Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Beautiful Things

The world is full of beautiful things
Butterfly wings, fairy tale kings,
And each new day undoubtedly brings,
Still more beautiful things.

The world abounds with many delights,
Magical sights, fanciful flights,
And those who dream on beautiful nights,
Dream of beautiful things.

The Merchant Ivory film adaptation of Howard’s End would, to me, be a magnificent treat even if the only frame I had ever watched was the Christmas shopping scene. Set in the resplendent halls of turn of the century London’s Fortnum and Mason, Emma Thompson attempts to introduce Vanessa Redgrave to the “scientific” approach to Christmas shopping, - “the list”-, all the while wandering around the most sumptuously decorated holiday set ever created. My heart beats a bit faster every time I see it. It awakens in me the passion I possess for the enticing experience that is Christmas shopping. Given my profession I have the occasion to frequent delightfully unusual and off-the-beaten-track shops all throughout the year. Between those visits, and given the fact that Christmas presents are often a handmade affair here at The House of Edward, my holiday shopping is completed each year long before the first decorations pop up in the shops. But that does not for one second mean I don’t go Christmas shopping in December. It just means I can enjoy it a bit more. Being an inveterate observer, there is nothing I like more than strolling through the storybook decor of all the various stores... watching the holiday shoppers - bundled up and muttering- rushing to and fro....listening to the sweetly familiar holiday songs that provide the festive soundtrack... stopping to enjoy the show as one after another little gaily dressed and pressed children are plopped onto Santa’s lap to relate their deepest desires to the red-suited old man... and then finding the perfectly warm spot in the perfectly cozy cafe to enjoy a marshmallow topped hot chocolate with a good book or a good friend. Sometimes I discover something I just have to purchase, some sort of curious bauble or frippery, magically feathered, sugared or flounced. But mostly my Christmas shopping is a reconnaissance mission, meant to store up valuable inspiration for the later hours of future days. I will wrap it carefully and pack it away in its holly and tinsel and on some future frustrating or sweltering afternoon - some troublesome or mind-numbing morning, I’ll have a peek inside that memory and all the colourful flurries, carillon melodies, the hope, the happiness, the wonderment that is Christmas will swirl around my life once more.

Lyrics above by Leslie Bricusse

29 comments:

  1. Pamela, that is the best way to go Christmas shopping. I love to watch, look and listenin the stores too, and soak up the atmosphere of the season. Unfortunately most people seem to be so rushed and stressed that I now don't go anymore since I pick up too much from the collective consciousness that wears my spirits down.
    When I occasionally get to go to the market though, people often talk to me just because I am dressed in a happy smile.

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  2. I don't usually like shopping but you paint such a beautiful picture of your experiences that I fear I may have overlooked something. I'll have to slow down and try and see it through your eyes.

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  3. ok - I have to go see that movie again - it's been sooo long!!!
    I love all their movies actually.

    loved your comment today!

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  4. Beautiful!
    I always enjoy shopping more when I'm not caught up in a mad rush! It's so nice to slow down and enjoy it.

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  5. Yes, there is something special about shopping (mostly window shopping) at Christmas. No one is bundled up here though. We are in our coolest summers and sandals. The menus for celebrations are cold meats and salads. I have just gone on leave so I mean to bake all my gifts except for granddaughers who are getting Quilts Made by Granny!

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  6. I'm so glad you enjoyed the trip into Birkdale Village yesterday. I hope it will be one of the memories you can wrap up and store.

    This year I've been reading a lot about how so many people are avoiding real shops and going on-line instead as they don't like how the other shoppers are behaving. I hope this means that lovely friendly places like Etsy will prosper. It is hard when you hear of traditions like Christmas shopping being so roundly rejected by some.

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  7. Lovely writing, lovely sentiments, lovely blog...
    xo xo xo

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  8. I wish I could say my xmas shopping was as well done! Kudos.

    Love Hoard's End. It's been so long. I should watch it again.

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  9. LOVE today's image and I do so relate to the tucking away of all things perfect and beautiful, inspiration called on at a later date and in my case often "bonking" me on the noggin like a 2x4 - miraculously arriving in a flurry when I need it the most.

    Greetings of the season to handsome Edward and sweet Miss A from Missy D who's asleep in her bed under my desk as I write this. xo, S.

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  10. Your images are always such a treat.
    Yes, the idea of Christmas shopping is often so much better than the reality.
    Merchant Ivory films transport me to my lost youth - sort of...
    A pat for Edward.

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  11. Have a wonderful time shopping Pamela...I am not the shopping kind of person..I don't like shops..well most of them anyway:)

    Lovely post and picture:)

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  12. I think to just find a nice comfy seat and watch everyone in their hustle and bustle, is the most fun.

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  13. I too have had the pleasure of Christmas shopping with a sense of enjoyment - but only after most of the shopping has already been done. Nice post and lovely poem!

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  14. I ADORE "Howard's End". I've probably watched it 89 times, at least, and can quote most of it!

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  15. I do love Merchant Ivory films – thanks for bringing back dear Howard’s End. Your word bring to mind a glass ball of swirling snow and many fine X-mas memories. Window shopping in NYC was always a treat.

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  16. I haven't seen "Howard's End" in years. It's time for another look.

    Your posts always make me feel the same thing, Pamela: moved. They're very evocative and touching.

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  17. You would really love New York City at Christmas, Pamela -- so much to see and do! The department stores are all so wonderfully decorated both inside and out! I do hope you get a chance to see it one day soon.

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  18. It must be the triggering of the memory bank that we find so alluring in the wonderful movies that we treat ourselves to at Holiday time. Howard's End was a magnificent film but I still love their Room With A View the best.
    Gone is the day of Main Street shopping with slushy sidewalks, Christmas music played through crackling speakers, lights on the lamp poles and treats in every store window.Nothing that gazing at a Thomas Kinkade winter painting won't cure!
    xo Susan

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  19. My sentiments exactly Pamela. I love Christmas and wandering round the shops and the sights in the knowledge that I am all ready and have all my parcels wrapped - that way I can enjoy it all without the strain.

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  20. hello! Your blog is nice ....
    Would you exchange a link with my site?

    http://follerumba.blogspot.com/

    Ciao ciao from Italy

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  21. Oh, I must watch that film again along with Enchanted April it's one of my favourites. I always get hot and stressed in high street stores at this time of year but love wandering round little unusual shops in quiet places and also wandering around when I've nothing to buy and can just look:)

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  22. I never go shoppin on "black Friday" but I do love to go to open houses at antiques and specialty shops. Have you been to the shops at Biltmore Estate during their Candlelight Christmas tours? Absolutely magical...The music boxes and vintage inspired toy shops are bliss.

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  23. What a lovely little poem, and exactly how I feel most days in this beautiful world :)

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  24. I like to have my shopping done before December and then I can just soak up the atmosphere when visiting town too. We don't have the really big stores of course but we do have a Dickensian Christmas Fayre in a town not far from us, which is always fun.

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  25. So beautifully articulated, Pamela. You have resurrected an inkling of Christmas spirit in my dreary heart.

    Kat

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  26. Beautiful things indeed! Sending Season's Greetings your way!
    Sandra Evertson

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  27. pamela, you have such a gift for painting a heart-warming picture with your words. i just delight in reading your blog! presley sends doggie hugs to edward!

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  28. Please stop by my blog and pick up a little gift I posted for you.

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  29. ah you enjoy shopping a bit more than I, or more likely you know the best places to go! I too love pulling out the treasures when its time to wrap a lable I feel like a proud magpie!

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!