Miss Bugle could say no more, for the Christmas Eve secret she had held so long was now too much for her to bear and her voice began to break.
"Christmas Eve, Mr. Mole, is never a time to be alone, and I have been alone on this day too often The lights of Christmas candles surely shine brighter in the sympathetic company of others."
"They do, Miss Bugle, O, I know they do!" said the Mole with considerable sympathy and feeling.
"Well then…" she said, pushing her door open with a curious gesture of shy hopefulness and indicating that he should go ahead of her.
What he saw when he entered quite took his breath away. It was a parlour like no parlour he had ever seen. One so filled and resplendent with the Christmas spirit that all the gloom and unhappiness the Mole had recently felt fled from his heart, to be replaced by that sense of simple joy and wonder he had last felt as a child, standing before his first Christmas tree.
——William Horwood, The Willows At Christmas
Mole's Christmas Eve was nearly done.
Yet not quite.
He still had to propose the final toast of the night. He opened his front door and raised his glass to such stars as he could see. "To the memory of my family," said he…
I've collected Christmas books for years, and must have at least a couple hundred. Their contents range from anthologies of seasonal poetry, short stories, and novels, to histories of the holiday and its customs and traditions, sketches and narratives of remembered Christmases by various writers, cookbooks, even a craft book or two, though Myladylove collects the latter two categories and probably has upwards of a hundred Christmas volumes of her own.
This year, starting on the first day of December, I thought it might be fun to dip into a few of these works and share a quote or two from their pages—a few lines of poetry, a bit of prose, maybe even a recipe—on a daily basis, a sort of "Christmas Quotedown," which I'll put up in addition to my regular posts. I'll also include a photo of the book's cover, from which the day's quotes are taken—though a few, lacking a dust jacket or any sort of fancy cover design, might be decidedly non-photogenic. On the other hand, several of my favorite Christmas works are quotably rich troves, indeed, and thus might end up furnishing more than a day's worth of quotes—though I'm starting out with the notion of a different book each day.
Along the way, I hope I select some things you enjoy.