… food prepared for children was almost always tastier than the food cooked for oneself. It simply was. How many parents, then, found themselves hovering over their children’s plates, ready to swoop on any surplus or rejected morsel or, worse still, ready to sneak something off the plate while the child was looking in the other direction, or arguing with a brother or sister, or possibly having a tantrum. The closing of the eyes that went with a tantrum could be especially useful in this respect; when the child came to his or her senses, the quantity on the plate may have been significantly reduced, thus providing the child who noticed it with a sharp lesson in the consequences of bad behaviour. Make a fuss, and your food will be eaten by somebody else: a sound proposition that Mma Ramotswe believed could be applied with equal force to many other situations.To the Land of Long Lost Friends, by Alexander McCall Smith, p. 137
1) A fictional family you would like to spend Christmas dinner with?
Whooo this is a tricky one!
I think the ideal place to spend Christmas would be in Germany, Austria or Switzerland, soo … Heidi? Problem is, I haven’t read it.
The Von Trapp family? Not fictional, and not sure I could live up to their standards.
How about Denmark? Hamlet’s family? Never mind, too much family tension.
Scotland? MacBeth? Nope … nope … nope.
How about a big English country house from an Agatha Christie novel? There is sure to be a murder, but on the other hand the food and the service would be terrific. But I would certainly make a fool of myself on account of not having sufficiently good table manners and not understanding the British class system. A fate worse than … death.
Bertie and Jeeves? Getting closer, but Bertie by himself is not really a family.
I’ve got it. Almost all the Grimms’ fairy tales take place in Germany. All I have to do is find a fairy tale family to spend Christmas with.
Cinderella? … Family tension again.
Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother? That would be great, except I think in the original version they die.
Hansel and Gretel? Yet more family tension, and they are starving. Maybe I could spend Christmas with Hansel and Gretel and their father post-witch.
Actually, now that I think about it, I have a pretty good family to spend Christmas with already. There is plenty of food, no murder, and a minimal amount of family tension. In this case, truth is better than fiction.
2) A bookish item you would like to receive as a gift?
An agent! A publisher! A BOOK DEAL! (hysterical laughter)
3) A fictional character you think would make a perfect Christmas elf?
Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He’s already an elf, so it’s not a stretch.
4) Match a book to its perfect Christmas song.
Game of Thrones … We Three Kings.
(I haven’t read it, but it’s about kings, right?)
5) Bah Humbug. A book (or fictional character) you’ve been disappointed in and should be put on the naughty list?
Austin Lively of Andrew Klavan’s serialized novel, Another Kingdom.
Austin, Austin, Austin. You spent the first two seasons transforming from a Hollywood wannabe into a brave and honorable man.
Now, at the beginning of the third season, you’re a powerful Hollywood SOB who is taking women to the Casting Couch.
What happened? Have you forgotten who you are, Austin?
You’d better remember quick, because until you do, I am going to be cheering over every bad thing that happens to you.
6) A book or fictional character you think deserves more appreciation and deserves to be put on the nice list?
Anthony Trollope isn’t as well-known as Jane Austen but his books are just as funny.
7) Red, Gold, and Green. A book whose cover has a wonderfully Christmassy feel to it.
8) A book or series you love so much, you want everyone to find it under their Christmas tree this year so that they can read and love it too.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, starring Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi (both of the agency) … Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors … Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s hapless assistant, Charlie … the somewhat overbearing Mma Potokwane who runs the orphanage … and many, many others.
These books are just so heart-warming and they go down so easy. Although written in a certain order, it’s easy for the reader to jump right in even if you read them out of order. And they are addictive. I think a book or two – or a crateful – from this series would brighten any reader’s Christmas.