"Old Christmas"

Old Christmas by Washington Irving

Full of charm - and wonderful sketches - this little book is a collection of observances about Christmas in England many years ago. It begins with the authour rambling a bit about Christmas and how it has changed, then he meets up with a friend, and having no other plans, agrees to join him and his family for Christmas.

The family live in a large manor house where the Christmas gathering includes people of all ages. The Christmas Eve celebrations are described - from the children's games to the grown-ups toasting each other over the wassail bowl - then the next chapter talks about Christmas morning and another details the Christmas feast.

I tend to leave books I like quite marked up and I found lots to underline in Old Christmas:

On society...  "The World has become more worldly. There is more of dissipation and less of enjoyment. Pleasure has expanded into a broader but a shallower stream, and has forsaken many of those deep and quiet channels where it flowed sweetly through the calm bosom of domestic life."

On Christmas..."It is, indeed, the season of regenerated feeling - the season for rekindling, not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, but the genial flame of charity in the heart."

On family..."It was the policy of the good old gentleman to make his children feel that home was the happiest place in the world; and I value this delicious home-feeling as one of the choicest gifts a parent can bestow."

As good as those are, my favourite quote comes from the last ten lines of the book...but I'll leave you to discover that for yourself. 

This is a treasure of a book. I never get tired of reading it, it's such a pleasure. I class it with "A Child's Christmas In Wales" and "A Christmas Carol" and I think that's probably the best recommendation I can give it!


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