Tag Archives: Christmas

RTY: The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus – Lyman Frank Baum

Hey Everyone!!

Happy December! I can’t believe we are in the last month of 2018. Where has the time gone?! This does of course mean that this is the last book of the Penguin Reading Challenge. I’ve had immense fun doing this challenge and I’m so glad I’ve done it. I’ve read things I’ve never even heard of before. The focus for December is: Finish the year with a book that embodies the festive spirit. This was arguably the easiest month for me because I love Christmas. As is by magic, I spotted this beautiful book: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. It was a warm festive hug of a book!

What’s it all about?

The novel opens with a baby being found in the Forest of Burzee by Ak, the Master Woodsman of the World. This baby, Claus, is put into the care of the lioness Shiegra and then adopted by Necile, the Wood Nymph. These characters are immortal whereas Claus is not.

His childhood is filled with love and happiness. However, upon reaching young adulthood, Claus is introduced by Ak to human society. What he sees bothers him greatly. Visions of war, brutality, poverty, neglect and abuse. As an adult, Claus cannot reside in Burzee so he decides to settle in the nearby Laughing Valley, where the immortals assist him. To keep him company, Necile gives him a little cat called Blinky.

The next part of the novel focuses on Claus inventing toys. He becomes well known for his kindness towards the children. Every so often, his neighbours son, Weekum, visits him. Because of having Blinky, Claus decides to make a carving of the cat calling it a toy. This is the start of something beautiful. The immortals begin assisting him in the production of other carvings, with the Ryls colouring the toys in with their infinite paint pots.

Claus decides to make a clay figure reminiscent of Necile: Dolly. Claus gives the first to Bessie Blithesome, a local noblewoman, after checking with Necile and the Queen of the Fairies about whether he should give toys to wealthy children. The dolls created later then start to resemble Bessie herself and other counterfeit infant girls.

We then see the the Awgwas, evil beings who can become invisible, stealing the toys that he gives to the children. They are rather furious because the toys mean that the children no longer misbehave. As a result, Claus starts to make journeys during the night, travelling down chimneys when he is unable to enter the locked doors.

In all this world there is nothing so beautiful as a happy child.’

But, the Awgwas prevent so many of Claus’s deliveries that Ak declares war upon them. With the help and support of other immortal creatures such as the dragons, three eyed giants and goblins as well as the Black Demons, the Awgwas we’re confident that they were the superior side. Nevertheless, they are defeated and destroyed. Claus is absent for the whole battle, just being told that they have perished.

Claus continues delivering toys to the children. However, he is now aided by two deer: Glossie and Flossie. The deer pull his sleigh which is full of toys. With them he can deliver much quicker than before, spending less time per chimney. It is with their help that Claus reaches the dominions of the Gnome King, who wants numerous toys for his own children. He trades a string of sleigh bells for each toy given by Claus.

In restriction of the deer’s service to a single day annually, their keeper and supervisor Wil Knook decides upon Christmas Eve. He believes this will mean a year without taking presents and taking the reindeer from their home. Yet, the fairies retrieve the toys that were previously stolen. This enables Claus to continue with his first Christmas as planned. Thus, the title Santa is attached to him.

‘Every man has his mission, which is to leave the world better, in some way, than he found it.

As time progresses and the journeys Claus takes increases, we see that the children start to leave stockings places by the fire. But not all leave stockings. He discovers a family of Native Americans living in a tent with no fireplaces. He decides to place the gifts on the branches of the trees just outside.

As Claus reaches older age, the immortals come to the realisation that he is approaching the end of his life. Necile, devastated, still sees him as the baby she adopted and cared for. They call a council, headed by Ak, Bo (Master Mariner of the World) and Kern (Master Husbandman of the World), with the Gnome King, the Queen of the Water Spirits, the King of the Wind Demons, the King of the Ryls, the King of the Knooks, the King of the Sound Imps, the King of the Sleep Fays, the Fairy Queen, Queen Zurline of the Wood Nymphs, and the King of the Light Elves with the Princes Flash and Twilight. It is here that they decide the fate of Santa Claus.

