When I was young you could buy a paperback book for 35 cents. Of course it was much harder to come up with 35 cents back in those days, but it was still a good price. At least for a bibliophile like me. And this love for books led to my becoming an anglophile. Let’s just say that I’m a lover of all good things.
Back in the mid-fifties we teenagers would hang out in the local drugstore. These were magical places for me, because those four walls contained all of the things I loved best. A soda fountain where they made everything from scratch, even Cokes; makeup including the latest fads in eye shadow (blue back then), lipstick and nail polish (the rage was Fire and Ice and was the reddest red you have ever seen); and most importantly: BOOKS! Racks and racks of paperback books.
There was always a sign posted that said, “THIS IS NOT A LIBRARY, BOOKS ARE FOR SALE ONLY.” Of course most of us ignored that. The owners didn’t run me out because I always bought something before I left.
It was there, when I was about 18, that I discovered my beloved Agatha Christie. The first book I happened on to was MURDER IN THE VICERAGE, and I was instantly addicted. I went on to read and reread every book that she had written. Something about her style relaxed me when I was anxious, comforted me when I was hurt and brought a good deal of pleasure to my life.
Through her books I learned of Boxing Day, a bank holiday in England. For a long time I thought it had something to do with pugilism, and I wondered why it came right after Christmas. Eventually I learned it referred to Christmas gifts and a day off for the hired help.
Historians don’t agree on how this holiday originated, although some say the tradition began in England in the Middle Ages. Servants, of course, had to work on Christmas Day, so on the day after left-overs from the huge feasts of the rich were boxed up and sent with the worker-bees as they visited their families. It seems that tradesmen also followed this tradition for their help.
The idea of an extra holiday in celebration of a Christmas Box, or gift, seems wonderful to me, and this Yankee is going to celebrate it. I invite all and sundry to join me…Yanks, Brits, and all readers.
Happy Boxing Day to all readers!