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It's Never Too Late to Start a Tradition
This is the time of year for surprises and traditions, so I’d like to tell you the story of a book that started as a surprise and has become a tradition for me.
I picked it up a few years ago at one of those Christmas-time author fair gatherings where, being the lousy businessman I am, I always manage to spend more on other peoples’ books than I make selling my own. Oh, well. What’s December without a cash-flow problem?
Anyway, the pile of reading I brought home that day (Note to self: You might think about using the library once in a while) included two volumes featuring holiday magazine cover illustrations from the first half of the 20th Century. That was a golden age for magazines and for illustrators. There were hundreds of wonderful titles back then (personal favorites: The Delineator, Modern Priscilla and the rather ambitious Everybody’s Magazine), and they pretty much all adorned their covers with paintings by the top illustrators of the day, from Normal Rockwell and John Held to E. Stetson Crawford and J. Knowles Hare.
I bought the books, thinking they’d be nice to have around for Christmas, but it wasn’t until I got home that I really looked at them. And when I did, I found that one, A Christmas Blessing (© 1996, Laughing Elephant Books) was much more than first met the eye.
It was full of lovely illustrations, of course, but with them was a wonderful piece of prose by Welleran Poltarnees (a great pen name based on two stories by the fantasy author Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany -- "The Sword of Welleran" and "Poltarnees, Beholder of Ocean". ) I was surprised at how it moved me and it has now become part of my traditional Christmas Eve reading (along with A Visit From St. Nicholas, A Christmas Carol and, of course, Deck Us All With Boston Charlie). I’d like to share it with you now:
"May this blessing fall on you like a gentle snow.
"Let your Christmas be savored far in advance of its arrival.
"May the spirit of the season make your quest for gifts selfless & filled with joy."
"Adornment, reflecting old traditions, shall make your home bright with the loveliness of Christmastide.
"May winter, in some way, grace your holidays.
"Let there be a tree, bringing into your home the fragrance and power of the earth.
"May song bless your Christmas, and remind us all of the universal harmony which is at the center of creation.
"In the wrapping and adorning of your gifts, let there be the satisfaction that all creative acts offer.
"On the night before Christmas may you be visited by peace and beneficence, and visible presences who enrich you and yours.
"Let the children teach you, and all of us, through their freshness and focus, the precious joy to be discovered in this celebration.
"May you feast in good health & comradeship.
"Let us remember the foundation of this joy - the fear, the journey, the refuge, the birth, the revelation.
"When your celebration is over, may you turn in your memory the love, the giving and the receiving."
This was my surprise-turned-tradition. And I think that truly does make it a Christmas blessing.
I hope such a blessing visits your house, too.
© 2007 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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