Holly Jolly Christmas Interview - A Love that Never Fails
This world is wild as an old wives' tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.
- G. K. Chesterton, The House of Christmas
Hello, dear friends! I hope you had a blessed, joyous Christmas, celebrating the birth of our dear Lord.
I have had a bit of a hard time coming back into the blogging grove, since the beginning of December. Earlier this year, I did a blogging-party "Through the Looking Glass Literary Tag" that was heaps of fun, but in typical Joyish fashion, I was unable to bring a proper closure to because I went travelling. I travelled and went to England! With family! It was really special, and I've longed to share about that for a long time, really. . . but all the time, I am held back because I know I must upload the photos, I must edit them and look through the dozens of photos and choose the best to share, and think of the most perfect words to express the excitement of seeing everything I saw. How does one cover a whole, exciting trip like that into a few cute paragraphs and paper-cut photos? It is not exactly an easy job. But I am going to do it, because it will be worth it. Just bear with me, okay? Also, in coming back home, I went into jet-lag and felt awful lazy for a while, then I freaked out about my school-work and realised I had to do this whole heap of studying before the end of the year; got through that and then we faced Christmas - which is a very busy, joyful time in our family. All in all, writing has taken such a sideline, I've tried not thinking too much about it so I would not get depressed. And then we went and saw The Hobbit, and I am so full of emotions over that! How do I stop from writing about it? Mostly the fear of giving away spoilers, actually.
So I have been in a dally over what to share over this Christmas season the past week. I have so many thoughts, moments and memories to share, it can sometimes get a little overwhelming when I put them side by side and try to analyse them. I guess we often feel this way, coming to the close of one year, and start facing a new one.
And then I got an idea, from my friend Schuyler's blog, My Lady Bibliophile, when she shared a very cute Christmas-writing Tag which is basically a Christmas interview with your fictional characters. I enjoyed reading the interview she had with her characters exceedingly, and thought it would be fun to join in it as well, both as a sweet Christmas treat for you all, and also an entertaining way to warm back into my favourite characters. It is remarkable how such an interview can give you new discoveries about the personalities of your characters, and what they are like more.
The questions are for 6 characters from A Love that Never Fails, key young people in the story-line of my current-novel-in-progress. Alas, I find I have only ever introduced Jane to you, and maybe a very little of Ernest. . . so before the interview starts, I'm giving you an all-fun about for each of them :D. Also, another random thing to point out, in the actual story the six of them are never all quite together at the same time, as far as I know. Especially Thomas and Robert and sometimes Rosalie. But I decided for the sake of mixing things up a little, I'd bring them all together here in this interview and see how they'd pull it off.
Jane was born in England, living half her childhood in Oxford, and the other half in London with her father and Grandmamma, after her mother's death. When War was declared against Germany, Jane is evacuated with many other children to the shores of Australia, to stay with her distant relatives, the Munsons in a small town in Queensland throughout the rest of the War. Like her parents, Jane is deeply creative, optimistic and imaginative, but also has learnt something of the sting of hardship and loss during the London Blitz.
Amelia is the oldest child in the Munson home, and a second cousin to Jane. She is something of an artist, but her family don't quite understand her obsession with canvases, paint brushes and oil tubes. She has lived in Queensland most of her life, and feels hemmed in, longing for change and new experiences.
Ernest was a young medical student, living in Victoria in a small town called Myrtleford with his widowed mother and younger sister, Rosalie on a cattle-farm. He would study in Melbourne, and go home for the holidays to his family. He has always felt strongly about becoming a doctor, and helping people with a healing hand. When War is declared, and Australia joins England's fight against Germany, Ernest feels bound by honour to enlist, and take to the skies as an RAF pilot fighting in Europe.
Rosalie, Ernest's little sister, has lived all her life in the Victorian countryside in her mother and brother's company. She is deeply attached to her country-life, and loves the Gilford farm, and their cattle and sheep and horses, and all the joys of the wild, and rugged beauty of the outback. When War breaks out, however, her quiet life is challenged with her desire to help the boys fighting far away.