After much heated debate, they decide to grant Santa Claus immortality, just as the Spirit of Death arrives for him.

Everything perishes except the world itself and its keepers…But while life lasts everything on earth has its use. The wise seek ways to be helpful to the world, for the helpful ones are sure to live again.

By the end of the book, the immortal Santa Claus gathers more reindeer to help fly the sleigh. He also takes on four special deputies: Wisk the Fairy, Peter the Knook, Kilter the Pixie, and Nuter the Ryl. We hear how generations of children have received their presents from the beloved, Santa Claus.

Childhood is the time of man’s greatest content. ‘Tis during these years of innocent pleasure that the little ones are most free from care. […] Their joy is in being alive, and they do not stop to think. In after-years the doom of mankind overtakes them, and they find they must struggle and worry, work and fret, to gain the wealth that is so dear to the hearts of men.

Overview

Reflecting back on this book, I just feel a festive glow about me. The tale of Father Christmas/Santa Claus is one we’ve all grown up with. It’s universal and it’s where the extraordinary happens. It’s magical, it’s enchanting and it’s such an amazing thing when you’re younger. It’s having that belief that some jolly old man will come and deliver presents for those who have been good.

For me, the beauty of this book is it gives us an interpretation of Santa Claus. The notion of one person seeing the bad in the world and doing what they can to make it better. Toys bring the children happiness. This much is true of today too. I really like how it’s such a simple yet warmly read. It’s given me the festive feels for sure.

Wrap up warm everyone!!

Big love xx

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Filed under Book review, Read The Year Challenge, Reading

Christmas Eve

Hi everyone!

Happy Christmas Eve! I hope you’re all well and ready for the big day tomorrow. Christmas isn’t always a happy time for people. However, I hope everyone finds peace this festive period.

For me, Christmas is a time for family and close friends. The tree is up! The snowman is lighting the way. My dad is making sausage rolls as we speak. The last thing I needed to do is wish my wonderful followers a very Merry Christmas.

Also, I wanted to share 5 of my favourite quotes from a range of books for Christmas. Of course, you may have many of your own.

Firstly, Song of Years by Bess Streeter Aldrich. This one makes me feel quite warm and fuzzy!

“Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself around you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart…filled it, too, with melody that would last forever.”

Next is one from The Book Thief. This book has me in tears, I can’t deny that fact. This quote reminds me of the joy from simple things.

“It was the beginning of the greatest Christmas ever. Little food. No presents. But there was a snowman in their basement.”

I always find Dr Seuss humorous and fairly accurate. I can’t disagree again with his views on Christmas.

“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. The Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Clement Clarke Moore is always quoted. I personally love this poem. I read it every Christmas Eve.

”Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

My final quote is rather witty and fairly accurate for myself personally. Being as my wrapping paper is covered in it this year as well as last, it seems apt that I leave this till last. Taken from Eloisa James’s Paris in Love.

“I don’t want the Christmas season the end, because it’s the only time I can legitimately indulge in on a particular addiction: glitter.”

I’m feeling so festive and warm inside. That could be the mulled wine talking!

So Merry Christmas my lovelies! I wish you all the very best. Have the most wonderful day. Make some magical memories. Remember those who can’t be sat at our tables this year. Let’s have hearts that are quite full.

Big love xx

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A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens 

Hey everyone!

Happy December! I can’t believe we are 16 days into this month already. I hope you’re working your way through your advent calendars! My life has consisted of work and mock marking as well as the Christmas party last weekend (dare I say more!) This is the first Saturday where I’ve woken up and nothing really needs doing. I can have a slow, restful day. This evening I am off to see A Christmas Carol at the theatre and I truly cannot wait.  A Christmas Carol is also a GCSE text I’ve been teaching for the past few weeks. This seemed like a big enough sign and opportunity to review this well loved classic.

