Thursday, November 9, 2023

At Christmas We Feast - Annie Gray

I have a growing collection of books about Christmas - I'm a sucker for them. Ghost stories, crime stories, seasonal tales of all sorts, books on traditions, and books about food. I mostly love my job, we have a lot of great customers, and selling books is mostly fun. It's not always easy, there's a lot more heavy lifting, and cleaning than people seem to imagine (a lot less sitting around reading and meeting cute too) but overall there's a sense of community that I really love. The biggest downside is probably the holiday arrangements - we work bank holidays including Boxing Day and New Year's Day. We can't have time off from the beginning of December through to the middle of January. Easter is off the cards as well.

I don't think this is natural. Deep winter is a time when we should slow down, get cosy, and enjoy the good things we have. Two days off after a crazy busy week and then straight back into it is all wrong, there's no time for feeling any goodwill for mankind when people are squabbling over prices and demanding refunds for books that they've a) obviously had lying around for years, b) have come from amazon, c) are badly damaged - and no you can't use a gift receipt to get cash, only the person who paid for the book can have a money refund. In a better world, we'd have a bit more of a breather.

To cope with the whole show I try and make the most of this time and at least enjoy the preparation. Advent is a good time for reflection and for drawing out the celebrations. My collection of Christmas books is part of my advent tradition. At Christmas We Feast is definitely a favourite title, out for a couple of years now and with obvious stocking filler appeal, Annie Gray is an excellent food historian, this is a fascinating book to read and reread, and there are things to cook in it. 

She traces the history of Christmas feasting from its origins to the present day and there's just a lot to enjoy. Some myths about Cromwell are busted, there's a recipe for hot chocolate wine, and hours worth of interesting rabbit holes to explore. 

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