“Last night, the snow fell, and then I began to remember.There is no one else left now, no one who remember it at all. Mother and Father are long dead. And, brother Will, gone for a soldier…”
In 1987 I came across this delightful, poignant Christmas book. Lanterns Across the Snow was written by Susan Hill, a wonderful British author who writes lovely, spooky ghost stories as well in a style reminiscent of Daphne DuMaurier and Rumer Godden.
This story moved me deeply when I first read it. I am sure it moved me to tears. There is nothing like an old childhood memory to dredge up the tears. It is a reminiscence. An old woman begins to remember the last Christmas she spent living in a rural country village at the age of nine. Her Father, the local Vicar, ministered to the poor and sickly and as well as the Manor house. The young Fanny recalls, “I remember the carol singers coming with their lanterns across the snow, and their voices, and the sound of the flute and the fiddle..
I believe this book might be hard to find. I think there may be used copies on Amazon. If you collect Christmas books, this book would be a nice addition.
I love Christmas. I love books. Naturally, when you combine the two you end up with the following conclusion: I love Christmas books. I have been picking up books devoted to Christmas since I was in college. It all started with a facsimile of the original Christmas Carol. I bought one for myself and one for my Grandpa in 1979. A few years later, I found another facsimile, this time the book was Washington Irving’s Old Christmas, first published in 1819-1820 and then republished in 1875 by Macmillan and Co. with illustrations by Randolph Caldecott. This book, a facsimile of that 1875 reprint, is especially charming and deserves to be more widely read. The reproduction book jacket (which I have kept in pristine condition) says this about Irving’s delightful collection of Christmas stories: “In these five timeless tales, Irving writes of mistletoe and evergreen wreaths, Christmas candles and the blazing yule log, singing and dancing, carolers at the door and the preacher at the church, wine and wassail, and, of course, the festive Christmas dinner.”
Reading Irving’s observances of “old Christmas,” the ancient traditions of a true English Christmas, (coming as he did from the “new world”) makes me realize how every century celebrates and repackages perceived ancient traditions which stretch back in time and memory. While we now consider the Christmas traditions we celebrate to be venerable observances, (our Christmas icons if you will) the tree, Rudolph, Frosty and especially Santa in all his red and white glory weren’t even a twinkle in the eye of the “good old Christmas” celebrated in Irving’s day.
Here is a picture of my own copy of this delightful book… As the twelve days of Christmas pass, I hope to share more of my favorite Christmas books as well as my collection of old Christmas cards…