Friday, December 16, 2011

Work in Progress: My Favorite Christmas Reading

Since I didn’t blog yesterday, my penance is to write about something horrifying and embarrassing, specifically the books and stories that I love to read and reread whenever Christmas rolls around.  Yes, there are highly sophisticated books, poems, and stories about Christmas, but I don’t read those.  Instead, here are my favorites:

Four Midwestern Sisters’ Christmas Book by Holly J. Burkhalter.  Out of print, I bought this in hardcover—back when buying a hardcover was a Very Big Deal for my financial status—and I’ve never regretted it.  It’s about four sisters who grew up in Iowa who think back on their Christmas traditions and memories.  I wouldn’t expect anyone else to love this book as much as I do, but I do love it dearly!  There's an adorable photo--probably also now on the Awkward Photos site--of the sisters and their mother wearing matching homemade, red plaid jumpers over white blouses.

Martha Stewart’s Christmas, 1989 version.  This edition is also out of print, though Lord knows there are more than enough books out there about what Martha thinks we should do for Christmas.  This was the first, though, and there’s something fascinating about looking at the picture of a young Martha mixing up dough for 10 Christmas puddings (i.e. 30 eggs), contemplating laying gold leaf on a gingerbread mansion that has real lights inside, and staring at the dozens of cream puffs in the glorious croquembouche.  Also, the very last photo shows Martha’s daughter Alexis kissing her boyfriend, Sam Waksal, who would later be the source of Martha’s downfall in her stock market escapades.

Treasury of Christmas Stories, edited by Ann McGovern.   It only counts if you have this 1971 edition, which is the edition you bought from the school book sale way back when for the princely sum of sixty cents.  The best selections are the chapter from Little House on the Prairie in which Mr. Edwards meets Santa Claus and brings gifts to Laura and Mary during a blizzard, and, of course, “The Fir Tree” by Hans Christian Anderson.  Every year, even knowing exactly what’s coming, I read this story and sob.  What a writer who can move a reader to tears over the fate of a tree!

I don’t own a separate copy (and why not, I’m wondering right now?) of Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, but that is another absolute favorite, as he and his friend (i.e. crazy aunt) make special fruitcakes together that they give only to the people they like.  Here’s a beautiful first edition from 1956 that looks like the one to buy, if I happened to have a spare $300-$1000.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.