30 December 2013

A Whole Greater Than the Parts

Happy Christmas, compiled by William Kean Seymour and John Smith
I gave this book a rather half-hearted review a few years ago when I borrowed it from the library, but that didn't keep me from buying a copy since it was only a dollar at the library book sale. This volume was published in England and contains an assortment of British fiction, diary and journal entries, historical excerpts, sheet music, and poetry. There are selections from Thomas Hardy, Dylan Thomas, Kenneth Grahame, Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys, and more, verse from Christina Rosetti and T.S. Elliot, etc. The line drawings are by Beryl Sanders.

My chief complaint with the book is that the excerpts are abridged; poor Beatrix Potter's "Tailor of Gloucester," for example, is reduced to one page about the cat, which renders the story incomprehensible. Only "The Mountains of Papa Morelli" appears to be intact. And some of the pieces seem to have been included if they just mention Christmas, even if it actually has nothing to do with the holiday. However, it's a nice variety of pieces, perfect for reading before bedtime, and a nice spread of historical excerpts. If  you can find it at an inexpensive price, it's worthwhile for those reasons.

29 December 2013

Christmas Around the World With World Book

Christmas in Colonial and Early America/Christmas in America in the 1700s and 1800s; Christmas in New England; Christmas in Washington, DC
I was a World Book Encyclopedia kid from the time I was seven years old, and for years my encyclopedic sun has risen and set on the World Book. A new set was one of the first things I bought when I had a job, and my mother bought me a newer set as a housewarming gift when we bought our first house in 1995.

The World Book has had numerous other publications, including the younger children's Childcraft set, and this is one of them, an annual release of "Christmas Around the World" books that run about eighty pages, with full color illustrations and with some crafts and recipes at the end. The original books also came with Advent calendars, recipe cards, and other goodies. I managed to pick up a good many of these over the last couple of years at library book sales, but hadn't had a chance to crack into them until now.

These are the four American books that I found; the first two are really the same book with some minor alterations of the text, and some different illustrations in the second book. It's a good overview of the shunning of Christmas in the northern colonies as compared with the enthusiastic celebrations of the Middle Colonies and the South. The New England book is, by my thought, even as a New Englander, highly romanticized, but the introduction is lovely, and the text highly nostalgic (the 1980s photographs, however, are just funny); and the Washington, DC, book is pretty to look at and has an interesting bit of text about how the White House is decorated, which is quite different from the lavish decor you see today on the yearly HGTV specials. It also makes it very, very, very clear that Christmas in Washington, DC, is for everyone. :-)

If you are a Christmas fan and can pick up nice copies at a good price, these are definitely worth your time! Next I need to dig into the volumes about the other countries. First up will be Australia, the land of Snowy the budgie's ancestors.

27 December 2013

An Annual Event

"Christmas"—An American Annual of Christmas Literature and Art by Augsberg Publishing House
I became aware of these publications some years ago when three of them, for successive years in the 1980s, were available on a bargain shelf at Barnes & Noble. These oversized (as past nomenclature would have it, "the size of a Life magazine") annuals were published by a Minneapolis publishing house from 1931-1997.

Each annual had a standard format. The first part would always be a retelling of the Christmas story from the Bible in about a half dozen pages, accompanied by different art each year. One year it might be Baroque painters, another year it might be done in stained glass window style, another as a medieval manuscript. One year it was even done, amazingly, in batik! Other standard features would be several pages of Christmas carol sheet music, done in calligraphy, several pages about how Christmas is celebrated in other countries, and a "picture story," done until the 1970s by Lee Mero, which was a nostalgic feature: old-fashioned Christmases vs. new ones, country vs. city, etc. Mero must have retired or passed away, and it looks like his place was taken by "Memories of a Former Kid" artist Bob Astey, who also cartoons for Reminisce.

I happened to pick up half-dozen of these at the library book sale for a song ($1 each), and they were nice reading over Christmas. I found a 1958 and 1959 issue each, a 1970, 1973, 1973, and finally 1986. I found fabulous articles about the history of Christmas seals: Salzburg, Austria; how Christmas has been portrayed over the years in music, painting, films; George Frederick Handel; Christmas carols written in the United States; Biblical musical instruments; the various types of evergreen trees used at Christmas; Nurnburg, Germany; Michaelangelo; church organs; and the history of "The Nutcracker," and I've just scratched the surface. These are well-worth picking up if you find affordable copies!

