Saturday, December 14, 2013

Of Christmas, Books, and Fireplaces

Growing up, I shared a frigid over-the-garage bedroom with my two sisters, Patty and Kay.  Patty, the oldest by 18 months, had a twin bed.  Kay, the filling in the sister sandwich, took the bottom of the trundle bed and I took the top.  For those of you unfamiliar with the glories of the trundle, the lower bed is on wheels and slips under the upper for storage in tight spaces.  The upper bed was not as high as a bunk bed; I clambered up the side sans ladder.

This time of year one of my favorite memories is of my sister Kay reading Twas the Night Before Christmas to me on the night in question.  The youngest by more than five years, I had to go to bed first on this night-of-nights when waiting for Santa et. al. to arrive.

No doubt The Yule Log was playing on the TV downstairs.

For those of you unfamiliar with the glories of The Yule Log, it was three hours of commercial free television of Christmas music, backed by a continuous (seven minute) loop of a fireplace with, you guessed it, a burning log.  It was an annual event on New York's WPIX, one of the six stations that broadcast in our area.  This paragraph reads like kitsch sci-fi fantasy, but it is true.  Really!

Wikipedia provides a still photo:

A fan site has a video, which you can link to here:  The Yule Log  This is insane, but I'm getting a little choked up watching it.

In many parts of the world, one of Beatrix Potter's books, The Tailor of Gloucester, is the Christmas Eve story of choice.  In part, this is due to the winter setting, and Potter's sumptuous watercolors:

And in part it is due to the story itself, where industrious mice save the day for the old tailor. The Tailor of Gloucester, published in 1902, was Beatrix Potter's favorite among her many productions.  You can see digital versions of the illustrations, such as these two at the website for the Tate by following link:   Beatrix Potter's Illustrations for the Tailor of Gloucester

Here is the tailor himself, by his soporific hearth with its coal fire:

Luckily the mice were hard at work that night.

If you want to know how the turns out, you must read the book.  Or better yet, ask your sister to read it to you.


  1. Precious post!

    ps. very rabbit-like ears on her mice.

  2. Marta, I believe The Yule Log is going to be on the Hallmark Channel on TV on Christmas Eve (or is it Christmas Day) complete with Christmas carols.
    Have a Merry Christmas. I've been so busy, with no time for reading, but hope to get back to your BP gardening book soon.~Christine