Destination: Christmas #12

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 12

Christmas in India

I hope your Saturday has been full of joy and merryment and cheer and some more joy. Because I love you. I’ve spent today baking up a (faulty) storm. My fruit cake came out too rummy and the dough for my cookies was impossible to work with. However, tomorrow is another day and I will try, try again. Look at me persevering, kindergardeners would be proud.

Today’s selection was really unexpected. Not because the text itself was great, because poetry that rhymes so obviously annoys me. But rather because forces you to think beyond yourself and your own experience of Christmas. It pushes you to imagine Christmas somewhere else, somewhere where it’s not White, but saffron yellow. Christmas for people who don’t have the luxury of fretting over the trivial things that seem monumental during the season. I don’t know about you, but I never sit down to consider the Holidays as an experience outside of myself. And it sounds shallow, but unless it’s a conscious exercise (like now) it’s always a non-issue. Having read the poem now I can’t help but wonder what other Christmas experiences are out there. What food do people make? How is the music different? What does the marriage of religion and culture result in? It’s quite an interesting subject, when you think about it!

Something else that caught my attention was the general tone of the poem. Usually Christmas anythings tend to be about hope, union, happiness, this one is almost the polar opposite of that. It speaks of pain and aching, of hopelessness and forced laughter. It depicts a very practical approach to Christmas, almost like it’s a nuisance. Which is something that I’ve never associated with Christmas. It makes sense though in the context of the poem, right?

I’ll keep contemplating my shallow existence, while you guys go on about your day (or night).

Have a good one, readers!

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Destination: Christmas #11

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 11

The Huron Carol

I’ve had a surprisingly productive day and yet, somehow, not as productive as I thought it was going to be. I’m making a convoluted cake recipe, which involves making other recipes in order to complete the first one. This is what I get for opening my cookbooks and choosing the thing with the most alcohol content in the recipe. Shame on me.

Tonight’s piece was absolutely unexpected. I haven’t included a link to the text in the title because it’s actually a song! To be more specific, it’s a Canadian Christmas hymn composed by a Jesuit missionary living among the Hurons. According to Wikipedia (Yes, I’m quoting Wikipedia stop judging me), the song’s original title is “Jesous Anhatonhia” which means “Jesus, He is Born” and it’s based on a French folk song.

The song has imagery that makes sense in the context of a tribe. Like having hunters instead of shepherds and talking about chiefs who bring pelts instead of magi who bring gold and incense. It sounds primal, in lyric and melody. And I absolutely love it. It definitely sounds darker than the usual Christmas songs, more sombre, but that’s part of what makes it so entrancing.  I’m sure it’s a well-known song, mostly because everything I read mentions it is, but I’d never heard it before. It’s beautiful, that’s all there is to it.

The version I’m including here for you guys is performed by Heather Dale and sung in Huron, French, and English in that order. Enjoy!

Destination: Christmas #9

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 9

The Burglar’s Christmas

by Elizabeth L. Seymour

Guess who forgot to write yesterday’s Christmas post? This girl, right here! The show must go on, however. So today I’m picking up at #9.

Christmas is that time of year where we allow ourselves to believe in miracles. Small mercies and little surprises that make the season glow with the combined anticipation of everyone who participates of it. We want to believe that we can be redeemed, cleansed under the falling snow to reemerge someone kinder and more capable of love.

The protagonist of this story had such an opportunity. He was surprised out of poverty and the brink of death, only to stumble back into the arms of a family he’d thought lost to him for good. The Holiday season is one where we dare to hope for something better. We hope that the Grinch or Scrooge in our life will see the error of his ways. That come Christmas morning their hearts will have grown three sizes. That they will love us better, love us finally.

We also hope for ourselves. Little miracles that seem small compared to the feat that is making a heart expand. Song after song, begging Santa to leave cushioned boxes full of love under the tree. The wrapping paper concealing so many possibilities. Schrodinger’s Christmas. Except we open the box, we find sweaters and batteries for toys we don’t play with anymore. And we’re still the same people. And all that hope was for nothing.

But every year we open up our hearts to the possibility of more. We hope. And believe. And approach the tree with our hearts on our sleeves. Looking for love in all the wrong places.

I hope you find the love you’re looking for this season, readers.

Have a good one!

Destination: Christmas #7

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 7

Luminous Beings Are We: The Night Before Christmas in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

by Brad Ricca

The Force is not with me today as I try to get over my weekend. I feel like I could sleep for a week straight, but of course the show must go on. Or something to that effect. I had a great time yesterday though, even if I was running on fumes!

I have to admit, my eyes were drooping as I clicked on the link for today’s piece, but I perked right up as soon as I saw what it was. The article talks about the relationship between Star Wars and Christmas. How it’s not just about toys, but actually about something more. Although, they don’t really say what that something is. I imagine it’s something like family or the feelings the movie created in people, maybe similarities between the joy of Christmas and the joy of Star Wars. Who knows?

It was a cute article and, even though it was written last year, it’s very appropriate for the season. And by season I mean Star Wars Season, where the world waits with baited breath for the release of the new Star Wars movie. I’m actually excited for it to come out, having watched all six of them during my trip. I feel like I’m part of the whole thing now, plus the excitement of it all is still fairly fresh in my mind.

