Saturday, December 10, 2011


Each year at Christmastime, candles blaze in churches and homes across the world in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate this time of year. The custom of placing candles in our windows follows a centurie-old tradition. The candles represent the hope that the Christ Child might be guided through the darkness to our homes. In ancient times, a stranger who approached a house lit by Christmas candles was assured of a warm welcome, for the families believed every visitor could be Christ Himself seeking refuge.
——The Traditions of Christmas, edited by Nancy J. Skarmeas 

In no other facet of Christmas is there such a rich and sumptuous heritage as in the traditions of holiday fare. This yearly celebration has demanded a table extended with family and friends and groaning under the load of rich candies, fruit-filled puddings, glazed sweet breads, roasted meats and fowl, every kind of vegetable, and, of course, decorated, squeezed, rolled, filled, cut, and iced cookies from almost every country in the world. As children, we each become so entranced with the smells of roasting turkey, baking pumpkin pies, or steaming plum puddings that thereafter, for the rest of our lives, only a slight whiff of a certain odor instantly unlocks the treasurers of our memory as we are transported back to those wonderful Christmas feasts at home with Mother, Father, and our family of childhood.
——William Powell Firth

The days and nights of the Christmas season are alive with music. In churches, on street corners, on dorrsteps, and at the family fireside, voices join together and are lifted in praise and celebration of the season. The roots of the popular carol stem from common folk displaying the joy of the holidays and spirits full of happiness; whereas the great oratorios, seasonal ballets, and moving hymns that mark the season were written in a state of euphoria and celebration, each note and echo of the song sung by the angels to the shepherds in the fields on that night two thousand years ago.

——The Traditions of Christmas, edited by Nancy J. Skarmeas 

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. 


The Weaver of Grass said...

You are certainly contributing to the build up to Christmas for me Grizz - I read each post and feel warm inside - the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas really get me into the right frame of mind.

Gail said...

GRIZZ - I love this tradition. I keep candles lit in my window all year - and have done so since my daughter moved so far away about 8 years ago. I hope one day the light of these Christmas candles will guide her home where she will be given love and warmth beyond measure.
Love Gail'

Grizz………… said...


Much of my own Christmas build-up comes from rereading passages and chapters, poems, etc. from my favorite Christmas books and stories. That's what I hoped to share here.

For me, perhaps none I've posted so far are any more meaningful than the previous series of quotes (17) re. Carl Rudd. I only got to visit that hollow (or holler, as we say here) once and meet Carl and his wife, but it was the most wonderful, magical Christmas display I've ever seen…and I'm convinced it was so because it came from the depths of the heart of a man who loved Christmas, loved God, and loved people. He was truly unique.

Grizz………… said...


Yes, it's an old, old custom, the keeping of a lighted candle in the window. Symbolic, perhaps, but I imagine if I had a daughter astray in the world, I would do the same. Who knows what might make that dingle degree of difference? Just don't ever give up on love, faith, and prayers for her…which I know goes without saying.