27 December 2010

Feast of St. John

Otherwise after-Christmas shopping day. I have some business to transact this week at the bank and a donation to leave at the library, but I'll deal with it later. Today was crisp, cold, and just made for a ride up to Acworth. The sky was overcast when I started out, but by the time I arrived, the sky was breaking through the clouds and was a mesmerizing electric blue—just glorious!

I'd stopped by CVS, intending to buy their tinsel full price anyway, but they had put everything away except for the candy and the cards. So I headed up Macland Road to Lost Mountain. The first part of this route is past homes with some land around them, so all looked beautiful with the snow still frosting the grass.

There is a Kroger off Stilesboro Road, just before I get to Cobb Parkway, and I stopped there to see what Christmas things they had left over. I found two little spherical candle holders that look like mercury glass on half price, so bought them for winter decor. Then I crossed over to Walgreens, where they did have tinsel at half price. I bought five boxes, and also a nice rust-colored sweatshirt at $4. I have a turkey iron-on I would like to use on it to make a fall shirt.

Finally I arrived at Books-a-Million. Didn't find much Christmasy except for Kate DiCamillo's picture book Great Joy (the beautiful soft-focus pastel pictures are actually by Bagram Ibatoulline) half price. The illos are 1940s era, so I couldn't resist. Also found the newest Early American Life and also was seduced by a stuffed red panda. When I was very small, there was a story about an Asian boy and his pet red panda in one of our school readers. I don't remember the plot, but I've never forgotten the cute little red panda. There's also a red panda (often labeled as a cat) in the Toei film Panda and the Magic Serpent, which I remember being shown during the holidays on television.

(The "firefox" of the Firefox web browser, incidentally, is not a red fox; it's a red panda.)

Michaels, across the street from Books-a-Million, had pretty much been stripped of its Christmas finery and the pinky glow of Valentine decorations was rapidly appearing. (I didn't mind this so much as walking into Kroger and seeing Easter eggs!) I did find some silver pine cones in pine and holly leaves to fit into the two little "mercury glass" containers, a box for my jewelry-making bits, and more rechargeable AAA batteries for my wireless mouse (used the 50 percent off coupon on them). In front of Michaels was the only place I saw a lot of ice; it was like a skating rink right in front of the store. Anything left on the road had already melted by the time I headed south to the only Hallmark store I know that puts its ornaments half price instead of 40 percent off.

But they didn't have much left at all. I did get another bag of the miniature hooks, which are so useful, and a tiny little gift for Two People I Know Who Are To Be Married. :-) Then I cut through the back and went to Hobby Lobby and then to JoAnn. For once the magazines weren't on sale at JoAnn, so I could use my coupons on them: a "Cross Stitch Collection" with a Christmas robin design and the newest "New Stitches." All Christmas was 70 percent off, so I got plates for the Twelfth Night party as well.

From JoAnn I went home via Kennesaw National Battlefield Park and Kennesaw Avenue, where the big old houses are. Some of them were decorated with evergreen swags and red bows, and these looked lovely against what snow was left, which wasn't much!

Pearl S. Buck's Book of Christmas
I found this big fat book of Christmas tales at the library book sale. Although it has the requisite collection of Christmas classics, including the inevitable A Christmas Carol, "The Fir Tree," Washington Irving's "Old Christmas" entries, "A Kidnapped Santa Claus," "Gift of the Magi," etc. However, half the stories were new to me, including a trio by Frank R. Stockton, who wrote so many fairy tales for St. Nicholas, some European Christmas tales, a good helping of ghost stories, and others with a fillip of humor, like the opening tale, "Christmas at Thompson Hall" by Anthony Trollope. I found it amusing that, along with "The Little Match Girl" and several other stories about poor people freezing to death during the Christmas season, there is a story about a writer who pens such stories and who is haunted by the characters who have frozen to death! There's even a story that was almost in St. Nicholas, from its sister publication, Scribner's Magazine.

Of course this book is out of print, but if you see it at a used book store, I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a good Christmas anthology with some unusual and not always collected Christmas tales.

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