Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Little Things, and a Question


After classes today, I had an errand to run that had me driving on a country road overhung by huge trees. I was utterly delighted by the occasional leaf that floated across the road, zigzagging to and fro until it landed on the sodden ground. I found myself smiling and watching out for more leaves to grace my way. 

If ever the world needs grace and beauty, it is now. So much is topsy-turvy and there seems to be a general feeling of unsettledness. It has struck me, not for the first time, that everyday pleasures and small moments of beauty mean more than the huge things like big trips or gifts or parties. 

Barbara Pym wrote "The small things of life were often so much bigger than the great things...the trivial pleasures like cooking, ones' home, little poems especially sad ones, solitary walks, funny things seen and overheard."

The amazing colour of Beauty Berries (Callicarpa) startles among the muted shades of fading autumn. 

When my mother-in-law passed away three years ago, the family divided up her jewelry, and I took these jade earrings for my daughters. They were clip on earrings, and my daughter had them altered for pierced ears. This photo was taken last fall, but it makes me happy to see the girls wear their grandmother's earrings.

Now that darkness falls so much earlier (is it really just one hour?) I find myself looking for the cozy in my home - bringing out the blanket throws, lighting candles, baking toothsome treats, and thinking about Christmas. I have some projects I'm working on, and have started my shopping. I've noticed that some in blog land have made their Christmas cakes. On cool and grey days thinking about the brightness of Christmas (whatever that may look like this year) is a small thing that fills my heart with happiness. 

On the weekend, while standing in line to enter a store, I looked up. A tree near me was filled with golden leaves, not unlike the ones in the photo above, and I immediately thought "pieces of gold". They were so bright against a brilliant blue sky that my breath caught. 

I hope that your days are sprinkled with moments that delight you and fill your soul with beauty. 

And now for a question - starting about now, I like to read Christmas stories, or stories set in winter. Some of my favourites, that I re-read each year, include:

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
Some of the Little House chapters that deal with Christmas, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon

I'm curious to know if you have any favourite Christmas-themed stories. Do let me know in the comments, and perhaps I'll compile a list for all of us to reference. 


kathy b said...

Well, Al loves all those romance Christmas novels. I liked the Christmas themed book from the MILFORD series.

Ruth Hiebert said...

I smiled as you described the leaves gently floating down. I have watched that as well and just was mesmerized by that simple beauty. So often, it is the small things that create lasting memories.

Denise at Forest Manor said...

Hi Lorrie,

I so enjoyed this post, and I agree with you wholeheartedly about needing grace and beauty right now. I also agree that it's the right time of year to focus on the cozy aspect of life, especially in our homes. :) I tend to do the same things here with candles, lanterns, and cozy throw blankets. I also like to do lots of soups this time of year. I, too, have been thinking about Christmas, Lorrie. It is a cheering thought, isn't it? Thank you for sharing your list of Christmas reading. I love "Winter Solstice" and "Shepherds Abiding"! Another favorite I have is "Skipping Christmas" by John Grisham. It's totally different from his other books -- I think you would enjoy it. It's very humorous with a good message about Christmas.

Hope you have a good week, Lorrie!



Coastal Ripples said...

I agree it is the making of time to enjoy family and look at nature that are most important. Oh and good home cooking too. The Mistletoe Murder and other stories by P D James is one of my favourites at this time. B x

Rosemary said...

Today I opened the shutters to one of those sparkling days revealing the last of the Autumn colours. We go into our second lockdown tomorrow so I am packing a picnic and taking a final walk through the forests.
A lovely book for both big and small at Christmas time is J. R. R. Tolkien's
Letters from Father Christmas.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

The falling leaves along the road...exhaling a breath while saying a long Ah...young son and I driving in the country would do that when a mass of leaves filled the air. Great memory.
Beautiful earrings.

Sara - Villa Emilia (My Woodland Garden) said...

Thank you, Lorrie, for your beautiful thoughts and photos, in this post and the previous ones.
I'm sorry I'm terribly slow in visiting blogs. Yesterday we went to take this year's influenza vaccine (and it went surprisingly smoothly for these pandemic times) and today my mother is not feeling completely well, as usual.
I'm currently reading "Hercule Poirot's Christmas" because we saw it recently on TV and I wanted to compare the film to the book. It looks my favourite Christmas reading, for example "Vinterqvällar" (Tales for Winter Evenings) by Zachris Topelius, haven't been translated into English. They are not about winter or Christmas but having been written between 1850–79 they are really fascinating novels and short stories.
Of course, Heinrich Böll has written "Christmas Not Just Once a Year", but perhaps it wouldn't be exactly what you are interested in. :)
Belated Happy Birthday!

Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

Like you, I've come to see it's those little things that catch our breath and lift our souls to the heavens. Like seeing Grandmother's lovely earrings now being enjoyed by her granddaughters - what a treasure for the heart.

As to Christmas books, here is my short list of favourites.

