Sure, sure, we atheists aren't supposed to celebrate Christmas. Rather we are to stay locked in our houses, probably scowling, throughout the many weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas that constitute the modern "Holiday Season."
My family and I take a less dire and depressing approach. We have been celebrating Christmas since I was a tiny tot, too young to have memories -- but we do have pictorial evidence. We decorate the house, complete with a tree, always a live one; we give each other presents; we have a nice dinner; we try to be nicer to one another. And yes, certain members of the household let the stress of the days get the best of them.
Some would call us rampant consumerists, still others would call us hypocrites. I try to ignore both and just try to enjoy the extra time together. I like to think of it as the Christian way, with much less guilt, dogma, etc.
But to Hell with all that rhetoric! What happened yesterday, the 25th of December, 2009, at my house? And what did I discover in the shiny red stuff we call wrapping paper? Not surprisingly, plenty of books:
Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow - Historical fiction set in Ragtime-era, turn of the century NYC. I've been toying with exploring the world of Jazz, so this seemed a decent place to start.Besides, the author has the same last name as a personal favorite Science Fiction writer!
A one-volume, paperback "Unabridged" Shakespeare collection - Just what every child dreams to find under the Christmas tree. Sure, it took twenty years, but there it was -- and there I was, misty-eyed. It's large and awkward, of course, but at least it's readable. Lookin' forward to readin' 'em all
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski - What's good for Stephen King and Oprah is good for me. OK, I asked for it on an impulse and I'm not sure what to expect.
The Ascent of Man, by Jacob Bronowski - Ostensibly a history of science, though it really covers a wider a span -- it's based on a BBC mini-series of the same name that originally aired in the 70's.
The Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles - This book, along with The Odyssey, was bound to pop up on my reading lists eventually. It is just too classic, and I'm too into epic poetry and classical literature. After reading Fagles's translation of The Aeneid I decided to stick with his translations.
The Alien Years and Those Who Watch, by Robert Silverberg - A couple of generic, 70's-era science fiction by an author who never attained huge popularity but did churn out consistently good genre fiction.
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy - Another perfect book to ask for as a Christmas gift. A father and his young-ish son travel across a post-apocalyptic landscape. It's probably rather bleak and sparse, yet I think I'll enjoy it.
I also received a new set of headphone and some slip covers, for my iPod. And a knitting kit!