I had not intended to fall behind so early in the month, but a defunct surge suppressor left me Internet-less all day yesterday. So tonight there are stories for both the 6th and 7th.
Baboushka and the Three Kings, a retelling of a Russian folk tale by Ruth Robbins, won the Caldecott Medal in 1961 for its illustrations by Nicolas Sidjakov. This ensured that it would remain in print and on library shelves, so it’s not hard to find and you really should look at the pictures. The story is suspiciously similar to the Italian legend of La Befana (which was retold and illustrated by Tomie de Paola years later). Archetype? Cultural migration? Who knows. It’s a lovely story.For music to go with it, Sergei Prokofiev’s Troika, from the Lt. Kije Suite, gives a musical picture of a sleigh or carriage pulled by three horses. There are many performances available; I chose one by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
Then, the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir sings Noch’ tikha, noch’ svyata (Ноч Тиха, Ноч Свята) – Silent Night in Russian.For tonight, a story about a time when Santa didn’t want to climb into that old sleigh again: The Year without a Santa Claus by Phyllis McGinley. This has nothing to do with the television special, as far as I know. Phylis McGinley was a very popular writer of light verse in the 1950s. Her poems dealt mostly with the trials of the suburban housewife, always with a humorous touch, and were published widely in mass-market magazines (which actually published poetry and short stories back then.) I found a song by country singer Marty Stuart that seemed to go well with the story: Even Santa Gets the Blues.
For the alternative story on December 6, here’s one recorded in 2007, which I recall reading more than once at church on Christmas Eve. Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus is a chapter from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie; here is the cover from the original edition, and then a photo of the set of paperbacks I bought a few years before our first child came along.
Because of the television series, many people think that the Little House on the Prairie was in South Dakota, but in fact it was in Kansas (as this chapter shows, mentioning towns there). I actually have a friend who comes from that part of Kansas and she has confirmed that the winters are as described. At the time I recorded this story, the Pa's Fiddle Project either had not begun or was in the planning stages, and I couldn’t find a solo fiddle playing a Christmas carol. An Americana Christmas, with Vassar Clements, Norman and Nancy Blake, and others, was the closest I could come with their lovely performance of Cradle Hymn (Away in a Manger) to the tune Afton Water.Once during the 24 days of stories, I give myself a break by using a recording of a piece read by the author. In 2008 it was Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory. For me, hearing Capote’s voice helps me get into the world he and his cousin inhabited. Since the story is about that much-maligned confection, fruitcake, I chose Seamus Kennedy’s singing of the humorous ditty, Miss Fogarty’s Christmas Cake, which is followed by an instrumental piece called The Cook in the Kitchen. His album Goodwill to Men is a wonderful blending of humor, raucous celebration, and quiet spirituality which I highly recommend.
Individual File Links for Mac UsersIntro Dec 6 2010 Surprise 1 Surprise 2 Baboushka and the Three Kings
Self-Extracting Zip Files for the Rest of UsDecember 7 2008