26 December 2013

Shivers and Shivs for Christmas

Murder for Christmas, edited by Thomas Godfrey
This one has been turning up on remainder tables for years, but when it was finally offered at $2 I finally broke down and bought it. It collects some classic mystery stories like Christie's "Adventure of the Christmas Pudding" (with Hercule Poirot), the standard Sherlock Holmes "Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle," the Lord Peter Wimsey country house story "The Necklace of Pearls," even an O. Henry crime story "A Chaparral Christmas Gift." As a collection of classic mysteries set at Christmas, it pretty much achieves the goal, although some of the mysteries have nothing to do with Christmas—some of them are just set during snow storms or have Christmas as a periphery reference. The Woody Allen story, "Mr. Big," I thought, was dumb, but then I've never been a Woody Allen fan. Damon Runyon has never much been a big favorite of mine, either, but your mileage may vary and you may enjoy "Dancing Dan's Christmas," which takes place in his universe of petty crooks. I had never read either Ngaio Marsh or Georges Simeon, and quite enjoyed both the Roderick Allyn tale and the Maigret story, the latter which involved a little girl with less-than-savory family, a topic still in the news today.

As a bargain book, I think it is worth it.

Just to note, mystery readers, this edition was originally published in the 1980s and re-released in 2007. This year a new book, The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries was released. You may wonder if it's worth bothering with this one. Well, actually, yes, only a dozen, more or less, of the stories in this book appear in The Big Book, and this book has stories not in that newer book, too. Who knows, you just may be a Woody Allen fan!

25 December 2013

21 December 2013

The Shortest Day

"And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
to keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.”

                                            -- Susan Cooper

8 Enlightening Facts About the Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice 2013

Shortest Day

Yule: Winter Solstice

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tour

December Solstice Traditions and Customs

20 December 2013

Looking for Christmas

It's been a rather sobering Advent this year with the death of Juanita's mom and then Willow getting sick. Every day has become an emotional struggle, and I woke up this morning feeling very down. But there were things to do.

After breakfast I dressed so I could finally take Nicki's gift to the post office to mail. I've had to delay mailing it because I had not finished a little something I wanted to include in the package. I had finished that last night and wrapped and addressed the parcel. I also got an airmail stamp to send what will be a very belated Christmas card. I wanted to bake cookies when I got back, and I didn't think we had enough flour or sugar, so I stopped at Food Depot to pick them up, then "fed" the car.

On my way home I thought I'd stop by Lowes to see if they had any more solar lights. The direct route was through the "Covered Bridge" neighborhood which includes a 19th century mill site and, of course, the titular covered bridge. The bridge has to have an I-beam barrier on each approach because, despite numerous signs saying that the clearance for the bridge is only seven feet high, big delivery trucks continue to drive up to and smash into the I-beam. Sure enough, as I was exiting the bridge, here came another idiot truck driver without the sense God gave a goat, heading for the bridge.

Anyway, the solar lights were all gone; oh, well. I was in a pretty morose mood at the time and looked wistfully at the abandoned Borders store across the parking lot, wishing I could just walk through those doors and back in time. The weather wasn't helping; it was overcast and getting warmer by the minute. Tomorrow, the day of the winter solstice, it's supposed to be a horrible 70°F. Ugh.

When I got home I remembered James saying he didn't feel like putting up any more Christmas lights, but I suggested we might want to just put up the Moravian star. I wanted to do something to cheer him up, and we all need a star to see by, so I dragged out the ladder—this was the hardest part because I am acrophobic and can't go over the second step—and hung up the star, plugged it into the extension cords, and set up the timer. I also stripped the old blue LED light set (tell me again how LED lights are long-lasting; every string of LED lights we've bought either have at least a dozen lights out, or half the string is out) off the little tree on the porch and put on another set, so when we came home tonight the Moravian star was softly glowing blue and the tree was doing the electric blue slide. (The poor solar lights, though, were looking very puny due to the cloud cover all day.) I also put out the greens basket (which partially covers up the big timer and the extension cords), and hung the Christmas decorations on the porch railings. They should have gone up after we put up the lights, but then we didn't do lights.

