Christmas Stories – Everyman’s Pocket Classics

 Christmas Stories - Everyman's Pocket Classics cover

Christmas Stories – Everyman’s Pocket Classics is a compilation of twenty short stories by an eclectic mixture of authors beginning with Charles Dickens and The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton and ending with Richard Ford and Creche. In between are:

Nikolai Gogol (The Night Before Christmas)
Arthur Conan Doyle (The Blue Carbuncle)
Anthony Trollope (Christmas at Thompson Hall)
Leo Tolstoy (Where Love is, God is)
Anton Chekov (Vanka)
Willa Cather (The Burglar’s Christmas)
O. Henry (A Chapparal Christmas Gift)
Saki /H.H. Munro (Reginald’s Christmas Revel)
Vladimir Nabokov (Christmas)
Damon Runyon (Dancing Dan’s Christmas)
Evelyn Waugh (Bella Fleace Gave a Party)
Elizabeth Bowen (Green Holly)
John Cheever (Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor)
Truman Capote (A Christmas Memory)
John Updike ( The Carol Sing)
Muriel Spark (Christmas Fugue)
Grace Paley (The Loudest Voice)
Alice Munro (The Turkey Season)

I like to read some Christmas themed books around this time of the year to help me get into the swing of things but this isn’t the sort of book that’s going to help with that. Most of the stories have very little to do with Christmas at all, even when the word is in the title, and quite a few of them are fairly miserable. In fact I’m beginning to wonder if writing and getting a ‘Christmas’ short story published, presumably in a magazine was a sort of equivalent of the Christmas number one in the pop charts.

There were a few that were enjoyable though, particularly Saki’s Reginald’s Christmas Revel which is very short indeed but is amusing.

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas!

A certain person in our family (not me) has his birthday on Christmas Eve, so that’s always a very busy day for me, cooking for everyone for that celebration. Thankfully I have today off from the kitchen as others in our extended family are doing the honours!

Have a lovely time – whatever you’re doing.


Happy Christmas

I’m saying Happy Christmas now as I doubt if I’ll be online tomorrow. Christmas Eve is Jack’s birthday and I always cook a special meal for him as all of the restaurants are booked up for Christmas celebrations, you’re just not supposed to have your birthday at Christmas.

Bah Humbug

I hope everyone has a lovely time.

Christmas 2012

I spent four hours in the kitchen yesterday and we all spent FIVE HOURS in the dining room playing Trivial Pursuit. I’m still wondering how that was possible, but we didn’t finish until 1 am on Boxing Day! I took this photo of the family just after our cheese break about half-way through the marathon.

Cheese break

I was trying to be arty and get myself in the mirror taking the photo but there was too much flash in it.

Honestly, we did have a laugh but as usual they all look like morose Scotsmen in my photos. Although to be fair – Laura looks like a morose Lancashire lass!

The C – Word

Yes, it’s Christmas I’m talking about of course!

I was walking along a street in Wetherby, Yorkshire, where we were staying for a few days, it was dark and wet – when hasn’t it been wet this year – and we were looking for a good place to have our dinner.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a well lit window, a possibility for a restaurant or hotel I thought, but no – it was a Christmas window!

Wetherby window

It was early October so strictly speaking not too early I suppose. I remember a few years ago there was a department store near where I live which had a Christmas tree in its window at the beginning of September. SO ANNOYING! Because by the time Christmas comes around most people are sick to death of the whole thing.

Anyway, I must admit that it’s a cosy looking Christmas setting so I had to take a photo of it. I could be doing without the evil looking stag’s head on the upper right hand side, though. I’m wondering why tartan is always thought of as being Christmassy. Is it something to do with Queen Victoria and her love of all things Scottish?

Post Christmas Pause

We had a very restful Boxing Day with all of us just lolling around at home. Why do people rush out to the shops/sales? I’m sure it’s a form of madness. It was bad enough that we had to go to IKEA again yesterday. We had a horrible feeling of deja vu but at least this time it was only raining and most of the roads were clear of snow.

I’m not a big fan of going to the shops, in fact I really only do it when there’s no alternative, it isn’t a pleasurable pastime for me as it seems to be with so many folks.

But as IKEA closed an hour after we got there the last time due to the snow we just had to hire a van a second time to go back and get what Duncan hadn’t had the time to buy before. We were in IKEA for four hours, and after the first one I had just about lost the will to live. He got another bed, a sofa, more bookcases, chests of drawers and odds and sods.

Then there was the horrible long journey from Edinburgh to Dundee and all the unloading and lugging everything up two flights of stairs. By which time we were saying, “Why didn’t he buy a ground floor flat?” Anyway it’s all done now and he has been warned that when he wants to move out he will have to get professional removal men to do it!

Our ’empty nest’ was only empty for about a week – and then everyone came here for Christmas. They left us today again and will be back here in a few days for Hogmanay, which is really the most important day of the year in Scotland, when it all begins again. Christmas became a holiday in Scotland fairly recently, I think about 50 years ago most people had to work on Christmas.

Because of all the shenanigans I’m way off my reading schedule. I had been planning on reading at least 100 pages of War and Peace every day but I just haven’t had the time. I had been hoping to get it finished by the end of the year but I’m only half way through it. So unless I take to my bed, (I have the best light for reading there) and read over 200 pages a day – I’m stuffed. Or should I say my 2011 reading list schedule is stuffed before it begins.

