#Outlander, Christmas, and Rereading Books

Books are my touchstones. I carry them with me…battered copies tucked in my bag, a library of books on my phone, and always, always books in my heart. So many of my old photos have books in them, and I can tell you what was going on in my life by what I was reading.

Christmas 1984 – loved stories, and history, and losing myself…that was my Laura Ingalls Wilder period. Still love history.

Christmas 1985 – middle school, awkward, one foot in adolescence and one in childhood…ahhh, yes. Sweet Valley High and Flowers in the Attic. Don’t’ judge.

Christmas 1987 – young, broody…that would be my Sylvia Plath period.

Christmas 1991 – idealistic, romantic, and nostalgic…that was the year I discovered Norman Maclean.

Fast-forward to 2015, and I am re-re-re-reading Outlander. Yes, yes, I know. I have read it a *cough* few times. But there is a very good reason for that: It’s worth rereading.

Outlander-blue-cover-198x300I have mentioned before that the Outlander series, quite literally, helped me survive my husband’s heart attack this past March. I read while he rested in the hospital. The books were my refuge, my companion, my escape, my comfort. They still are.

So, when I realized that I wasn’t feeling all Eggnog-and-Holiday-Cheer, I tried to slow down and take a breath. It helped…a bit. I felt less stressed, but there was still the voice in my head whispering about the Christmas lights that were still in boxes, and the decided lack of Christmas cookies, this year’s non-existent Family Christmas Card, and the fact that Christmas is two freakin’ weeks away and I have done exactly NONE of my Usual Christmas Traditions.

We have not gone driving around to look at Christmas lights even once, I have not watched my traditional Christmas movies (The Family Man; Love, Actually; The Holiday, or It’s A Wonderful Life), and I have bought exactly…nothing. So, basically, I feel like I am sucking at this whole Mom Thing.

*Insert holiday induced pity party here.*

So, after a nice cup of fortifying tea, I started wondering what the holidays would have been like for Jamie and Claire. (Well, not that first Christmas. We know exactly what THAT was like for poor Jamie…let’s not go there. *shudder*  Oh, and not that incredibly rage inducing and misguided Hogmanay with Laoghaire. *makes sign of horns*)

No, I mean the later Christmases…those at Fraser’s Ridge. Actually, in The Fiery Cross Diana told us (she’s good like that) what the holidays were like. Spoiler: They were nothing like the holiday season as we have mangled it.

Despite all the of the responsibilities of being Himself, Jamie still found time to carve Jem a wooden horse, and he also carved Claire a new wooden ladle with the image of a mint leaf carved on the handle. And, despite all the time spent physicking, Claire gave Jamie “a new shirt with ruffles at the throat for ceremonial occasions.”

As Diana reminds us:

Catholics as many of them were—and nominally Christian as they all were—Highland Scots regarded Christmas primarily as a religious observance, rather than a major festive occasion. Lacking priest or minister, the day was spent much like a Sunday, thought with a particularly lavish meal to mark the occasion, and the exchange of small gifts.

I imagine a lovely meal courtesy of Mrs. Bugg (God rest her soul), and perhaps Claire would make some of her molasses cookies. And I am quite sure there was a wee dram to be had. Perhaps a song or two as well. Likely no cherry bounce or jigs and reels. But it was enough.

There was no tinsel, no movies, no stampede of crowds. There was no competing to get the biggest or best present for kids or grandkids. There was no social obligation filling every spare moment. There was food, and family, a fire in the hearth, and food on the table. And it was enough.

Once again, books steady me, comfort me. And this is why I reread books…because, like an old friend who knows me well, books bring me back to what matters.

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12 thoughts on “#Outlander, Christmas, and Rereading Books

  1. I remember when I was a child, my grandparents would take us out on Christmas Eve. We would drive around, looking at all the houses that were decorated for Christmas. I also remember going to Midnight Mass and enjoying the beautiful music. How I miss those simple moments!!
    It’s a shame that the true meaning of Christmas is missed by so many people these days in favor of commercialism. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your journey as well as Jamie and Claire’s. I know what I will be doing this year. Praying that all goes well for you as well as our Outlander family. Merry Christmas!!

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  2. My books are my lifeline. I have lost all of my family’s yuletide traditions except getting a special box of candy for my brother and myself. I haven’t really celebrated since my father died in 1984 but it has just been another couple of days since my mom died too. So that’s my pity party.
    I’m glad my brother is still around. I love him but I wish he’d come see me for a change. So even
    when we are together I have my nose in a book or pointed at my kindle.

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    • I am so sorry for your loss. Sometimes I think there is a point where traditions can bind us to a past that offers no future or joy. When that happens, perhaps it is time to fashion new traditions. May this Yule bring you peace and unmeasured joy. Slàinte mhath.

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  3. Reading my comment it sounds like my mom just passed. She’s actually been gone since 2013. I’ve always been more of a grinch than a who, but I would like to enjoy the winter holiday season again. I think you need children around to really have a magic Christmas.

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  4. THIS is truly what this season is all about. I recently retired from the “work for pay” world, but even though I have more time to do all those things you mentioned, I’ve focused on the important things ~ notes to friends, a special gift instead of a cart full of “stuff”. This is, in part, to my love/obsession/think of them as real people Outlander. The simplicity of their lives is a compass when we’re feeling overwhelmed. Taing Dhia for your writings, Terri

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