Once in the house, I did a last-ditch effort to get the lights on the airplane tree to work. I replaced what looked like two burned-out bulbs (but there are at least two more) and tried to replace the fuse, but I couldn't get either out. Needless to say, it didn't work, and this is why I didn't start baking the wine biscuits until 2:30. Besides the fact that I had to dispose of what flour was already in the canister, the baking went flawlessly. I made two batches of wine biscuits which were almost done when James arrived home—by the time I changed clothes and printed out coupons, they were finished.

We had supper at Giovanni's, which tasted really good since I never did have lunch. I splurged and had lobster ravioli. We then braved the stores around Barrett Parkway to go to REI and finish a gift. I'm thinking this is the last one. I won't know until I start wrapping. Oy.

We also stopped at Barnes & Noble with 25 percent off coupons. James found a new Harry Turtledove novel and I bought a collection of Christmas mysteries. Also found a new "Best of British" and picked up a cross-stitch magazine.

13 December 2013

Snowy's First Christmas Tree

I feel like I've been running for weeks with no letup. All of the Christmas decorations aren't up yet, and it was already time to put up the tree. The real tree, not the theme trees, which I enjoy, but the real Christmas tree, with all the ornaments we've bought together and the PharMor ornaments and the McCrory ornaments and the Woolworth star "Little Blaze," and waterfalls of tinsel, the one I love.

This year was a bit of a twist because half of a string of lights was out. However, I had two strings of the same number, if not the same type, of lights that I had bought a couple of years back at Hobby Lobby because I liked the way the covers were two-colored. They pretty much fit exactly into the bare space left by the errant light string, but it seemed like ages to set them in place and fluff the tree, which spends the rest of the year crammed into a corner of a closet. (It's not done it any good, either; it looks like we need a new one, as there is at least one bent branch.) I spent a bunch of time replacing faded blue bulbs on the strings still on the tree from the string I took off, as it appears the bulbs are still good, it's just half the string that's off.

I started at ten and finished just as James walked in the door sometime after five, having layered a waterfall of tinsel all over the tree and just placed each manger figure carefully in its place in the stable under the tree. About half these manger figures are probably older than I am, carefully bought one and two at the time from the bins of nativity figures in the basement store of W.T. Grant and perhaps Woolworth's and Newberry's. The sheepdog or the goat are the newest figures, and those were bought in the 1960s. The only figure not original to the set was a similar figure that fit with the set that I found in an antique shop in downtown Marietta.

Watched several Christmas things while putting up the tree—Christmas Is and The City That Forgot About Christmas (the two Lutheran Church specials with Benji and his sheepdog Waldo), and then all four Lassie Christmas stories with Timmy—and then put on Holiday Traditions on Dish. Tonight we ordered Chinese in and watched a bunch of Christmasy things: Charlie Brown Christmas, the Grinch, Twas the Night Before Christmas, A Very Merry Cricket, Mickey's Christmas Carol, and finally The Small One.

12 December 2013

Memories of Christmas


Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas!, edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Amy Newmark
Well, it's a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book, so you know it's going to be full of heartwarming stories about children, pets, and unselfish people. If this is your bag, revel in it. My favorite story? The one about the grandmother taking her grandchildren to see The Nutcracker, and how one of her grandsons interpreted the title. [giggle]

The Big Book of Christmas Plays, edited by Sylvia F. Kamerman
I picked this up at the fall book sale with memories of the play magazines. Remember those? Schools used to subscribe to them and they'd come monthly during the school year, with five or six appropriate plays for each month: Thanksgiving and perhaps Veterans Day in November, Hallowe'en in October, Valentines Day in February, etc. Of course the December issue was taken up mostly with Christmas plays. In sixth grade I got the chance to pick out the sixth grade play out of one of these books, and I did pick a play with a good role for my best friend.

