Ten writers for children. All with something to say.

12/18/09

Favorite Christmas Tales

My favorite Christmas tale has always been A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I admit to a couple years of unfaithfulness when I became enamored of Charlie Brown's Christmas when I was young, but I returned to Scrooge when my pagan roots grew strong and the lure of spirits and merriment at the darkest time of year seemed the most sensible of all seasonal past times. I think Mr. Dickens was a great proponent of therapy- a man before his time. When Scrooge is flying with the first spirit of Christmas past, he asks" "Spirit, what is that light on the horizon?" and the Spirit replies, "It is the past." and certainly, in this dark time of year it is filled with memories from the past that may light up our holidays or certainly light a fire to our writing and painting. And it is in our darkest times that we may look to the past to shed some sort of light on our present experience. As a child, I loved the three visiting spirits-- was frightened by them also, but they filled me with hope... hope that things can change for the better.

I cannot finish a blog on my favorite Christmas book without also mentioning The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. I discovered this book about ten years ago and was riveted to the couch from beginning to end. Her knowledge of early pagan celebrations in England and Wales at this time of year, blending the past with the present to create a fantasy that brings the yuletide alive in a battle of light and dark, brought new meaning to this time of year. I now embrace the evergreens and lights as necessary to make it to the new year. It is a book that touched upon my ancient Anglo roots, shedding light on the past to make for a changed present-- as in A Christmas Carol. For me, Christmas is all about the dark and hope for the light to return. And good books are certainly part of the vital light.

6 comments:

David LaRochelle said...

Two wonderful books, Lauren, which hold special Christmas meanings for me as well. My mother gave me a copy of A CHRISTMAS CAROL shortly after I moved out on my own, and now it has become one of the few Christmas decorations I display each year. And THE DARK IS RISING was given to me as a gift by a close friend one of my first years of teaching - thank you for reminding me of that memory.
Have you ever attended the Christmas revels? They were held regularly here in Minnesota for many years, and I believe Susan Cooper was involved with them out in New England.

Lauren said...

I loved the revels while they lasted in Minnesota. The first one was so magical. Yes, Susan Cooper wrote the final poem read at every revels. It is titled: THE SHORTEST DAY...
And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
came people singing, dancing,
to drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees:
They hung their homes with evergreen:
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us- listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

David LaRochelle said...

Thank you for including the poem, Lauren. I'll think of it on Monday night.

Edie said...

Lauren,
What a wonderful poem to include on this "comments" page. I hope all our readers check out the comments, as well! Both your entry and John's focus on light, which is a significant theme in this season of the shortest day.

I heard Susan Cooper speak a couple years ago--about a different book--but certainly a compelling talk.

Christy said...

Beautiful post, Lauren. I love your thought,"And it is in our darkest times that we may look to the past to shed some sort of light on our present experience."

Mark said...

Great post, Lauren. I've been meaning to read my collection of Susan Cooper books, and your post makes me think I should move them to the top of my "to read" list!