Christmas Books

Death of Christopher Hitchens on Back Porch

It be 6 somethin' in the mornin' an' homemade muffins is a bakin' in the oven--healthy of course ( oatmeal, pear nectar, applesauce, ground flaxseed, safflower oil, natural sugar, nutmeg, walnuts). Uncle is still abed, the house be quiet as a mouse. I luvs 'dat.

The tree lights are on, so neighbors leavin' home at dawn-thirty will be cheered. I'se cheered--the trees is up, the mantles are draped in mixed greens an' pine cones... an' more or less, the house be decently cleaned. (my piles of books an papers locked in the
one room whar' no one can ever go)

Camellias is a bloom, an the kumquat tree will yield its pixie fruit jes' in time to add some Florida flair to table on Christmas Eve.

The first cup o' cawfee is at mah elbow, an' I'll spend the next hour readin' the assigned story for The Book Club what meets today at our annual Christmas luncheon. I'se giddy as a kid, bustlin' around wrappin' their little gifts, thinkin' how odd we is--this very diverse gaggle of ole' geese who done managed to stick together through thick an' thin--an we's had some thin: cancer, lost husbands, lost professorships, lost political influence..but somehow what remains is the women underneath.

The Book Club is the longest runnin' one--I has two others--an' had we'uns known we'd be meetin' fer more'n 22 years we'd appointed us an historian. Afore computers, we had only our calendars to remind us of what we'uns read an when...in the days afore Amazon.com, when we wuz patrons of the library an' independent bookstores...or even raided our mama's shelves, an' combed used book emporiums fer oldie goldies. I ain't been in public library in over a decade (university libraries be an exception), but I does still git lightheaded wif' excitement when a trip to an ole bookshop is planned.

Over the years we's read an array of Christmas themed stories--not all are memorable. The past few years we's been workin' our way through
Christmas Stories by the South's Best Writers.

Lemme own up to one thang, all Southern writers ain't equal. Peter Taylor is a "best" but Pat Conroy ain't made it past sentimental swill. Neither is in this volume. I does recall the memories of a young Truman Capote in another book.

Over the years The Book Club done read
A Child's Christmas in Wales, The Very Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Mr. Ives Christmas, various Christmas themed cookbooks,
Christmas Angels, Ferrol Sam's The Christmas Gift....too many books to recall.

But the Christmas story that sticks in mah mind the most is by Taylor Caldwell. I'd read her
Captains and Kings as a youngster, then waded through Prologue to Love. Long ago I kept her book, The Listener, on mah bedside table fer an entire year. I can highly recommend it.

But on the clan gatherin' fer Christmas Eve we always read a selection from our much thumbed, ragged anthology,
Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book.

Thar's stories by Twain, Alcott, good ole Shakespeare an' Dickens, poetry by Frost, Ogden Nash an' Auden. Best of all, it contains Caldwell's "My Christmas Miracle." *
We doan read it every year, but Aunty do...I slip off on an late afternoon afore Christmas an' read this story. It ain't gooey, but it gits to me. It sets me right even when I'se worriet that thangs ain't turnin' out right fer Christmas. Ya' might say it realigns mah perspective some.

An' it reminds me to acknowledge folks who has been kind to me durin' the year. This year, I has a pair of young men to send a "remembrance" to--both doctors who went long past "professional competence" durin' Granny's last few months. These men were heroic within' themselves, not as doctors, but as fellow human beings who could do somethin' better than wuz standard--an' they did so: cheerful souls wif' a genuine belief in the importance of the sanctity of every minute of life. These men were gifts to us--an unexpected miracle.

Does y'all have a favorite Christmas story or book? Please share yore mostest best wif' us'uns.

* A copy of Caldwell's story can be read here.


chickory said...

I love that old gaggle of geese that stuck together...and your luncheon today! What fun. Glad your festive trimmings are up and you can have fun now. I wish I could be finished. Im hoping now for Monday. Pray for me.

I like Carls Christmas...it features a Rottweiler who watches over a baby while the parents are out - he plays Santa. No words. Perfect.

Merry Merry to you Aunty.

Jenny said...

I love early morning when things are quiet and the day is just starting. I wish I lived next door to you because I'd be knocking on your door to help you "share" those muffins!

I'm glad you're cheered and think our groups/gaggles are what sustain us as we get older and people begin to scatter and 22 years is an amazing amount of time. Wow. Have fun today.

As for a book..... I don't have one. Why is that?

moi said...

I like my early, early mornings to myself as well. And I love to watch the sun rise. Those days we get out with the dogs just as dawn cracks, there are a few brilliant moments when the sun first rises that it lights every tree in the forest a bright, brilliant red, as if everything is on fire. That is an amazing time.

