Donna Andrews: The Gift of the Magpie … and Yule Candles, Candy, and Other Christmas Cheer

24 Festive Tasks: Door 1 – Winter Solstice (Yule – Dōngzhì – Soyal – Yaldā Night), Book, Task 1 and Bonus Task #2:

Book: Read a book that takes place in December, with ice or snow on the cover, where all events take place in a single day or night, that revolves around the solstice, set in Persia / Iran, China or the American Southwest or prominently featuring Persian / Iranian, Chinese or Native American characters, or a collection of poetry.

Task 1: Burn a Yule log – or if you don’t have a fireplace, light a candle to chase away the winter and welcome in the longer days. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, light a candle to mourn the slow but inexorable retreat of the sun.

Bonus Task #2: Stay up all night reading a good book (or at least stay up past your usual bedtime).


I stayed up past my (theoretically) usual bedtime last night to listen to Bernadette Dunne’s narration of Donna Andrews’s most recent Meg Langslow Christmas mystery, “The Gift of the Magpie” — which instantly became a particular favorite among the Christmas mysteries from that series. (Feline accompaniment analogous to the “read by flashlight” Halloween task.)

Since this is set over Christmas (i.e., in December), I’m also going to use it as my book for Winter Solstice.

And as it’s finally Advent in my home, too, here’s the “candles” (or “candles and candy”) part, for Winter Solstice Task 1:

… and by way of context, the rest of the holiday cheer:

I don’t dare put up a tree (it would doubtlessly not withstand the onslaught of feline exuberance it would be sure to cause), so I usually put up most of the decorations as a spread on my living room table, with a few other ornaments hanging from odd pieces of the rest of the furniture.

Lastly, as this is the last Christmas for which I was able to stock up tax-free and to my heart’s content from my favorite London sources, unlike in previous years this time I indulged in including a selection of Christmas teas, too:


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