Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas at Lark Rise

Flora Thomson describes Christmas Day in Lark Rise to Candleford:

"Christmas Day passed very quietly. The men had a holiday from work and the children from school and the churchgoers attended special Christmas services. Mothers who had young children would buy them an orange each and a handful of nuts; but, except at the end house and the inn, there was no hanging up of stockings, and those who had no kind elder sister or aunt in service to send them parcels got no Christmas presents.

Still, they did manage to make a little festival of it. Every year the farmer killed an ox for the purpose and gave each of his men a joint of beef, which duly appeared on the Christmas dinner-table together with plum pudding – not Christmas pudding, but suet duff with a good sprinkling of raisins. Ivy and other evergreens (it was not a holly country) were hung from the ceiling and over the pictures; a bottle of home-made wine was uncorked, a good fire was made up, and, with doors and windows closed against the keen, wintry weather, they all settled down by their own firesides for a kind of super-Sunday. There was little visiting of neighbours and there were no family reunions, for the girls in service could not be spared at that season, and the few boys who had gone out in the world were mostly serving abroad in the Army."

Anyone who watched last night's episode of Lark Rise to Candleford on BBC television might wonder why there is no mention of the ghostly Cinderella Dee and the wassailing Twister. My guess is that Bill Gallagher never actually got around to reading the books.

I really don't mind Victorian costume dramas filled with artificial snow and sentimentality at Christmastime. My husband had to leave the room because he found it turned his stomach but I thought it was one of the best comedies of the year. I just wish the BBC had come up with an original name and not stolen the title of one of my favourite books. Perhaps Frolic Rise to Clichéford?

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