I’ve been thinking about your Christmas present. It occurs to me that I never heard you say you wanted anything. I know things that you don’t want, for example, a book. So I shan’t give you Audubon’s Birds of America simply bursting with pictures. . . . You’ve got a radio. (Don’t give me one, by the way.) . . . What about a valet rack? It says: ‘The gift of gifts for a man, exclamation point. It saves time and temper by having his clothes all assembled for the morning rush.’ And then shows a picture with sure enough everything assembled. It’s one of the ugliest things I ever saw, though.And then, for those of you more concerned with a seasonal mood than with shopping, here's Iris Murdoch writing to Frank Thompson on Christmas Eve, 1941:
It is Christmas eve & I in Blackpool. There is the hell of a wind blowing over the house & I feel a bit withered away already. I have just received a box of expensive Turkish cigarettes from Michael. Dear old Michael. A lost soul too. (The problem is, I have been reading Virginia Woolf, the darling dangerous woman, & am in a state of extremely nervous self-consciousness. The most selfish of all states to be in.Woolf or no Woolf, let us all leave selfishness aside for a few days. Happy Holidays, folks.