Halloween isn't the only time for ghosts and ghost stories. In Victorian Britain, spooky winter's tales were part of the Christmas season, often told after dinner, over port or coffee.
Back in the 1950s and '60s, J. M. Barrie's 'Peter Pan' - starring Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard - was regularly aired on network television during the Christmas season. I must have seen it four or five times and remember, in particular, Ritchard's gloriously camp interpretation of Captain Hook.
Deep in my cortex, the year is divided into reading seasons. The period from mid-October to Christmas, for instance, is 'ghost story' time, while Jane Austen and P. G. Wodehouse pretty much own April and May.
For me, the two weeks between Christmas and Twelfth Night have come to be reserved for desultory reading. The pressure of the holiday is over, the weather outside is frightful, there are lots of leftovers to munch on, vacation hours are being used up.
It's a sad commentary on our time - to use a phrase much favored by my late father - that people increasingly celebrate Christmas Day by going to the movies.
My urge at Christmas time or Hanukkah-time or Kwanzaa-time is that people go to bookstores: that they walk around bookstores and look at the shelves. Go to look for authors that they've loved in the past and see what else those authors have written.
Neither my mom nor my dad ever bought me any comic books. Certainly not for Christmas. I suspect that doing so would have violated the Parents' Code.
Throughout the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, Latin was the language of learning and international communication. But in the early modern period, it was gradually displaced by French. By the eighteenth century, all the world - or at least all of Europe - aspired to be Parisian.
A job should bring enough for a worker and family to live on, but after that, self-realization, the exercise of one's gifts and talents, is what truly matters.
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