Saturday, December 23, 2006


Merry merry

Happy happy. I sold a nice little book to a local Buddhist yesterday, and as he was leaving the shop he said, "Happy... have a good... whatever it is for you!" I've had the same problem myself recently, when wishing someone a happy Christmas / Hanukkah / Solstice / insert name of secular or pagan holiday here. I want to wish people well, no matter what their faith or tradition or lack thereof, but what does one say? Happy holidays covers it, I suppose, but I don't find that to be particularly warm.

Erring on the side of the nonsecular: today's book cover is this little sweetie, Christmas Poems, edited by Amy Neally (E.P. Dutton & Company 1897). The book contains many of the usual suspects, such as "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore, but most of the text is scarcer stuff, such as "The Christmas Carol" - no author known, and the caption reads "The earliest Christmas carol known was discovered on a blank leaf of manuscript preserved in the British Museum, and is undoubtedly the product of the 13th century." The book also contains verses by Robert Herrick, Milton, Henry Vaughan, Christina Rossetti, Shakespeare, Aubrey de Vere, and Charles Wesley. Fine traditional reading. But of course I post this book here because of the cover - the designer's initials appear near the bottom, the mysterious "JF." I particularly like the single gilded mistletoe berries on the spine, a nice touch, and the white ribbon on the front.

Here's the last stanza of one of the anonymous poems from the book (p.93):

"Gone are the days of summer, long and fair,
Dark are the evenings now, and chill the air,
As from my fireside unto thine I send
A Christmas greeting from a summer's friend."

I'm off until the middle of the week. Joyeux Noël.

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