This book is a compilation of later plays (from 1988; there's even a play with a pseudo-Apple computer in it). Surprisingly, they were still writing some really cute school plays back then. The first, for example, involves estranged friends reunited by their children. Another is about a Man Who Came To Dinner type who ends up writing a play for children with the nudging of his secretary. One is a very funny farce about a couple who are supposed to appear on television as a typical couple; instead of decorating with the usual tree and baubles, the wife wants to stage something unique and starts to collect all the items in the twelve days of Christmas song instead. There's also a sentimental offering about an elderly couple who run a variety store who are graced with a star with something extra. Later Santa Claus competes with a computer and Ebenezer Scrooge takes up with Snow White and the seven dwarves.

This was a lot of fun to read and brought back some great schoolday memories.

08 December 2013

More Christmas Stories


The Home Book of Christmas, edited by May Lamberton Becker
I had almost given up on Christmas anthologies last year because they always contained the same stories: always A Christmas Carol, "Christmas Day in the Morning" by Pearl Buck, "A Young Girl's Gift" by Norman Vincent Peale, Taylor Caldwell's Christmas tale, etc. However, last year I found several older anthologies that had earlier stories in them, and rediscovered tales like "A Candle in the Forest." This volume, edited by the woman who took over the reins of "St. Nicholas" magazine after the death of Mary Mapes Dodge, was published in 1941, presumably before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and contains many stories and poems I'd never read. I especially enjoyed Christopher Morley's "Old Thoughts for Christmas," which, although written over seventy years ago, was still pertinent today. A funny story about boys' pranks at Christmas was "Plupy Goes to Sunday School," with a serves-them-right ending that is just perfect.

Oh, some stock pieces are here: A Christmas Carol, of course, and Christmas with the March sisters, Bret Harte and Washington Irving, and a couple are those tiresome "happy days on the plantation before slavery ended" fictions. But mostly I enjoyed this collection, especially the later pieces written on "the edge of" World War II. There are even some "futuristic" pieces at the end, including an ominous entry where civilization has gone underground to protect itself from bombing.

Well worth finding in a used book store.

06 December 2013

Today is the feast day of St. Nicholas. Besides forming the basis for the American "Santa Claus," a corruption of the Dutch "Sinter Klaas," he is the patron saint of children, sailors, pawnbrokers, and Russia. In the Netherlands he arrives on a boat said to come from Spain, accompanied by his Moorish assistant Peter, and he still wears his bishops' robes and carries his crozier (staff), and rides a white horse. In other countries the good Saint rides a donkey, and he has various assistants—most of whom are in charge of taking naughty children away in a big sack!

St. Nicholas at Catholic Online

I was reading an article about a billboard asking "What if St. Nicholas was black? Would you allow him in your home?" pointing out prejudices. It is ironic because St. Nicholas was born in Turkey and was most certainly not pale-skinned.

Happy St. Nicholas Day 2013

"A Modern Heir to St. Nicholas"

Germany Today: St. Nicholas

03 December 2013

Holiday Special Review: Rick Steves' European Christmas

For more than one hundred episodes, travel writer Rick Steves has traveled about Europe (and occasionally western Asia) illuminating our view of its historical and social past. In this delightful Christmas edition of his show, Rick shows us how various European countries celebrate Christmas as well as some special days in December and January, such as St. Lucia's day in Norway, St. Nicholas Day, and the visit of La Befana in Italy on January 6. Each of the countries come with its own version of Santa Claus—from Father Christmas in Great Britain to PerĂ© Noel in France to the Juletomten in Norway—and special customs like mince pies for the twelve days of Christmas, rice pudding with an almond in it, living Nativities, and Christmas angels. This is a brightly done, festive confection that features some splendid musical performances and all the trimmings of sensory overload, so vivid that you can smell the treats cooking and the warm waxy scent of candles in church and hot chestnuts from a street vendor, feel the cold and crunch of the snow, hear the snick of the skates and the skis, and immerse yourself in the bright colors of Christmas markets.

Probably the part that will make everyone smile the most is the idyllic Swiss Christmas, in which Steves and his family accompany friends up a mountain to cut a Christmas tree and return at dusk, sliding down the mountain on sleds and lighting their way with torchlights, in Rick's favorite town, Gimmelwald. They also go on a twilight sleigh ride in Austria. It's like a Christmas dream come true.

Carols, sleigh rides, yummy food, colorful markets, a feast for the eyes and ears—just the thing for a cold December night (or a warm one, at that) to get you in the holiday mood!