I have to say though, the best part about the article was a column the author included that was published in 1978. It’s a funny, charming rewriting of The Night Before Christmas á la Star Wars. If you never listen to me again it’s fine, provided you go and read it. For some reason Christmas and Star Wars mix really well. 

Have a good one, readers. And may the Force be with you!

Destination: Christmas #5

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 5

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

by Arthur Conan Doyle

Hello, readers!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a brutal day. The catering company I work for had an all day event today, needless to say my feet are killing me. This whole rest during the weekend thing is proving to be an elusive concept. However, I’m happy because money is coming in and, after my trip, I really need it.

I was honestly feeling hard pressed to read today’s entry in the calendar when I got home, but it turned out to be a Sherlock Holmes story. And, really, who can ever turn down Holmes? All at once you fall into that familiar writing and you forget everything else. For me, reading stories or novels about Sherlock Holmes always carries that familiar feeling. Almost like going back to visit an old friend, for an hour, a few days or weeks depending on the length of the text. It’s always nice, reading something in that very particular style.

I’d never thought to put Christmas and Sherlock Holmes together, but I guess it’s understandable that with such a large number of texts there should be mention of Christmas somewhere. This particular story is about geese and jewels. Also some forgiveness. And a crazy, twisting plot where Holmes solves the puzzle to everyone’s amazement. I kind of wish it’d had more a more Christmasy feel to it, but at the same time I enjoy the fact that it departs from the usual Holiday fare. I appreciate it’s unexpected inclusion into the calendar.

I’m excited to see what else they’ve included in this Literary Advent Calendar! Join me tomorrow to find out what’s next! Stay cool, readers.

Have a good one!

Destination: Christmas #4

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 4

Toward the Winter Solstice by Timothy Steele

Hello, readers! Friday is almost over, but the weekend has just begun! What better way to end the beginning than with some poetry? Because that’s the kind of stuff that happens in poems, right? Sure.

I read this poem a couple of times, then I looked for the date thinking it’d be something fairly recent. It was actually written in 1948, which is impressive because it feels like it could be happening next door. The SUVs flocking to expensive restaurants, spilling their human insides onto the pavement for family night. The UPS trucks going back and forth delivering packages filled with Black Friday loot and prematurely bought Christmas presents. It feels like a poem written for today, written for this very moment in time.

He says nothing changes and, while that may be true for the actions and the circumstances, there is a quiet peace in that poem that is absent in our lives today. That melting pot that casually accepts Christmas has become a melting pot for hatred and fear. Where neighbor fears neighbor and everyone is slightly afraid of everyone else, worried about what they hide under turbans and robes and ill concealed gun holsters. Wary of commenting or critiquing on something as innocuous as Christmas lights because it could lead down ugly roads. You could start an argument or worse, a friendly relationship with your neighbor.

I’m sure this poem is meant to be more uplifting. Something about the pleasantness of this neighborhood, the spirit of Christmas that blooms even in big, bad L.A. The Silent Night that still rings true even though the magi have been replaced by UPS. But, to be honest, it just makes think about how much Christmas has changed and how meaningless it becomes for people as the years go by.

I love Christmas, I love the smell of pine trees and the decorations, I even love Christmas music! But sometimes it’s hard to keep up the Holiday cheer in the midst of all the stuff that happens. What I’m saying is sometimes life gets in the way of Christmas and it’s up to us whether to let it go or hold on to it. I tumble between one and the other, depending on what’s happening. But my heart always lifts when I hear a Christmas song or the smell of pine hits my nose. Maybe he’s right, maybe even though everything changes, something always stay the same.

What do you think, readers? Is Christmas what it used to be? I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Until next time, stay cool.

Destination: Christmas #3

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 3

The Elves and the Shoemaker

by the Grimm Brothers

Is it weird that I’d never read the story about the Elves and the Shoemaker? Probably. But now I have and I’m happy about it. Short, but sweet just about covers it and it hits the spot for today when I’m still sore all over and in a general state of mawpness. It’s nice, you know. These people who just went ahead and did something nice for these elves because they were grateful. Sometimes people don’t know how to be grateful. They see things as their due, rather than seeing them as gift or privileges. And Christmas, for all the warm feelings it gives me, is a time that’s full of ungratefulness. I’ve seen kids be so mean to parents and grandparents because the gifts they got them weren’t expensive or big.

It breaks my heart over and over because I remember seeing my cousins do it to my grandmother. There was a year she bought them generic video games and they looked at her like she’d literally given her a bag of coal. She felt so bad afterwards, asked me what was wrong with the games. I remember feeling so angry at them for not seeing the effort she’d put into it. I remember telling her the games were fine, they were the ones who were ungrateful. Thinking about it now still makes me angry, it still makes me sad. A little gratitude goes a long way.

A story like this, the whole pay it forward mentality behind it all, serves to make me happy. To remind me to be grateful for all the gifts life gives me, the little “elves” that dash in and out bringing me a laugh when I need it or lending me an ear when I need to talk. In the spirit of showing appreciation, I want to thank you guys for reading. I hope my words bring you a little bit of happiness and joy.

Have a good one readers!