Three Days To Christmas: A Gathering of Angels, One (Tasmanian) Devil, and One Small Dog

From A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd:

“From the kitchen intoxicating smells were beginning to fill the house. Every year my mother baked two pumpkin pies, spicy and immobilizingly rich. Up through the hot-air registers echoed the boom and bellow of my father fighting The Furnace. I was locked in my bedroom in a fever of excitement. Before me on the bed were sheets of green and yellow paper, balls of colored string, and cellophane envelopes of stickers showing sleighing scenes, wreaths, and angels blowing trumpets….

“I turned back to my labors until finally there they were—my masterworks of creative giving piled in a neat pyramid on the quilt. My brother was locked in the bathroom, wrapping the fly swatter he had bought for the Old Man.

“Our family always had its Christmas on Christmas Eve. Other less fortunate people, I had heard, opened their presents in the chill clammy light of dawn. Far more civilized, our Santa Claus recognized that barbaric practice for what it was. Around midnight great heaps of tissuey, crinkly, sparkly, enigmatic packages appeared among the lower branches of the tree and half hidden among the folds of the white bed-sheet that looked in the soft light like some magic snowbank.”







Leave a comment

Four Days To Christmas: Winter Solstice

From Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram:

“The stars glimmer in the solstice dark, their faint light mirrored in glints off the crusted snow. Far below these blanketed fields, deep beneath the bedrock, a lustrous power slumbers, fitfully, like a bear in its cave. The resplendence it carries by day is now subdued and smoldering — a slow burn, crackling within its hearth at the heart of the Earth. As this power sleeps, it dreams. The dreams roil and flicker and seethe, curling back upon themselves and sometimes flaring, scorching the walls and scattering sparks. A few sparks embed themselves like seeds in the enfolding dark, others wink out and vanish….”

From “Forever’s Start” in Miracle on 10th Street and Other Christmas Writings by Madeleine L’Engle:

“The days are growing noticeably shorter; the nights are longer, deeper, colder. Today the sun did not rise as high in the sky as it did yesterday. Tomorrow it will be still lower. At the winter solstice the sun will go below the horizon, below the dark. The sun does die. And then, to our amazement, the Son will rise again.”







Leave a comment

Five Days To Christmas: When Nature Does the Decorating

From “Christmas Festivities” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

“Who can be insensible to the outpourings of good feeling, and the honest interchange of affectionate attachment, which abound at this season of the year? A Christmas family party! We know nothing in nature more delightful! There seems a magic in the very name of Christmas. Petty jealousies and discords are forgotten: social feelings are awakened in bosoms to which they have long been strangers; father and son, or brother and sister, who have met and passed with averted gaze, or a look of cold recognition for months before, proffer and return the cordial embrace, and bury their past animosities in their present happiness. Kindly hearts that have yearned towards each other but have been withheld by false notions of pride and self-dignity, are again united, and all is kindness and benevolence!

“Would that Christmas lasted the whole year through, and that the prejudices and passions which deform our better nature were never called into action among those to whom, at least, they should ever be strangers.”







6 Comments

Six Days To Christmas: Silver and Gold

From A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd:

“It was now the second week of December and all the stores in town stayed open nights, which meant that things were really getting serious. Every evening immediately after supper we would pile into the car and drive downtown for that great annual folk rite, that most ecstatic, golden, tinseled, quivering time of all kidhood: Christmas shopping. Milling crowds of blue-jowled, agate-eyed foundry workers, gray-faced refinery men, and motley hordes of open-hearth, slag-heap, Bessemer-converter, tin-mill, coke-plant, and welding-shop fugitives trudged through the wildly pulsing department stores, through floor after floor of shiny, beautiful, unattainable treasures, trailed by millions of leatherette-jacketed, high-topped, mufflered kids, each with a gnawing hunger to Get It All. Worried-looking, flush-faced mothers wearing frayed cloth coats with ratty fox-fur collars, their hands chapped and raw from years of dish-water therapy, rode herd on the surging mob, ranging far and wide into the aisles and under the counters, cuffing, slapping, dragging whiners of all sizes from department to department.

“At the far end of Toyland in Goldblatt’s, on a snowy throne framed with red-and-white candy canes under a suspended squadron of plastic angels blowing silver trumpets in a glowing golden grotto, sat the Man, the Connection: Santa Claus himself.”

From “A Christmas Carol” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

“I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore … though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”






Leave a comment

Seven Days To Christmas: Red and Green (and One Jolly Chimp)

From A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd:

“‘You’ll shoot your eye out. Merry Christmas….’

“I stuffed my tattered dreams back into my geography book and gloomily watched other, happier, carefree, singing kids who were going to get what they wanted for Christmas as Miss Bodkin distributed little green baskets filled with hard candy. Somewhere off down the hall the sixth-grade glee club was singing ‘Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.…’

“Mechanically my jaws crunched on the concrete-hard rock candy and I stared hopelessly out of the window, past cut-out Santas and garlands of red and green chains. It was already getting dark. Night falls fast in Northern Indiana at that time of year. Snow was beginning to fall, drifting softly through the feeble yellow glow of the distant street lamps while around me unbridled merriment raged higher and higher….

“By suppertime that night I had begun to resign myself to my fate. After all, I told myself, you can always use another football, and, anyway, there will be other Christmases….

“The day before, I had gone with my father and mother to the frozen parking lot next to the Esso station where, after long and soul-searching discussion, we had picked out our tree…. Now it stood in the living room, fragrantly, toweringly, teeteringly. Already my mother had begun the trimming operations. The lights were lit, and the living room was transformed into a small, warm paradise.”





Leave a comment