So, it’s Christmas Eve, and I’m sipping some Darjeeling and eating way too many cookies.
I can’t bring myself to eat the gingerbread people yet — but when I do, I’ll bite their heads off first — it’s very humane, so they won’t feel any pain. (Promise me you’ll do the same.)
Whew! All the frenzied activity of shopping, baking, decorating, and writing cards is over. Now, Christmas, with its pure love and joy, can come.
Of course, Len and I will be watching "A Christmas Memory," by Truman Capote. It’s our favorite and most enduring tradition. We have the color VHS version narrated by Mr. Capote, starring the incomparable Geraldine Page. Somehow, in this simple story of two friends baking fruitcakes together in the poverty-stricken South, we are reminded of what Christmas is all about (I blogged about it here).
Meanwhile, the Rattigan teddies have insisted that I show you a few pictures from their favorite holiday picture book of 2008: The Christmas Bears, by Chris Conover (FSG). It’s a simple rhyming story about Santa Bear’s family (seven cubs), getting reading for the big day. Conover’s detailed illos are positively fetching and endearing, and glow with childlike joy and anticipation. The resident bears totally drool over the pictures of cookie baking and the Christmas Eve feast (with 300+ bears in the house, that’s a lot of drooling).
Christmas has always felt like a mixed blessing to me. Though I like to bask in all the holiday traditions of gift giving, seeing friends, enjoying good food, playing carols on the piano, and reading good books and watching old movies by a cozy fire, it is also a time of serious reckoning — another year gone forever, good intentions fallen by the wayside, falling short of some goals, missing family in Hawai’i, New Hampshire, and Oregon, and thinking of those no longer with us.
As far as our country goes, this year we’ve experienced the highest high (first African American President), and the lowest lows (war and economy). Along with all the tinsel and glitter, there will envitably be feelings of sadness, unease, and uncertainty. With so many people losing their jobs and coping with unforeseen challenges and changes, it sometimes feels like the whole world is tumbling down around us. In this season of miracles, we may find ourselves clinging ever tighter to hope and faith. I find this Pueblo verse, posted on AKRosenthal’s blog, especially comforting:
Hold on to what is good, even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe, even if it is a tree which stands alone.
Hold on to what you must do, even if it is a long way from here.
This will be my last post of 2008, since I’ll be on blog break until early January. Thanks to all who read this blog during the past year. I wish you and yours the happiest and merriest of holidays. I hope that wherever you are, the joy of Christmas finds its way into your heart. See you in 2009!
Click here to listen to my favorite Christmas carol, sung by a man I absolutely love.
*All interior spreads copyright © 2008 Chris Conover, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. All rights reserved.