The goose is getting fat,
Please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do,
If you haven't a ha'penny—Go bless you!
And I do come home for Christmas. We all do, or we all should.
——Charles Dickens, Dr. Marigold's Prescription
Through the Christmas fires of morning
Streaming upwards in the East,
Leaps the sun with sudden dawning,
Like a captive king released;
And Decenmeber skies reflected
In the dreaming of the snow—
It is winter, little children,
Let the summer singing go.
——Mrs. L.C. Whiton, A Day in Winter
Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled explore,
The colder countries round the door.
Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding cake.
——Robert Louis Stevenson, Winter Time
How far is it to Bethlehem?
Not very far.
Shall we find the stable room
Lit by a star?
God in His mother's arms,
Babes in the byre,
Sleep, as they sleep who find
Their heart's desire.
——Frances Chesterton, How Far Is It To Bethlehem?
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.