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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tis the Season for Sharing: The Birds' Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Happy holidays, everyone!

It's getting closer.....only 7/8 more days til Christmas Eve!  (...and no, I STILL haven't wrapped the gifts yet....) With the craziness that has been this past year, the spirit of the season took a little while to land in our house, but fear not!  It has arrived!  (YAY!) Turn on some Christmas music (*cough* or click the "bear" player on the bottom right sidebar of the blog page *cough*), add some festive lights, and watch a few holiday movies....yep, that definitely helps.  I currently have a movie on loan from our local store (gotta love the freebies from Movie Gallery...I mean rent more than 1 when you go, but you still get the free one), the title is Four Christmases.  Recognize it?  Starring Reese Witherspoon and and Vince Vaughn, it tells the story of a couple that ends up spending Christmas with family at four different locations only to discover more about each other and their relationship than they really wanted to....with a healthy dose of laughter, of course.  Alas, I have not finished it yet so the verdict is still out on whether it becomes a favorite, but thus far...not too bad.  Anywho...

A few quick reminders and updates regarding the site....a new long-awaited (okay, maybe long awaited for me at least, but perhaps some will interest you) feature has been added to the sidebar entitle "On My Wishlist...".  Can you guess what it will detail?  (Thought so.)  A new book tour has been scheduled for late January....more details can be found via the link under "Mark Your Calendars...".  The current contest to win a copy of I Use to Know That... by Caroline Taggart has gained a few more entries.  If you haven't entered yet or know someone that would like a copy, the contest ends tomorrow night!  Last but not least, there will be a new contest starting up in a few days.....5 winners and a prolific author....stay tuned!  Moving on....

Today's post in keeping with the spirit of the holiday season is from one of the many holiday books I had on my list to read this month.  Grant it, not all have been read at this point with so many other ones in the proverbial fire, but I have made a small dent at the very least and I am ready to share!  The book on the menu today caught my eye in both title and cover....while not earth shattering, it's simple beauty is what stuck me so.  Without further's book of choice is....

The Birds' Christmas Carol
Kate Douglas Wiggin

(READERS BEWARE:  This is a children's book, written in classical style and although the story is straight from the heart, the ending is indeed a sad one.  Might want to caution younger readers, or provide a hanky.)
We join the Birds family (not actual birds....that's their last name....just in case there was any confusion) on a very important day indeed.  It is the wee hours of Christmas Day and although the world is ready to delve into their presents, Mr. and Mrs. Bird are at home celebrating the arrival of their newest little one.  A baby girl, born to them on this most special day whilst Christmas carols fill the air with their wondrous sounds from the Church across the way.  Any guesses as to what they name the child?  (Oh, come can guess it, I know it!)  That's right!  Carol.  Or to be precise, their little Christmas Carol as they fondly thought of her and her mannerisms even at such a a young age spoke of a kind and gentle soul.

Fast forward ten years and we greet Carol as a young girl about to celebrate her 10th birthday.  A wondrous celebration it is to be with decorations fit for a palace, food fit for a king, and presents enough to spoil any youngster whose thoughts were of themself and not those in need around them.  Aha, but you see, fair readers, this is where Carol sets herself apart from the common pack.  Being a true Christmas child, she adores the season with a vigor few may ever show, but her youth is unable to hide the terrible disease that is upon her.  She is ill with a sickness that is not cureable and thus each Christmas celebration brings her closer to an unfortunate end.  Does she give up hope?  Heavens no!  Does she sit and wallow away in self pity?  That would be a negative once again.  Although weak in body, she is strong in mind and soul as every year she helps to organize the family festivities.  This year is to be extra special.  She is planning a dinner party for the Ruggles children that live just next door.  They are a poor but proud family....never seeking assistance from those better off than they, but Carol has her heart set on giving them the best Christmas ever.  Who could deny such an effort in love?  (Sorry, dearest readers, but to reveal more would ruin the story!)

How did I come upon this book?  I was browsing through our local book store and behold...a thin visage of Christmas wonder did appear!  (Yes, I know the writing style has been fading in and out of this you ever find that happening when you write a review after reading a book written in classic style?)  I thought to myself...self, this looks like a nice, quick read to add to the holiday books for December's posts and it even fits the season.  My "self" was pleased and so I made my purchase.  Woe is me!  I did NOT anticipate the fate that little Christmas Carol meets nor the journey she sets upon to get there!  You will need a hanky, tissue, T-shirt....something when you finish this book, MARK MY WORDS!

That said, I will say that I do not regret reading this book though even if it wasn't quite as jolly as I thought it might be.  It really reminds you about the underlying spirit of the season.  Sharing the good things we have in life with others and seeing the joy that it brings to them in that's a Christmas memory to collect every year. 

Tis the season to be merry....thinking back to Christmas' past (or present if you prefer), do you have a tradition in your family that benefits others?  Volunteer at a soup kitchen?  Organize a donation drive?  Donate to a good cause?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

My family usually selects an "angel" from the local angel tree, or a senior from the newest addition to the program, to buy presents for.  This year with money being tight, we've had to scale back a bit, but you can bet that the bell ringers seeking donations for those in need will be getting as much as can be shared.

Happy holidays....and happy reading!


The Cozy Mystery Journal said...

I always make sure I donate food to the Food Bank. This year I took a lot of leftover baby food (unopened) that my boys have outgrown and stopped at the supermarket to buy some extra. I guess as it snows up here I always think helping out with food is good.

I love shopping so we go and gets toys for the local childrens hospital too :) Any excuse to go in the toy department :D

Melanie said...

We usually pack up a couple boxes for Operation Christmas Child, but the church I currently attend isn't doing that program. Instead, I'm planning on donating to different charities.

You must tell me whether or not you like Four Christmases! I saw it when I was in the Movie Gallery, and I considered getting it, but I went with Julie & Julia instead. I love the cover! Reese Witherspoon looks so cute. =)

Gina said...

Bella: That's wonderful! Every little bit helps and baby food is definitely a needed item! (and of course EVERYONE needs to go in the toy is definitely a noble cause to take you there, there is no harm in enjoying though!

Melanie: Sounds like a good plan! Any way we can give back is a valiant effort. Oh, and I'll tell you about the DVD tomorrow...plan on finishing it tonight!) =0)

The1stdaughter said...

Well, if I'm being honest, we haven't started a tradition yet. My kids are a bit too small and as my husband just finished school we are finding ourselves in a "gift of the magi" situation. We actually have a secret group of people bringing us nightly surprises, which has been delightful and I only hope that in the coming years we can return the favor to some family in need. I do have to say, as I have before, I truly feel the "spirit" of the season this year more than any other. It's truly been a blessing to have little rather than a lot.

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

I have family that can't afford much this year so we are helping them. Normally it is the angels we do.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Never mind a hankie for the little one's. A friend was telling me about this book and it had me in tears. Can't say I'm too impressed with the front cover though.

Gina said...

The1stdaughter: That's wonderful! I wish we could do that in our neighbor, but we're lucky if we even SEE the neighbors...everyone is so busy...and it's great to see that in light of everything, you haven't lost your Christmas spirit. =0)

Cleverly Inked: I'm sure they appreciate it immensely. This year has been tough on most of us.....hopefully everything will turn around for them in the coming year.

Petty Witter: Yes, it definitely is a sad story, but again the heart of it is purely goodness. As for the cover...what can I say, this editon was published in 1988, a life time ago in publication years...

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