It’s that time of year when – all being well – we can curl up with a good book. It might be that it is snowing like mad outside and the fire is burning quite happily; or, it might be damp and rainy. Whatever the weather, the festive season is a great opportunity to enjoy some well-deserved reading.
If short stories are your thing, Alice Munro’s ‘The Turkey Season’ is a great tale about a 14-year-old getting a job at a turkey factory (the Turkey Barn). Now, this person’s job is as a turkey gutter, which sounds quite yucky. But above all, this is a lovely story about friendship and a young person getting a job in a largely adult environment. If nothing else, it shows readers one of the many things that go on behind the scenes at Christmas time.
Truman Capote’s ‘A Christmas Memory’ is based on his own recollections of Christmas time – and the whole short piece recounts many different things he can remember about the season, from finding Christmas decorations, through to what was eaten for supper. Believe me, there are some strange food stuffs mentioned (well, strange combinations, anyway) but that just goes to show how times have changed – the story was first published in 1956 and Capote’s recollections are from the 1930s.
If you prefer something a little longer, Canadian writer L.M. Montgomery’s stories about Christmas are perfectly quintessential. These stories were written over 100 years ago but some of the traditions within them survive to this day – and you may recognise some of these in your own homes. Taking a trip back in time is sometimes a great way of remembering what Christmas should be all about.
Some of you may prefer much shorter pieces of reading – in this case, poetry. You could dig out some favourite Christmas carols as many of these are poetic in form. Or, how about William Barnes’ ‘A Winter Night’ with the ‘… frost glitt’ring on the ground’?
Christina Rossetti’s ‘Christmas Eve’ – from way back in the 1700s – uses interesting comparisons, such as how it ‘… hath a darkness/Brighter than the blazing noon.’ But if you fancy something more contemporary, Brian Bilston has written a lot of modern, often comical poems about Christmas. And we can’t forget Carol Ann Duffy, who has written many seasonal poems, from ‘Christmas Eve’ to the more solemn ‘The Christmas Truce’. Essentially, there is something to read for everyone, whatever you enjoy.
So, when you feel like getting into the festive mood, relax with a good book.