Like Boxer, I don't have a favorite Christmas book, so I'll have to check out a few you named.

Glad to hear you're catching yourself some Christmas spirit!

Karl said...

Good afternoon Aunty Belle,

If it's neat to have a group to get together with being together 22 years you've kind of made your own bit of history.

I think it's interesting that you haven't been a public library. I remember your concerns about people that hang out there. But I go there all the time and I can't remember the last time I was in a bookstore. Other than Amazon.

Enjoy your weekend.

darkfoam said...

I have a favorite Christmas story! Robert Barry's "Mr Willoughby's Christmas Tree". I absolutely adored that book as a child.

It's been years since I've baked muffins. I used to do so regularly. Your muffins sounds divine.

22 year old book club? Several years ago I read "The Book Club" (I think that's what it was called). Reckon you all will hang in there that long?

fishy said...

What a treasure to have a 22 year history with one book club. That is a present I am certain you each treasure.

I am an early morning person. This is the one time in a day I belong to me. Not to others or obligations or expectations. Of course, I could be convinced to share now and again with a woman offering just baked muffins...

We have a copy of "Illustrated Stories for Christmas" which was published in Stuart, Florida in 1986 as a Christmas present to the clients of Southeastern Printing Company. One of the stories is the
"Singling Miracle". Do you know this story of the silent little brown bird? She was in her nest when disturbed by a bright light and the sound of angels singing. Since that first Christmas, on some nights, you can hear a Nightingale sing the song the angels taught, " Glory to God in the highest; Peace on earth, good will to men."

Then too there is the
Miracle of the dead stick
Miracle of the sheepdog
Light Giving Miracle and
Fire Miracle.

I read them all, every year.

Blessings on your Christmas Book Club gathering and how sweet of you to share your joyful anticipation. Peace be with you!

Sharon Rudd said...

Dear Aunty,

My new favorite Christmas tale is this here post of yours. Lovely in so many ways.

Hope you had a fine luncheon with your gaggle of Old Book Club geese. Reminds me of a couple of gaggles of my own that used to share special holiday celebrations. Alas, the gal who was the glue of both groups has been gone nearly nine years now (taken from us much too young). Our traditions have fallen off – partly because she’s gone, partly because our own diversity has us caring for kids, grandkids, aging parents, aging grandparents, and even wayward kitties, and partly because the realities of an unkind economy have put a crimp on our rendezvousing somewhere in the middle of the state for a weekend of fun and frivolity.

But new friendships emerge. And I am most grateful for yours. Thanks for your kindnesses and storytelling through the past year, and looking forward to more.

xoxo and happy holidays,

Doom said...

I've grown out of Christmas stories and movies. I've gone back to bible study, related to Christmas. Oh, boring and too stodgy for some, but therein lies the only tales that count for me these days.

Pam said...

Yummm, butter me up a muffin, will you? That is fantastic about your long-meeting book club. Would love to hear more about this group and can imagine Aunty having a good description going on each of the members! :) Re Christmas books, I don't have a special one either, surprisingly enough. Movies yes. Books, no. Except for the Good Book, don'tchaknow.

Aunty Belle said...


Oh yeees, we's DEFINITELY a gaggle o' geese. One goose even wore a hat (NOT a red hat). The onliest hat in the room.

Ha Carl's Christmas--at first I thought ya mean KARL's Christmas--went to look--no rottie thar', then I knowed--an' found yore book--ahahaha!

Merry Merry to ya' Pup!


I'se savin' yore muffin--come on down (it be hun'ert percent veggie muffin). 22 years is a long run--the one thang thats' the common denominator is that we's all bookish. We's all over the map in most all other categories.

Boxer-Babbe, ya' got git a Christmas book--adds to the whole experience--I'se goona start a poll fer ya:
What book should Boxer git fer Christmas??

Aunty Belle said...

Moi, Cherie!

I can fully git that youse a early mornin' lady--why when I see the time of some of yore comments I think yore middle name is ROOSTER. But--the sunrise is reason enough to throw off the covers.

I'se addin' ya' to the book poll:

Wait!! Better yet, we'll WRITE us a book fer Boxer an' Moi!


Aunty Belle said...

Hi Karl, Sir Fair!

did'ja see I thought Chick9 meant OUR Karl, afore I unnerstood her Carl were a chile's book? heh.

Well, now I HAS been in school libraries---an' can I admit heah that I'se amazed ya recall a comment I made eons back about the hang-ers out-ers at mah local library? yikes. Better watch what I say!!

