Everyone knows about Charles Dickens' Christmas stories like A Christmas Carol (doesn't mean I won't talk about it another day!) but I don't know if everyone knows about this book.
The Life of Our Lord was a book written by Charles Dickens for his children telling them the story of Jesus Christ from his birth through his resurrection.
It was written during 1846-1849.
He read it with his children every Christmas.
I bought it a couple of years ago and have it stashed with my Christmas books but this year I took it out to read it again and realized this is a book I will now be leaving out all year long since it covers so much more than just the Christmas story.
He doesn't embellish the story or add his own commentary. It is very straightforward and by the book.
I think that his tradition of reading this to his family each year at Christmas could be a wonderful tradition that many families might really enjoy.
This particular edition is absolutely beautiful.
The cover has a really great texture to it.
And this is what the first few inside pages look like...
The layout of the entire book is gorgeous with illustrations by Simon Dewey.
This is a really quick read. I sat down with it on Sunday afternoon and had it finished in just over an hour. I think that it is a great addition to any bookshelf and would make a wonderful Christmas gift to any religious person on your list!
The tradition of Christmas Crackers has been something that I have always loved.
They were something that I found to be so much fun that in our little family we have had them as a tradition for Christmas day dinner and New Years Eve ever since the kids were born. And they feature in my blog name, of course.
Christmas crackers were first created in around 1845-1850 by Tom Smith, a candy maker in London. He was inspired by the French bon bon sweets that were wrapped in pretty paper. He tried to sell his sweets the same way but also inserted a riddle. They did not sell as successfully as he had hoped.
It is said that one night he was sitting in front of his log fire and was inspired by the sparks in the fire. He thought it would be fun if his sweets and toys could open with a crack like that fire when they were pulled in half.
He originally called them Cosaques.
This began to do well. When he died, his sons took over his business. His son Walter came up with including the hats in the crackers.
They began to make themed crackers and crackers for special occasions like Coronations.
Business was good.
Today Christmas Crackers are cardboard tubes wrapped in colorful paper. It is a tradition to put a Cracker next to each Christmas dinner plate. You pull them, they let out a bang and a spark and you find your paper crown hat, a toy of some kind (usually something cheap) and a piece of paper with a corny joke.
Pay attention in any modern British Christmas production and you will usually see or hear about them.
Remember this scene in Harry Potter....
As you can see there are some purple Crackers on the table and Arthur Weasley already has on a crown hat!
Overall it is a really fun tradition that we love doing and look forward to each year.
This year I have the Union Jack decorated Crackers for us to use as well as some really cute tiny ones I picked up at Target for a few dollars.
I am really glad we started and continue this tradition.
What is it about this film that keeps me coming back to it every year?
The amazing cast? The story lines? The charm?
Whatever it is, it has become a must watch in my holiday line up.
It begins with an opening sequence narrated by Hugh Grant. This is one of my favorite parts of the film.
These people that are reuniting are not actors. The reunions are not staged.
The film's crew camped out at Heathrow for a week to capture all of the scenes to use for the film.
And I love what Hugh Grant says:
"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there- fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge- they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I have a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."
Onto the film itself; there are multiple story lines continuing through the film that all end up being connected in some way. There are some that I love, some that I dislike, some that are heartbreaking, some that are heartwarming. But the one thing that is in all of them is love. Love broken, love found, love between parents and children, love between siblings, love between friends, young love, probably every kind you can think of.
And of course, it is well acted. How could it not be with this cast?
I have to warn that it isn't for all audiences. There is a fair amount of swearing in it as well as some nudity. In fact, I told my mom that most films that included the same elements wouldn't be ones I would enjoy, but for some reason this one still spoke to me and I have managed to look past all of that.
The other day I finally made my mom watch it after talking to her about if for years but I fast forwarded through the naughty bits. Afterward I felt like that was a dumb thing to do because I felt like it left it feeling disjointed and took away a bit of its charm. I hope she was able to pick up on that a bit but I have come to the conclusion that this is a movie meant to be seen in whole. So, if you don't watch rated R movies or movies with those things in it you are better off to probably just leave this one alone.
If you have seen the film, what are your thoughts?
And in case you have never heard of it, this is the trailer:
When I was reading The Fellowship, The Literary Lives of the Inklings, I read about the letters that J.R.R. Tolkien would write to his children from Father Christmas each year. I found out that they had been published into a book called Letters from Father Christmas. I really wanted to read them!
I went onto Amazon and a few other websites but I just didn't know which version to buy. There were some cool ones that had pull out letters but then the reviews said that the letters weren't complete. I wanted to make sure I had the version that would have the complete letters.
I have also wanted to try out the Book Depository so I went on there to see what they had.
They had the one I wanted!
I bought it right then!
This book does not take long to read. It is just under two hundred pages and it is possible to read the whole thing in a couple of hours or over a couple of days.
The letters start in 1920 and end in 1943.
Each letter is in response to letters from his children and it is interesting to see how they change as they get older.
The letters are accompanied by drawings that he did as well. And they are amazing.
Tokien wrote each letter in a really shaky handwriting and all I could think as I looked at each one was how much time it must have taken him to write out the longer letters. This was one devoted father.
The letters are so funny.
He tells stories of antics of his Polar Bear, having to move house when the first house is ruined, floods, fireworks going off, goblin wars, and so much more.
They are magical.
I actually laughed out loud on multiple occasions at parts of the letters and at the pictures.
My photos can't do it justice because this book is a treasure.
There are copies of each letter he wrote so that you can read them and see the handwriting, additions made by the Polar bear and by elves, and see how he decorated the pages.
But then it also has each letter typed out so that it is easier to read.
I love that it gave us the letters in type but also allowed us to see the original work.
In short, this is now one of my very favorite Christmas books and I will treasure it!