Friday, December 25, 2015

The Happy Delusion of Christmas

That's me on the right, mesmerized by flames
1969, Kittanning, Pennsylvania
“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!”
       –Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers

Maybe I’m deluded, but Christmastime really does take me back to my early days as a kid who could practically sniff the magic in the air. It swirled like snowflakes, smelled like sugar, and clicked like reindeer hooves. I’m older now and beaten down by stress and anxiety and busy-ness–all needless, senseless temporary things–but I still get a little wispy with nostalgia when I look at these photos which my mother just emailed me.

1963, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
“I know what I really want for Christmas. I want my childhood back. Nobody is going to give me that. I might give at least the memory of it to myself if I try. I know it doesn’t make sense, but since when is Christmas about sense, anyway? It is about a child, of long ago and far away, and it is about the child of now. In you and me. Waiting behind the door of our hearts for something wonderful to happen. A child who is impractical, unrealistic, simpleminded and terribly vulnerable to joy.”
       –Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

My mother, my brother Jonathan, and me with my stuffed-animal menagerie
1967, Kittanning, Pennsylvania

I typically write a Big Christmas Read blog post during Yuletide, describing the seasonal books I put at the front of my reading queue; but this year, I got scrunched for time (see stress, anxiety, busy-ness above) and I back-burnered it into oblivion. Here then, is a brief list of what I read this Christmas season: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum (the mythology of Saint Nick wrapped in Wizard of Oz-ian sentimentality), Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris (a wicked-funny, scathing indictment of the season’s silly traditions, but which also manages to have a heart as big as post-conversion Grinch and Scrooge combined), The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge by Charlie Lovett (the reformed Scrooge not only keeps Christmas in his heart all year long, he won’t shut up about it–even in the middle of summer), The Homecoming by Earl Hamner Jr. (the Walton clan worries about patriarch John who is late in returning to his Blue Ridge Mountains home), and Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini (the modern story of a children's choir is interwoven with the Civil War drama of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as he endures hardship, grief, and tries to write the carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”). They were all wonderful books which filled me with sugar and snowflakes.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a Christmas dinner to cook and consume.

Wishing you the warmest and brightest of days,

David, your abiding book evangelist

1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas! Thank you for the list, it is much appreciated.