Children's books (I'm a child at heart):

-Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury - love this for the beautiful art work
-A Star For Christmas by Trisha Romance - gorgeous art work
-I Spy Christmas, A Book of Picture Riddles (Scholastic, Photos by Walter Wick, Riddles by
Jean Marzollo)
-A Pussycat's Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown and Anne Mortimer

-Christmas in My Heart, A Timeless Treasury of Heartwarming Stories Compiled by Joe Wheeler
(includes authors like Madeleine L'Engle and Pearl S Buck)
-Christmas Classics from The Modern Library, 1997 Random House (includes excerpts from Little Women, A Christmas Carol, Sherlock Holmes Blue Carbuncle, The Fir Tree by Hans C Andersen, etc
Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories by L.M. Montgomery

-An Irish Country Christmas (it nicely goes with Winter Solstice and Shepherds Abiding)

-A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

You are so right about the little things having so much meaning. I don't have a favorite Christmas themed book as of yet.

Deanna Rabe said...

I do love the simple things like falling leaves, sunshine on cold days, knitting.

How lovely to be able to gift your daughters the earrings that their grandmother wore.

I love drawing in at night when it gets dark early. I have my battery candles glowing, a throw blanket across my lap. Chatting with my husband and son, laughing together, having an evening cup of tea. I savor these things.

ellen b. said...

I'm with you on questioning if it's just one hour we set the clocks back? :) I've got to get in the new rhythm of the day. I never thought of switching clip-ons to pierced earrings. What a good idea. How nice that your daughters can enjoy those earrings. I'll add I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge and God is in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer to the Christmas reading list.

Dewena said...

Oh yes, it's the little moments of beauty that are dear, now more than ever! For me yesterday it was sun pennies dancing on the pond, almost blinding me. I took video quickly with my phone to show my husband when he got home but of course the magic was not the same. And it only lasted a few minutes while I stood on the kitchen porch watching.

Lorrie, I'm smiling about the Christmas books because I started posting my favorite Christmas books today on my blog, beginning with my children's favorite, Madeleine L'Engle's The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas. I wanted to do it early in case anyone with small children in their lives could find this book before Advent begins. Do you know it? I bet you do! I started Winter Solstice the other night as it's been a couple of years since I read it.

Anonymous said...

I used to read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson to my students (before we became religion-neutral, so, back in the 80s.)It starts out as a comedy and at the climax it can bring tears to your eyes. Last Christmas season I had the great joy of portraying the mother (It was changed to grandmother for our version)in a local production.

Having realized that I had to shake my two month Covid fatigue I recognized last week that I had, I've walked in the woods every morning. This morning I found the footprints of two different foxes, many rabbits, a racoon, a bird (probably a partridge), and many tiny mousies and the final golden leaves floating down. It is so easy to have gratitude during such moments. Standing under a broad cedar, I've watched a swirly light snow, patterns of breezy currents across the pond, and this morning a brutal wind blasting me full on freezing my cheeks. This is all to say that I enjoy reading your descriptions of your natural world.
Carol from VT

Angie said...

Lorrie - I couldn't agree with you more that the world feels unsettled. As a human race, we can cope with many things, but a sense that our very safety is at risk is enough to shake foundations. Yes, we need to find solace, and many of us have no choice but to find it in the "small things". I have been wracking my brain for a favorite Christmas story/book; I guess that means I don't have one!

gretchenjoanna said...

Plough Publishing House compiled a collection titled Home for Christmas: Stories for Young and Old. I've only read a few stories from it but I loved them.

Before I got that, my favorite ever has been "Papa Panov's Special Day" which is based on a Tolstoy story, I believe.

Lowcarb team member said...

Beautiful photographs on your post here.

I tend to read a Christmas romance over the holiday ...

Happy November wishes.

All the best Jan

Granny Marigold said...

When I walked in the park this morning the wind was blowing leaves off trees and across my path. Lovely.
To the many Christmas stories and books already mentioned by others I would add 2 of my favourites. Christmas with Miss Read and Jan Brett's The Night before Christmas, just because of the wonderful illustrations.

Elizabethd said...

Paul Gallico's Snowflake and A Miracle at Christmas are two of my favourites. But always Winter Solstice comes top of the list.

Gina said...

Dear Lorrie,
Your golden leaves photo is so beautiful. Have you checked the price of gold?

Cheryl said...

I agree with you about "the little things" bringing so much joy and contentment . . . a clean(ish) house, candlelight in the evening, a purring cat, quiet conversation, a bowl of steaming soup, a funny GIF on the family group chat, homemade pumpkin butter simmering on the stove, a texted photo of my faraway grandson, a passage of Scripture seen afresh.

Happy@Home said...

I have been searching for the cozy over here too. This time of year always has me thinking that way, but this year it seems more important than ever. Great idea to round up the Christmas reading now. I would add A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg and two Miss Read books, No Holly For Miss Quinn and Miss Read's Christmas. I look forward to seeing the list you compile. Love that photo of your girls with their special earrings.

Kim said...

We're getting cozy here, too. Lots of fall fluffing and feathering going on! I have to say, I'm boring and predictable, although maybe, I should say classic? I love A Christmas Carol. Actually, my girls were in a musical theater production of it years ago, and I really enjoy reading the script. Does that count?

Ida said...

Love the pretty purple berries and golden leaves. I would recommend any of Debbie Macomber's books with the Angels, Shirley, Goodness and Mercy. They are fun.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'm going to look through my stack of Christmas books but I want to mention the David Rosenfelt mysteries. He writes the Andy Carpenter series and there are a few Christmas books in this series. I just finished the newest one Silent Bite and it was great!

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