It is a strange, surreal holiday season for sure. Things are the same and yet completely different. It’s our first Christmas with two kids, yet also our first not visiting any family. How to cope? To my mind, it’s a matter of holding on to what traditions we can, while keeping an open heart to starting new traditions.
So here are two ornaments from our Christmas tree this year. The first is an ornament made by my oldest, the first ornament he’s ever made himself. It’s the first year he’s been old enough to make something like this, and I’m looking forward to having it on our tree for years to come. He even helped me decorate the tree this year, too!
The other is one of my favorite ornaments from my childhood, a carousel horse. I always make sure to hang it right by one of the lights so it catches the color. The box of ornaments I happened to open first had many ornaments from my husband’s childhood as well, so opening every ornament was full of special memories for us all.
(The Christmas tree is also new. I normally like having a real tree, but it just seemed like too much work this year, so we ordered this one that has color changing lights! It is great! I had the lights set to twinkling teal when I took the pictures.)
Merry Christmas to you all, and many blessings to you and yours in the new year!
This year I am joining in the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod, or the Christmas Book Flood. In Iceland it is common to gift books on Christmas Eve and then spend the evening reading; you can read more about the concept here. Naturally, this idea appeals greatly to me! I give and receive books as Christmas presents every year.
One of my friends arranged a Secret Santa-type system where we all entered our information, including some titles and genres we are interested in, and then we were all assigned someone to send a book, to be opened and read on Christmas Eve. I allowed my gifter to surprise me; the person I was buying for requested a specific few books for me to pick from.
I also tucked in some chocolate to enjoy with the book, and a little card saying I hoped she would enjoy it as much as I did.
I can’t wait to see what book I received and enjoy my evening in peaceful reading…at least until I have to wrap and set up presents for my kid! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season with lots of family and books!
1. “All I Want for Christmas Is You”: Favorite bookish couple.
I have a lot of favorite book couples, including Lizzy and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and Eowyn and Faramir from LOTR. But this said “bookish,” which makes me think nerdy, so I’m going to go with Anne and Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables. Among other things, their relationship is built on academic rivalry. This image is from the marvelous 1980s Canadian TV adaptation starring Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie. One of my favorite scenes is where Gilbert gives Anne a standing ovation after she recites “The Highwayman.” He’s always so proud of Anne’s intelligence and her hard work.
2. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”: Name a book where a character is away from home (school, vacation, etc.).
Jane, Unlimited is a unique speculative fiction story that relies on a classic premise: an orphan travels to a strange mansion. Very gothic! Jane is visiting Tu Reviens, the large and intriguing island home of her friend Kiran, where everything from art theft to alternate dimensions may be happening. The premise is reminiscent of Jane Eyre as well as Rebecca, but spins off into an interesting type of choose-your-own-adventure story.
3. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”: Name your favorite “little” book (children’s book, short story, novella, etc.).
Ella Enchanted, a classic middle grade Cinderella tale, is one of the books that inspired my love of fairy tale retellings. It is on the bookshelf next to my bed, along with 101 Great American Poems, which I think was a gift from my mother about fifteen years ago when I was in high school. I have read both countless times, and they are great for when I want a quick, satisfying read before bed.
4. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”: What book(s) do you hope Santa brings you this year?
I have a lot of books on my wishlist, and my family always gets me lots of books for Christmas. One I’m really looking forward to is Daemon Voices, a collection of essays by the author of His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman.
5. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”: Which book turned your nose red (made you cry)?
I scared my husband when I was reading The Book Thiefbecause he looked over to see me silently sobbing with huge tears rolling down my face. “What’s wrong?!” he said. Oh nothing, just this book broke my heart into pieces. What a beautiful, powerful book. Narrated by Death, it’s the story of a young girl in Nazi Germany who steals books.
6. “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: Your favorite book/kind of book to read during the holidays.
In my Seasonal Reads blog series, I mentioned that I frequently read The Dark is Rising during December. It’s full of both warm and cozy Christmas cheer as well as ominous Yuletide magic. I love the whole series, but this one in particular is my favorite. I also love Christmas cozy mysteries and Regency romances.
7. “We Three Kings”: Your favorite trilogy.
I’m going classic for this one: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I first read in high school, right when the movies were coming out. It’s still one of my favorite series. Trilogies are very standard nowadays, especially for YA fantasy, and I think that can be traced back in part to LOTR.
8. “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow”: A character you would love to be snowed in with.
If I were snowed in, I would want Hercule Poirot of Agatha Christie’s mystery series to be one of the party. Because inevitably there would be a murder, and then we could rely on Poirot to solve it! I’m imagining something like the premise to Christie’s play The Mousetrap, which places a bunch of guests trapped in a manor inn together. But luckily Poirot would be there to solve the crime before any further murders take place. Plus Poirot is just a genial guy.
9. “Last Christmas”: A book that seriously let you down.
Sometimes I hear about YA books that are getting a lot of hype and figure I should check them out. Spoiler alert: they don’t always live up to the hype. That’s how I felt about Snow like Ashes and An Ember in the Ashes (maybe I should just avoid books about ashes?). The first books in the series were fine, but nothing spectacular, and the follow-ups got less interesting so that I didn’t continue on with either series.
10. “White Christmas”: An upcoming release you’re dreaming about.