This 22 year ole group is a bit of our collective histories--Uncle even appears a mite jealous:
"why does ya git so excited over this hen party?"
Why same reason ya cain't wait to git to the huntin' camp, I reckon. ('cept we doan eat gators an frogs).

Good Sir Karl, please come help at Ether Capacious.


Oh oh! a new book--Now I MUST acquire a copy of Mr. Whilloghby.

Mebbe the title of the book ya's got in mind is AND LADIES Of THE CLUB--great book. I take encouragement from the fact it be written by a woman in her 80s!!

Foamy--please come help--Ether capacious.


Yep, our gaggle is a great treasure--know as such mostly by our ownselves!!

That book of yores sounds perfect--a book of miracle stories--what a collection.

I'se hopin' to see yore assistance at Ether Capacious!


" An' the gal who was the glue..."

Ya know what--thas' such a tgrue statement! Some folks say they ain't got talent--they doan sing, or cook, or paint, or make money or sew...but they's good glue. THey hold thangs together--I knows folks jes' like that!

I is blusin' to think youse had good moments on the Porch--an' I hopes to post more stories in the comin' year--thanky fer yore sweet words--I wish a new group fer ya' Eggy--thas' may Christmas wish fer ya'.

Please come add to the fun at Ether Capacious--we NEED ya!

Aunty Belle said...


Howdy...I hear ya on the GOOD BOOK. Thas' the best plan--stick to the original. I luvs to find the echoes of it in history--like how St. Nick is real: St. Nicolas of Myra--wuz the bishop of Myra (modern day Turkey) an' he knowed poor girls wif' no dowries wuz often given to yucky fellas--so St. Nicolas would put sack of money down their chimneys--dowries so the poor girls could marry into decent conditions.

Doom--please come add yore own charm to the goings on at Ether Capacious.


Oooh, wif GranBoy ya' can start a fine Christmas book collection!!

As fer the descriotions of the booky ladies? heh...I jes' might--oooh thas' some good fodder.
BUT, I know to be uber careful, wif' details as PAMOKC is Quite a sleuth.

Invitin' ya to come round to Ehter Capacious to help make us'uns some real good fufn!!

LaDivaCucina said...

Aunty, I've emailed you twice, one with recipes attached, please check! Merry Christmas! xo

Aunty Belle said...

La Diva!! Youse a dream!!
Thanky so much!

Doom said...

The first Santa I knew about was a man named W┼Źden. There probably was such a man, too. Perhaps it was a title as well. He traveled the country, connecting king (and maybe gods, as a pagan traveling priest of sorts) through his country. He never neglected to bring small treats and toys to the children as he carried out his tasks. The myth goes on to him either becoming, or joining with some others to become, Oden.

Never mind. Just that Santa has lived many lives, through other men. His spirit was here long before we even have historic records. It depends on what myths or stories or history you read, I suppose.

Oh, I'll have to figure out what you have asked me to add to. Thanks for the invite. Southern hospitality seems to know no bounds! :p

Aunty Belle said...

hey--thanky fer the Woden history--I din't know he were a santa figure.

I'se invitin' ya to add to our Christmas Book. Please go to

or click the Ether Capacious link on the post page of the Front Porch--come join the fun!!

BlazngScarlet said...

I too love the early morning.
It's my time to myself, the dawning of a new day .... a fresh start!

I surely do wish I had kumquats for my table ... I miss them.

Enjoy your Holidays Aunty! =)

czar said...

Well, not exactly a book, but I've wept at A Charlie Brown Christmas for most of the last 45 years -- the first two or three seemingly at my aunt's house, while they were off doing Hanukkah stuff.

Early mornings are a crapshoot around here. Sometimes people are still up. We run a 24-hour shop at chez czar, especially when our younger issue is at home. He generally wakes for the day around 3 or 4 p.m. and sees what happens from there. I've had him laboring for the last 20-something hours in czar's workshop. Ah, Christmas.

czar said...

PS: I wish there were a good university library near here. Public libraries these days are encouraged as community centers. I'd just as soon people congregate at libraries as anywhere, if they'd keep quiet.

Doom said...

Goodie! Your back! *big hug* Isn't that spooky though? *shivers down spine* Ugh!

Aunty Belle said...


Youse on the mend?? yea!! I'd send ya some kumquats iffin' I could.


Charlie Brown?? Why, ya know what, that fits--heh, really I can see that .

Yore mornin' routine seems normal fer folks wif young adults..this too shall pass.


Thanky==whew! It done been a hair-pullin' time, I can tell ya'.

AN' I needed a cyber hug--thanky so much.