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:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Literature Reviews

Adventures in Arda

Note: This was my summer 2022 project — but while I posted the associated project pages here at the time (Middle-earth and its sub-project pages concerning the people and peoples, timeline, geography, etc. of Arda and Middle-earth, see enumeration under the Boromir meme, below), I never got around to also copying this introductory post from […]

Read More
Literature Reviews

Michael J. Sullivan: Riyria

The Riyria Revelations are the fantasy series that brought Michael J. Sullivan instant recognition back in the late 2000s.  Originally published as a series of six installments, they are now available as a set of three books, with each of the three books comprising two volumes of the original format.  As he did with almost […]

Read More
Literature Reviews

Michael J. Sullivan: Legends of the First Empire

Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria books have been on my TBR for a while, but until I’d read two short stories from the cycle — The Jester and Professional Integrity — I hadn’t been sure whether his writing would be for me.  Then I found out that (much like Tolkien’s Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History […]

Read More