Thursday, 4 December 2014

My December Traditions


Well, here we are 4 days into December already ... the advent calendars are out and the first few doors opened, and lots of people have already decorated their houses. We're not ready to do that just yet, but my favourite Christmas pixies are sitting on the bookshelf keeping an eye on things, and my Christmas shopping is well under way. As well as all the usual Christmas stuff, I do have a few little December traditions of my very own that I follow every year, especially when it comes to reading-matter:

 1) I read Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' every year, and have done since childhood. There has only been one year when I didn't. I love this story so much. Yes, it's full of Victorian sentiment, but it's a fantastic piece of story-telling, as well as a classic ghost story:

'Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh glorious. Glorious!'



2) For nostalgia and creativity with language I love Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales'. His words are a delight to read in this recollection of a 20th century Welsh Christmas. There's such joy in Thomas' language:

the postman's eyes are 'sprinkled', his nose 'snow-cherried', and Christmas is a 'wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea'.


3) For many Christmases I've read James Joyce's 'The Dead', a short story from his 'Dubliners' collection. It's a touching and lyrical story about the festivities of Christmas which never fails to move me. The final passage is achingly beautiful, an amazing piece of writing:

'the snow was 'falling softly ... softly falling... falling faintly through the universe'.


4) I read (and smell) my 'Penhaligon's Scented Christmas Treasury of Verse and Prose'. I bought a few of these scented Penhaligon's books years ago and treasure them. This one is a collection of writing and illustrations on the theme of Christmas, and the end-papers smell of Christmas pot-pourri. My favourite poem in it is 'Mistletoe' by Walter de la Mare:

Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale green, fairy mistletoe)
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
 Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Someone came, and kissed me there.


5) I listen to my Sting CD "If On a Winter's Night" while I cook in the kitchen. I love the spookily atmospheric songs which are not particularly Christmassy, but are very wintry indeed. Many of the songs are traditional and capture the haunting, reflective side of winter. They are an antidote to the Christmas pop compilations that we also listen to as a family.

6) I burn candles, lots of them, especially scented ones. For Christmas I love the traditional spicy smells like cinnamon, pine, orange, cloves etc, as well as lighter, fresher ones too. There are just so many to choose from. This Christmas I have treated myself to some of my favourite Yankee candles, and I'm saving them till we're a bit nearer Christmas.


Well, those are my special December traditions which make the season extra special for me. Do you have any of your own? x




12 comments:

  1. Yes we do too, burning vanilla scented candles in the evenings, festive garland and wreath making day with all my favourite friends, our knit and natter secret santa woolly gift, lighting of the yule log, saying poems and stories over candle light on the 21st, making and eating ginger-pigs, hanging up our yule katte -, the mince pie eating competition, gosh the list continues.... there are more but I think I better stop now ! xx

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    1. I've never heard of ginger-pigs or a yule katte - they sound intriguing! I shall have to investigate :) Sounds like you have some lovely traditions
      Cathy x

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  2. Yummy candles. I love your pixies, so cute :)
    Jillxo

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  3. I love 'A Christmas Carol' and 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' too. I've never read 'Dubliners' though, nor read a scented book! Your pixies are lovely - as indeed are your books, Is that a special collection or are all your books so beautifully bound? They put my motley paperbacks to shame! x

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    1. Thank you! Those books were a set that came with a magazine which my husband and I collected when we were hard up English students almost three decades ago. Most of our books are paperback, otherwise, and the pixies are Maileg :)
      Cathy x

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  4. Great traditions! I always have to listen to an old children's cassette about christmas in Sweden... Otherwise it won't be christmas time for me. :P

    Take care
    Anne
    http://crochetbetweentwoworlds.blogspot.de

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    1. That sounds very seasonal - it's lovely to have a custom that's personal to you :)
      Cathy x

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  5. great and lovely traditions. For me I can't tell about traditions. I should think about it, It might exist for me too !!! Thnaks for sharing yours ... and have a lovely day !

    http://woolandcats.blogspot.fr/

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    1. Thank you! Hope you have a lovely weekend :)
      Cathy x

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  6. Lovely traditions. I've been debating buying ' A Child's Christmas in Wales' as a stocking filler for my eldest son, I think you may have twisted my arm. Have a good week xx

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    1. Yes, it's a magical read, and quite short too - a perfect stocking-filler :)
      Cathy x

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