This morning I got out the Christmas Books! This marks the start of the holiday season in our home. The Christmas books live on a high shelf in the cupboard, only to be brought down in December. When the kids were little, they would wait with excitement for their favourite stories to be rediscovered. Each year we’d add at least one new book. Some of the books are very old, saved from my childhood, with torn edges and full of holiday love. Some are new, some are silly, some are spiritual, some are funny – all are part of the Christmas book basket that stays by the fireplace throughout the holidays.
My family is all about traditions. We love the comforting feeling of something special that only comes around every so often. We try to keep our traditions flexible and allow them to evolve over time. Aside from the Christmas book basket, we have many holiday traditions that include books. Here are a few of my favourites.
- My husband's sister had a beautiful tradition of giving my children a book with a small stuffed toy to match the characters in the story. She’d hunt with determination to find just the right small stuffy. I still remember the many hours we spent reading Charlotte’s Web with our little spider, rat and pig in our laps. Later the kids would ‘play' the story, sending the characters on new adventures around our house.
- My Mom lived in Ontario – too far to have the joy of reading bedtime stories to little ones. Her tradition was to read a storybook on tape and send the cassette with a copy of the book. We’d flip the pages of the book for our kids, as they listened to Nana read them a story. This continued for years and included chapter books and novels as the kids grew up. Now that Nana is gone, her voice reading us stories is a treasure of even greater value.
- One year when money was tight, I went to the public library and signed out books for each of us to wrap and put under the tree. There was so much holiday spirit in spending time looking through the collection for just the right book. The kids were little, so when our borrowing time was up we went and picked some more. What a great tradition that is easy on the wallet!
- Every year on Christmas Eve we gather on the couch and read The Polar Express before going to bed. The tradition started with my Grandmother, when we gave her the book when she was in her 90s. What do you get for an elder who has everything she needs and really doesn’t want any more things? A good story is always a good choice! Many great Christmas storybooks have been made into movies (there could be a whole blog on that). If you haven’t read the books, go back and see where they all began!
- For many years, I would read The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans in December. It never got old. Re-reading it was like visiting old friends and hearing their story again. This year my book club is reading The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith. There are many people who find the joy and celebration of the holidays difficult if they are dealing with loss and grief. These are two of many books available that might offer some comfort.
Happy Holidays to you all! May your December be filled with love, happiness and some really great books!
By Joan Exley
Community Literacy Coordinator
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy - Nelson