 

What’s it all about?

The novel begins on a cold, bleak Christmas Eve in Victorian London. The protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge, is a miserable, cold and hard character. He loathes Christmas and all those who celebrate it. His cheery, loveable nephew Fred invites him to Christmas dinner. He declines and ridicules Fred for enjoying the festive period. Two charity workers seek a donation to help the poor; Scrooge sends them away, epitomising the attitude of the upper classes of this period.

“If they would rather die, . . . they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

We also meet Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk, huddled over a tiny fire. He’s very much overworked and underpaid. Scrooge begrudgingly allows him Christmas Day off work, with pay to conform to social custom.

“If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”

Whilst at home that night, Scrooge is visited by Marley’s ghost. The omniscient narrator informs us that he was as ‘dead as a doornail’, he died 7 years prior. Marley’s ghost wanders the earth, imprisoned by heavy chains a money boxes created by a lifetime of greed and selfishness. Marley warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits. This is his one chance to avoid the same fate as Marley. However, his chains would be much longer and heavier.

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

The first sprint to visit Scrooge is the Ghost of Christmas Past. This ghost has long white hair and a smooth face. The ghost is dressed in a white tunic with a branch of holly in his hand. On top of its head is a bright flame.

It is here that Scrooge is taken on a journey to his childhood and the events leading to this point in time. Scrooge’s youth showed him a time when he was completely innocent. However, his childhood was a sad one. He was a lonely boy without any friends. He was left at school over the Christmas period. We see a visit from his beloved sister, Fan.

Scrooge did have some happiness in his youth. We meet Fezziwig, Scrooge’s first employer, who treated him like his own son. Work finished on Christmas Eve and they celebrated the festivities together. This reminder jolted Scrooge. He seemed shocked to see his former self.

Perhaps the saddest part of this stave is when Scrooge sees his former love, Belle. She ends their relationship because he is a changed man; he won’t ever love her as much as he loves money. Scrooge is shown Belle in the future, happily married and with a family. It’s a reminder of what Scrooge could have had.

Scrooge is then visited by the second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present. This ghost is quite a presence! He’s large but ages as the stave develops. He has long, dark, curly hair and wears a green robe with white fur. Arguably, this spirit is the most impressive.

This has to be my absolute favourite stave in the novel. The description is luscious and in abundance. Here we see joyous people preparing for Christmas. The Ghost takes Scrooge to see Fred’s Christmas party where all are having fun and enjoying each other’s company.

Most importantly, we are shown Christmas at the Cratchit’s house. Here we meet Tiny Tim, a lovely boy who is a cripple and the apple of Bob’s eye. Despite this, he is a happy child and loves his family greatly.

“He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”

The spirit informs Scrooge that unless the course of events change, then Tiny Tim will die. Christmas here is magical, the food is plenty for their family and they really enjoy their time together. They have little but to them it means the world.

These events really shock Scrooge. However, the spirit had not completed his journey. The spirit then shows Scrooge two hideous children: Ignorance and Want. Here Scrooge is given a stark warning, ‘beware them both.’ These children are a clear message from Dickens at the time. They reflect society and the lives of the poor during the Victorian period.

“They are Man’s and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance and 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.”

The third spirit that visits Scrooge is the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. It is this ghost that Scrooge fears the most. This spirit doesn’t speak. It’s dressed in a black cloak with the only feature we can see being his hand.

This spirit shows Scrooge a Christmas Day in the future. We are shown scenes of the death of a much disliked man. People seem to be quite happy. Local business men only wish to attend the funeral if a lunch is provided. We see a range of characters steal some of the dead mans possessions ready to sell them on. Scrooge enquirers if anyone was saddened by the death of this mean. The only happiness came from a very poor couple who were in debt to the man. His death meant that this couple would have more time to repay their debt and get their finances in order.

