This is the time of year I relish quiet snow and seek out other voices: concerts in small Maine churches, the Vienna Boys Choir piped through my computer, and on the solstice, pouring a class of wine and listening to NPR’s broadcast of Paul Winter’s famous solstice concerts (delivered in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Upper Manhattan).
Orson Wells and Lionel Barrymore’s 1939 tour de force radio production of “The Christmas Carol” is worth a large pot of tea and huge plate of cookies that must be only sugar and butter. And sprinkles.
Sometimes I lie on Moosehead Lake in the dead of night when the ice is booming and cracking its way from shore to shore, settling in for a “long winter’s night.” Only once has the boom traveled up my cove and rushed under me like a freight train I could hear and feel. I am always hoping for another magical night.
I reread “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” and the famous Virginia Santa Claus letter and this year, I found a Robert Frost poem where he refuses to sell his Christmas trees. Just delicious, cranky, and very Frost.
So here, I’d like to share some of these voices and holiday photo memories as well.
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” ―Dr. Seuss
Excerpt from “Christmas Trees” by Robert Frost
… He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon. …
In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial.
DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Ho, Ho, Ho.
Sandy’s novel, “Deadly Trespass, A Mystery in Maine,” won a national Mystery Writers of America award, was a finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest, and she’s been a finalist for a Maine Literary Award. Find her novel at all Shermans Books and on Amazon. Find more info on the video trailer and Sandy’s website. The second Mystery in Maine, “Deadly Turn,” will be published in 2020
Ho Ho Ho back at you, Sandy! Thanks for this perfect holiday post. I love the image of you lying on the ice in your cove, waiting for the magical boom.
Thanks, Brenda! Here’s to your having some bracing, ice and snow times in the marsh, on the beach, or wherever you both like to roam outdoors. S
I remember skating on the pond and having one of those booming ice cracks go right under my feet. We knew it was safe because dad had gone down and cut a hole in the ice to check. Magical when small town winter included skating and a fire followed by hot cocoa served at the post office, or gathering friends for a bog pot of sloppy joes.
Thanks, Kate! And yes, your dad had it right to make the hole. No other way to tell. I wish more kids today could have the magical childhood you describe. Lucky you!
What a fun blog! Thank you, Sandy Neily. Thanks for the links and the lasting image of you on the frozen lake. Cute dogs!!
Thanks, Rae. Hope the links are fun to explore. Am thinking the shallow end of my cove might be ready for a night time moment. Enjoy!