Bubby: When you think of Christmas, there’s a certain image that comes to mind for most people: twinkling lights on a tall tree, stockings hung in front of a crackling fire, snow softly falling outside the window. You know, that classic Christmas scene. We’ve noticed that the concept of a “small-town Christmas” is one that shows up a lot in our Christmas book picks this year so we thought we’d find you the real live versions. In Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology, we experienced Christmas in Echo Ridge, New York, which seems a lot like the real life Skaneateles, New York and their Dickens Christmas Festival.
Sissy: What’s more literary and Christmassy than a Dickens festival? This celebration begins the day after Thanksgiving and runs every Saturday and Sunday through December 24, from noon to 4 pm. Charles Dickens and his cast of over 50 characters will interact with residents and visitors in the streets, stores and restaurants. With live music, unique shopping, wonderful food and horse and wagon rides around the Village, this festival sounds wonderful. Bubby, do you remember The Dog Who Came for Christmas, by Joyce and Jim Lavene, from the Happy Homicides Collection?
Bubby: Yes! That was set in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, which is a fictional town but reminds us of Lincoln and North Conway New Hampshire. Their claim to fame is “The Original Polar Express”, also known as the Journey to the North Pole. I’ve always wanted to do one of these Christmas train rides – a story, Santa and hot cocoa, cookies and chocolates all on a train.
Sissy: I’ve always wanted to go on one of those too. We even have one here locally called North Pole Express, that has the same sort of things, including Mrs. Claus’ famous chocolate chip cookies. I think this is the year that we need to go.
Bubby: I’m in! Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale is set in beautiful Richmond, Virginia. What fabulous holiday event can you find there, Sissy?
Sissy: The 100 Miles of Christmas Lights, of course! You’re given a two-day suggested itinerary, which takes you to festively decorated places like Agecroft Hall, a Tudor home, Carytown, full of boutiques and shops, and Virginia House where you can make a gingerbread house, and several more fun destinations. I actually hate these destination blog posts because I just want to go to all these venues but I can’t get anyone to pay me to do it. What about you, sister mine?
Bubby: I agree. I’d like to go on the Richmond Region Tacky Light Tours. Every year they publish a mapped route of the most outlandishly decorated houses for your holiday enjoyment. Sounds like fun! Years ago my husband and I had the choice between going home to our families for Christmas or going to England for the holiday. We chose to go home, but looking back on it now, I wish we’d gone to England because I still haven’t made it there! In Menace at the Christmas Market by Sara Rosett (from Happy Homicides), we’re plopped down in the midst of a classic English Christmas Faire.
Sissy: Just like the one in Grassington, North Yorkshire that’s part of the Dickensian Festival. They have a traditional Christmas market as well as an indoor craft fair, plus all kinds of fabulous things like lots of music and dancing, a Christmas tree festival, theater, procession of light, urban circus, magic shows, etc. I don’t even want to talk about how many years I’ve wanted to go to England, and how much I want to go to this particular Dickensian festival right now. Maybe I’ll get to go before I die. Maybe I’ll just have to be happy (or pouty) drinking Bengal spice tea (very Christmassy, despite its name) and reading books set in England. At Christmastime. Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, may you be full of cheer and have a great book in hand!