Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas reading and viewing

I have been enjoying dusting off some of my favorite books and movies to assist in the Christmas mood around here.  Although tonight I took time off of Christmas as my son stopped by for dinner and brought his copy of The Social Network (good movie but not G-rated, if you get my drift).  Both my kids remarked how interesting it is that this guy changed the world when Facebook was invented.

Anyway... I digress from the actual reason for writing... Christmas.  I've watched a few shows on TV including last night's classic Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer.  It's corny but I still love the whole "misfit as hero" plot and listening to Burl Ives as narrator.  For us baby boomers, it brings back lots of nostalgic memories.

Yesterday I watched my An Avonlea Christmas DVD after the dinner dishes were finished.  I love this movie but Stephanie didn't care for it as much when she watched it.  One of the subplots is that Felix is MIA in WWI and it follows Janet as she becomes angry and bitter over the war.  But she doesn't stay that way and there are happy endings all around.  The TV series was one of my favorites, especially as the years went by and the children grew a little older.

Tomorrow I plan to watch Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (the original from the 1970s) which I love.  Yes, I own the DVD and I have no little children around... and your point is???  I miss the 70s, a great decade. ;)

I've also watched Muppet Christmas Carol recently on TV.  I taught Dicken's A Christmas Carol our last year in a homeschool co-op and had the teenagers watch the movie.  They loved it.  No one does a better Mrs. Cratchett than Miss Piggy.

Christmas Reading

I pulled a few books off the shelf, dusted them off, and now have them stacked to enjoy from Thanksgiving through New Years (and perhaps beyond).  They are...

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus edited by Nancy Guthrie - This is an advent devotional that I used last year and gladly pulled out again.  I can't remember who recommended it but it's wonderful.  Nancy Guthrie explains that she wrote the kind of advent book she wanted to read with chapters by Puritans, Augustine, Francis Schaeffer, John Piper, all the way through to the final chapter by Joni Erickson Tada.  Love this one, highly recommend it.

Winter Song Christmas Readings by Madeleine L'Engle & Luci Shaw - This book is similar to a devotional in that it contains poetry and prose by two favorite authors and takes one through the end of autumn through Advent.  If you like L'Engle and Shaw, you'll love this book.  I'm not really using it as an advent devotional so much as enjoying the writings for the Season.

No Holly for Miss Quinn by Miss Read - Just the loveliest Christmas story about a young English woman who never married who is called upon to help her brother and his family out at Christmas.  Miss Read has two or three other Christmas books which I have read in the past but don't own (but I should look for at the library).  I have re-read this one at Christmas the past few years.  I've read some other Miss Read books and hope to read more in the future.

Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon - I think this is my favorite Mitford book.  I've also re-read it each Christmas since it was published.  Even though it is part of the series, it can also be enjoyed as a stand alone novel.  Father Tim purchases an old and battered nativity set (LARGE set) and works to restore it as a gift to his wife.  There are the usual subplots of Mitford characters which add warmth and depth.

A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg - It takes just a few minutes to read this little story about a man who visits his elderly great aunt and rediscovers the Christmas of his childhood.  A lovely little classic!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - What can I say, one of the best books ever written.  When I taught the book to my class, I had it read aloud as it should be.  I loved how even the teenage guys became enthralled with the characters.  One of them told me it sparked his interest to read other Dickens' novels.

Did you know in the Christmas song "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year", when they talked about "scary ghost stories" they were talking about this book?  For years I wondered what ghost stories had to do with Christmas and when I found that out, it answered a lot of questions.  :)

The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge - I'm hoping to get to this book in December, otherwise it is on my January list to re-read.  While not technically a Christmas book, it takes place around Christmas and I felt like I was in an English village in December.  It's a story of Redemption, which is what Christmas is all about.

By the way, A City of Bells also have lovely Christmas scenes in it.  I just read it again last month and I still smile as I think of it again. 

