Auntie was the cake-maker in the family. She made the fruitcake first and she always liked to have that one, with its richness of nuts and citron and pineapple and cherries and rasins, out of the way well before Thanksgiving so that it would season. She kept it stored in a tightly-lidded lard can and twice a week would douse it with blackberry wine. This was wine that she had made herself, and for a teetotaling Baptist she was inordinately proud of it.
That lard can was the most fragrant one in Georgia, and by Christmas day the cake weighed considerable more than when it came from the oven. It had the spicy, fruitful aroma of foreign lands, of forbidden nectar, and Auntie could slice it so thin that the light glowed through the cherries and pineapple and citron as beautifully as through medieval stained glass.
——Ferrol Sams, Christmas Gift!
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.