I started reading War and Peace because I’ve been putting it off for years and there seem to be a lot of people reading the new translation at the moment, so I thought I would join in as it would mean that I would have a deadline. I think the deadline is January 23rd but I’d rather finish it before then so that I can read something from my list. I’m not good at reading two books at a time, I prefer to concentrate on one and I must say that War and Peace has been a nice surprise. My copy is an old translation from 1943. I’m finding it to be much easier going than I had anticipated, so I’m able to read it at bedtime, even when I’m tired, and remember what I read when I wake up in the morning. Which isn’t always the case, believe me!

Anyway, I’m off to bed and hoping to get a good three hours of reading done before I put the light out because it was after 2 o’clock when I put the book down last night.

Christmas 2009

Well, Christmas came before we were ready for it, mainly due to the weather being terrible and not being able to travel to see people. It was the most disorganised that we had ever been – which is daft really because it’s not as if we have much to do for it now that the family has grown up.

However, despite that we all agreed that it was a great Christmas, everything just seemed to be in harmony and we all had a really relaxing time.

We all had a bit too much to eat but only one bottle of wine was drunk between all five of us. I didn’t actually have anything to eat at all until 3 o’clock – not even a bit of chocolate, I just didn’t feel like eating. The result is that I am still weighing in at 9 stone exactly, even although we haven’t been able to get out for our customary hour of walking each day, due to the weather.

All in all a jolly good time was had by all. Now for Hogmanay!

Haworth at Christmas

I’ve been finding it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit this year, partly I think because there isn’t anything going on around here in the way of traditional celebrations. It’s all about parting everyone from their cash really, which is a shame.

Although I can’t say that I’m in any way religious (quite the opposite really), I still think that the mad commercialisation of Christmas is a complete pain in the neck. Let’s face it, the shops are full of tat at the moment, and expensive tat at that! And people feel the need to spend and spend and spoil their children rotten, even when they know that the kids get more fun out of simple things, like big boxes they can sit in and pretend that it is a car, bus, train or whatever.

Some people are still paying for Christmas by the time the next one comes along. I wish we could get back to the time when people just made something for their friends and relatives, if they feel the need to give something.

I must admit that we have never exchanged presents amongst our brothers and sisters as there are just too many of us and it is much simpler to give to the young people only, and our parents of course, (when they were alive).

So what has all this moaning got to do with Haworth in Yorkshire? We visited Haworth for the first time in the summer and we really enjoyed it, although we didn’t have enough time there. So we thought we would definitely go again and I did a bit of research and discovered that the good people of Haworth are up to all sorts throughout the year. The place really seems to be jumping and if we lived a bit closer I would definitely be visiting the Christmas market and going to see exactly what holly scroggling is. Singing carols at Haworth would just be perfect, I’m sure that you couldn’t stay ‘bah humbugish’ for long there.

I really fancy going to the vintage fair which they have later in the year, well it’s all recycling isn’t it, and wouldn’t it be great
to dress up in a 1940s tea dress for the 40s weekend that they have every year.

Have a look at the Haworth Village site to find out more.


Well, I suppose I had to give in sometime but I can’t say that I feel at all festive. Obviously I’ll have to put some effort into it. In years past I’ve gone down the road of the big traditional Victorian tree and I’ve even made the oranges studded with cloves, in fact I’ve still got some of them in my wardrobe. I think that it is easier to get into the spirit of it all when you have small children.

Do not be thinking that we had wee boys who were writing letters to Santa or any of that nonsense. As I was the youngest in my family I was teeny when I found out from my teenage brothers and sisters that there was no such person as Santa. I can still remember what a complete idiot I felt, even although I was probably only about 3 years old. I even remember thinking that I would never tell such a lie to a child and I stuck by that when I had children of my own. I just told them that Santa had lived a long time ago, but he was dead now and people just gave each other presents to remember him and to cheer ourselves up in the dark, cold winter.

I was really proud of them when they came home from nursery school and told me that they had had to explain to the other children that Santa was dead. As you can imagine, I was very popular with the other mums, ho ho ho , by their looks I think they could have strung me up. I just smiled angelically at them.

Anyway, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a good time and to get myself into the Christmas spirit I sometimes resort to reading a very slim volume by Charles Dickens called A Christmas Tree. I’m not really into Dickens but I must admit he does do Christmas very well.

It begins with a description of a Victorian Christmas starting with the tree which is laden with all sorts of goodies, many of them made in Wolverhampton! For some reason Dickens seemed to link Christmas with ghosts and they feature in this wee book too.

It reminds me that I always used to buy chocolate watch decorations for our real tree and chocolate soldiers too but I haven’t been able to get them in the shops for the past few years now.

Being me, I’m swithering about getting a real tree or not this year. We usually put one in the sitting-room, which is hardly ever used now that we don’t have boys practising on the pianos in there. Yes that was supposed to be plural, one upright and one inherited boudoir grand, how are we ever going to downsize?

It seems a waste of a living tree really, but I suppose that is what they are grown for. Also I’m mad with myself for swithering over keeping the real fire or getting a fake gas one and opting for the gas one, as there is nothing like a real fire for mesmerising comfort during the winter. Too late, it’s gas now.

So in the next few days I’ll be giving in and joining all my neighbours who started the decorating lark far too early. Watch out for the photographs, hopefully they wont be too tacky.