Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Twelfth Day of Christmas ― The Gifts From My Two Magi


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On December 26, the “Second Day of Christmas,” I offered my observation that for many Americans, the day after Christmas ― the twenty-sixth of December ― is the end of the Christmas season.

Though we are not a religious family, we enjoy many Christmas traditions. I resolved to enjoy all the Twelve Days of Christmas, from Christmas Day until Epiphany on January 6th, and to do so in part by writing a bit each day about some aspect of the Christmas season. All the essays may be read here.

Today is January 5th, the eve of the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the Epiphany, the time when, according to Biblical legend, the Three Magi (or kings, sages, or wise men, or sorcerers) arrived at the scene of the Nativity, bearing their gifts for the Christ Child.

I’ll mark this last day of Christmas by looking at a few of the gifts that I received on Christmas day from my two Magi, and consider what they mean to me and how they might affect my life in the year to come.

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Refiner’s Fire by Mark Helprin ― This is a perfect gift from K, who well knows how much I love Helprin’s writing. She figured out that I had not read this, his first novel, which was written in 1977. I’ve already started it, and it is as richly beautiful as his other novels. I’ll likely lend it to her, talk and write about it, then I’ll have to go back and re-read everything else he wrote. K and I adore Helprin’s Freddie and Fredericka, which I reviewed here. My love affair with Helprin started nearly two decades ago when my mother introduced me to his Soldier of the Great War. Perhaps sometime I’ll find time to write about all his novels and the extraordinary, luminescent short stories.

French Cooking: The Great Traditional Recipes – Dennis bought this for me in France in July, in a gift shop near our hotel in the pretty village of Chenonceaux. The gift acknowledges our wonderful three weeks in France, as well as my love of cooking and of trying new foods. It will be fun to try out some recipes for foods and regions we got to know on our trip, and to try some recipes from places we have yet to visit – something to look forward to. And write about.



Why Read Moby-Dick? By Nathaniel Philbrick – I heard an interview with Philbrick about this new little book, and I found myself curious about why I never had read the American epic that heads up so many lists of “greatest books.” D and I both read Philbrick’s encouraging essays, and we will read Moby-Dick together starting in a few weeks, after I finish some big projects. In the meantime, I have been doing more background reading on Melville and his novel. Last week, on a visit to Lenox, Massachusetts, we took a little side trip to see the house where Melville lived when he wrote Moby-Dick.

I am so much looking forward to our "book club of two."








Here’s another gift from D:

This pretty amaryllis brightens my view. xo

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