Vintage Finds: Happy New Year!

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A Merry Christmas

a merry christmas“What went on in the kitchen, only Dolly could tell.  But such delicious odors as stole out made Grandma sniff the air and think of merry Christmas revels long ago.”

“Kate’s Choice” by Louisa May Alcott
Published in A Merry Christmas & Other Christmas Stories
by Penguin (2014) page 34

A Christmas Story

“Our family always had its Christmas on Christmas Eve.  Other less fortunate people, I had heard, opened their presents in the chill clammy light of dawn.  Far more civilized, our Santa Claus recognized that barbaric practice for what it was.  Around midnight great heaps of tissuey, crinkly, sparkly, enigmatic packages appeared among the lower branches of the tree and half hidden among the folds of the white bed-sheet that looked in the soft light like some magic snowbank.” (page 31)

Christmas traditions… every family has their own unique way of celebrating the holiday.  Some come and go over the years while others stand the test of time.  In my family there has always been two traditions that we can count on each year: opening the presents early (Christmas Eve at the latest!) and watching A Christmas Story.  These days we usually watch it once on Christmas Day but it wasn’t too many years ago that we eagerly sat through a great part of the A Christmas Story 24-hour marathon on TV.

A Christmas Story

This year I decided to read the book too.  The movie is based on Jean Shepherd’s short stories from In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories.  Five of the stories that inspired scenes in the movie have been republished in A Christmas Story.  It’s a very quick read and one of the advantages of having seen the movie so many times is that it was easy to imagine Jean Shepherd narrating the book like he did in the movie.

A_Christmas_Story

“But over it all like a faint, thin, offstage chorus was the building excitement.  Christmas was on its way.  Each day was more exciting than the last, because Christmas was one day closer.  Lovely, beautiful, glorious Christmas, around which the entire year revolved.” (page 10)

While I prefer the movie to the book (a rare thing indeed!), I wouldn’t mind adding it my holiday reading list each year!

From The Cover: The holiday film A Christmas Story, first released in 1983, has become a bona fide Christmas perennial, gaining in stature and fame with each succeeding year.  Its affectionate, wacky, and wryly realistic portrayal of an American family’s typical Christmas joys and travails in small-town Depression-era Indiana has entered our imagination and our hearts with a force equal to that of It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.

This edition of A Christmas Story gathers together in one hilarious volume the gems of autobiographical humor that Jean Shepherd drew upon to create this enduring film.  Here is young Ralphie Parker’s shocking discovery that his decoder ring is really a device to promote Ovaltine; his mother and father’s pitched battle over the fate of a lascivious leg lamp; the unleashed and unnerving savagery of Ralphie’s duel in the show with the odious bullies Scut Farkas and Grover Dill; and, most crucially, Ralphie’s unstoppable campaign to get Santa—or anyone else—to give him a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle. Who cares that the whole adult world is telling him, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid”?

The pieces that comprise A Christmas Story, previously published in the larger collections In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories, coalesce in a magical fashion to become an irresistible piece of Americana, quite the equal of the film in its ability to warm the heart and tickle the funny bone.

This Edition: Hardcover published by Broadway Books (2003)

You Might Also Like: Fading Into The Limelight by Peter Sallis

The Perfect Tree

tree

The red and white strings of popcorn and cranberries stood out brightly against the dark green branches.  
It wasn’t long before the small tree looked as big as the largest tree in the forest.

The Perfect Tree
by Thomas Bivins
Illustrated by Christopher Bivins
Published by The Unicorn Publishing House (1990)

December

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Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year and now the Christmas countdown has really begun!  While you’re making your list and checking it twice hopefully you’ll be able to make some time to do a little holiday reading.  From heartwarming family stories to murder mysteries, there are so many great books set during the Christmas season!  I’ll be sharing a few of my favorites as we go through the month and I’d love to hear about some of your favorite holiday books.

Happy reading this holiday season!
Ann

What’s In A Name?

“Come, little leaves” said the wind one day,
“Come over the meadows with me, and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold;
Summer is gone, and the days grow cold.”
-the first stanza of “Come Little Leaves” by George Cooper

Fall

Time has been on my mind a lot lately.  It seems like just yesterday my family was gathering around the dining room table for Thanksgiving Dinner and shortly afterwards around a brightly decorated tree on Christmas Morning.  Summer has just flown by and will be gone before we know it.

As I was thinking of potential names for this blog a little rhyme popped into my head: “My oh my how time does fly.  It’s been a spell, hope all is well.” At first I couldn’t remember where I heard it, but after a few minutes of Intense Thinking (you really have to work at it some days) it came to me.  Many years ago I was at a Hallmark store looking for the perfect birthday card when one that was Definitely Not What I Needed caught my eye.  It was a little card that pictured a Very Well-Dressed Mouse at her mailbox and a bird mailman standing nearby.  The rhyme is from that card (although I’m not positive that’s exactly how it went) and it was cute enough that I bought it and another one by the same artist.  I can’t remember what scene the other card depicted but I held onto both of them for years.  I eventually sent the mailbox card to a friend but I couldn’t remember what happened to the second card.  That, of course, meant it was time to pull out The Greeting Card Collection.

I’ve kept almost every card I have received since I was a little girl.  Why?  I really don’t know.  I just can’t make myself get rid of any of them.  So I was thinking the other card may have found its way into The Collection.  They are in no particular order (it’s not a very well-organized collection) and it takes awhile to go through them all.  By the time I reached the end I discovered that the other card wasn’t there but the Very Well-Dressed Mouse was!

Vera the Mouse

My parents gave me this card one year for my birthday.  Vera the Mouse is the creation of Marjolein Bastin.  Her website is just as beautiful as her art and displays her work and newsletter.

Having said all that… welcome to my blog.  I hope you enjoy it!