Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

Reading Steerforth over at The Age of Uncertainty on the unpleasures of bookselling as the holiday sand drips through the hourglass of advent is sufficient to remind me to be grateful that I'm not working today, my days of shooing customers out the door just as the reindeer are touching down long over.

But before I turn out the lights on this little shop for the holidays, I've got a couple of modest gifts to distribute. First, this account of holiday skulduggery, from Anthony Powell's journal for Christmas Eve of 1987:
My tenant Adrian Andrews recently reported theft of a black ewe (only one in his flock), saying sheep-lifting by no means uncommon in this neighborhood. Today he arrived on doorstep (having grown beard so that I did not recognize him). . . . I remarked the black ewe had reappeared. He said police found her dumped in garden over Cranmore way. Like living in Wild West.
I don't think rocketlass and I are likely to get up to any sheep-lifting over Christmas, but if we do, we'll surely have the sense to stick to the white sheep, rendering our crime less likely to be detected. Good god, have these crooks never read any Holmes?

The party Dawn Powell (no relation to Anthony) attended on Christmas Day, 1932, and recorded in her journal may have been more civilized than sheep-lifting, but it was perhaps in some ways just as unbuttoned:
To a party at Cheryl's. Decided to do a rowdy modernist version of Aristophanes' "The Knights," which Cheryl was eager about--have hecklers, stooges, big placards through the house, "The Theater is Propaganda" across the curtain. Have the senate in back of house, sausages rushed through audience, passed-out Cleon and Sausage-Seller have fight of swear words across audience. Dress in stylized Greek costume, shirts, etc Have scenes described in play actually take place either by marionettes or by movies, have music, have people sell things between acts like a burlesque show.
As entertaining as that sounds, knowing my temperament I'd more often than not instead plump for a day like Thoreau's Christmas eve of 1856:
To Walden and Baker Farm with Ricketson, it still snowing a little.

It was very pleasant walking thus before the storm was over, in the soft, subdued light.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Enjoy the "soft, subdued light" of the ebbing of the year.

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