Friday, December 21, 2007


Christmas always makes me think of Christopher Morley

When Christmas comes around and I think of Santa, Christopher Morley, aka John Mistletoe, comes to mind. A very literary Santa, with a giant sack full of wit and poignancy. So every December I find start picking up his books again. Today I've been re-reading one of his fat little tomes, A Book of Days: Being a Briefcase packed for his own Pleasure by Christopher Morley & made into a Calendar for sundry Paramours of Print (John Day 1931). I've mentioned this book here before, and I still return to it for its many pleasing aspects. Browsing through the entries for the days of the coming week, I find these:

December 25:

"In this Christmas night all the other Christmas nights of my life live. How warm, breathing, full of myself is the year 1862, now almost gone! How bare, cheerless, unknown, the year 1863, about to come in! Looking forward into an empty year strikes one with a certain awe, because one finds therein no recognition. The years behind have a friendly aspect, and they are warmed by the fires we have kindled, and all their echoes are the echoes of our own voices."

- Alexander Smith, Dreamthorp.

And December 29:

"There is something very charming in an ancient snowstorm. The weather has varied almost as much in the course of generations as mankind. The snow of those days (1808) was more formally shaped and a good deal softer than the snow of ours, just as an eighteenth-century cow was no more like our cows than she was like the florid and fiery cows of Elizabethan pastures. Sufficient attention has hardly been paid to this aspect of literature."

- Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader.

Christmas sure will be a white one around here. I took a snow day yesterday - we remained home while snow fell all night and then all day long. We went out and shoveled twice, in the early morning and late afternoon, the driveway, and the paths to the front door, garden shed, and compost pile. The exercise made me feel very warm, in the cold. The moon was rising through the woods as the clouds finally rolled away at dusk. I took a good look around, felt almost stunned with gratitude, and went inside to make leek soup. I could take the leek tops and potato peels out to the compost after, you see. Cold and sunny this morning, and I'm back in the shop to see if I can sell a few more books.

I won't be blogging for a week or so, after today, but before I take a break I want to say a very merry Christmas and happy holidays to certain long-time readers and friends. Actually to everyone, but I've been peeking at my blog stats again and I can't help but notice repeat visitors, some of whom I know and some not. My best to Dan, Vicky, Pierre, Tara, Jodi, Jonathan, Antony, Kim, and Lesley. Good wishes also to anonymous readers in Pineville, LA, St. Louis, MO, Wyandanch, NY, Evanston, IL, Grand Rapids, MI, Riverside, CA, Fargo, ND, Ann Arbor, MI, Littleton, CO, Iowa City, San Diego, New Britain, CT, Tucson, Chicago, New York City (several folks around town), someone at a movie studio out in CA, a few people in Boston and one in Worcester, MA, several Mainers in Brunswick, Ellsworth, Orono, even right here in Bangor, and some regular readers overseas - London, Bournemouth, Tel Aviv, Greece, Finland, Mauritius - and in Canada - Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, and Halifax. Also best wishes to some colleagues - Ian, William, Brian, Joyce, Tim, and Chris (brave souls). I know I've missed several people. If indeed I have, please do write in and tell me so. Hope Santa brings you some books next week. I don't know about you, but I've been so freaking good this year.

Joyeux Noël. Peace on earth.

Thank you, Sarah, for the greetings to repeat visitors! I always thoroughly enjoy and learn from your almost-daily posts. Any chance, however, that you can remove our places of employment from your post? Yikes!
Will do - I can't see who you actually are, you know, I can only see your server on my stats.

But I don't want to get anyone into trouble, for heaven's sake.
p.s. for those that are now wondering, I named three companies in my original post. I thought they were all fairly large companies, so no one person could be identified. Anyway, I just removed them. The internet is a very small world and sometimes I forget just how small.

The good holiday wishes still stand -
Merry Christmas to you,too Sarah and a very Happy New Year as well:)
Your touchstone:

"There is in every true woman's heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."
~Washington Irving

Merry Christmas and God bless,

In the shadow of the Rocky Mountains
Steven - how lovely! Thank you...

I forgot to say happy holidays to Don in Yucaipa, CA, too - one of my patron saints this past year.

Busy day ahead, I hope. Talk to you on the other side of it all.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Sara. I've been so busy finishing up the semester I have only been able to peek at your writings (which always cheer my days when I see you've written something and makes them a little less cheer-y when you haven't!) So, to that end I will also say congratulations on Ryans race, thrills about your new house and wish you the best of luck at the store. I'll look for you in the new year.

Here are a couple recent happenings you should enjoy. Our family tradition on Christmas Eve is to take turns reading something that speaks of the spirit of Christmas to us. I googled " 'Christopher Morley' Christmas" and this post was the first listed.

Last summer I emailed a friend, telling her about Mark Helprin's story Perfection, saying her 13-year-old son might like it. A couple weeks ago she wrote that she had been reading it to him before bed. In particular, "Tonight we got to the part where Roger demos his skills to the "yenkiss" and I stopped briefly. He said, 'this is the best story ever, you can't stop.' "

Happy New Year.

Dan, so much of Morley's Christmas writing was melancholy - the little Christmas books of his I've posted about in past years are very bittersweet in tone. As is this time of year, to many. In a similar vein, I read "A Child's Christmas in Wales" (by Dylan Thomas) again this year. A wonderful poem. The last few lines always get to me.

Glad to hear you are distributing the gospel of Helprin. (I think of his work in an evangelical sense, sometimes. You may have noticed.) I loved that story, too.

Jodi, thanks for checking in - come visit again, if you ever make it back to Maine. I hope to still be here. Happy New Year -
Hi Sarah -

One of the benefits of working for Alida Roochvarg at the Paperback Bookseller, we also to be able to meet some of her book collecting friends. One was Herman Abromson - who had the largest privately held collection of Morley works. Through him, I received an appreciation of Morley's works.

And if you have time, would definitely like to continue our conversation off line through email about Alida and her friends.
I do have a Morley book signed by Abromson in my collection... I also have the Morley collection "Prefaces Without Books" which Abromson selected - it contains thirty of Morley's prefaces and introductions, some of which are pricelessly wonderful.

Email away, if you'd like to. It's January in Maine - I have far too much time on my hands and not enough ambition...
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