Countries traveled: England, Norway, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. Smiles generated: an entire hour's worth. Merry Christmas!

Taking a Break Since My Back is Breaking

Have put up the library tree this morning, and the decorations in the library. For a while it seemed insurmountable because there was so much clutter, which drives me mad. And the poor library tree is getting so limp, but I'm so reluctant to replace it. We've had it since we've had the house, you see, and I'm rather sentimental.

The only rule with the library tree is anything on it must have been in a book first. You can't put a St. Bernard on the tree and say it's Beethoven, because that was a movie first, even if it were novelized later. (You could put a St. Bernard on the tree and say it's the famous Barry, of the Great St. Bernard Hospice, because that was a book. I don't have a St. Bernard, though. I do have My Friend Flicka, Misty of Chincoteague, and My Dog Skip, among others.) Less than half of the ornaments were actually made as book related, and those are Hallmark ornaments: The Cat in the Hat, Where the Wild Things Are, Thomas the tank engine, etc. The rest are figures from Hobbytown or from Richard's Variety Store which represent books. A black horse is Black Beauty, a white baby seal is Kotick the white seal from The Jungle Book, a fawn is Bambi, a West Highland White terrier is McDuff, a one-legged pirate is Long John Silver. I have Merlin the magician and Robin Hood and Zorro and a girl with a horse brush who's supposed to be Dinah in The Horsemasters (or could be February Callendar, I suppose, rubbing down her pony Gorse), a rabbit that is Hazel from Watership Down and a fox which is Cinnabar the One O'Clock Fox, and even Elsa the lioness from Born Free.

Sometimes you have to "go with the flow." My Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the film Dorothy, with ruby slippers. The real Dorothy of the book had silver slippers. I have a sable-and-white collie for Lassie Come-Home, and really, that's how anyone today thinks of Lassie, but the seminal Lassie, the one created by Eric Knight, was a tricolor collie.

I did get the library tidier, put the Christmasy things on shelves, and put up the lighthouse. When we were at the old house, we didn't have room for a Christmas village, so I made a Christmas vignette, with a whole story behind it. I bought one of the LeMax lighthouses and then painted a big rectangular board to look like a lighthouse island with the sea around it. Bought a bag of pebbles to represent rocks at sea and on the jetties, bought some pilings with seagulls on them, and the "sea" has raised whitecaps made with dried glue ridges. The lighthouse is run by old Cap'n Andy, who in his day was a famous ship's captain. Now he keeps the light, with the help of his granddaughter Bess and his grandson Daniel, whose parents died in a typhoid epidemic. They've just come back from the mainland and Daniel is bringing in their little Christmas tree when they see someone in the dusk rowing out to the lighthouse. It is the family's old friend Edward Simpson, who is bringing the family some Christmas gifts in his dory. Cap'n Andy and Bess wait at the headland with a lantern to welcome Ed and invite him for a bite of supper.

Came upstairs to have a few peanut butter crackers. Everything was such a mess downstairs I soothed myself by tucking some Christmas "greens" into the china cabinet and then decorating the ceppo with its manger scene on the top and a woodland scene with St. Nicholas on the bottom. That made me feel good enough to go back downstairs and wrestle physically and psychologically with the containers, which got put back in the closet. Everything needs vacuuming, but it's a lot neater.

Sorted out the porch decorations from the divider decorations; took the latter upstairs on a box lid and installed the former where they belonged, so the porch looks a mite perkier, then had some milk and some chocolate and read a few pages of the November/December "Landlove," a British nature magazine.

[Later: Things didn't go as well this afternoon. Wanted to put up the airplane tree, which is a pre-lit unit. Plugged it in and it's dead. Worked perfectly for several years now, but no juice. Sighing, I went on to do the foyer tree which holds all our miniature ornaments. Guess what—the light string was dead! I don't understand. The string worked for a month, through January sixth, and was working fine when I took everything down. How it "breaks down" without being used flummoxes me. Anyway, I did want to finish decorating the foyer, so I tossed some clothes on. Stopped at Home Depot, but all they had were LEDs. I don't like their color and every string of LEDs we've bought now have at least half the lights off. So I went to Lowes and picked up a string of fifty lights.

