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the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

December 26th, 2008 (12:37 pm)

Merry Boxing Day, everyone! My apologies for not offering a Merry Christmas yesterday, but things got a little zany around our house during the last week, mainly because we have no money and so we were working overtime hand-making gifts for everybody. This had its pitfalls, as when we gave a handmade Christmas tree ornament to my grandmother and she thought it was a Christmas cookie and tried to eat it (in our defense, she didn't have her glasses on and her eyes are failing). But in general, I think we did well, and now it feels really strange to be anticipating going home after work and *not* trying to figure out mentally how many ornaments I can paint and decorate or whatever. Merry Boxing Day indeed!

Christmas was lovely for us in the end, anyway, and I hope it was so for all of y'all who celebrate it. The Christmas service we went to at the Arlington Street UU service was beautiful, even if the minister did decide to give absolutely the corniest sermon I have *ever* heard in my *entire* life. Seriously, it was about a guy who was driving to his family's house on Christmas Eve when he saw "a stooped, bent old man trudging up the street," and the guy pulled over his car and grabbed a plate of Christmas cookies and ran up to the old man, who almost decked him (that was the best part of the story), but then the guy proffered the cookies and the old man said shakily, "Why are you giving me a present?" And the guy -- responding from the heart (this was a big point; it was his heart that spoke, not his brain or, apparently, his mouth) -- said "Because it's Christmas, and because I love you." And then the old man and the young man hugged and cried together. As λ put it later, "I've gotten better Christmas stories than that in email forwards."

So that was doofy. But the rest of the service was beautiful. The candle lighting ceremony was as lovely as it always is, and the Boston Gay Men's Chorus sang Everything Possible, as they do every year; the first year that I heard it I was in a place where I particularly needed that kind of affirmation at Christmastime, and hearing it is becoming one of my favorite Christmas traditions. And then we went on to various Christmas parties with family, and a nice time was had by all, and I got lots of money, just as I'd asked for, and λ and I are going to go to New York to see In the Heights and Gypsy, because we got cheated out of using our birthday money to do that due to unexpected medical costs, but right now we are healthy and we are going to Broadway. And we will see the tree at Rockefeller Center, and walk through Central Park in the maybe-snow. And it will be great. Merry Christmas everyone.

There was one small dark fleck on my Christmas joy though. It can still be remedied, possibly. I am making this poll to see.

Are you familiar with the story of The Little Match Girl?

Yes indeed!
No, I can't say that I am
Wait, seriously, there are people who don't know that story? WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE

The Little Match Girl is

A lovely, poignant fairy tale
A black bleak horrifyingly grim story that you should only read to your kids at bedtime if you want them to cry themselves to sleep
Still something I am not familiar with

Please sing the song "Walking in Memphis" in your head, remembering as many lyrics as you can, and then indicate how far you got in the text box.

If the answers to this poll go okay I will deal better with the fact that last night, of twelve people of my generation at the party, two of them, including me, had ever heard of The Little Match Girl. BZUH. (Oh, and wrt the last poll question, that was also brought up by a discussion last night, and for those of you who are hating on me for mentioning that song, I am going to note that the discussion also involved the song "Africa" by Toto, and I did NOT ask you to sing THAT in your heads, so count your blessings, dudes, I swear to God.)


Posted by: Morgan (banshea)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)

I know that there is a story called "The Little Match Girl", and I think it involves a little girl freezing to death because nobody gave her charity, but I have no idea, really.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 06:37 pm (UTC)

Oh wait, so you do know the story! Because that's it, basically. Out of the eleven people at the party last night that I asked, only one had ever heard of it at all. They would all be like "What is it, anyway?" and I would explain and they'd be like "SHE DIES?! What kind of a kids' book is that?!" So their ignorance was total, but you seem to be on the ball about it. :)

Posted by: Morgan (banshea)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC)

Wow, white knowledge wins again. I know that I have never read nor seen a copy of the book, and am quite sure that I have never had it read to me. And my previous comment is about all I can elaborate on the subject, except for an idea that match girls were at one time a real and common thing, so the story is less hyperbole and more a generalization of real circumstances, but yeah.

On the subject of effed-up kids' books, though, have they never read The Giver? Or, well, any of the other "classic" books that only seem to get on the list because they're so damned depressing. -_-

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Electric Landlady (electricland)
Posted at: December 30th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)

That was what I thought of too! (Especially the part where Albert says "I suppose people think it's more... satisfying that way. You know, now I actually come to tell someone...")

Posted by: Electric Landlady (electricland)
Posted at: December 30th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)

I should add that Connie Willis also has trenchant things to say about this particular genre of Christmas story in the introduction to Miracle.

Posted by: Underwear Ninja (chavvah)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 09:41 pm (UTC)

Dude, I fucking hated that story when I was a kid. Our teacher read it to us one time and then I had to stand in the corner (which, honestly, they should have just put my desk over there for the year) because I was so outraged and I wouldn't stop yelling.

Posted by: Obsessively opposed to the typical since 1987 (baroque_n_roll)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)

I am so sorry. I couldn't resist. Forgive me.

Posted by: Michael (ftmichael)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
good sweet lord

I don't even know you, but I must say I lol'd and yet I still hate you.

Posted by: Obsessively opposed to the typical since 1987 (baroque_n_roll)
Posted at: December 27th, 2008 02:49 am (UTC)


Except, I sort of know you, in a Six-Degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon sort of way. Like I recognize your name, even though I've interacted with you like one and a half times, including this one. So hi? Please don't hate me because I love to rickroll!

Posted by: Michael (ftmichael)
Posted at: December 27th, 2008 03:10 am (UTC)

Hi! I guess I can forgive the rickroll this once because you sang Africa in your subject line.

Is this the one, or the half?

Posted by: Obsessively opposed to the typical since 1987 (baroque_n_roll)
Posted at: December 27th, 2008 03:45 am (UTC)

Er, this is probably the one, as the comments are actually nesting now. :P (Sorry for spamming your inbox, Kylie!)

Posted by: Katie (october31st)
Posted at: December 27th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)

Ok, I know I was a deeply depressed little girl, but am I really only one of a small minority who liked the story? Maybe because my version was beautifully illustrated - lovely, full-color drawings of a Vioctorian child freezing to death. Aheh.

Posted by: John :: Affirming Consequents, Denying Antecedents (idonotlikepeas)
Posted at: December 27th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)

I ran out of space before I ran out of song. As it happens, I know the whole thing, although I sometimes get the order of the verses wrong.

Posted by: Christine, the strawberry girl (thirtiesgirl)
Posted at: December 28th, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)

There's a cartoon version of The Little Match Girl that used to be shown on tv when I was a child. Not a motion cartoon, but more of a stop-action thing where you just see pictures of the action that dissolve into a picture of the next action. The drawings are kind of James Thurber-ish (i.e., purposefully amateurish), mostly drawn in shades of bleak black, blue and white. And of course it's horribly sad.

I have to admit, I was kind of fascinated by the story when I was a child, wondering when she was going to get to her last match and what was going to happen. I also wasn't a big one for allegory at the time, so I didn't understand that the image of her mother that appears with all the bright lights was supposed to be a representation of "an angel taking the little match girl up to heaven." But I was always heartbroken at the very end, with the image of her body lying in the snow. I guess I had hope every time that once she reached that last match, something miraculous would happen, and it never did. Images of "angels taking you up to heaven" never seemed that miraculous to me as a pre-teen, which is why I'm not a religious or spiritual person now. I'd much rather have something miraculous happen for real, here on earth.

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