The ghost then moves to show the Cratchit’s house. Here the family are mourning the loss of Tiny Tim, echoing the warning from the earlier ghosts. This part of the novel utterly breaks my heart.

The final thing the spirit shows Scrooge is a neglected grave. Scrooge realises that this is his own. Sobbing and emotionally drained, Scrooge promises to change his ways to avoid this future.

In the final stage, Scrooge wakes up on Christmas Day. He is a reformed and changed man. He decides to see Fred and celebrate the day with him. Naturally Fred accepts him with open arms. He anonymously sends the largest prize turkey to the Cratchit house, giving the boy a crown for doing so.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

The following day Bob arrives late for work. Scrooge plays a trick on him which makes it seem like he is going to give Bob the sack. What he really does is give Bob a pay rise. He also becomes a second father to Tiny Tim.

It is from this point that Scrooge treats everyone kindly, compassionately. He’s clearly learnt from the warnings given throughout the novel. The novel ends with the words of Tiny Tim.

“God bless us, every one!”

 

Overview

This novel is pure magic. Everyone has the opportunity to change, just like Scrooge. Despite being over a hundred years old, this novel still carries the same message today. Dickens wanted society to learn from their mistakes, to see what they were doing to the poor. We have a lot to thank him for. You’ll see that each chapter is written in staves, continuing the musical element from the title. Dickens wanted this to be read aloud. I love teaching it because I feel like I’m doing exactly what Dickens wanted: spreading his message far and wide and embracing Christmas with my whole heart.

So, my message is clear: keep on jingling and spreading that Christmas cheer.

Big love

Xx

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Filed under Book review, Christmas, Victorian Lit

It’s Christmas Eve!! 

Hey everyone!

What a day to make yet another comeback. I can’t believe it’s Christmas Eve. I’m not quite ready (not my style at all!) 

So, I want to wish you all a very festive, peaceful and lovely time of year. Enjoy the next two days. Fill them with love! 

To spread the love further, I’ve included some of my favourite Christmas quotes from the Penguin Twitter feed. Lovely! 









Aren’t they amazing? Thanks Penguin. 

All that’s left is to share with you the obligatory Christmas tree lights of Stratford. Enjoy! 


Have a great one guys! 

Big love to all xx

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The Night Before Christmas – Clement C Moore

  

 
Happy Christmas Eve everyone! Or, if it is Christmas already where you are, merry Christmas! 

It seems like a perfect time to firstly, wish all my lovely followers and stoppers- by a very, merry Christmas and also to review a very festive poem. The Night Before Christmas brought so much joy to my life as a youngster. I just read it again, being as it’s Christmas Eve. It still brings me joy today and I just feel so excited. Everything is ready for the big day tomorrow! 

Onto the poem:

The poem tells the story of a Christmas Eve night. A father awakens to noises outside his own house, whilst his wife and children slept. 

”Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’

He looks out the window to see St. Nicholas in his sleigh being pulled along by eight reindeers. If only this was real life!! 

‘When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.’

St. Nicholas lands his beloved sleigh on the roof. He enters the house through the chimney, carrying a sack of toys and gifts with him. 

‘His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!’

The father observes St. Nicholas filling the children’s stocking, which were hanging by the family fire place. He laughs to himself. He notes specifically how he looks. It’s clear to see how the iconic image of Santa has originated over time. 

‘He had a broad face and a little round belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.’

The men share a private moment together, before St. Nicholas heads off up the chimney again. As he flies away with his reindeer he exclaims:

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

The magic created in this short poem, which has been reprinted with various illustrations, is really rather special. There is a reason why it has lasted so many years and has been a feature of many Christmases around the globe. Can you believe it’s nearly 200 years old?! 

I’m not old enough or proud enough to admit that I still find it enchanting. The rhyme makes it easy to follow the poem and experience the feelings expressed by both father and St. Nicholas. It boasts atmosphere, excitement and enjoyment, all the things I hope your Christmases have! 

