Well, I'm sorry I missed wishing you all a Merry Christmas last week. I was very sick with a bad cold for most of it. It was all I could do to get the Christmas dinner cooked and not just give up and go to bed! It was very quiet, as we all had variations of this cold. I was the last one sick with it, and the longest - not boasting, this is what having a chronic illness does to me.
At long last, yesterday I began to feel better, and today I was able to go outside without that special wheeze I get when I'm sick. I'm well enough to blog again, which is also a relief after making a valiant attempt to blog every day for the Christmas month. I enjoyed it, so I'm planning on continuing to blog every day if I can.
I don't have any lists done yet for this past year. However I do have two happy things for you:
1) my pile of book goodness (presents) from this past week. Included are books from my box of books to myself:
Still Writing - Dani Shapiro
The Explorer - James Smythe
The Echo - James Smythe
All Mortal Flesh - Julia Spencer-Fleming
I Shall Not Want - " " "
Through the Evil Days - " " "
City of Dragons - Robin Hobb
Blackout - Mira Grant
The Heist - Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
The Year of Reading Dangerously - Andy Miller
The Dark Lord of Derkholm - Diana Wynne Jones
Reflections on the Art of Writing - " " "
Young Woman in a Garden - Delia Sherman
Highfell Grimoires - Langley Hyde
Autumn, All the Cats Return - Philippe Georget
Ghost Girl - Lesley Thomson
A very lucky book reader, I think. Very grateful to be reading a little more now, as time goes and I begin to heal.
2) I READ A BOOK THIS PAST WEEK!!!!!!!!!! Yes, a heavenly chorus is singing hallelujah.....and no pun, the book was Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis.
A quick review: 8 stories are included in this collection. They all feature Christmas, whether the season, or in the case of Inn and Epiphany, taking elements of the religious story of Christmas and retelling it with a modern twist. Both are among my favourites in this collection. Now, you may be wondering how I as a pagan can read Christian fiction and like it. It's simple. I was raised a Catholic, and no matter how far in the spiritual world I go, those stories I first heard are part of me. So when the story of Mary and Joseph is retold so poignantly (and brilliantly) in Inn, with some kind of time hole opening so that Mary and Joseph are there at the church in modern day USA, in the middle of winter, dressed for the desert, it takes kindness and charity for someone to take them in and find them back on their path. The ending made me cry. This is the spirit of the this time of year.
In Epiphany, Mel is already on the road. He is a pastor, who upped and left his church when in the middle of a sermon about not knowing when Christ will come again, he has the strongest feeling that Jesus has already arrived, is here, and waiting for people to find Him. Even though he is Presbysterian and so not supposed to have epiphanies or visions, he cannot shake the intense feeling that he must go, right then, and head west. Even though he does not know what he is looking for, or whom, or what signs, he starts driving. Along the way he keeps seeing fair rides on the backs of trucks. And he stops to help one of them who has run by accident off the road, because it is just after Christmas and everything in Iowa is icy with snow and storms and fog. Then he meets a woman who keeps turning up wherever he is, who is driving west, and then another person....to say any more would be to ruin the sweet nature of this gentle story. It is another modern version of part of the holy story of the birth of Jesus/Christmas, and so well done that I didn't catch on until near the end. He does have a bout of doubt, and I found that I did not want him to quit his quest to keep looking for the coming of Jesus (or arrival). There is something about faith that I want to see rewarded, and this story is about that.
Miracle is about the film 'Miracle on 34th St' versus 'It's a Wonderful Life'. Everyone in the story but two people love 'It's A Wonderful Life', the other two people loving 'Miracle on 34th St'. Of course, the girl who loves 'Miracle on 34th St' doesn't love the guy who also loves it, she wants someone else who loves 'It's a Wonderful Life'. It takes the special humour and tricks from her guardian angel to show her her true love. With lots of the little scenes and dialogues that make Connie Willis's writing so delightful for me.
These are my three favourites from the 8 stories, followed by Newsletter which is hilarious as a young woman finds something strange is happening to people when they suddenly begin wearing hats in the weeks before Christmas. Are they being taken over by aliens? I had read this story in another collection before, and it is just as good in the reread. Willis has an ear for dialogue, comical scenes, and wry comments that make me burst out laughing time and again. It was so good to laugh this Christmas, and I have a feeling I have a Christmas collection to reread for every holiday season now.
5/5 Perfect for Christmas
Relief that I read a book for Christmas: priceless
Dr Who Christmas Special
Oh, and I have to say: Wasn't that Doctor Who Christmas Special wonderful? I loved it. Dark, scary, funny, brilliant. One of the best Christmas specials ever for Dr Who. A dream within a dream within a.....featuring Santa, Rudolph, and scary dream creatures. LOVED it. How do you wake yourself up from a dream?
So, may I wish you a belated Merry Christmas, and be the first to wish you happy preparations for the new year. It's almost 2015!