Quercus Books 5th November 2019
‘This book is a gathering of voices, some you’ll have heard of before, some you won’t – of actors, comedians, people who have been homeless, refugees, charity workers, even a vicar and a beautician (not the same person), from all corners of the world.
They have written their personal memories of past Christmases and hopes for future ones.
The result is a collection of remarkable stories which remind us that we are all, essentially the same. No matter who we are or where we find ourselves, we share the same dreams. We have the same desires.
We want, even more than traditional presents, the giving and receiving of care and hope and love.
Greg Wise & Emma Thompson
Best described as ‘humbling’, this book contains a varied array of accounts of Christmas from around the world. Brief – each story is between 1 & 5 pages long and details the vast ways in which people experience Christmas. Many of the accounts were about the giving aspect of Christmas, giving time via Crisis at Christmas and the positive impact of kindness. While lots of others related to time spent with others – the memorable experiences of being with family and friends at this festive time, positive or negative and the sadness and loss when Christmas doesn’t fit the positive proforma we all expect. Some of these accounts were incredibly moving – the experience of being alone, displaced and not accepted or conversely being accepted, welcomed and loved.
It was clear Christmas is widely celebrated but not necessarily just as a religious holiday but sometimes as a winter holiday or an opportunity for togetherness and sharing. The current state of the world was compared with the holy story – the displaced Mary and Joseph with no one willing to let them in, but then the warmth of strangers.
This is a beautiful book that would make a worthy and important Christmas gift, reminding all, of the key messages of Christmas. I was particularly struck by the prevalent theme that in this current marketing and materialistic world what is mostly remembered is not especially the gifts, but rather the experiences and the emotions, the traditions and the sharing of time, food, love.
Curated by Greg Wise and Emma Thompson
Greg Wise is an actor, filmmaker and writer. He is married to Emma Thompson, with whom he shares two children.
Dame Emma Thompson DBE is one of the UK’s most acclaimed actresses, screenwriters and activists. She is the president of the Helen Bamber Foundation, a patron of the Refugee Council and the Elton John AIDS Foundation and an ambassador for ActionAid. She splits her time between London and Scotland with her husband Greg Wise.