On Christmas morning, the family gathered in the living room, in pajamas and bathrobes, and opened presents. There was no designated Santa Claus, no master of ceremonies, no orderly opening of gift and thanking of giver one by one. No, this was a kind of melee, with every man for himself. Some of the gifts were expected every year. Gran knit us each something warm and practical; Aunt Lib gave us something silly and unsubstantial and sure to be broken by evening. Usually, Mother and Aunt Mary presented each other with identical gifts, not by design but because, as twins, they thought the same way. Vixen always got a new dog dish, which she ignored, and a big Christmas bow, which she hated.
Mim always gave me a book, and it was almost always a book about heros. She introduced me to Robin Hood, The White Company, Ivanhoe, Ben Hur, and, when she thought I was ready, Malory's Morte d'Arthur.
Aunt Em gathered up the discarded ribbons and bows, smoothed out any wrapping paper that had not been ripped to pieces, and put them all away for next year. It was signal that one part of Christmas was over.
——Jane & Michael Maas, Christmas in Wales
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.