Sunday, 20 December 2009

Time For A Story

It's the last Sunday evening before Christmas. Here at High In The Sky we are looking out at the gathering clouds and drawing the curtains against the night to come. We are searching out candles to give a soft glow against the flickering of the Christmas tree, and curling up on the sofa in front of the fire. It is time for a story.

At times like this, when I was a little girl, my mother would reach for her copy of  Wind In The Willows- the one with the thick, creamy pages and the the yellow cover which always, always felt dusty - and she would turn to the chapter called "Dulce Domum", Home Sweet Home; and tell us how Mole found his way back to his old house in time for Christmas:
"this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could be always be counted upon for the same simple welcome."

When I was a little older, I chose to read for myself the wonderfully festive scenes in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. How Pa carved a beautiful shelf as a gift for Ma; how Laura and the cousins played snow angels; how very little became more than enough for Laura, snug with her family in the neat log cabin tucked away in the woods.

It was as a grown up that I discovered Shirley Hughes' wonderful Lucy and Tom's Christmas - in a tiny, shiny, little hardcover edition. It's a children's story. Traditional, nostalgic, timeless, I think, I love it just as much now as ever I could as a child. The gentle, knowing tale of Lucy and Tom's preparations for the Big Day (the paper chains, the Salvation Army Band, the nativity) is everything we want to remember and all the things we want to pass on rolled into one. Excited children, crotchety children, delighted children - the kind of story we can all recognise even if the scenery is a little different. It's been around for some years now (but then I think lots of the best Christmas books have) and Lucy and Tom are probably letting middle age catch up with them in real life. That doesn't matter because, every Christmas, just like the rest of us they can be children again. And that's magic.

Time for another one? Maybe just one more story before bed? Some of my blogging friends have suggestions for you too and they'd be happy for you to pull up a chair over at theirs. You can visit:


And before I go I'd like to say a big hello to the incredibly talented  Sasha and to any of her blog readers who jumped over here thanks to her link. She's going to start doing blog makeovers soon so if you're looking for an expert she might just be the girl.


Lizzie said...

Lovely Sian! I haven't read all the books in the Little House series, but I do remember reading at least one. I also saw some of the tv programmes.
Love Shirley Hughes and all her books. She's one of those authors who really gets inside a child's point of view and makes it real.
And I remember deal little Mole and his delight at returning home after all his adventures.

Thanks for stirring up a few Christmas Book memories for me!

JO SOWERBY said...

ah u've reminded of the time when my dad read to me a chapter of wind in the willows every night when i was about 6. it was a really special time because i could read very well and not long after that i would read to myself. i have read numerous shirley hughes books to a very gorgeous man of 6yrs old who would demand story after story ..........sometimes 9 in a row. Our fave was Aliwns love underpants. It's brilliant.
I also loved the LIW books and have a copy of her later life as well which goes into hers and Almonzo's marriage.
Jo xxx

Ann said...

Oh what lovely childhood memories. I too love the chapter of Mole getting home for Christmas.
I'm reading a more adult Christmas story at the moment and I'm really enjoying it and eeking it out as long as I can! It's 'The Gift' by Cecelia Ahern - her writing is so descriptive you can almost imagine yourself there.

melissa said...

this blog train is such a clever idea! I can't wait to check out all of the books that will be mentioned.

When I was a young girl I used to get lost in the the Little House books for hours and hours. Great choices :)

Maria Ontiveros said...

So sorry I missed out on this blog train. My all time favorite is A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas . . . I used to have a copy with big wood cuts and loved it.

When the kids were little, we used to read the Henry & Mudge Christmas book to them.

And thanks for the reminder on Shirley Hughes. We never saw the Tom books, but we loved a different series she didd.

Thanks for the memories!

Abi said...

oooh, I LOVE the little house series. Have you read Farmer boy. It's Laura telling the story of Almanzo's life! It's so good! I also love the christmas book you have chosen. the pictures are beautiful aren't they! thanks for joining in! xxxx

scrappyjacky said...

I still have my copy of 'Lucy and Tom's Christmas'...I love this book and read it to my kids every year when they were little.

Lauren said...

This is soooooo sweet! It makes my heart smile!

Amy said...

Ahhhh, The Wind In The Willows - is there anything better? We have been reading this to our 6 year old and he is absolutely transfixed!
For a moment I really did imagine myself curled up by the fire with you Sian - your writing is so evocative - thank you for a wonderful review :-)

humel said...

I cry at Mole returning home every time I re-read it :-)

You know, I don't think I've ever read Lucy and Tom's Christmas! I shall remedy that as soon as possible! x

catrin said...

I loved those stories, thankyou for reminding me that I need to be passing such enjoyment on to the next generation

Sasha Holloway said...

you are too sweet girl .. and you are more than welcome .. ;o)

humel said...

PS Tag! my recipe is up - can't wait to see yours :-)

Anna said...

I loved the Little House books so much that I decided that if I ever had a daughter when I grew up, I'd call her Laura ...
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas :)

Fun Mama - Deanna said...

Little House in the big Woods is one of my favorite Christmases in literature too. I also love the opening Christmas in Little Women.

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