So, to all my wonderful friends and followers, I’m sending my festive love and well wishes to all. 

Big love x

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Filed under Book review, Christmas, Poetry

The Frankfurt German Christmas Market in Birmingham 2015

Hey guys!

Today I braved the rain to visit the German Christmas Market in Birmingham with my lovely parents. I got lucky this year because normally my parents go without me! 

Despite the rain pouring, it still felt so Christmassy and jolly. The stalls really do look beautiful. Birmingham’s Victoria Square is transformed for a magical Christmas. 

  

The dazzling lights coloured the ever gloomy skies… 

  
  

Of course, there is always a big wheel to see the best of Birmingham from a height. (Although I’m sure the current building works cloud the view a little!)

  

Victoria Square really did look stunning – history paired with the magic of Christmas. 

  

Finally, an outing to a German Christmas market isn’t complete without a mug of mulled wine. I adored the cute cups as well! 

  

So, I completely loved it. The music, the lights, the food, the wine. All Christmassy and wonderful, made all the more special because I was with my family. 

  

Nevertheless, Christmas is galloping along and I’m still not quite ready! Mind you, are we ever completely ready for it?! 

Big love and festive cheer! X 

 

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Filed under Christmas, Days Out, Photography

12 Days of Christmas Blogging: Day 2

Evening! 

Time for Day 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas Blogging extravaganza! Thanks again to Amy & Curiouser and Curiouser and Laura @ Lala’s Book Reviews for nominating me. 
The Rules:

  • Include the photo below in each blog post
  • You may start at any point in December
  • Use the topic supplied for the post of that day
  • Make sure all posts are in December, but they don’t have to be posted consecutively (lets face it it’s a busy time)
  • Nominate 3 people after each blog to start the challenge
  • Have fun!

  

  

Day 2: My favourite tradition new or old.

My tradition is more of a family tradition. I don’t think that’s against the rules?! Well, I’m going for it nonetheless! 

Anyway, the tradition we have as a family surrounds the Christmas Eve run. We’ve been doing this ever since I can remember and the pattern has rarely changed in the past 20 odd years. 

Christmas Eve is an exciting day. It’s the day where everything is brought together ready for the BIG day. We wake up relatively early, with a list of jobs to be completed as long as my arm. The first thing we do is load the car with all the presents for my grandparents. The first stop is the grandparents. We swap presents, have a quick cuppa and a mince pie. We talk about our plans for tomorrow, and consult with the TV guide, noting the number of repeats usually! 

From then we head towards the turkey farm to collect our bird for tomorrow. It’s always a bit eerie there because it’s so quiet. The turkeys we’ve been driving past every weekend have suddenly gone… One lovely thing is the family hasn’t changed. I remember when one lady was pregnant. It dawned on me last year that that little baby actually processed my payment and gave me my bird. He must be a teenager now. I felt old for a second… 

This then leads us to the next stop which is my other grandparents house. We swap presents, eat 20+ homemade sausage rolls and more mince pies, drink more tea and recheck the TV times, noticing especially when the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special is on. (The food is always better here because my grandma is an excellent baker.)

We haul ourselves out of the sofa and head off into the dark towards home. My mum nags at my dad to have the Rod Stewart Christmas CD on as we drive along. Once home, we put the presents around the tree, watch whatever Christmas programmes are on, bath and get ready for bed. Depending on work commitments, my best friend usually pops round for a quick present swap and catch up. 

The Christmas Eve run is quite tiring, but writing all this up has really made me feel a)homesick and b) excited that I can do this again very soon. It’s those little traditions, that are personal to you, that make Christmas so magical. The smiles, the laughs, the hugs…

  

I’m jingling my bells all the way to:

Erika @ Bookventureland

Melanie Noell Bernard

Arec @ Rainy Thursday’s 
Like usual, feel free to take part or ignore if you’re busy! 

Big love xx

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