I liked the set of thirty-five better, as it was made for single use. Now I've had to hide the plug that enables the string to be added to another light string. Modern Christmas lights are dreadful; it's so hard to fasten them to the tree. The old miniature strings had a ball you slid along the wire to clamp the light to the branch. The poor tree is all wires now. Nevertheless, it "cleaned up" pretty well, although it was a painful task. My hands get so dry from washing in the winter that the skin on the tips of my thumbs crack, and every time I put an ornament on the tree I was prickled with plastic needles or metal hooks. I hate leaving blood on a Christmas tree.

Done with that just in time for supper.]

02 December 2013

Farewell, Thanksgiving, Hellooooo, Nurse...Uh, Christmas!

So, I've got two days here to start my Christmas decorating.

Well, it actually started yesterday, when James got the first two boxes down out of the closet for me. I always put up the window candles on the first Sunday of Advent. This means I used the two new five-candle candoliers I ordered from the Vermont Country Store a few weeks ago, carefully picking through my clear blue C7 bulbs to get the least faded ones. The two windows in the dining room get the color-changing candles, the pair of three-light candoliers go in the library windows downstairs with frosted blue bulbs, and I have three battery-operated flickering-light candles for James' "man cave" and the window of the living room that does not have the Christmas tree in it. On this day, too, each of the inside doors gets a "wreath" (most of them are actually candle rings) and there is a garland around the archway to the hall, one around the door to the deck, and one around the door to the library..

Today mostly what I did was tear down. This is more difficult than it sounds because I have to sort the Thanksgiving decorations from the general fall decorations that go up in the fall from the fall decorations that stay up all year long (except at Christmas). I don't know how things "expanded," as I haven't bought any new Thanksgiving decorations except for a tiny Blossom Bucket "Happy Thanksgiving" set of blocks, but I can't fit all the fall decorations back at the top of the Hallowe'en and Thanksgiving storage boxes, which is where they were back in September! Did my scarecrows gain weight? :-) Will have to cogitate on the problem.

But I cleared the dining room and put up the Country Pickin's Christmas shadow box in the kitchen, cleared the mantel and almost all the living room (have to bring the big bouquet of fall flowers and the bucket of autumn branches downstairs to be completely done with that), cleared near the bird cage and in the hall, cleared the divider, cleared the foyer, cleared the tchochkes out of the library—pretty much have a blank canvas now. I might have even started decorating today had I not tried to also work on the packages that need to be mailed out this week. I started with the easy ones first which meant I was doing the two most difficult ones before supper. But they're all done but one now, and that one isn't finished.

Of course I couldn't mail Christmas packages without including Christmas cards, and at least one package couldn't be sent out without a Christmas letter, so I sat about an hour working on that and getting one printed out, before going back to the clearing process.

After supper James got the rest of the high boxes down for me, and we brought the village box upstairs together. I can hardly wait to put my little 1940s Christmas village up!

Old Cities and Old Saints


Christmas in Williamsburg, K.M. Kostyal and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
This is a slim volume with glossy paper and lovely photos of Colonial Williamsburg at Christmas, including a few homemade crafts. It's simple enough to be read by a child, so what text there is is about feasting, how decorating for Christmas has changed in the city, and how they would celebrate, depending on social rank and, sadly, race. If you're a Williamsburg fan like me, you'll love the volume, but really, buy this used. It's really pricey.

Postcards from Santa Claus, Robert C. Hoffmann
This is a wonderful little volume chronicling the history of Santa Claus via postcards sent from the beginning of the Golden age of Postcards, 1880, through the publication of the book in 2002. Even back in 1880, the Victorian Santa was a spokesman for all sorts of products, but back then he was still an elfin figure, or even had some of the attributes of his forebear, St. Nicholas. There are postcards from both the U.S. and from Europe, and cards made and sent during World Wars I and II, so you meet not only Santa, but his "foreign relations," Father Christmas and PerĂ© Noel and St. Nicholas, plus Santas in aircraft and those "newfangled motorcars" and even using an early wireless set. Between the illustrations Hoffmann offers small bits of information about the good Saint.

I found this book by accident, but am glad I did. The old postcards are fascinating and one of the messages will definitely give you a laugh.