Robert is a medical student in Melbourne University with Ernest, and he and Ernest are close friends. Unlike Ernest, he's from an urban area in Sydney, and his father is a prosperous businessman. He also dislikes the thought of becoming a doctor, hates his physiology and anatomy classes, and is the first to join up in the Air-Force, eager to have his hand at "those bloody krauts!".
Born in the South of USA, Thomas is from a mining family who always dreamed of the opportunity to attend college, and become an engineer. His mother skimped and saved, and he entered university only to be called up to fight in the Navy. As a soldier, his mission takes him to the South Pacific under General Douglas McArthur, in the Brisbane base of Australia.
(It's 1942, and Jane, Amelia, Ernest, Rosalie, Robert and Thomas gather around Mrs. Munson's kitchen table for lemonade, tea and biscuits and chat)
- Are you on the Naughty list or the Nice list?
Jane: Nice list, I think. I hope!
Ernest: I think I will end up in the naughty list, sadly. I get into too many scrapes, thanks to Robert.
Jane: Santa will know it wasn't your fault.
Amelia: I've never put too much stock into what Santa thinks, thank you.
Robert: Oh, I am in the Nice list. Why, what did you think?
Rosalie: *arching her brows at her brother* Well, others think otherwise, seemingly, Robby. I am only in the naughty list when I am in the company of my brother.
Ernest: WHAT? Rosalie, that is not even fair.
Thomas: I am in the Nice list.
- Have you ever had a White Christmas?
Rosalie: White Christmas? *sobs* NEVER!
Jane: I've had lots of white Christmases while living in England. I sometimes miss them, actually. Sorry.
Thomas: No, don't be. White Christmases are nice. I am from the South, but I've had a few White Christmases when I visted my grandparents in Colorado. Real nice. We bedded down in our socks, and hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies like children, and opened our gifts, watching the snowflakes fall outside the window.
Amelia: I've gone ice-skating on Christmas Eve once. Does that count?
Rosalie: It's okay, Amelia. . . I mean we have beaches and sunshine and blue sky (eh. . . sometimes, anyway!) during Christmas. We can go swimming! Christmas and sunshine are wonderful combined.
Ernest: The first time I had a white Christmas, I was in mortal danger of a plane crash over the spires of London when a black devil of a Focke-Wulf biplane dove straight at me. *shudders*
Jane: *sighs heavily*
Robert: *starts belting out in the tune of the song* I'm dreaming of a white Christmas / Just like the ones I used to know. . .
Ernest: If I am right, you've never known white Christmases, Robby, so how can you be dreaming of them?
Robert: Ow, don't be such a spoilsport! I like to use my imagination!
Amelia: can we get on with it?
- Where do you usually spend your holiday?
Ernest: In the clouds. Literally.
Rosalie: In your daydreams? Ooh, you mean. . . ERNEST!
Jane: I love spending it at the seaside. Or at home.
Ernest: *wistfully* Home is good, Jane. Home is good.
Thomas: Is this a question of where we'd want to spend our holidays, hypothetically, or where we actually spent it?
Amelia: I think the question is fairly obvious, Thomas. I usually spend my holiday in the fields, painting.
Robert: *sarcastically* Why, I like mine in the medical clinic, of course.
Rosalie: *tries to hide her smile*
Ernest: Because we all know we can trust you to mean what you say. Own up, old chap!
Robert: Now, now! It is hardly treason to head to the pub now and again when off duty with some of my pals for a beer or two, is it? You are not quite the Puritan yourself, Ernest.
Ernest: Puritans drank beer, actually.
Rosalie: *hugging herself, smiling* I love spending it up on the hills with my animals.
- Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
Rosalie: That's sacrilege. I would never do anything like that.
Robert: I have always thought you to be an angel, Rosie. If I ever get presents, I rip them open right away. My life could end tomorrow. And what a loss that would be!
Rosalie: You're quite the heathen, Robert.
Robert: I know, Rosie, I know.
Jane: uhm. . . I once peeked at the gifts under the tree. . .
