A Few Firsts

I experienced a few firsts on Christmas Eve.

First Number One

I read A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens for the very first time. I had never read it because I kept telling myself that I already know the story, so what is the point? I have images of Donald Duck, Goofy, and Mickey Mouse in my head when I think of Ebenezer Scrooge, Marley, and Bob Cratchit. Well, the book was well worth the read, and I now understand why some of my friends read it every year around this time. It is full of the spirit of change, love, hope, and care for the poor. I loved reading the words of Scrooge’s nephew:

But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time . . . as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time, the only time I know of . . . when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

His words remind me of immigrants, and how much hate I see in others’ hearts for sharing what we have and caring for the needy because of fear and greed. I hope that the season and the words of Scrooge’s nephew can soften some hearts.

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I also appreciated Marley’s juxtaposition of attitude versus mortal conditions. He reminds us that those who turn their eyes down at their fellow beings and deny them the comforts and joys of life belong in “poor houses” and “work houses” more than those who are in need of care and comfort.

First Number Two

My other first was making a gingerbread house from scratch. I usually buy a kit for the kids, but this year, we were out of town for a week, we were sick for a week, and by then it was too crowded at the stores and too snowy for me to head out. I desperately searched the pantry for graham crackers to no avail. My eight-year-old daughter wanted to construct and decorate a gingerbread house so badly, and I wanted to make that happen.

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When I started mixing ingredients, I warned my daughter, “This will probably end in tears. I might not work.” Yet, to my surprise, it DID work! I had my husband help me roll out the dough, but other than that, I did it. I made royal icing from scratch as well, and my daughter and her friend decorated it with what we had in the pantry: chocolate chips, sprinkles, random candies, marshmallows, nuts, and seeds. I was proud of myself for succeeding!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everybody! I hope you have experienced the peace and love of the season, rather than the anxiety and stress that can creep in with so much to do, so many expectations, and memories of difficult relationships. Hang in there if you are struggling.

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12 thoughts on “A Few Firsts

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    1. The structure turned out nicely. I was so surprised. I let the littles decorate it and it ended up looking more like a Halloween house than a Christmas one, but it was still fun! 🙂

  1. Yet another lovely post, Emily. That gingerbread house does look enticing. Growing up in our family home we used to have an old hardback edition (I think it was light blue), in William Collins and Son, of Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol and Other Stories’. Just a few short years ago, I finally tackled ‘A Cricket on the Hearth’. It was also worth a read. I hope you are enjoying the family time – and reading time!

    1. What a neat memory you have of reading and owning Dickens. I need to read more of the stories in my Christmas volume. Thanks for the recommendation! I hope you had a happy Christmas!

  2. That’s an awesome gingerbread house!

    I’m not sure I’ve ever read A Christmas Carol, but I feel like my grandparents will have read it to my sister and I growing up and I just don’t remember it. Guess I’ll have to add it to the list. Happy New Year!

  3. Your gingerbread house looks awesome! I had to laugh, though – we make a gingerbread house every year, and this year I asked did they *really* want one, because I am so tired of making them! They are a lot of work! But we made one, and I forgot to bake the triangle part that holds up the roof. So we ended up with a gingerbread cabin this year. Which wasn’t so bad, because the flat roof was fun and easy to decorate!

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