Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Beautiful Things

The world is full of beautiful things
Butterfly wings, fairy tale kings,
And each new day undoubtedly brings,
Still more beautiful things.

The world abounds with many delights,
Magical sights, fanciful flights,
And those who dream on beautiful nights,
Dream of beautiful things.

The Merchant Ivory film adaptation of Howard’s End would, to me, be a magnificent treat even if the only frame I had ever watched was the Christmas shopping scene. Set in the resplendent halls of turn of the century London’s Fortnum and Mason, Emma Thompson attempts to introduce Vanessa Redgrave to the “scientific” approach to Christmas shopping, - “the list”-, all the while wandering around the most sumptuously decorated holiday set ever created. My heart beats a bit faster every time I see it. It awakens in me the passion I possess for the enticing experience that is Christmas shopping. Given my profession I have the occasion to frequent delightfully unusual and off-the-beaten-track shops all throughout the year. Between those visits, and given the fact that Christmas presents are often a handmade affair here at The House of Edward, my holiday shopping is completed each year long before the first decorations pop up in the shops. But that does not for one second mean I don’t go Christmas shopping in December. It just means I can enjoy it a bit more. Being an inveterate observer, there is nothing I like more than strolling through the storybook decor of all the various stores... watching the holiday shoppers - bundled up and muttering- rushing to and fro....listening to the sweetly familiar holiday songs that provide the festive soundtrack... stopping to enjoy the show as one after another little gaily dressed and pressed children are plopped onto Santa’s lap to relate their deepest desires to the red-suited old man... and then finding the perfectly warm spot in the perfectly cozy cafe to enjoy a marshmallow topped hot chocolate with a good book or a good friend. Sometimes I discover something I just have to purchase, some sort of curious bauble or frippery, magically feathered, sugared or flounced. But mostly my Christmas shopping is a reconnaissance mission, meant to store up valuable inspiration for the later hours of future days. I will wrap it carefully and pack it away in its holly and tinsel and on some future frustrating or sweltering afternoon - some troublesome or mind-numbing morning, I’ll have a peek inside that memory and all the colourful flurries, carillon melodies, the hope, the happiness, the wonderment that is Christmas will swirl around my life once more.

Lyrics above by Leslie Bricusse