Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why We Should Believe in Santa Claus by Alexander McCall Smith

Why We Should Believe

in Santa Claus

by Alexander McCall Smith

Some of us were born in places that no longer are. In my case, it was a country called Southern Rhodesia. You will not find it on a map today, but you will find Zimbabwe, which is what it became. There it is, in the middle of Africa, a part of the world that, for all its trials, is still one of the most beautiful.

Christmas there was at the hottest time of the year. As a child, I remember being puzzled by many of the images of Christmas that we saw in books and magazines. Christmas was all about winter: fields of snow, holly wreaths, carolers gathered around warming fires. This all seemed very exotic and exciting and added to the magic of what happened on the great day itself.

We went to church and sang those carols with all their wintry imagery, “In the Bleak Midwinter,” and so on, more snow and ice. But before we went to the Christmas service, we’d undergo the ritual of waiting outside the closed door of the living room, all of us children bursting with excitement. At exactly six o’clock, the door would be opened and we would go in to see if Santa—or Father Christmas, as we knew him, a name I still marginally prefer—had stopped by. He always had, and he signified his presence by eating the cookie and drinking the glass of milk that we had left for him by the fireplace. Proof! There it was—crumbs on the floor and an empty glass. How could anyone doubt his existence?

And I was not a doubter. Additional evidence was before my eyes in the shape of a pillowcase full of presents. Quite remarkably, they were often the things I had expressed a desire to have. What a mind reader he was!

I stopped believing in Santa when I was 7, and I vividly recall the precise circumstances those many years ago when my belief came to an end. All of us remember where we were when important things happened. Such memories are curious nuggets amongst the dark furniture of our minds, amongst the vague images and associations that make up our memory of things that happened to us a long time ago.

We were preparing for a holiday party a few days before Christmas itself. I knew that my father was due to appear as Santa, a role that he played well, in spite of being too tall and thin to be entirely convincing. But he sportingly donned the classic red outfit, so hot and inappropriate to African conditions, and stuck the cotton-wool beard to his chin. It was evening, and we were standing under a great night sky almost white with stars, limitless constellations soaring and dipping against a background of dark velvet.

Suddenly my father turned to me and said, “You don’t believe in Father Christmas anymore, do you?” I froze. I stood quite still, looking up at the evening sky. A shooting star flashed across the heavens. It did. I remember it to this day, because it seemed like a portent.

I was in an agony of indecision. If I said, “No, I do not believe,” then what would happen to all the presents I was hoping to get? It might be, you see, that Santa was listening to us and would mark my card accordingly: “No longer believes in me—no presents this year.”

Reason, the rational part of me, won out, and I said, “No, I no longer believe.” The heavens did not fall. No sleigh pulled by wounded reindeer slewed out of control in the sky above. Nothing happened. The world went on, as it always does, after all those small moments when something magical or mysterious is denied or lost.

There is a moment in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan when the audience is invited to revive the dying fairy Tinkerbell and told, “If you believe in fairies, clap your hands.” And every time, the theater breaks into sustained applause. That is not to suggest there are theaters full of seriously deluded people. What it does tell us is that there are times when we need to pretend to believe in things we know not to be true. We know that the world is a place of suffering and hardship, and we know, too, that justice and kindness and love and such things will not always prevail against these hard realities. Myths help us to get by. The day they all die and we tell our children exactly how things are, the world will be a poorer, less enchanted place. So don’t be ashamed to clap your hands at Peter Pan or act as if Santa exists. He stands for kindness and generosity, and those things are alive and will continue to be alive—as long as we believe in them.

Alexander McCall Smith is the best-selling author of the “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series. His newest novel is “La’s Orchestra Saves the World.”

From Parade Magazine -

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Disclosure Policy

I know that the FCC disclosure policy for bloggers hasn't taken effect yet, but I decided to post this, update any posts I may have missed and get in the habit of telling you when a publisher GIVES me a book to review.

Anyone who has read my reviews will know that no matter what the price of a book is, I'm not sold that easily and will pan a book as easily as I will praise it, regardless of how I acquired it.

Ask Elizabeth Samet about how fond I am of the piece of crap and political propaganda she put out.

Or read the review on Rule Number Two - I would have paid double to read this gem.

I also have links to They 'pay' a percentage of the sale to me IF you click on the link on my site and purchase it. After a couple of years, my account is up to $26.53 and they don't pay until I acquire $100.00. Don't think this rapid influx of money is going to benefit me soon!

The FCC has crafted yet more legislation to regulate the dishonest and the corrupt - but, will only cause difficulties for those of us with our little blogs and tiny readerships.

Update 10.13.2013 - I no longer participate in any Amazon program... and I never collected a dime.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive ~ Alexander McCall Smith

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
by Alexander McCall Smith

In the eighth book in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series, Mme Ramotswe's husband, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, goes out on a case and Mma Makutsi resigns - for a bit anyway. As changes occur and life goes on, the steadfast Precious Ramotswe is once again reminded of the blessings in her life and the goodness in her country.

In this installment, the rich characters come alive with their foibles and their antics. We are drawn, once again, into a world that is uniquely of Botswana, and yet is of the world. The richness of the relationships of the people in Precious Ramotswe's world are a delight.

Author's Website:

Book 1 - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1998)
Book 2 - Tears of the Giraffe (2000)
Book 3 - Morality for Beautiful Girls (2001)
Book 4 - The Kalahari Typing School for Men (2002)
Book 5 - The Full Cupboard of Life (2004)
Book 6 - In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (2004)
Book 7 - Blue Shoes and Happiness (2006)
Book 8 - The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (2007)
Book 9 - The Miracle at Speedy Motors (2008)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Hawke ~ Ted Bell


Ted Bell

I enjoyed every wild moment of this book!

I was introduced to Ted Bell via a radio interview. I enjoyed his personable and entertaining manner, so I immediately ordered his books!

The first book in the sequence is Hawke. The story opens with a young boy caught in the position to witness the unspeakable horror of having his parents murdered. He is then raised by his grandfather and becomes a highly decorated hero of Her Majesty's Royal Navy and, later, an operative for the British and the Americans.

His mission takes him back to the same Caribbean waters. As he tries to stop the Cubans from acquiring and using nuclear weapons, he encounters the men from his past who terrorized him as a child. The time for justice has arrived.

This book was fast moving and hard to put down. The characters were colorful and real. For me, the only weakness was the love story.

Great and Fun Read!!!!