It’s Christmas! Finally, it really really is! Sort of! Maybe!
I’m writing surrounded by decorations because we’ve decided we’re ready to fill every available space with things festive and sparkly. My reading habits haven’t quuiiite caught up yet – I’m currently reading Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton, which is not (afaik) a Christmassy read – but I am 100% pumped for the most wonderful time of the year.
One of the biggest reasons I love Christmas and Advent is that it’s a time of year that poetry and song are given the amount of reverence they deserve. Whatever your religious affiliation, round about now we’re celebrating being halfway out of the dark. It’s cold outside, so we gather to tell stories and make music. There is something so powerful about that sentiment.
As writers and as readers, we appreciate the sentiment especially keenly.
I love material goods as much as the next person living and working in a capitalist society, but there’s a lot more behind my irrepressible love of Christmas than the gift-giving and receiving. I put out all the Christmas children’s non-fiction stock a few weeks ago, and in our selection is The Oxford Book of Christmas Poems. I took it to read in the staffroom and found myself embarrassingly tearing up. Ring out, wild bells by Alfred, Lord Tennyson gives me a lot of feelings, probably due to its setting by Karl Jenkins in The Armed Man. There are countless others that move me with their words of hope and anticipation and love. Christmas makes poetry mainstream! Why isn’t poetry mainstream all year round?
And then there are the prose Christmases we’ve shared along with fictional characters. I find it difficult to imagine Christmas without the Stantons (from Susan Cooper’s classic The Dark is Rising), and who hasn’t spent a handful of holidays at Hogwarts? I feel like, with the obvious exception of My True Love Gave To Me (which I somehow haven’t read?!) we don’t have many Christmas themed stories in YA, and that is a gap that needs plugging, if you ask me. Recommendations welcomed.
Reading boosts empathy and creativity, and the Christmas season is the perfect time to be exercising both of those. I hope that, like me, you find time to snuggle under blankets and enjoy some stories during the holidays.