Holiday downtime amusements, part three: Boxing Day greetings and Neil Gaiman’s reading of “A Christmas Carol”

by Joey deVilla on December 26, 2013

Boxing Day: Woodcut illustration of an old British Boxing Day.

Today is Boxing Day up here in Canada, as well as in a number of Commonwealth countries. There isn’t a definitive theory on the origin of the term, but a diary entry from Samuel Pepys tells of “Christmas boxes” of gifts and money being given to tradesmen on the first weekday after Christmas as a “thank you” bonus for their work throughout the year.

Photo of the Boxing Day crowds at the Eaton Centre, circa 2007.

Boxing Day at the Toronto Eaton Centre, 2007.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; click to see the source.

These days, it’s a shopping holiday like the American Black Friday, but without the body count (7 deaths, 90 injuries since 2006). Many stores are offering their wares at cut-rate prices and featuring loss-leader items to lure you in, and most malls and shopping districts will be crowded today. For many Canadians, with the obvious exception of those who work in the retail or restaurant industries, it’s a day off.

Whether you’re enjoying some downtime or working hard on Boxing Day, have a good one! This downtime amusement’s for you.

neil gaiman

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, the odds are pretty good that you’ve heard of Neil Gaiman. Those of who you enjoy comic books and graphic novels know him from his work redefining a number of characters for the better, including Marvelman, Black Orchid, Marvel Comics’ 1602 series, and The Sandman, which is making a fair bit of news in the film world these days. Fans of genre novels know him from Good Omens, American Gods, Coraline (which became a great stop-motion animated film), Anansi Boys, and The Graveyard Book (a goth-y twist on The Jungle Book). He’s even written some screenplays, having written episodes for Babylon 5 (Day of the Dead, a.k.a. the Penn and Teller episode), Doctor Who (The Doctor’s Wife), and for Coraline.

a christmas carol

Last week, he gave a reading of Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, at the New York Public Library. He even dressed up as Dickens and read from a “prompt copy” of the novel, a version of the story with notes by Dickens himself meant for public readings. The event was hosted by Molly Oldfield, author of The Secret Museum, who introduced the event with a description of how Dickens would prep for his readings of his novels, which included some pre-show boozing.

Gaiman’s storytelling chops and accent are perfect, and thanks to the miracles of the internet and SoundCloud, you too can enjoy it!

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