan my food although so often my cooking plans do not get very far! Each year I intend to make my own mincemeat for my mince pies but usually a jar comes to my rescue. I do always make my own pastry though - so it's only half and cheat! I am quite a reluctant cook, I just feel I have more interesting things to do with my time. It is more important to do things you enjoy doing, not what you think you should be doing. There are no rules and nothing is the right way. Many of my friends love the cooking part and could think of nothing worse than making cards etc etc. Thank goodness for individuality!

I also do enjoy some of the Christmas magazines, the colour really does bring some cheer to the dull days of this time of years and obviously we do dream of snow...........??!

So which Christmas books do you enjoy reading or remember from the past or do you enjoy the magazines of the season? I would really enjoy reading your comments.

One final thought for this posting

"Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given--when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes."



- Joan Winmill Brown

Bye for now,

Jane x

8 comments:

  1. Hi Jane
    I bet you didn't expect me to the first to comment on your Christmas (see! I said it) post! I'm getting there!!
    Actually I mentioned on my blog last night that it was only 5 weeks away and sent some of my readers into a panic. Blame my newsagent he told me that and I had no reason to doubt him. When I thought about it and recounted I realised I was wrong!!
    Anyhow, A Christmas Carol, I have to admit I've never read it but I of course know the story through TV and film and the moral of the story is excellent.
    I do love the picture of the sheep in your other book, very beautiful. :)
    I always loved the poem 'The Night Before Christmas' as a child I knew it off by heart.
    Goodness Jane, I have gone on a bit!!
    Have a great weekend.
    Vivienne x
    P.S. I loved T.Rex too!!

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  2. Good grief Vivienne, how lovely to get your comment first.Have I dragged you away from autumn? ;0) The book is really quite short and a really great read. I also love the TV adaptations and usually watch one, even the Muppets one is good fun.
    Great to have your comments, it's such fun to hear what everyone else does.
    Have a great weekend,
    Love Jane x

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  3. It's always a pleasure to discover how others perceive and practice the customs of the season. Thanks for sharing your favorite quotes. They're wonderful and relevant year round.
    Your experiences at the library make me smile- the library was and is a wonderful place to fuel imaginations, even a little mischief! Hopefully, people will continue to appreciate the tactile qualities of the printed page as the trends shift towards digital communications!
    Mince pie...I haven't had that in years! Mmmm... :o)

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  4. I agree about libraries Michele. Fortunately our local libraries are still very well used. They have internet access, hire DVDs,CDS etc but still has rows of lovely printed books.I do hope they continues to embrace this electronic age and evolve to suit everyone's needs (perhaps even occasionally some mischief-LOL).
    Love Jane x

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  5. Hi Jane,

    I have many books I love to read over and over again, but none of them are really about the Christmas, I definitely need to look for A Christmas Carol, it looks wonderful!

    I am offering here a tradition slightly less cultural yet as wonderful: Me and my sis watch the movie "Love, actually" every single year some weeks before Christmas and it's wonderful. Every time. We both have our own DVD´s even we ALWAYS watch it together. It's that good :)

    Happy weekend, kisses to B!

    Yours,
    Mia

    P.S. Great progress, Viv ;)

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  6. Hi Mia,

    We also either see a Christmas movie at the cinema before Christmas or watch a DVD and yes we also LOVE "Love Actually". I remember seeing that at the cinema the year it came out and I confess I cried at the end....SUCH a good movie.

    This year I think it will be the new Harry Potter.

    Look out for Albert Finney's "Scrooge"(musical version of a Christmas carol)on DVD or Frank Finlay's version(1984) "A christmas Carol" (my favourite version)they are really worth a Christmas view ;0)

    Billy sends a very warm purr!

    Love Jane x

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  7. Hi there jane,
    I love to read and often listen to books on tape while I am making beads in the flame, some say this doesn't count as reading, but I am still forming the pictures in my head and absolutely love it. You have inspired me to read this, I never have but of course know the story from television. Love the illustrations from ARthur Rackham and looked him up on ebay with quite many books coming up for auction. Thanks and have a lovely week Jane

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  8. Hi Denise,
    Talking books are "big" over here,I have taken them on holidays in the past.It must be a great way for you to "read" while you torch.I hope you get a chance to "read" this.Rackam's illustrations though are really worth looking at, his tiny detail is quite extraordinary. Good to hear from you.
    Love Jane x

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment; I really enjoy reading every single one of them.
Jane x