Jane: And my father found me out, somehow; he let me open one of the gifts, because he said it was something special.
Amelia: What was it?
Jane: Well, it was a Christmas-tree ornament in the shape of an acorn and a copy of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Amelia: Oh, that.
Ernest: That must have been a special gift.
Jane: It was. I read it every Christmas.
Ernest: Will you let me read it with you sometime?
Jane: *smiles* Please. I would love that.
Amelia: We don't get many presents in the Munson home, aside from a Christmas dinner, and a pair of handkerchiefs with our initials on it: but if we ever do, they're given on the spot. No peeking.
Thomas: I usually wait till New Year's Eve to open my gifts. Ernest, you haven't told us if you peek.
Ernest: *frowns, and sips from his tea-cup* Maybe.
- Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Robert: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer
Rosalie: Vixen, Comet, Cupid
Ernest: Rudolph!. . .
Jane: I've always wanted to ride on Rudolph. A red-nosed reindeer sounds cute.
- What holiday tradition are you looking forward to most this year?
Ernest: having my two feet on solid ground is something I am excited about.
Rosalie: you know, Ernest, that strictly speaking isn't a Christmas tradition.
Ernest: Well, then I am glad to be with you this Christmas. Celebrating Christmas with family and friends is a glorious tradition.
Thomas: I like how Jane has planted the Christmas tree in the Munson house.
Amelia: "Planted". I like that. It was more like wreaking havoc in the wake of pines and needles and twigs!
Jane: The final look was worth it.
Amelia: Yes, no thanks to you.
Robert: I've hung my Christmas stockings on the fireplace for the first time this year; I hope to find presents inside the toes Christmas morning.
- Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
Rosalie: Real, but it doesn't exactly look like a pine- Christmas tree. We have an old elm we cut down last year lying in the shed, which we plan on sort of sprucing up into something festive.
Amelia: Fake. No pine-trees around here.
Thomas: Back at home, they're real.
- Hands down, what's your all-time favourite holiday food and holiday sweet treat?
Jane: I am always partial to Christmas plum pudding, and lamb-roast for Christmas dinner was an old family tradition in our home back in England. Though a goose or turkey or ham would do just as splendidly.
Ernest: Mmm! That sounds divine. Well, I like simple foods. A nice dinner of roast and gravy and vegetables with potatoes, peas and mash, and cranberry sauce; for sweet, short-bread biscuits and summer fruits are a real treat.
Rosalie: Me? Oh, I love ice-cream!
Thomas: I like the meat-pies here. I could enjoy one for Christmas. I don't have a sweet tooth, but eggnog is a favourite. I haven't had that in ages, though.
Amelia: Pavlovas are nice.
Robert: Gingerbread men. I like eating delicious humans.
- Be honest: do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts better?
Ernest: There is a reward in giving that beats every other joy, especially when you see the sparkle in a loved one's face.
Jane: I like giving gifts. *glancing about shyly* Getting them is nice too, of course.
Rosalie: I like getting gifts.
Robert: *whispers into her ear* I hope you like mine then.
Ernest: You got my sister a gift? Oh, oh. That sounds ominous!
Thomas: Giving is fun.
Amelia: It isn't everyday one gets a gift, but the feeling is nice.
- What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
Ernest: *softly, almost to himself* It's a secret.
Rosalie: I wish I could visit. . . hmm. I don't know. I would like to visit Moscow during Christmas!
Jane: Why Moscow in particular, Rosalie?
Robert: It is no joke my last name is Ivan, you know.
Rosalie: *turns red-in-the-face* It isn't that, you know. I just like travel, and adventure! And Moscow has snow, doesn't it, at Christmas-time?
Jane: *smiling* It does. . . and beautiful churches too. My father would sometimes tell me about them, and show me pictures.
Amelia: Speaking of pictures. I really want to visit the national art gallery.
Thomas: The Northern Territory would be interesting too.
- Are you a pro-present wrapper, or do you fail miserably?
Rosalie: Never ask Ernest to wrap a present for you.
Ernest: For a girl, you aren't very good either.
