A CHRISTMAS MEMORY
'It's always the same: a morning arrives in November; and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart, announces: 'It's fruitcake weather! Fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat.'
Traditions abound in Truman Capote's semi-autobiographical tale of the festive activities of seven year old Buddy and his sixty-something cousin and steadfast best friend, and after reading for the first time this year, it's hard not to see an annual rereading become our very own kick starter to the holiday season. From fruitcake mixing to tree cutting; accidental merry-making to very deliberate present-making, Capote blends his down-to-earth, observational dialogue with a startlingly lyrical prose that embodies the very soul of Christmas.
Too late to start your cake now (Nigella suggests making up to three months ahead!), whatever preparations you have, why not work while listening to a recording of Truman Capote in 1959, reading an abridged version of his story, via This American Life.
THE SON OF JOSEPH
Discontented Parisian teenager Vincent, unmoved by the unsavoury preoccupations of his friends, and living (literally) in the shadow of Caravaggio's Sacrifice of Isaac, has become obsessed with finding his father, the identity of whom his mother has always refused to disclose. Search embarked upon, the father is quickly found, and just as quickly found wanting. Soon Vincent meets Joseph, a kind stranger and as it turns out, the mentor he's been looking for all along.
Fathers, sons, hope, light, redemption, and a mother carried on a donkey. While not one of the usual seasonal suspects movie-wise, not only does The Son of Joseph make more than a passing reference to the Nativity, this pared back, offbeat comedy from director Eugène Green treads just the right side of whimsically earnest. A warm beatific parable that delivers a more than satisfactory dose of goodwill to all men.
With singing – particularly en masse – getting some pretty good press these days (Psychology Today recently cited group singing as a remedy for loneliness), if ever there was a time to mingle your dulcet tones with others', this is it. Choirs of angels in the heavenly realms; carol singers at your door; school children half-shouting the words to Away in a Manager: everyone's at it. If you're in London this December why not head to one of the many charity carol services or big band Christmas concerts? The Evening Standard and Tatler have some great suggestions. Our favourite: The chance to sing alongside the dogs of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home at St Luke’s Church in Chelsea on the 7th.
Feel like something a little cosier? Track down a friend with a piano, sort out the sheet music and plenty of mulled wine, and invite yourself and some friends over for a sing along. With any luck snow will be falling before you've even finished the first verse.