All posts tagged: Christmas

A Christmas Card by Paul Theroux | edge of evening

We love: A Christmas Card

Whenever I see light feathers of snow moving slowly down a window to make a white pillow on the sill, and hear the thin moan of wind through casement cracks in a room where a fireplace is singing with flames, I remember the Christmas when I was nine, and our house at Indian Willows.  The Christmas Card by Paul Theroux We’re all home — from work & school — and it feels so good to be free of any obligations other than those we choose. No swimming, no ballet, no football, no rushing; just coffees with new neighbours & with old friends, cooking all of the delicious things that have become part of our family Christmas, and generally being in. Though the weather’s still mild, it’s turned wet & windy, and the winter solstice seems like the perfect time to stay close to home and close to one another. And, at long last, I bring you a Christmassy read. I saw A Christmas Card in the Oxfam bookshop last week and picked it up, inspired by Kerry’s reading …

Merry & bright

We’re settling down, cosying in. The kitchen is the busiest room in the house. From here at the kitchen worktop I can see no less than three dishes in progress: my spanakopita, B’s bread sauce (for Christmas Day) & a beef stew in the oven. The clementine cake is cooling behind me, and next up is icing the Christmas cake. Granma has arrived with supplies of mince pies. The Pip-Pop is napping, and the others have been whisked off to the library. I’ve got my eye on the sofa. It’s almost four & nearly dark, but in the early afternoon, if the sun is shining, it’s just the place to be. Tilly thinks so too. Maybe just a few minutes with a book before anything needs stirring or anyone needs getting up/letting back in. Wishing you a happy & calm time over the holidays — and hopefully even your own few minutes alone with a book. Thanks so much for being here this year. My Christmas wish has definitely come true. x

We don’t get to choose

“At a job interview at a university, three men sitting across from me at a table. On my CV it says that I am currently working on a book about the color blue. I have been saying this for years without writing a word. It is, perhaps, my way of making my life feel “in progress” rather than a sleeve of ash falling off a lit cigarette. One of the men asks, Why blue? People ask me this question often. I never know how to respond. We don’t get to choose what or whom we love, I want to say. We just don’t get to choose.” from ‘Bluets’ by Maggie Nelson It’s got to that point in December when it seems we’re burning through the days, just like Maggie Nelson’s lit cigarette. There was a period, earlier in the month, when I thought that there was plenty of time. Now I’m just waiting for the ash to fall, for the year to turn. Which makes it sound like I’m not looking forward to Christmas. And …

We love: giving special | Part II: colouring & activity books

After last week’s round-up of gift books, here’s a little collection of colouring & activity books that would be perfect for Christmas giving. I love a good colouring book. One that encourages exploration & creativity, but gives confidence and structure — a starting point for little hands & minds to build on. Paper & crayons are great, but sometimes it’s lovely to have something special to work on, and, as a parent, having a colouring book up your sleeve (metaphorically at least) can save the day on rainy days, snuffly days, or don’t-know-what-to-do-days. Here are a few of our favourites. 1.  The Scribble Book by Hervé Tullet. Big, beautiful & fun for even the youngest of artists. This would be my choice for those around 2/3 years+. Tullet is also the author of some fantastically fun interactive (in a low-tech way!) board books like Press Here and The Game of Finger Worms which are also great for younger children. 2. The Colouring Book by Hervé Tulle. What are the right colours for happy people? For sad …

We love: giving special | Part I: gift books

A little round-up of some of the books we love the most that would be perfect for giving this Christmas. By ‘gift books’, I mean the kind of thing you might give as a special present: Christmas, birthday, naming day or some other ‘mark-it-properly’ type occasion. Though, let’s face it, who here needs a special reason to give a book? I hesitated about offering any ideas because I’m pretty sure that many of these will already be on the shelf of any book-loving child. So, here’s the deal: let me know what special books you recommend for giving. I’d love to know what the hits are in your home. These are the tried & tested successes in ours. 1. Lavender’s Blue, compiled by Kathleen Lines & illustrated by Harold Jones. All the nursery rhymes you know and all those you have half-forgotten in one beautiful book. First published in 1954, this is the 50th anniversary facsimile edition. We bought T hers for her second birthday & it’s still a favourite five years later. This would …

Under the tree

1. Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life, Hermione Lee; 2. Sweet Peas for Summer: How to Create a Garden in a Year, Laetitia Maklouf; 3. Home Ground: Sanctuary in the City, Dan Pearson. Well, okay, there are a few other things that I want for Christmas too. A few things that might have tumbled into my Amazon basket before I’d actually managed to buy anything for anyone else. What can I say? But I wasn’t as naughty as I could have been: they’re safely tucked away in a box at the bottom of the wardrobe, waiting for someone to wrap them & give them to me on Christmas day. Hmm. Thinking about all the other wrapping also waiting to be done, it might have to just be enough to open the box on the big day. An abridged version of the Penelope Fitzgerald biography was beautifully read on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago by Penelope Wilton (already vanished from the iPlayer I’m afraid). Having read nearly all her books (just a couple tucked up my …

All I want for Christmas

is my own book blog. Six years & thirteen posts doesn’t seem like the best of track records. But, in a spirit of early self-gifting, here we go again. Is there anyone else out there who’s waiting for an invitation in the post to join this most democratic of publishing mediums? I just need to remember that if you’re bored, you’ll go away. I’m not forcing anyone to read, let alone share, my opinion. Also, you’re not even there. Simple.