Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I Can't Help It

I Can’t Help It

No matter the length of my to-do list, and let me assure you it’s a long one this year, I can never ignore the tiny frisson of delight that runs down my spine as the dark window closes on Halloween night, that little shiver that signals the imminent approach of those magical final two months of the year.  Even as I’m greeting minuscule ghosts and goblins for trick or treat, my imagination is flooding with the russets and golds of Thanksgiving - the reds and greens of Christmas.  I cannot help myself, and have long ago stopped trying.  Like dear, happy Fred in Dickens’ Christmas Carol I “…have always thought of Christmas-time, when it has come round…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, uncle, 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!”

Somehow, despite the years that separate me from my childhood, I have managed to retain the magic that was liberally bestowed upon me in those days.  And is it just me, or was there even more magic back then?  Only this morning I read an article in our local paper encouraging parents to make their “reservations” early in order to ensure their child will be able to visit Santa at the local shopping mall.  These reservations cost $10 and it seems the entire process exist chiefly to achieve the all-important photo-op with said child and the red-suited chap.  I’ve seen some of these kids lined up awaiting their turn, dressed in stiff red velvet dresses, or tiny black bow ties, being sternly admonished not to fidget and wrinkle their garb, all the while looking as far removed from thrilled as it’s possible to be.  So different were my forays into Santa’s kingdom.  I wandered those sparkling lanes behind other wide-eyed kids, each one of us dumb-struck in the face of such magic.   None of us had the worry of dressing up.  Having our pictures taken was the last thing on our minds.

When I was little, the biggest department store in town would light what they called, “The Great Tree” every Thanksgiving night. This signaled the opening of the Christmas season and families would travel into the big city from the suburbs to stand shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors in the middle of the frozen street to listen to local choirs sing carols as a cold November wind whipped round the tall buildings.  The climax of the evening would occur when the highest note of Oh, Holy Night was hit and suddenly, that great tree would blaze into sparkling light.  Everyone would gasp, awestruck.  It was wonderful.  That tree is no more, of course.  In fact, that store is no more either.  These days there’s an anemic-looking, cone-shaped, facsimile that perches atop the midtown mall and it is switched on the week before Thanksgiving to the tune of local rap artists looking for a bit of tour promotion.  Not quite the same, I can tell you.

The loss of those beloved traditions are regrettable to be sure; any loss of something wonderful is especially acute this time of year.  But here, in my cottage, the holiday season is as it always was.  The world with all its strife and ugliness stops flat at my doorstep.  Like Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, I appreciate the wonder and goodwill that this time of year possesses; I want to grab it all up by the armloads.  And the fabulous thing about being an adult is that I can create the holiday I want.  So if you happen by The House of Edward today you’ll find music playing.  There are fresh pecans, chocolate and dried fruits stacked up in the corner of the pantry.  Knitting needles are flying and there’s a faint scent of cinnamon in the air.  Recipes and Christmas cards share desk space with wrapping paper and ribbon.  Edward’s afternoon walks are more like runs, as he seems to share my enthusiasm for the cold.  The tea kettle’s singing; the fire’s whispering.  There’s an almost audible crackle of expectation in the chilly air. 
Everybody’s welcome.

No I can’t help it.
No matter what,  I love this time of year. 

Thank you all so much for the overwhelming amount of pre-orders for
I’m happy to report books are now being wrapped and labeled 
and are on their way to you.  
I am over the moon with the way the book turned out 
and so happy to know it will be a part of so many holiday seasons for so many families.

Order your copy HERE


  1. Pamela, I'd say you are the luckiest lady on earth. The Polar Express was written with you in mind.

  2. I am with you in loving Christmas for all the reasons you cover and for celebrating the birth of the Holy Babe.

  3. It is the most magical time of the year and I love every moment of the season!
    "Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most and then let each put in his share"
    "Loving kindness, warm hearts, stretched out hand of tolerance, all the shining gifts that make peace on earth." From The Bishop's Wife by Robert Nathan.

    1. And I can hardly wait for my copy of your book. I know it will be as beautiful as your first book!

  4. You obviously are talking about Atlanta, GA and the Rich's Department Store traditional lighting the great tree that stood atop the bridges between the two Rich's stores. My late husband and I drove to Atlanta from Macon sometime in the 1960s as I recall with our three little girls to witness that event. It was wonderful and well worth the attempt. Atlanta has never been the same since that wonderful department store, Rich's, closed its doors. Nor Christmas.

  5. Here in the UK Pamela, Christmas has become far too commercialised. When we were children it all happened over perhaps two or at the most three weeks. Our tree would go up (the same on each year, brought in again from the garden) and ornaments treasured and wrapped in tissue paper to keep them from breaking as they were fragile (I still remember the little silver house) would lovingly go on the tree in the sitting room window. We never knew what we were getting for Christmas - it was always a surprise. The farmer remembers getting a sledge on year and never knew where his parents had hidden it. Oh for those old, magical days.

  6. Yes, indeed!
    I, too, adore the coming of winter.
    You have captured it wonderfully well in your post.
    I echo Weaver's sentiments - but I bet modern children -despite the overload - are just as thrilled.

  7. I couldn't agree more.... I love this time of year and I am all about the "recreation" of my childhood Christmases. My husband teases me that I want my house and my life to look like a "Hallmark Card"....he knows me well! One of my "gifts" that I am so looking forward to is all of your holiday posts...I hope they are abundant and chocked full of details and pictures of the cottage! Let the magic begin!!!!

  8. Cindy in massachusettsNovember 18, 2015 at 6:26 PM

    As usual, i just adore your way with words,Pamela. There are sixty five magical Christmases inside me and it's time to let them out again! That well-spring of joy is always in there.Thank you for the encouragement to make the most of it, especially when we may struggle with shifting emotions and uncertainty about our world. Let peace begin with me, and love and hope. So much beauty to savor in the coming days and so many opportunities to share it,A very happy and lovely holiday season to you!

  9. Thank you Pamela for the memories! I was born in 1941 and growing up was so different. I had a wonderful childhood and ended up marrying my high-school sweetheart. We have had our share of fun and memories from past Christmas Seasons. I love your description of your lovely home and especially the knitting needles. There is something magical about having out your knitting needles and a skein of beautiful yarn in the winter months. Can hardly wait for your next post. Your posts always touch my heart and make me smile inside. Enjoy the holidays season and hug Edward and Apple for me. Just love looking at them both.

  10. I agree with you Pamela, I say we can choose, as adults, to create the holiday we enjoy most. I love the season and agree with Fred.

  11. It's always such a pleasure to spend time reading your blog posts; thanks so much for sharing. I am captivated by the charming illustration you have chosen for today's post - any chance you know who the artist is ? Is it from a children's book?
    xoxo ~ gretchen

  12. Tis the season for magic, love, kindness and joy!! Thank you Pamela!

    The Arts by Karena
    The Blink of an Eye

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