Christmas brings out the best and the worst in us, as can been seen in this evocative anthology. Among what Thomas Love Peacock calls the "many poetical charms in the heraldings of Christmas," there are eulogies by saints and diatribes from curmudgeons. Here, Christmas is expounded by divines, sung by rustics, deplored by philosophers, made mystical in stories and summed up in a line by the poet Elizabeth Jennings: "The hush, the star, the baby, people being kind again."
This Christmas package contains poetry and prose from diverse authors. The addition of Christmas carols in many languages adds to the holiday spirit. The text begins with a recipe for Christmas pastry from 1594, which is skillfully recited in a charming, old-fashioned English accent. Dickens's Christmas articles from Household Words magazine are enthusiastically delivered, concluding beautifully with the phrase, "There was everything and more." In stark contrast is George R. Sims's "Christmas in the Workhouse," in which a meek pauper changes when his wife is killed by the greed of the rich who are offering a Christmas "feast" at the workhouse. His moving proclamation, "I will not eat this vulture's feast," is heartbreaking and inspiring, much like the Christmas season itself.
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