Jane: *smiling* Gift wrapping is a precarious art that I, as a girl, find tricky as well, Ernest. It is a little like paper and magic.
Ernest: Paper Magic?
Jane: Sort of?
Robert: I fail abysmally at anything to do with geometrical shapes; like gift-wrapping, or making triangular sandwiches or making stripes for party streamers. I fail.
Amelia: I am very good at wrapping stuff. It isn't half as difficult as you all make it sound to be.
- Most memorable Holiday moment?
Robert: When I was really little, I once got locked in the outhouse on Christmas Eve. When they finally realized I was missing (which was several hours, since they couldn't hear my squeaky shouts for help), it took my father a whole afternoon to free the lock. I was exhausted, and dehydrated when they got me out. I ran a high-fever all Christmas, and got thoroughly spoilt by my family. It was nice, but I was not allowed to eat any of the gingerbread men. That was sad. Really sad.
Jane: I think this Christmas will be memorable.
Amelia: This one? I don't understand. Aren't you away from everyone you love?
Jane: I think. . . Oh, I have people I love here too. And we can have memories, you know - new ones that will be good and special. Like sitting here together, and in a bond of friendship and joy.
Ernest: I-I remember one Christmas, huddling by the warmth of the fire of our mess hall, after a difficult mission, and was told the Christmas Story like I had only heard it once or twice in my life before as a child, by a very dear commander. The way he told it, it brought tears to my eyes. . .
Rosalie: That reminds me of the Bible Stories Mum often told us as children, especially during Christmas time. . . Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem, the Wise Men and Shepherds coming to see the New Born Christ Child!
- What made you realize the truth about Santa?
Jane: My Grandmamma told me Santa didn't exist when I was five. When I asked Mama if what grandmother said was true, she had one of the only arguments I ever remember her having with Grandmamma, because it upset her that I should be told so young. Mama was very imaginative and artistic, and Grandmamma was very practical with no-nonsense, "kettle-just-been-boiled" about her. I did not know whom to believe, so I went to my Papa.
Ernest: Oh, poor thing! What did he say?
Jane: It really was quite comforting. He told me Father Christmas had been real once, was a good old saint who went about giving gifts to the needy, and showed Christian charity; that's all. Parents gave gifts to their children. Not silly old Santa Claus. I was very glad, because then it made me like Father Christmas, even if he hadn't brought me my Christmas gifts.
Rosalie: Ernest always made sure somehow that I never believed in Santa.
Ernest. Was I always such a sceptic?
Robert: What is the truth about Santa?That's what I'd really like to know!
Ernest: The truth of it is probably that your Christmas stocking will be empty in the morning, Robert. That's the brutal truth.
Jane: I have some extra candy from the twins' christmas treats we baked yesterday. Would you like some, sir?
Amelia: At the risk of sounding repetitive, I've never put much stock in Santa Claus.
- Do you make New Year's resolutions? Do you stick to them?
Rosalie: Oh, I don't really do well with resolutions. I make them, and only stick to a third of them at best. Much better to just have the attitude. "I will try better, and do better this year".
Ernest: Resolutions are a bit like giving your word of honour. You should stick to them, if you can.
Amelia: Wouldn't it be better not to have any whatsoever?
Robert: Usually my New Year resolution is singularly to stay sane in the new year. I somehow manage that one.
Jane: I guess I have resolutions for the New Year. I can only have God's help to be able to stick to them when the year's going gets tough though.
- What makes the Holidays special for you?
Jane: this holiday is special because Jesus was born and lived and died for us and we celebrate that. All the other stuff are just trifles and sugar-coatings to the joy of our Saviour's love.
Ernest: I think, Jane, you have found the heart of it.
Rosalie: me too, I agree with you, Jane!
Robert: I was going to make a silly remark about gifts and nice funny Christmas hats and reindeers, but that sounds lame now.
- Play or sing your favourite Christmas song?
All: *loudly, joyfully, linking arms to each other* "We Wish you a Merry Christmas / We wish you a Merry Christmas / We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"