Books at Christmas
The cold presses against the kitchen window, causing the steam from your coffee cup to whirl and dance in the warm air. Yes, not only a heavy coat today, but gloves, boots and shawl to boot. You smile to yourself in happy anticipation. No better weather for the task at hand. Placing your carefully curated list in your coat pocket, you give the dogs a treat, tell them to enjoy their naps and set off into the wind. The ground, still silver plated from last night’s frost, crunches beneath your feet. It will be hours yet before the chilled December sun manages to soften the landscape. Pulling your coat up tighter at your neck you follow the pavement into town. Across the green you can hear the music of ten o’clock choir practice - “the holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown”- the beautiful sound seeps under the stained glass windows and oaken doors to drift freely in the morning air, bringing to each ear a memory, a hope, a shiver of unexpected happiness. You can see the big green tree in the city square now, its fat red and gold balls swaying in the wind. Swags of garland drape the tiny lanes, streetlight to streetlight. Snowmen made of light stand guard round city hall. And there, just off to the right, your destination awaits - your pot of gold, your Wonderland. The Bookshop. The shop you love more than any, especially at Christmas. For is there a more satisfying activity than Christmas shopping for the ones you love?
And is there a better gift than a book? None more individual, more imaginative, none that brings so much for so long, to so many. To give a book is to give ideas, travel tickets, laughter, joy, thought, enlightenment - oh, the list can go on and on. Books never wear out, never lose their ability to transport. Oh, some can be the wrong fit, which is why one must put thought and consideration into each purchase. But that’s what is so much fun.
The bell on the green door jangles as you enter. The orange cat on the counter jumps down to thread his way through your legs while you take a measure of the place. There is a faint wisp of Nat King Cole drifting along from some back room. You pull out your list, loosen your coat, and begin the best shopping trip of the year! Happy Christmas to All!
For Great Aunt Octavia
Great Aunt Octa taught you that everyone can wear red lipstick, and should. She impressed upon you the importance of a good bag, told you that not everyone is a hat person and that good manners are the most significant characteristic of a woman. Always. Octa lived in London in the sixties. She heard Jimi Hendrix at the Bag o’Nails. She wore Mary Quant dresses and worked the scarf department at Liberty. She knew Grace Coddington as a model. After marrying Uncle James and moving to Virginia, she set about creating a home that, though decidedly un-Southern, remains to this day the most fascinating place you’ve ever visited. You still escape there for the occasional rejuvenating weekend. Always interested, always individual, always just outside the box, Aunt Octavia will love these books.
the Letters of Lady Diana Cooper to her son, John Julius Norwich 1939-1952
An Exuberant Catalog of Dreams
by Clive Aslet
by Florence Muller
Great Uncle James
You could perhaps be forgiven for occasionally thinking Great Uncle James is a bit of a grump. It’s true that he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He finds current pop music stupid - his word, not mine - greatly prefers Gosford Park to Downton Abbey, and wouldn’t know a Kardashian if he fell over one. Dinner conversations round his table center on the events of the day; you are often asked your thoughts about international affairs before the salad course. He refuses to eat brussels sprouts, thinks Jello is “unnatural” and insists on sleeping with the window open. But if you succeed in making him laugh, which is not as difficult as you would imagine, his laughter is loud, warm and infectious.
Uncle James loves his Norfolk Terrier, Martin, and strangely enough, Uncle James loves kids. His own, those of his nieces and nephews, neighbours, you, and your friends. As long as you can remember, he has gathered you all up to read aloud, cracking open his latest find with a wry smile and launching into a marvelous story in which each character has his own voice and personality, provided by James of course. He taught you to love stories like candy. And this year at Christmas, his house will be full of children. They will all love these books!
by Aaron Becker
The Collected Stories of Roald Dahl
I’d Know You Anywhere
by Nancy Tillman
The Illuminated Adventure of Flora and Ullysses
by Kate DiCamillo
A personal note....
Thank you all so much for your kind words and best wishes following my last post.
I'm happy to report I am moving along like a champ.
Decorating the house, running errands. Amazing, really.
Edward is a constant presence at my side...
He sits beside me, sleeps beside me, watches intently as I go out to the car.
If I get up to leave the room, he gets up to leave the room.
Truly a comforting chap.
I am walking fine, using a rather fabulous cane when I'm outside... one that I just may keep as an affectation when I no longer need it. I ordered it from Italy... ebony wood with a ivory-coloured rabbit's head on top. The rabbit has gold-green eyes. I mean really, how can I give this up??
Stay tuned... many more books to come!