One of my favorite holiday traditions is Virago Secret Santa, sponsored by the Virago Modern Classics Group on LibraryThing. The giving is just as much fun as receiving. This year my “Santee” was someone I’ve come to know reasonably well, considering she lives all the way across the world in Australia. But Trish presented me with two gift-giving challenges: first, she owns so many Virago Modern Classics already that I wanted to do something different, while still remaining focused on woman authors. Second, I wanted to send a book from my list of all-time favorites, but I quickly learned she’d read them all. Fortunately, I found a couple of books I thought would interest her. I noticed she owned nothing from Peirene Press, so she received a copy of Beside the Sea, their first book and a very powerful one, indeed. I also wanted to send Trish something “very American.” Inspired by a fabulous profile of Tess Gallagher in Belletrista, I sent a collection of stories, At the Owl Woman Saloon.
I mailed my gifts off just after Thanksgiving, and then came the difficult part: being patient until December 19, the designated gift-opening day. When my parcel arrived, I gave it a place of honor next to our nativity scene:
December 19 was my first day off work for the holidays, and what a lovely way to ring in the season! After a nice hot bowl of oatmeal with bananas and brown sugar, and a couple of steaming cups of coffee, I decided it was time to open those lovely parcels. There were two cards: one cleverly designed to protect my Santa’s identity, and the other with a very stern warning. This was indeed she who must be obeyed.
From left to right: A Glass of Blessings, by Barbara Pym, in a Virago edition. Next, Mandoa! Mandoa!, the one Winifred Holtby I was still searching for, and in absolutely mint condition. Santa also decided my one-volume collection of Persephone Classics needed to be expanded, so she sent Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, and The Far Cry. The latter has gorgeous floral endpaper lurking beneath its unassuming gray cover. I was speechless, and equally pleased when Trish reported in on her gifts, and had already settled down to read some of the Gallagher stories.
I’m touched by the camaraderie and generosity of people I only know online, through a shared love of literature. It was a lovely beginning to Christmas week! Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season.