Treats for a Sweet Season -Winter 2017

by: Amanda C. Lydon

photography by: Janie Dretler

Three stories with giving at their center make an annual appearance in our house over the long holiday season: Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” and Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory.”

We read them aloud to the kids mostly, to justify putting another few logs on the fire, to feel soundly occupied on a December evening at home in an otherwise relentless tide of open houses, recitals and concerts.

Guinness Ginger Cake

If my father happens to be visiting for dinner, I ask him to tag in to read while I cook dinner. It pleases him and he slips into his stentorian bass to enunciate, “Marley ... was DEAD!” in precisely the same intonation he’s used for the last 35 years.

Each of the stories can seem thoroughly modern in parts, with scarcity and poverty thrown into unsparing relief by the season’s feasting that teeters on over-consumption. All of the writing is sentimental to varying degrees, but together it documents the ways in which holidays with or without our families churn up the full spectrum of emotion: love and thankfulness, to be sure, but also anxiety, hope, disappointment, loneliness and hunger of all kinds.

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