Christmas past is more than just history. Christmas past is a combination of the stuff of love. That is why we keep going back to Christmas of yore. We love love.
Christmas past is also the title of a new book by podcaster Brian Earl, host of the Christmas Past Podcast.
In Christmas Past: The Fascinating Stories Behind Our Favorite Holiday’s Traditions, Earl goes to great lengths to connect the history of the things of Christmas with the love of Christmas we share.
In other words, it is personal.
After all, does it really matter where gingerbread comes from? Or when Santa became famous? Or who invented eggnog and why?
Yes, it matters.
Because it is personal. All of it. The Christmas tree, the Christmas stocking, the Christmas lights and even the yuletide habits of cooking, decorating and gifting all matter.
Mr. Earl endeavors to explore why it all matters.
In defining where the many elements of Christmas come from Brian answers what we all ask: why do I care and why do I keep coming back to the same old thing – year after year after year?
We love the music. We love the movies. We love coming back to where we have already been many times before. Only Christmas, of all seasons and of all things, claims this within us.
We love to remember the Christmas things we did surrounded by the Christmas stuff we cherish with the people we have loved the most.
Best of all, we want the past of Christmas to repeat itself. No, not the lights, the bows or the fudge – we want that love again. So, we go back and we keep going back.
Christmas Past is a beautiful book. Wonderfully illustrated, written in Brian’s signature style, the narrative in the book is not unlike the popular podcast, now in its seventh season. It is clear, warm and festive.
As the owner of a stack of books about Christmas history there was much within this book I was already familiar with. In interviewing Brian Earl for our own podcast I found that despite the years of podcasting and writing he has a lot to say and he enjoys saying it.
So, my first question for Brian addressed whether he sees himself as a Christmas historian. He emphatically answered “no”.
I was so pleased to hear that. In fact, Brian insists he is just a storyteller.
In other words, he’s one of us.
That is what makes the whole thing so engaging. Fans of Christmas differ from historians because we appreciate the stuff of Christmas on that personal level. We have no agenda, no political ideal, and no hopeless hope for the world to understand in our love and appreciation for Christmas past. We just love Christmas in all its varieties, crazy imperfections and unique qualities.
That is what shines in the stuff that Brian shares. Opening the book leads to one quick read after another about everything from Santa Claus to White Christmas. It wanders deliciously from one sacred Christmas thing to another.
Does it have that “can’t put it down” quality of books we love? No. It has that “I keep picking it up” quality that, like Christmas itself, is at once traditional and fresh all at the same time.
Christmas Past will stay on my bookshelf. And it will come down from time to time to give me a romp through the Christmas fields of nostalgia. That too is a part of Christmas – something the world needs now more than ever, in generous doses and stuck on repeat.
Book (on Barnes & Nobel) – Christmas Past: The Fascinating Stories Behind Our Favorite Holiday’s Traditions
Christmas Past and Brian Earl on Social Media: