One of the joys of Christmas is wallowing in books and stories set at this time of year; and in 2020 I was happy to support a wonderful initiative by one of my favourite indies, Renard Press, which not only supported a very deserving charity, but also provided some wonderful seasonal reading. Add to that the fact that the item in question could be sent to bookish friends as a card as well as something to read, and you had a winner! The item is a short story which doubles as a greetings card, and the charity is Three Peas, a group which helps refugees and asylum-seekers.

Last year, Renard chose to featured a marvellous story by Willa Cather; this year, they’ve picked an entertaining tale by Washington Irving called “The Christmas Dinner” and it should have winged its way to many of bookish peeps I know by now! The tale is presented this year as a small perfect bound booklet with envelope, and I believe they sold out quite quickly!

Washington Irving is, of course, best known for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”; here, however, he turns his eye to the traditional English Christmas dinner in all its excess… Taken from his collection “The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent” (in which “Sleepy Hollow” first appeared), this story is set in the country house of Bracebridge Hall and captures vividly what we would consider to be a typical upper class gathering, with food, drink and traditions all making an appearance. The Squire regales his guests with stories from the past; the narrator is overwhelmed with the ceremony of it all; and there is no real plot as such, this is simply a picturesque vignette of times gone by.

“The Christmas Dinner” is a wonderfully entertaining little tale (despite the non-vegan elements), and really put me in the mood for celebrating myself! I don’t think I’ve read any of Irving’s writing before, and so it was lovely to get an introduction to him with this festive little outing. The book comes with useful supporting notes, as do all the Renard books I’ve read so far. They really are an innovative indie, and these Christmas story cards are a marvellous idea – I can’t wait to see what they pick next year! 😀