In November, a happy little elf whispered Santa Claus’ address to me. The next morning, I sat and wrote my letter to Santa. I was honest. I explained that I was no longer a ‘little one’, but regardless of age, I still believe in the magic of Santa.
The lady at the local post office stared at me when I asked for postage ensuring the quickest delivery. I assume she doesn’t believe in the magic of Santa!
Today, his reply arrived in a colourful envelope. Part of the letter was printed but then he’d written a lengthy message on the reverse. Santa loves the fact that I’m no longer a ‘little one’. He praised me for being ‘young at heart’ and thanked me for the annual offering of a glass of milk and a mince pie on Christmas Eve!
I am a happy little girl!
There's a moment at New Year which every bookworm with a reading app adores ... setting your reading goal! It’s the little things in life which brings me the most pleasure and setting 'this' annual target is one such moment. As I look at my bookcase of ‘to-be-read’ books - yes, I'll admit to having an overflowing bookcase awaiting my attention - I spy the books which have been patiently waiting for many years. I think of it as a wine cellar in book form!
I'm a ‘normal’ reader, by which I mean my annual reading goal is a moderate target of 25. I read for pleasure, just as I did as a tiny child. I religiously spend part of each day within the pages of a book, as a way to escape from this world and its troubles. I'm certainly not a professional reader who can skim read a book in three hours and manage 364 books a year! Instead, I savour the language, the descriptions, the characters' dialogue and lose myself within the plot.
One habit I wish to break this coming year is my tendency to have multiple reading books on the go. I have a poetry book on my desk, a reading book in the lounge and another beside my bed. I always have a non-fiction study book too. I’ll continue with the poetry book and study book being near my desk, as I’m usually early for daily on-line meetings. My reading book simply needs to travel around the house with me. I doubt the annual number of books read will alter but my overall enjoyment might.
This year, my intention is to revert back to my ‘Classic’ reads with the odd smattering of modern books and autobiographies, alongside my treasured Agatha Christie novels.
I also listen to audio books whilst walking, cooking or gardening though I don’t count these in my annual reading book tally.
During 2023, I succumb to several ‘best seller – must reads’ only to be left deflated and utterly baffled by their popularity. Another problem is my insistence that I always finish a reading book – it has to be pretty dire for me to ‘not finish’. I don’t always review a book if I didn’t like it but I do always analyse the contents trying to figure out what the fuss was about? Maybe this issue needs addressing too! Mmmm, one issue at a time my thinks.
P.S. - if you know me in real-life, you probably laughed on seeing the number of pages read! I certainly did!
For me, Christmas officially begins at home on Christmas Eve. All preparations such as gift wrapping, delivery drop-offs to friends, food shopping or last-minute bulk buying of big bottles of Bailey’s liqueur has to be completed by the 23rd. If it hasn’t crossed the doorstep by that date - I can live without it!
Such measures came into play after ‘lockdown’, when I admitted that my love of Christmas was being ruined by the corporate marketing teams and their seasonal guilt-tripping. I refused to buy into their reinvention of my Christmas. I was happy with the tried and trusted family traditions, so I made a stance! I stole back my Christmas from the corporate Grinches – along with one additional tradition especially for Christmas Eve!
Two years ago, I’d learnt about the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod (meaning the Christmas Book Flood) where families present each other with a festive book and spend the evening embracing the ‘togetherness’ of reading whilst cosy and warm, accompanied by lashings of hot chocolate! I have whole heartedly nabbed and extended this tradition to fill the entire day!
Christmas Eve in my house is now a snuggly reading day, of self-care and seasonal pampering, in preparation for the big day. It’s no coincidence that I feast entirely on mince pies, stollen, Turkish delight and the big Bailey’s gets cracked open!
This year, I’ve purchased two Christmas books ready for my ‘Jolabokaflod’ reading fest. Both books are by authors who I trust to deliver the ingredients I need in a true Christmas story. Let’s be honest, some Christmas books are simply ‘December books’ where the setting coincides with Christmas time, and nothing more. I like genuine Christmas books where the story starts a day or two before December 25th and ends at New Year. I need to ‘meet and greet’ a cast of characters who remind me of my own relatives, with their quirky mannerisms, their bizarre yet unfunny jokes and their numerous allergies to turkey, plum pudding or Brussel sprouts.
When I dive into the pages of festive mayhem, I wish for a cosy, idyllic setting, waist-high snow drifts and unfinished arguments from yesteryear simmering beneath the festive smiles and threatening to erupt during the King’s speech. I need secret desires, mountains of chocolate treats and characters who plan to return and exchange their unwanted gifts for store vouchers. I want to read about complicated heart break, New year fears and witness gut-wrenching tears beneath or beside a real Norwegian spruce.
This festive reading confession probably explains the reasoning behind the plot twists and seasonal ingredients crafted within my own Christmas books. My aim is to provide my readers with a traditional family Christmas, as outlined above. Sadly, I always ruin my characters’ festive break by crafting numerous trials and tribulations that ignite conflict and calamities that aren’t welcome anywhere near my own doorstep during my twelve days. Call me ‘festive-selfish’ but I want the best of both worlds! To indulge in a great Christmas book filled with chaos, mayhem and possible romance whilst experiencing a memorable yet peaceful Christmas of the Dickens variety, whilst counting my blessings, albeit with a festive coffee or three!
Wishing each and every reader the Christmas of your dreams overflowing with festive ingredients and traditions of your choosing!