I used to re-read a few Edith Schaeffer books in December... especially The Tapestry and her two books of letters (With Love, Edith and Dear Family).  While I no longer read them around Christmas, I do re-read these autobiographical books and a few other nonfiction books each year as I have time.  She was the most influential author in my life as a young wife and mother and has remained so through the years.

I also have a stack of Victoria Christmas books and a few other Christmas decorating books to peruse (most purchased at library sales).  I also love to read the Christmas issues of favorite magazines.

I only own a couple specifically Christmas cookbooks but both are favorites...

My newest such book is Holiday Fare: Favorite Williamsburg Recipes by John Gonzales (the chef Stephanie and I took the cooking class from in Williamsburg). I wrote about it recently but it does have many, many good recipes in it which I would serve all year.  The pictures of Colonial Williamsburg at Christmas makes me want to visit again.

The book I've had for years now and LOVE is called Christmas Thyme at Oak Hill Farm by Marge Clark (a long ago gift from my sister-friend, BeBe).  It is a fabulous book, especially for those of us who love herbs and all things tea time.  It contains lots of wonderful recipes and beautiful pictures, a book I highly recommend.  It is one of my all time favorite recipe books.

Marge unexpectedly left us a few years ago in a car accident but I always felt I knew her through this book and her cookbook The Best of Thymes, which I go back to all the time for recipes using favorite herbs.  Both are written with her chatty prose in addition to recipes.

Hmmm... no wonder that stack of books looks like it is going to fall over soon.


Vee said...

An incredibly ambitious list for December, Brenda! You make me want to reread a few of these myself. Wonder if I can find Shepherd's Abiding for's here somewhere...

Diane Allen said...

I LOVE Shepherds abiding! My daughter and I listened to it while traveling one December. I also like the Mitford Snowmen - it is a short read. Just right for an afternoon break.

Angela said...

I love Edith Schaeffer's Tapestry book, too. I am reading A Christmas Carol aloud to my kids this year. I've actually never read it myself, but last year I read Great Expectations aloud to my teens, and while it took a long while, we all enjoyed it and I realized that Dickens is best when read aloud. Our favorite part of GE was Mr. Wimmick :)

Terra said...

Your book suggestions are great, and I wrote down a few titles. I too like A Cup of Christmas Tea and the Jan Karon book. In my own book that I wrote about Christmas I wrote that Cup of Christmas Tea is my favorite family book for the holiday.

Mrs.Rabe said...

I love the Muppets Christmas Carol!

I also love the Mitford series, and Shepherds Abiding is a favorite. I just bought two of her little Mitford Christmas stories at the library bookstore..."Esther's Gift" and "The Mitford Snowmen" I can't wait to read them.


Nanna said...

delisious post! makes me want to pull out my Christmas books, your suggestions sound wonderful!

Becky F said...

oh my goodness! I love the Avonlea series, I didnt realize they had a christmas special... Now I am going to have to scour netflix and amazon for this : ) thanks for the recommendations, and have a blessed Holiday

Anonymous said...

I would have to add the DVD "A Child's Christmas in Wales" Also I just love "The Snowman" with the haunting song "Walking in the Air"

Scrappy quilter said...

You are definitely getting lots of reading done. Right now I'm reading Wheat Belly by William Davis and Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. I can hardly put down Kisses from Katie. Don't you just love books. We don't have a tv anymore, however for years we watched all those Christmas Shows. An Avonlea Christmas is one of my favorites. Hugs

Anonymous said...

Definately have to pull out Shepherds Abiding to reread. My all time favourite special is still A Charlie Brown Christmas. Best ever.

Melissa said...

A wonderful list to add to my winter readings, thank you.
Have you ever read "The Substitute Guest" by Grace Livingston Hill? It's one of my favorite winter/Christmas stories. It's the typical Grace L. Hill story plot (where she repeats alot), but...the first 13 chapters all take place the week of Christmas!... and then the last couple of chapters are still in January.
"A single man tries to deliver some medicine to a very sick lady, but because of the blizzard, can not drive up the mountains and ends up stopping at a house along the way, and there is help from a Christian family. Lots of "heart-warming, home" scenes.