lunadelcorvo: (Candleflame)
I debated about this for quite a while. On the one hand, I didn't want to be too dreadfully serious; this is a holiday blog meme, after all. On the other, I wanted to post something meaningful. So I contemplated giving you a snippet of something like Santa Mouse, or Catmas Carols, or even Santa Lives: Five Conclusive Arguments for the Existence of Santa Claus (which is really quite hilarious if you are interested in the philosophical arguments for the existence of God, on which it is oh-so-irreverently based). However, I decided that I wanted to actually be meaningful, particularly given the political climate these days, and the issues faced by so many around the world at present. I therefore give you:

A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas
Charles Dickens, 1843
Stave Three; The Second of the Spirits
They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

“Spirit! are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!”

“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.

“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?”

The bell struck twelve.

Now, there's a lesson that doesn't require a 'Christian Christmas,' nor indeed any other kind, nor indeed any special day at all....
lunadelcorvo: (Yule Moonhart)
One of my very favorite things at the holidays is reading Dylan Thomas' Child's Christmas in Wales. My mom adored it, and had a small, battered copy of it, little larger than a greeting card, that she cherished. It got lost to the ravages of time, but soon thereafter I made a copy of my own, and in fact, sent it around to friends. (I'm thinking of doing another run of it, if you'd like one, let me know). Anyway, this recitation has taken its place right up next to the Night Before Christmas as a mainstay. The language takes a little getting used to, but it's a really lovely and very evocative little narrative.

The absolute BEST way to enjoy it is to find a recording of it read by Thomas himself. NPR offers it here, and it can be downloaded from Amazon or the iTunes Store for a dollar or two. Meanwhile, I post it here (cut for space) in its entirety. Enjoy!
A Child's Christmas in Wales
One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.the tale continues here: )



Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities



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