My Material Life

Christmas Books and Childremass

I enjoy Christmas so much more since I started taking the long view – that the season doesn’t really end until Epiphany on January 6. The run up to December 25 can be so busy that there is little time to be peaceful and reflect on the meaning of the season until after the big day. I love to read about Christmas traditions and origins. The books above are from the library. Two of them, A Christmas Story (not the one about Ralphie and his bb gun) and Christmas 1-2-3 (three ingredient recipes), I check out every year. The other two, Christmas with Rosamunde Pilcher and The Winter Solstice by John Matthews, are new discoveries. I’m reading about the 12 days of Christmas in the Matthews book, and I love his idea that these 12 days beginning on December 26 exist outside of linear time. Each has a theme and today, December 28, is Holy Innocent’s Day or Childremass. Matthews writes that

On this day especially we should reflect on the nature of children, about our own childhood and that of our own offspring. Consider the things that you best love about them, as well as their foibles, and your own. Honor your childhood and remember the happy days as well as the sad. What we are as adults comes from what we were as children, so it is worthwhile to reflect on this as well.

He suggests you make a list of five qualities which best describe your own childhood and ask any offspring what things are most important to them right now. I combined both qualitites of my childhood and what was important to me then and came up with stress, humor, family, my bedroom sanctuary, and the family dogs. My daughter came up with four: the family cat, toys, parties and friends. I wonder what I would have said at six.

The Katherine Anne Porter book is my very favorite and I suppose I should really track down a copy that I can keep. It’s a small book with wonderful line illustrations by Ben Shahn from 1967. It is simply an older woman’s recollection of a shopping expedition with her beloved five-year-old niece that must have taken place in the 1920’s. For me, it encapsulates everything that’s important about Christmas. A real treasure. A perfect book for Childremass, actually.


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