Ten Quotes About Christmas from the Sea Library Books

“The smaller you are, the bigger Christmas is.”

Tove Jansson “Christmas” from “Sculptor’s Daughter”

“For the last seventeen years I’ve been returning to this city, or recurring in it, with the frequency of a bad dream. .. every Christmas or shortly before I’d emerge from a train/plane/boat/bus and drag my bags heavy with books and typewriters to the treshold of this or that hotel..”

Joseph Brodsky “Watermark: An Essay on Venice”

“At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off we glided. It was short, cold Christmas; and as the short northern day emerged into night, we found ourselves almost broad upon the wintry ocean, whose freezing spray cased us in ice, as in polished armor. The long rows of teeth on the bulwarks glistened in the moonlight; and like the white ivory tusks of some huge elephant, vast curving icicles depended from the bows.”

Herman Melville “Ch.22 Merry Christmas” from “Moby-Dick or, the Whale”

“Christmas Day: Morte saison, only the gorse blooms. Woodsage and bracken rustle rust dead and the brambles are bleached as fish bones in the shingle. Broom burnt black by the wind. A seagull scooped up in a gust is blown across the Ness. Breakers roll along the deserted shore.”

Derek Jarman “Modern Nature”

“Half past two. Christmas afternoon. The cats are lurking in torn wrapping paper, having spent the past week fighting over presents that aren’t for them. The goose is carved, after cooking for most of the morning. Its meat is dark and rich – and, yes, delicious. Maybe it’s the soporitic atmosphere of Christmas encouraging me not to think, but I don’t feel like a hypocrite for eating it. It feels like another way of appreciating a species, and while I wish it hadn’t had to die, it feels right to make a celebration of it, to be respectful of its life.”

Stephen Rutt “Wintering: A Season With Geese”

“A fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end, on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a great ham, stripped of its outer skin and peppered over with crust crumbs, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a round of spiced beef. Between these rival ends ran parallel lines of side-dishes: two little minsters of jelly, red and yellow; a shallow dish full of blocks of blancmange and red jam, a large green leaf-shaped dish with a stalk-shaped handle, on which lay bunches of purple raisins and peeled almonds, a companion dish on which lay a solid rectangle of Smyrna figs, a dish of custard topped with grated nutmeg, a small bowl full of chocolates and sweets wrapped in gold and silver papers and a glass vase in which stood some tall celery stalks. In the centre of the table there stood, as sentries to a fruit-stand which upheld a pyramid of oranges and American apples, two squat old-fashioned decanters of cut glass, one containing port and the other dark sherry. On the closed square piano a pudding in a huge yellow dish lay in waiting and behind it were three squads of bottles of stout and ale and minerals, drawn up according to the colours of their uniforms, the first two black, with brown and red labels, the third and smallest squad white, with transverse green sashes.”

James Joyce “The Dead” from “The Dubliners”

“I think Christmas mornings have always been happy. I can’t remeber a distressed one. I was always with my family, in my house, safe. Every year we watch The Snowman somewhere on the telly. Last night, on Christmas Eve, all got a small pile of new books to read over the holidays and over the last winter months.”

Dara McAnulty “Diary of a Young Naturalist”

“both Russ and Mal were determined that the atmosphere of Christmas would not be lost despite our alien watery surroundings. Later on Christmas Eve they went round the ship exhorting us to hang up our stockings. They seemed to be half joking, half serious but there was obviously something afoot so we followed their instructions.

On Christmas morning there was no-one absent from breakfast and it was a curious sight as men climbed out of hatchways, dishevelled, half dressed but with stockings clutched in their hands. There were marzipan bars, cigars and small plastic toys appropriate for each member. Col was given a tiny hammer and saw, the Skipper a pair of binoculars and, in view of my impending marriage, I was given a baby’s dummy.”

Philip Temple “The Sea and the Snow”

“Two glasses later I clambered out on deck and perched myself on the cabin top to hold a Carol Service. I sang happily away for over an hour, roaring out all my favourite carols, and where I had forgotten the words, singing those I did know over again. By the time I had exhausted my repertoire and had had a few encores I was feeling quite merry. Christmas, I reflected as I turned in, had got off to a good start after all.”

Robin Knox-Johnston “A World of My Own: The First Ever Non-stop Solo Round the World Voyage”

“Now it’s the day after the day after Christmas Eve – a quiet evening .. Heavenly Canaan, how glad I am that Christmas is over. Nice, of course, as always – but it’s been so hard to find time for everything and everyone I wanted to..”

Tove Jansson in 1949 “Letters from Tove”


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